Chapter 2 (II): Have you held someone’s life in your hands?


Have you? 

Have you held a gun in your hand and felt terrified about pulling the trigger?

Have you looked at that bug crawling near your bed and thought about squishing it?

And then have you felt awful for wanting to kill it?

There are times when we do hold someone’s life in our hands, even if it is as tiny as a bug.

There was a time when I held someone’s life in my hands. And that some one was my own baby.

Dec 27, 2011

11:00 a.m.

My regular gynaecologist, Sonia, is out of town, So I’ve an appointment with Dr Ruchi instead. She’s a happy-looking, friendly woman in specs and a saree. 

“So, you’re planning to have a baby?” she asks pleasantly.

“Well, this isn’t exactly planned…” I tell her nervously…” We weren’t intending this to happen so soon…” But I had misunderstood her.

“No, I mean, but you are planning to continue the pregnancy, right?” 

Of course. Of course. I hear my mind saying it even before I say it out loud. I cannot think of that word. I cannot think of murder. For all my crying and wrath and resentment, not once have I thought about not ‘continuing with it’. The thought makes me want to throw up.

And that’s what makes me realise that I hold this tiny little life in my hands. It’s survival, it’s growth, it’s entire existence–it’s all up to me. 

It also made me realise that I’m not such a bad person after all… perhaps I was selfish, I wanted my life to be just so. But I wasn’t selfish enough to want to kill someone for it. 

Yes ma’m, however much might people say that the foetus isn’t alive until so and so time, in your heart, you know it is. You know it is, because every single second, it grows. And growth is the only sign of life. 

So yes, I have held someone’s life in my hands. And that has made me realise that all life is sacred. Even a tiny foetus.

Or for that matter, even a bug.

Chapter 2 (I) : Stepping into the battlefield


Dec 27, 2011

9:30 a.m.

I call up Shruti.

“H-Hi,” I stutter into the cell phone. I have to tell her. I need to share this with a girl. Sajjad has always been my best friend, but right now he’s not the one I want.

“Hey,” she replies cheerfully, but I know she knows why I’ve called her.

“It says positive,” I tell her flatly, if a little tearfully.

“Oh…” she takes a deep breath “well, then congratulations! Say congratulations to Sajjad.” I know she’s trying to turn this into a positive situation of celebration, like it is for most people. But it has the opposite effect, my tears flow freely once again.

“Hey, don’t cry, it’s gonna be alright. I know you didnt want this now,but it’s a blessing from God. Don’t cry, for heaven’s sake!” And that makes me cry all the more. Because I know I shouldn’t be crying. I should be happy. I should be celebrating this the way other women do. I feel sad. Sad for the tiny little life who I shouldnt be treating this way. I feel no joy.

And I feel a little abnormal. Am I? Isn’t this a time to be happy?

“Yaar… I don’t know why I’m so upset. I ought to be happy, right? I mean, Bella never wanted anything except for Edward, but then when she became ppregnant she was really happy and wanted to be a mother…. so why can’t I be happy, too?”

I didn ‘t say, did I — I’m a Twilight fan. (Don’t hate me if you’re not, though.I just try to relive my teenage through it…)

This time Shruti really laughed.

“Are you nuts? That’s a story! You’re not Bella! And you don’t have to feel anything that anybody else feels. It’s ok, you weren’t expecting this. It’s a shock for you and so you’re responding that way. It’ll be fine in some time.”

Will it, though?

Chapter 2: That moment when your life flashes before you…


Death.

Its supposed to be the moment when you’re dying, when your whole life moves before your eyes in a flash. I wasn’t dying. I was fully, completely alive. And I was going to bring new life into this world. And yet, I was experiencing that moment.

The only reason I got married so early was because I was in love with this man. Correction. I was head over heels in love with this man. For him, I had turned my life upside down and shaken it up. Just to be with him.

Now, if you’re reading this and you’re not an Indian, you won’t be able to comprehend.  Everybody gets married because they have fallen in love, right? Not so in India.

Here a ‘love marriage’ is an aberration. Something you need to hide or your parents will be sneered at. Here, people marry for their parents’ happiness. Or money. Or prestige. Or to bring forth thorough-bred offspring. Or if they were busy bachelors incapable of cleaning and cooking for themselves–then they get themselves a cleaning and cooking maid, one that they can legally have sex with and who would raise their children, all for free.

So believe you me when I tell you that this love marriage thing was no piece of cake. Everyone told me I would regret this. But I knew I wouldn’t. And I didn’t.

