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.
The lobby was deserted. The automatic sliding doors of the entryway were locked. The Afterhours Exit is to your Left—a sign pointed toward the ER. I saw lights flashing outside and people running. Curious, I walked over to the doors. A helicopter had landed on top of the hospital. A few EMTs rushed out with a stretcher. I guessed they were ferrying someone to another facility. Someone very sick. It was one thirty in the morning. Just like babies, sickness too arrives unannounced. The thought left a bad taste in my mouth.
I turned to the vending machines and scanned the repertoire—chips, salted peanuts, sunflower seeds, trail mix, fat free popcorn, pretzels, power bars. They even had one dispensing hot sandwiches. Yuck!
I was engulfed by a sudden craving for homecooked food. Ruhi’s parathas; mom’s baingan bharta—If I closed my eyes, I could smell the aroma, almost. Mom–the word stirred a flurry of emotions. I felt my heart squeeze inside my chest. What would she be doing now, I wondered. Lunch would be almost over if things still operated as they did before. After I’d left home all those years ago. Of course they did. Why would anything change?
And so, it was. Never ever, even if I wished for it. But why would I? I thought, as I looked at her delicate little self, fast asleep, cocooned in her doting mother’s embrace. So tiny, yet so perfect. I couldn’t tear my eyes off her. What an entry she’d made. Her cry echoing through the halls of the labor and delivery unit making me smile and tears of joy sprout from her exhausted mother’s eyes.
Her poor mother, my wife, was beat. After almost 24 hours of ineffective pushing and perspiration, when our baby girl began showing signs of distress, Dr. Shepherd didn’t like the way her heart was reacting– speeding up and slowing down; so, she decided to force matters. She talked us into something called a vacuum device, to pull our baby out. I had my doubts, it sounded quite medievel, but there was no time for questions or research. It worked like a miracle. The baby slid out in seconds, but she had what looked like a big bump on her head. The doctor assured me it was nothing. “It’ll be gone in a couple of days;” she said. Ruhi, though, was oblivious to this slight inconsistency. The little bundle in her arms had hijacked all her attention. I don’t think she was even aware she was bleeding. The blood gushed out of her like a river. The doc had to stitch her up. I doubt anyone realized how much she’d lost till they sat her up in the wheelchair to transport her to another room and she promptly passed out. They had to give her two pints!Continue reading →
I mashed my arm with my hand, screwed my eyes tight shut and tried not to curse out loud. “I’m fine Ruhi. It’s no big deal. Must be a pinched nerve or something like that. I’ve been banging on the keyboard way too much.” My attempted laugh came out sounding like a croak. My wife looked at me suspiciously but didn’t say anything. She examined my arm carefully and then when she didn’t see anything awry, massaged it gently. Then made me a new ice pack and forced me to swallow a couple of ibuprofens. She was taking care of me while it was supposed to be the other way around. Sorry mom-in-law!
I felt foolish and angry at myself as the pain abated again. But it left behind a strange tingling and numbness. I couldn’t feel the keyboard as well with my left hand as I could with my right. I couldn’t figure it out. I felt fine otherwise. It was more of an irritant than a concern.
I googled it. Pain in the elbow and arm. Tennis elbow. It was the first thing that showed up. Yeah that’s it!
When it began, I had no clue what it was or what I was in for.
I’d been up all night running tests on my final solar battery model and getting all excited with the results when a sudden sharp electric pain shot down the outside of my left arm and I yelled out. It was a cry—equally of surprise because I hadn’t done anything to cause it. Instinctively, I rubbed my elbow when I felt a burning sensation. As if I’d stuck my arm inside the fireplace. It was so intense that I burst into a sweat. I cradled my arm and rushed into the kitchen and grabbed one of Ruhi’s readymade ice packs from the freezer (the ones she used for her frequent headaches even though her OB had told her it was okay to take Tylenol in her condition but my darling wife didn’t want to take any chance with the health of our baby). The shock of cold did help ease the agony a slght degree that I was able to examine my arm to see if I’d been bitten by a spider or something else. We were getting an extension built – an extra room and bath for Ruhi’s parents and in the process a lot of the yard had been dug up. Besides, it was summertime, and the bugs were starting to show up everywhere.
It’s amazing how quickly life can take a turn. It really doesn’t take a lot to do.
Life is chugging along smoothly. Things are falling into place. Love is blooming offering you the most pleasant of surprises and unsurpassed joys. Don’t you dare hit the pause button. For, if you do you’ll realize something’s wrong. You’re a sinner and karma will get you sooner or later.
One moment you are running a fifty-mile marathon without breaking a sweat, you’re on top of the world gallivanting with the best and the greatest. Nothing, absolutely nothing can stop you. Yeah right! Because soon, before you can say hallelujah, you crash land at the bottom of the deepest darkest hole. I know because that’s where I am right now, in that hole, watching helplessly the ravenous monsters as they feast away at my limbs. Their ugly furry bodies quivering with excitement in their feeding frenzy.
They are enormous these beasts. Enormous, nasty and mean. I cry and plead with them to go for my jugular and bring an end to this horrific tale but they won’t. They want me to suffer. They want me to live through hell and tell the tale.
And then, how quickly and easily we forget these bad days. I don’t think it’s healthy. Because bad days have a tendency to recur and it’s better to be prepared.
PS: The rest of the updates will be in a private blog. This story is the sequel of my best-selling novels ‘Inconvenient Relations’ and ‘Now and Forever’ with your favorite protagonists Shaan and Ruhi.
I invite readers familiar with the above to follow along this work in progress on condition you will comment not just read. If you’re willing please respond here with your email so I can send an invite. Thanks!
There was a patch of space on the wall. It looked just like the rest of the wall– dull, lifeless and gray. The only thing that set it apart was that it was the first to catch the sun in the morning. The first that told me I had to live yet another day. As it grew brighter it took on the hue of the sky which I’ve got to admit in my hazy imperfect view was gorgeous.
So today’s orange. What’s tomorrow going to be like?
Peach, daddy. Peach!Kash declared with an emphatic nod at which Ruhi and I’d looked at each other and laughed.
Yes my baby. Today is going to be just peachy.
Damn, I need to look outside! I flung the sheets aside and promptly fell out of bed.
“Mr. Ahuja! You should be more careful. How many times should I tell you.” The nurse helped me back up.
“I’m fine!” I protested pushing him away as he started to give me a thorough once over but he overpowered me and I gave in as usual. It had become a routine and I didn’t begrudge him anything. He was just doing his job and I was trying to save what little self esteem I’d left.
PS: Here’s a story idea I’ve been toggling with as I move ahead in my amateur writing hobby. It’s the future tale of our favorite couple Shaan and Ruhi. I want to push the envelope a little bit 🙂