It was close to ten in the morning. Last night I’d come back to the room quite late and had found both mom and baby fast asleep. It was tough to get comfortable on the recliner but somehow I’d managed to fall asleep and woke up just a few minutes ago. I’d chosen to remain in my position and watch the play of expressions on my wife’s face as she interacted with our little one. I found them delightful as they were all brand new.
“Don’t you think the bump is smaller today?” Ruhi asked when she realized I was awake. I tossed aside the thin blanket the nurses had provided and loped over to the bed. I caressed the little head with my hand. It did appear less prominant. I could feel the slight irregularity, it was soft, cushion like, as if there was fluid inside. It didn’t appear to hurt the baby at all. She was wide awake, her clear black eyes drifting around, coming to pause for a moment on our faces then drifting again. I wasn’t sure if she could see us, or make out our faces. If she could, (which was highly improbable) did she know who we were? Regardless, I was sure she knew she was safe. She was going to be beautiful, just like her mother, and brave and strong. I saw Ruhi was waiting impatiently for my assessment. “She’s going to be just fine, jaan, she’s her mother’s child afterall.”
“And her father’s.”
“Yes, she’s our child. Congratulations my love.” I leaned forward and kissed Ruhi. It was a kiss of reassurance and love; a promise that we were in this together no matter what. For godsakes why was I having such morbid thoughts.
She burst out laughing. “Congratulations to you too! Do you want to hold her?”
I was glad I was sitting on the bed because I’m not sure if I’d have trusted myself though I was dying for this very moment. I held my breath as Ruhi transferred the precious bundle into my arms. I marveled at how light and delicate she was. All the more reason to cherish and protect her.
“What are you thinking, Shaan?”
“I… I don’t know what to say.”
Just then my cell rang. It was Ruhi’s parents.
“Papaji you’re so pale!”
“It’s the light my dear. I’m in perfect health.”
Yes, Ruhi’s dad did look quite under the weather though he was putting on a brave face as was her mom. I began to feel the stirrings of guilt. A heart attack is not an ankle sprain or even appendicitis. I wondered if I had done the proper thing by listening to Ruhi’s parents and keeping the news from her. She had a right to know. After all she was their daughter and their only offspring.
I stood aside watching the new grandparents admire their first grandchild and bemoan their inability to be in attendance.
“Bhaad mein jaaye passport office! We had applied months in advance.”
“It is criminal to keep us away from our very first grandchild! How dare they!”
Ruhi nodded quietly but I could see it in her eyes. She knew they were making excuses.
“How will you manage? You say you can’t even hire any help there.” Ruhi’s mom looked distraught.
I attempted to put her mind at rest. “Don’t worry, mummyji. Main hoon na. I will take care of everything. I have plenty of experience.”
“Damaadji, it’s not the same as when you were a bachelor. You have a wife now and a newborn child!”
“We’ll manage ma. Trust me.” Ruhi said with a bright smile. That seemed to reassure them or maybe they realized the situation was out of their hands. The conversation then shifted to more pleasant things. Ruhi’s mom had a lot of advise regarding newborn habits and diet.. “most of all be sure to enjoy every moment of your new life, because before you know it’ll be gone.”
Then we bid our goodbyes with promises to call everyday and keep the pressure on the authorities to get their act together.
The rest of the day went by quickly. Ruhi’s doc came by and told us she could go home tomorrow, then there was the lactation consultant, and the pediatrician. He put our minds at rest about the mysterious bump– it’s from the pressure of the vacuum, nothing to do, it’ll vanish in a few days.
Ruhi was strangely quiet during this time, leaving it to me to ask most of the questions. I didn’t have to delve deep to figure out why. I’m sure she’d guessed all was not well with her dad and that was weighing on her mind. But did she believe I was a participant in the deception as well? I didn’t want to think about that. It made me nervous.
PS: If you like this story and would like to know Shaan and Ruhi’s back story check out Inconvenient Relations and Now and Forever. Buy links here.