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A marriage that has hit the rock bottom is brought together by a pregnancy. But what happens when the child is not born? This simple story will leave you looking for the tissues.
As the curtain flew by, Maya saw people in a haste. Amidst all the haste, she caught a glimpse of her nervous looking husband, Vikram. Vikram tried to look calm, but it was evident from his constant knuckle popping that he was hiding a storm behind him.
It was the second time in her 35 years that she had been inside a doctor’s cabin and a first since her 8 years of marriage. Maya remembered how much it had hurt when she had fallen from her bicycle trying to ride it the very first time. Her father had told her to wait in front of the gate as he went inside to get his coat. The bright pink bicycle with its spotless white basket in front was too tempting to resist for even a moment. So Maya had set out on her own. In her excitement, she had forgotten to notice the approaching motorcycle of her childhood crush.
One forward thrust on the pedal and she was face to face with Nayan. The ‘eyeconic’ moment enthralled her away from reality and in her inexperience, she missed a heartbeat just as she missed the pedal too. There were four stitches on her chin as it had found a stone nearby to dash itself into during the fall. The only antidote to the agonizing pain was Nayan’s gentle touch. Ah! Time stood still as their eyes met and his fingers touched her face and his lips said, “Are you alright?” “Never been better,” she desperately wanted to say, but the excruciating pain in her chin and her father’s eyes silent reprimanding her for flouting his orders made her decide against speaking.
Time had been the greatest healer since the bitter breakup with Nayan. Maya had found solace on Vikram’s shoulders. The only person who had pulled her back from the darkest of hours and helped her in regaining a grip on her life. He had been her constant friend, philosopher and guide. And marrying him was the greatest gift she could ever give herself.
He had been her constant friend, philosopher and guide. And marrying him was the greatest gift she could ever give herself.
Maya was shattered as she finished reading the message on Vikram’s cell phone. She did not want to, it was a mistake; a mistake which cost her her peace of mind and invited an endless surge of sleepless nights. The constant bickering of her in-laws and her parents for having a child added to the misery. They had been singing the same tune ever since their marriage entered the third year, which they both conveniently ignored. Eventually, Vikram too succumbed to the incessant pleas for a child. He also began to think that after 5 years into the marriage, it was time for them to start a family. Maya had rebutted all these proposals as she was finally having the high flying career she had always dreamt of. But now, it seemed the only option left for Maya to hold on to her failing marriage.
Her eyes swelled up as she checked the home pregnancy test calculator. The flow of the seconds as the double pink stripes appeared were the longest in Maya’s life. It had been 3 years since Vikram and Maya had been trying for a child, and three years since Maya had seen the message on Vikram’s cell phone. She had been silent on the matter with Vikram, who was growing apart with each passing day. It was then that Maya decided to try for a baby. Her only hope, to give in to the growing demands for a child, to save her sinking ship.
Then, the baby had suddenly stopped moving that bright Sunday morning. It was pretty unusual for her baby to be sleeping at this hour. In fact, it was the constant kicking that usually woke her up from her sleep. “It must have tired itself from all those constant movements and the incessant kicking”, Maya thought. She finished the early morning chores and sat down with a cup of herbal tea. She had always been a coffee fan, but her pregnancy was a most desired one and she could not risk it with her quest for caffeine.
The baby hadn’t kicked yet. It had been almost two hours since she had woken up from the bed. As she took the final sip, Vikram walked into the room rubbing his sleepy eyes. He saw a worried look on Maya’s face and sat down. “What is wrong Maya?” Vikram asked gently, putting his hands on her shoulders. The touch rattled Maya from her concern for the baby. She looked up at Vikram with eyes slowly swelling up and said, “The baby hasn’t moved since morning Vikram. I am worried. I thought it must be sleeping and will wake up as I sit down on the chair with my tea and start kicking up and down. But it hasn’t, Vikram, and it’s almost 2 hours now”. Vikram’s kind, reassuring words fell on deaf ears.
“Let’s go Maya”, Vikram said, finally. “Let’s go to the doctor and get you checked.” Maya always wondered how Vikram knew exactly what she thought, how he knew her so well and how dependent she was on him emotionally. It had been quite some time since Vikram had been so concerned about her. The busy daily schedule, the diminishing amount of time they spent together, and the appearance of another woman in Vikram’s life had taken a toll on their happy marriage and an even longer friendship. But at this moment it seemed that everything had vanished into thin air; the painful nights; the endless loop of squabbles of accusations and victimisations, all gone.
