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“I love kids,” Rakesh’s voice echoed in her ears. ‘Was this why he wanted to have girl children?’ she wondered as fear gripped her.
Darkness slow and deep, quiet, still, unmoving, unbreathing in a dark, sugary sleep: no pain, no joy, no sight, no sound, no taste; she remained floating, distant. She wouldn’t wake up, she’d stay in this cotton-wool world, its soft, sleepy music lifting her up through the roof, the bannisters, the rooms up above, through the entire weight of the building, its steeple. She rose like a wisp of cloud. Soft fingers caressed her hair and it all felt like a dream. Her eyes struggled to open.
“It is okay. Do not strain yourself,” a gentle voice whispered in her ears.
She cherished the moment, like a few others that had stayed deep in her memories. A ray of relief penetrated her heart. The pressure of the burden that had been stressing her for so long, is now cleared. There is still pain but just physical, which would vanish in a few days. The agony buried for months has now melted away like an iceberg.
Pavithra opened her eyes slowly to see her dear friend Bhuvana sitting beside her, holding her hands tightly.
“The surgery was smooth, nothing to worry about. You cooperated well. Everything will settle down within a week,” Bhuvana spoke in a happy tone.
“Thanks, doctor,” replied Pavithra.
“Oh! Suddenly you are seeing the doctor in your best buddy?”
Hearing that, Pavithra smiled feebly.
“Rakesh should never know about this. Be careful, dear,” Bhuvana’s concern poured in.
Pavithra nervously kept looking to the ground. Rakesh understood her fear and sat next to her. He took her palm and held her fingers gently.
“Relax Pavithra! It is our wedding day today. I strongly believe that marriage is not a license for sex. It should occur naturally in a graceful way after we understand each other well. Let me start talking.
‘You know I like reading books a lot. Being in business, I hardly get time. Still, I make sure to continue my habit of reading. You can see my collection in the next room. And I like kids a lot. I am sure we will have a minimum of three. Specifically.” he paused, noticing a slight tremble in her fingers.
Pavithra looked at him. Now she seemed even more tensed. Rakesh didn’t understand the reason behind it.
“What happened, Pavithra? Even before I completed the sentence, you appear panicked?”
Pavithra felt the lump in her throat. In a soft voice, she started to express her fear.
“For the past three to four generations in my family, only girl children were born. Now my sister and me. When you said about kids, I thought you wanted boy babies. So I am worried, what if we have girl babies. You may not like them?”
“Oh, dear! You guessed it wrong. I was about to say, girl children. Anyways, whatever the gender maybe, I am not concerned because the little one is a symbol of our love.”
Pavithra chuckled and allowed Rakesh to near her closer. She believed that Rakesh was the greatest blessing in her life.
During the wedding discussion, Pavithra was a little reluctant about getting married to Rakesh. Her father owned a few restaurants in the city. Rakesh, too, was in the same line of business and met her father often.
Within a short period, he quickly emerged successfully and worked on expanding his business to other cities. His confidence and sincerity compelled her father to arrange the wedding.
Two years passed by and the worry of not seeing the two pink lines started to trouble Pavithra. She insisted on a medical check-up. Surprisingly the results ruled out any issues for them to have a child.
Rakesh consoled her that it would happen any time and advised her not to worry unnecessarily. He was a caring husband in all possible ways. She had heard from friends that their husbands would force themselves when they were not interested in it.
Meanwhile, Rakesh never lay his finger on her without her permission. She did not believe in astrology but now she felt all the planets were working in her favour.
When her in-laws indirectly questioned about her getting pregnant, Rakesh would be there to keep them shut. Sometimes he raised his voice to protect Pavithra, from being hurt. Being a homemaker, Pavithra never interfered in his business, neither did she frown when he had to travel many nights leaving her alone. Their happy moments kept her engaged, and she never felt lonely.
From all the places they visited in his leisure hours, Rakesh spent more time in the nearby park. He easily mingled with the little children playing there and their parents as well, let the kids talk with him. Pavithra was surprised to see this rapport between Rakesh and the kids. This made her feel even guiltier about not having their child.
Pavithra always confided in her best friend, Bhuvana.
“Please, Bhuvana, suggest the best fertility clinic. I am unable to bear the tension every month. It is time for me to take the step. Even if there aren’t any issues, some women who do not conceive prefer these treatments. Somehow I shall convince Rakesh to accept. Before that, I would like to meet the doctor and hear their procedures.”
“I understand, Pavithra. Let me warn you as a friend. Mostly they involve hormone tablets and injections. Sometimes the process is painful.”
“Oh, I am totally fine with the methods. I am ready to undergo any amount of suffering, just to see Rakesh holding our baby in his arms.”
Bhuvana smiled and gave her the needed information. Pavithra was able to book an appointment the following week. The excitement that she would soon enter motherhood occupied her, and she couldn’t sleep that night. She was imagining the scenes that would unfold after she confirmed the news of her pregnancy to Rakesh.
The clock struck three in the morning when she found Rakesh missing by the side. She pulled herself, out of the bed and noticed him sitting on the sofa with his laptop. Maintaining the pin-drop silence, she slowly peeked. It was the horrific moment of her life. His fingers ran through the screen slowly as he watched the videos.
Gasping for breath she rushed to their bedroom. She fell on her mattress, sobbing deeply. The other side of Rakesh had hurt her. Wavering thoughts popped in all corners of her head.
“Will my parents believe me if I told them the truth about Rakesh? They see him as their son. If I sit at home as a divorcee, how will my sister get married? But wait, would Rakesh agree to the separation in the first place? Will he kill me if I confront him?”
Pavithra could not think straight. She knew this wasn’t the right time to decide. This was the worst she had felt all her life. Within a few minutes, she saw her world crumbling down.
“I love kids,” Rakesh’s voice echoed in her ears.
“Was this the reason he wanted to have girl children?” Her imagination preceded her thoughts, and the future looked even scarier. For the first time, she sent a quick prayer above to keep her infertile. After thinking for days, she arrived at the decision that she felt was correct.
“How did you manage time for surgery?” Bhuvana asked curiously.
“He planned a two week trip to the north as he always wanted to open an outlet there. After contacting many of his friends, it finally went through. During such travel, he mostly messages at night, no calls. So I used this time to my convenience. Rakesh will never realise why we would remain childless forever,” Pavithra sighed.
“You know, Arpitha was so happy. We had to remove her uterus because of fibroid issues. She felt so devasted that a part of herself was missing. Now with the success of this transplantation, you made her feel complete. I know how tough it would have been for you to arrive at this decision,” Bhuvana’s voice broke as she spoke.
“I had no choice, Bhuvana. How would I know with what intention he is touching our kid when we have one? That night I felt shattered seeing him watch obscene videos of children. How could he? The lust in his eyes is something that I have never seen before. And the bitter truth is, I have been living with a masked man.
‘My life already feels so fake. Meanwhile, my future with him is uncertain. Considering my family’s situation, I do not know if I can just walk away from him. One thing for sure is he doesn’t deserve to have his own kids. He has well played the roles as a son, husband, and businessman but is not fit to be a father.
‘When I hear in the news about incidents, how men tend to molest their kids, I could feel the agony of their mothers. Now I am confident such an incident will never happen in my home.” Unable to hold back, her tears rolled down, finding their way deep into the pillow, just like her secret, buried deep within her.
Picture credits: Still from Bollywood movie Filhaal
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