Monday, 26 May 2014

The Arrival

On a sunny day, on the streets of Chowpatty on 16th January 1996 a pregnant woman walked to Purndare hospital with increasingly painful contractions. Being a second timer, she did not panic but this child, unlike her first seemed to be in a hurry to leave her warm womb. She walked as quickly as she could with her hand tightly held by her sister in law. It took them 15 minutes to reach the hospital. As she walked into the hospital, a nurse who knew her came running to help her. "Bhaktiji" she called out taking her other arm, "Why didn't you take a taxi?"  By her expression she could tell it was a bad time. ''Sonalji you wait outside", said the nurse after she took her to the emergency room. "But but...." Sonal called out as her weak sister in law was wheeled away.

Sonal kept pacing up and down as she heard screams from the other side of the door but she was hardly worried about delivery, all she cared about was the sex of the child. "A boy, Mahavir!'' she kept repeating, ''it's okay if he is not very smart or not very handsome as long as it's a boy we are happy''.

She reacted to the tap on her shoulder with a quick start, as she turned she met a face with a smile that one has for a family photo, she said, "it's a boy" and Sonal just stood there. The nurse shook her again and still she did not react. "A chokra!" she repeated in Hindi. And then suddenly Sonal started weeping, the nurse stood there rolling her eyes. "You can go and see him.'' she said pointing towards a corridor on the right. 

Then what followed was a hug that nearly left Bhakti out of breath with her fragile shaking. She started to feel like she had given birth to God himself. Sonal was constantly on the phone giving everyone the good news. Half hour later Bhakti’s husband was there and the first thing he did was check the sex of the child. He held up like his prized trophy, he felt a sense of pride. He looked down at his crouch and gave it a short smile, a token of appreciation for delivering as expected. He placed the baby in the crib and like a ritual he went and placed his right hand on Bhakti's shoulder, any more physical contact than that would seem inappropriate.Soon, that small room was filled with Gujarati women telling the mother ways to keep herself fit, there was constant advice on what she should eat and how much. There were a few nosy women also giving her advice of how to breast feed and how keep her previous weight intact. 

Among all of this a man of sixty five walked in with a small girl holding his little finger. As he walked in the noise began to die down, he went up to his daughter, ignoring the new born and said, ''How do you feel?''She gave him an unsatisfying nod. Just then the little girl stuck her head in crib and was fascinated by the beautiful face, fair and pure, he looked so comfortable and at peace. She looked at with starry eyes, hoping that this will be her new toy. She could not wait for it to come home.
Just then a voice whispered in her ear, ''You like him? He is your brother.''
It was her father, ''you will take care of him?''

Just then she learnt the first thing about this new shinny toy. It has to be taken care of, not played with.

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