I was truly, really happily married. Every morning I would wake up, watch his sleeping face and feel an overwhelming mixture of thrill and serenity , all at once. I couldn’t just get over the fact that I had him. Here, before me, in my arms. I had every thing I wanted.

“You know I never feel like we’re married,” Sajjad would often tell me. ” It’s just as if we’re a live-in couple!” he would exclaim with wonder. We had heard all the marriage jokes and none of them applied to us. We were in our own private paradise.

I suppose that was because we respected each other as individuals, and never really expected each other to perform the “husband-wife duties”. Or if we did, we never took these for granted. I mean, what the hell, we literally said sweet thank you’s to each other for the littlest chore done. My entire life revolved around this man and being able to spend the maximum time with him.

All my life, from the time I was 12, I had been known as the super ambitious, super-competitive feminist. Everybody thought I would sacrifice anything for my career. But they were all wrong. Yes, I loved my job. Yes, I was crazy about being a journalist. But I could,. and I did once, chuck it all up for him.

My biggest, greatest dream was to be with this man. To spend every second with him. To go on vacations round the world, to have romantic dinners, to watch movies together, to share silly, funny jokes, to go on long drives in the rain, to make love in every corner of the house. And I was doing it. I was living the dream.

Until.

I felt my dream slip from my fingers.

Chapter 1: The tempest brews


Dec 26, 2011

10:00 a.m.

I’m running up a flight of 100 steps, taking two at a time, as usual, late for office and trying to make up in speed for what I’ve lost in a delayed start. At the top, my heart rate quickens manifold, banging like a hammer in my ears. I have to grab the railing and catch my breath…a good 2 minutes lost. I’m lost too, I had so far prided myself on being able to run up the stairs without a care; can’t seem to understand what went wrong. Time’s ticking away though, and I have that metro train to catch.

2:00 p.m.

The three of us –Shruti, Sagar and me– are sitting in the cafeteria with our respective lunchboxes, ready to trade morsels of home cooked food. I know what I have in mine–Sabzi of beans and potatoes with three rotis–I packed it myself. I’m starving. But as soon as I open the box, a wave of nausea hits me as I take a whiff of the food. “Umfff!” I clamp the lid shut.

“What’s wrong?” Shruti looks at my green face quizzically.

“Dunno, maybe the food has gone bad… the smell is making me want to throw up.”

“Let me see,” Shruti takes the box from me, ever the mothering, scolding one. ” Food’s perfectly alright, it’s just your excuse to skip lunch again…you’re gonna disappear soon if you don’t eat.”

I’m staring at the box now and another wave of nausea hits me.

Sagar, as always, is eating in complete silence. He seems to sense something amiss and prefers to be silent.

“Shruti,” I whisper dazedly, “I think we need to get a home test kit.”

Descending from the steps of the cafeteria, I text Sajjad. ” I hope you know that I’m going to kill you if this turns out to be what I think it is.”

10:00 p.m.

I’m reading the instructions on the kit. Sajjad sits next to me, sufficiently chastised. I am, however, more at peace.

“Well, after all, its been a year since we got married, and we’ve had a lot of fun together…it won’t be so bad…,” I’m telling myself more than I’m telling him. I always wanted more time with him, more things to do with him; he had been the single biggest dream I ever had.

“And anyway,” I continue,” It’s God’s will. He could have done this earlier and that would have been really bad…I’m sure I can cope with it now. I’m at peace and i’ll accept it with grace,” I know this is just me trying to make myself feel better, trying to accept the inevitable. But at some level I do feel calm inside.

Sajjad is silent. The way he mostly is. I know he’s listening.

“Well, let’s wait for morning. Maybe it’s nothing. Maybe I just have food poisoning!” I feign cheerfulness that I don’t truly feel.

Dec 27, 2011

9:00 a.m.

I’m in the washroom with Sajjad. I think I’m at peace. We watch the small rectangle with beating hearts. One line. The control line. Two lines.

I’m pregnant.

I thought I was at peace.

I’d always seen in movies that women break into tears of joy and men swing their wives up in arms on learning that they have new life coming. I did break into tears. But they were tears of shock. Of dread. Of dismay.

And they were tears of wrath–wrath that I unleashed on the man that I loved most in this world. Wrath of having my dreams washed over, wrath of having my carefully created magic universe destroyed.

And wrath at all those who had wanted this to happen.