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It was a cool morning of October. Mr. Ravi was going through the headlines of news paper in the terrace with a cup of herbal tea. Suddenly his wife Shila rushed towards him and asked,

-        Arrange a vehicle for Mamuni immediately.

A little puzzled Ravi asked his counterpart

-        What’s the matter?

-        It appears labour pain of Mamuni has started.

-        But….. as per medical report her probable date of delivery is 15 days or so away.

-        Yes……. But it may happen early irrespective of medical report. Please don’t waste time. Arrange a vehicle immediately. We should rush to the Nursing Home as soon as possible. No time to ponder.

Mamuni was their only daughter staying with them since last six months. For proper care and frequent medical check up they preferred to keep Mamuni with them as she was pregnant. Since then Mamuni was undergoing regular medical check up at Krishna Nursing Home. Further Mamuni was feeling protected with her parents around.

           Without any further delay Mr. Ravi contacted the nearby travel agency to provide a taxi. Within half an hour the taxi arrived. Meanwhile Ravi and Shila bagged the articles to be required at the Nursing Home during delivery. Of course they were mentally prepared for such kind of urgency. At that time Mamuni was in pain. But managed to walk without assistance. Despite her pain didn’t forget to give a smile to Papa.

Ravi, Shila and Mamuni boarded the taxi with their belongings and proceeded towards the Nursing Home, which was nearly 5kms away from their residence. It took nearly fifteen minutes to reach Krishna Nursing Home. During the journey Ravi cautioned the driver to drive slowly.

The supporting staff of the Nursing Home were very cooperative. Within no time Mamuni was admitted and the paper formalities were completed. After preliminary checkup Mamuni was carried to the labour room directly.

With the soothing words the doctors told

-        Everything is o.k. Nothing to be worried about. We will take care of her . But it may be little late.

It was Mamuni’s first delivery. That was the cause of concern for both Shila and Ravi.

Meanwhile Ravi informed his nearby relatives and in-laws of Mamuni regarding her admission and probable time of delivery, which was expected to be late.

***    ***    ***

           Every fifteen minutes either of them tried to peep through the door of the labour room to have a glimpse of their daughter. But it was of no avail. Only they could manage some news from the nursing staff about her present condition.

           Time passed away. Every passing moment raised the heart beats of both of the parents. Already eight hours had passed. Throughout the day Ravi was virtually running. Sometimes it was collection of medicine and at other times it was for different items required by the medical staff of labour room, intimated by a piece of paper or prescription. Being persuaded by his counterpart frequently met the doctors to get some news. Most irritating for Ravi was to attend phone calls in between.

           By the time all relatives and in-laws of Mamuni had arrive at the   Nursing home. Some were engaged with gossip. Others were engaged with tea and snacks at the refreshment counter, a little away from the labour room provided by the Nursing Home Authority. The corridor was nearly filled with relatives/attendants of other expecting mothers besides Ravi’s own.

         But both Ravi and Shila were speechless.

           : Why delay? Already nine hours had elapsed. What’s the problem?

           Those were the questions hunting both the parents. Silently both were praying to the God.

           : Have mercy on our child. How long you will torture her? Have mercy.

           Expecting the unexpected a shadow of black cloud shrouded over their faces.

           It appeared some news was collected by the ladies around.

           Time has arrived. Time has arrived.

           After listening news they felt their heart beats doubled. Tension and anxiety were mounting. With folded hands Ravi was praying.

           : Have mercy on my child. Let her deliver the baby without complicacy.

           At the same time other relatives were in a different mood altogether relaxed and amused.

           : Definitely a son will be born. In our family the first issue is always a male child.

           : If so……… party should be grand.

           : Yes……. Yes….. After all our own heir. etc. etc.

           Noise from the doors of the labour room.

-        A daughter……….. a daughter……….

A great sense of relief for both Ravi and Shila.

                      : Hey Jagannath! You heard our prayer. Straight way he fell prostrate on the floor and saluted the Almighty.

           At that time they were totally out of the world. A great sense of relief and proud moment. Indifferent towards the feelings of others. Who was happy or who was unhappy made no difference to them.

***    ***    ***

           After usual break the medical staff allowed the visitors to have a glimpse of the new born baby and her mother. Then exchange of remarks between the lady visitors started.

           : The nose resembles her father… the eyes resemble her mother……. Not so fair….. etc……..etc……

           But Ravi was heedless. Patiently he was waiting for his turn. At last his turn came. With proud feelings of a grandfather he entered the labour room. Could not control himself watching Mamuni on a hospital bed for the first time in his life. Mamuni was staring at her new born baby. Ravi asked in gesture whether she was alright. But…. What he was witnessing??? Could not believe his own eyes. Mamuni was crying. Totally taken aback. Being disappointed he asked,

           : Mamuni! At last you are also disheartened at the birth of a girl child??

           : No papa…..

           : Then why are you crying?? Are you not happy with the girl child??

           : Oh yes. I am so happy. Happy like anything. See papa! I am a mother.

           : Then why are you crying?

           : While struggling between life and death for ten long hours, I could realise the intense pain my mom might have undergone while giving me birth.

           Ravi was dumbfounded. Never heard of such type of utterance from anybody during his life.

           Tears started rolling down from his eyes automatically. Just caressed her hairs with utmost affection – “Oh my child….. my heart…… my princess……” found no words to express – “a daughter can only realize the pain of a mother”.


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More english story from Pramod Kumar Jena