Kash she was from the get go. And so she was meant to be. Kash–short for Kashish.
We knew she was coming. The question was not if but when. She had announced her arrival in our dreams. Therefore, when she finally did, it was like homecoming. I thought I was prepared. I was wrong.
It was a surreal experience.. Like watching a movie—a beautiful play from which I was excluded for the most part or shall I say reduced to the role of a bit player.
I was immersed in wonderment. A change had come over my wife. There was a sweetness in her smile I hadn’t yet perceived, a brightness in her eyes, an extraordinary gentleness in her movements. And it was all because of Kash, our sweet little gift. Our baby girl. Our bundle of joy. She and her mom– they were a unit. When they were together time stopped and nothing else mattered.
I’ve been asked a few times why aren’t my novels in audio? Well, I never thought about it. And then I had to find a suitable desi voice. Too much hard work. But then now that I have my own podcast I thought why not narrate it myself? So here it is! In installments for free! Hope you like it. Will try to post at regular intervals.
There was a lot of information to absorb. Information for new parents; do’s and don’ts and how tos. I was overwhelmed though really I wasn’t doing any of the hard work. I couldn’t imagine what Ruhi was going through. She wouldn’t talk about it but appeared to be handling it pretty well so far.
I had to learn how to strap the baby into her new car seat. I was trying to do it without pinching her with all the straps and buckles. She was so tiny and delicate that every little twist of her face threw me in a panic.
Ruhi was upset. “But I want to hold her in my arms.”
“Darling this is not India. It is the law here. Besides, the car seat is the safest place for her.” She agreed albeit reluctantly and insisted on sitting in the back next to the baby so she could comfort her.
The Grand Canyon. Who hasn’t heard of it? Everyone has. But you need to go there for yourself to realize it’s awesomeness! Grand doesn’t come close to describing it. I’ve been there a few times–still I catch my breath each time I lay eyes on it. Over two billion years of earth layers were cut by the mighty Colorado river and it’s tributaries.
My last trip there a few years ago was my most memorable one. It was part of a school trip– with my daughter and some of her classmates. We stayed in the Grand Canyon village at the South rim for two days and even hiked down the South Kaibab trail— only part of the way (it’s extremely steep and strenous). We also saw a mule train, the once almost extinct California Condor which the largest flying bird in North America with a wingspan reaching 10 ft—brought back by a dedicated captive breeding program.
As I have mentioned before I am inspired by my travels and the places I visit. I try to bring them into my writings whenever I can. You will find some of my experiences of the Grand Canyon in my books– Inconvenient Relations and its sequel- Now and Forever. You can check them outhere.
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?
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.
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 🙂