The busy daily schedule, the diminishing amount of time they spent together, and the appearance of another woman in Vikram’s life had taken a toll on their happy marriage and an even longer friendship.
The expression on the nurse’s face changed as Maya stopped talking. She immediately picked up the phone and dialled the gynaecologist’s number. “You have to come immediately Dr. Sharma, it is an emergency”. The word ‘emergency’ struck the wrong notes with Maya and Vikram. They looked at each other and then at the nurse and asked, “Is everything alright?” “We need to get you inside the observation room immediately”, she said without even looking up.
As the gynaecologist put her hand on Maya’s shoulder, she almost jumped out of the steel stretcher where she was sitting while engrossed in her thoughts. Suddenly, as if a Pandora’s box had opened, the memories of the past had come flowing and inundated her from within. After days spent consciously avoiding each other’s presence and nights spent in the pretext of work, life had come full circle for Maya. There were endless times when she had felt she had been transported back to the dark days after her break up with Nayan. Life had stopped having meaning, but the announcement of this pregnancy and this baby had brought her life back into track.
Maya had slowly realized Vikram’s important in her life and had started to cherish him again. The gentle touches that had been taken for granted previously were moments she yearned for. The little ‘chai time’ moments in the morning, the dining together at the nights and the short strolls afterwards were like little drops of happiness; drops which Maya wanted to catch and keep inside a box lest she might lose them again. And these moments of happiness and this renewed closeness were due to this baby, their baby. It was the little flickering light in their lives which was holding them together and not letting them and their marriage fall apart.
“Please lie down on your back and hold your breath. Do not stiffen your body; just relax. We need to check on the baby physically as we are unable to find a heart-beat.” The gynaecologist’s words resonated in Maya’s ears, “unable to find a heart-beat…”
The words that are dreaded by a mother; the worst nightmares; that would wreak havoc in Maya’s life were finally said to her. “I am sorry Maya, but your baby is dead.”
Maya was too shocked to react. A pale Vikram lifted her hand gently and cupped it. Maya turned towards Vikram with a bewildered look on her face and started at him blankly. The flurry of emotions within her had left her delirious. She wasn’t sure what to say.
“Maya, we will have to induce labour pain. Are you ready for it?” The gynaecologist asked Maya. “We need to get the baby out of your body. It might take some-time for the labour pain to happen. So if you want you can go home and come back when you are in labour or you can wait in the hospital. It is up to you to decide.”
“I will wait”. The only words that Maya could manage to say; words that drained her completely.
“I will wait”. The only words that Maya could manage to say; words that drained her completely. She still hoped that the doctor was wrong and her baby was just sleeping, safe inside her womb. The last straw that Maya was holding onto; a bleak chance that might help her baby to survive; her only prospect of happiness.
As Maya opened her eyes it took some time to jostle her way back to reality. As her eyes and her mind familiarised to the surroundings, Maya saw Vikram sitting beside her on a chair holding her hand. The last thing Maya remembered was the immense pain that had left her drained out completely. She had given the final push hoping for the best.
It was neatly wrapped in a fluffy white towel; eyes closed; a serene expression on the pale pinkish face; the perfect red lips, the rosy cheeks, the flawless skin; it was perfect. Tiny little fingers touched Maya’s face as the doctor placed it on top of her and said, “It’s a girl Maya; hold her as long as you want; but you have to let her go.”
Tears rolled down as Maya pulled the tiny little motionless body closer to her face. Oh, how she wished she could just hold her tight forever and keep her safe in her arms; how she wished her little delicate eyes would open after the long sleep. “Oh! Baby please wake up, please”, she wanted to say; she so desperately wanted to say!
Maya hoped for a miracle to happen; she hoped that the God she always believed in could reinstate her faith. She just hoped and in this hope she gently whispered in her baby’s ears, “Hey pinky pie, how are you? I am your Mama. You have been sleeping way too long, come on get up now. Aren’t you hungry?
As she spoke to the lifeless body of her baby desperately expecting for a miracle, Vikram touched Maya’s shoulders gently, gave her a peck on her forehead and whispered almost silently, “I love you, Maya. I always will and I am so sorry.” As the words rolled out from his mouth, Maya looked up at him quietly. As their eyes met, Maya knew exactly what her baby meant for her and for them.
Vikram slowly embraced her. Maya pressed her face deep inside his chest and they both cried together, sometimes silently, and sometimes loudly, but together. In her short stay, the little one had reunited them and brought them closer, for good.
Image of hands together via Shutterstock
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