Akruthi was seven and a half months pregnant with her child. She was about to go on maternity leave in a couple of days. The whole world was fighting the terrible pandemic Covid 19, otherwise commonly known as Corona. It was slowly beginning to spread in the city she was living in, Chennai. She and her husband were watching the news and having their dinner in the drawing-room. The Prime minister had announced a nationwide lockdown for 21 days starting the next day."Where is this going Pradeep? I am really scared.", said a panic-struck Akruthi."Don't worry dear, we will still be getting all the essentials and the hospitals will function as usual", consoled Pradeep. He was worried too, but he dint want to put the burden on his wife. Akruthi's parents were supposed to come from Bangalore next week but it seemed impossible now. Pradeep's parents were in the United States with his sister Prarthana, who had given birth to a girl baby a couple of months back. Akruthi was still upset that they were alone in this. Pradeep put his arm around her and said "We have each other, and we are going to manage it perfectly well. Do you trust me? he asked.
"Yes, more than anyone", she said.
"Good. Now come let's watch a movie", he tried to cheer her up.
Akruthi called her parents the very next morning."Do you have groceries and vegetables stocked up?", asked her mother.
"Pradeep had gone to the supermarket day before yesterday. We have groceries for a month and vegetables for the next week", Akruthi informed.
"You don't go out. Do not allow anyone to come into your house either. Wash your hands and everything you buy. I am so sorry we can't be there with you now dear. How is Pradeep? Does he have to go to the office?"
"He is fine. He is connecting from home. How is dad? Ask him not to roam around"
"It is going to be very difficult for him to sit at home all day. Let us see. Did you have your breakfast?"
"Yes mom, we had". She was another call from her office."Mom, shall I call you back? I have to another call"
"Alright dear, eat on time and take medicines"
"Sure mom, bye"
It was her manager and Akruthi got on with her activities for the day. She had to work one more day and then she will be on leave. She felt so relieved thinking about it. Pradeep went out once to get medicines and vegetables in the following weeks, otherwise, they spent all their time at home. He worked mostly during the day and helped Akruthi with household chores every chance he got. Once in awhile their neighbors checked on them. They spent their evenings watching some movie or taking a walk upstairs on the terrace. Very few people came to the terrace nowadays, even if they did, all of them maintained a safe distance from each other. There was fear everywhere.
Three weeks passed by and the situation was only getting worse, not only in Chennai but across the world. Millions of people were getting affected and thousands died every day. The whole world had come to a standstill. Daily wagers, farmers, businessmen, government officials, all men big and small got hit very badly. The virus showed no mercy. A large number of people who were infected got completely recovered, but the death toll kept increasing at an alarming rate. Both Pradeep and Akruthi were tired of watching the news and some days they never did as it was too depressing. Pradeep was very cautious because he dint wants his wife to panic and worry during this period. Both of them left for the hospital for a regular monthly check-up the next day. They had their masks on."The roads are so empty, it feels very odd".Akruthi commented. They were stopped by the police on the way."My wife is pregnant and we have an appointment at the RSB hospital for her monthly check-up" Pradeep tried to convince the police officer. The officer checked her medical records and let them go."Good, they are checking everything" Pradeep said, back in his car driving to the hospital. Both the child and the mother were in good health and they were back home in a couple of hours.
A few days later, Akruthi developed a mild cold. Both Pradeep and Akruthi began to worry but neither of them showed it in their face. She took the regular cold medicine. Even after a couple of days, she was not getting any better and she had a slight temperature. Pradeep called both his parents and Akruthi's parents to inform them. He was not sure what to do."Let us see for one more day", his parents said.
"Don't worry, it should be a normal cold. Don't panic. You should be giving her confidence now", his father said.
Akruthi's parents were worried too. They called every few hours to check on the situation. Akruthi began to isolate herself, but both of them were not ready yet to accept the fact that she might be infected with the deadly virus. Akruthi showed no signs of panic and so Pradeep dint wants to create any.
On the fourth day, as per Akruthi's suggestion, Pradeep called the helpline and explained the situation. When he told them that she was
eight and a half months pregnant, they informed that they will reach there soon. Two doctors carrying medical kits arrived. Pradeep was waiting outside and led them to his house. The neighbors began to panic and started questioning him. It was only then that he told them about Akruthi's situation. The doctors collected the samples and left. By then the neighbors had gathered around his house, everybody wearing a mask and maintaining distance."Why didn't you inform us in the last three days, one of them demanded."We were expecting for her to get better".Pradeep answered from inside the house."We did not go anywhere outside, we were in quarantine".Slowly the confusion subsided and people dispersed. Pradeep looked at his wife from a distance. She had tears in her eyes. He wanted to go sit beside her, hold her hands, but she wouldn't allow
him in. After a long wait that day, Pradeep got a call confirming that his wife tested positive for Corona."Are you sure", he asked unable to believe what he was hearing. He thought he would faint now. He couldn't move from where he was standing. How was he supposed to tell this to his wife, His parents, her parents? What is he supposed to do now?He somehow couldn't find answers to any of the hundred questions pounding in his head.
He gathered his strength and walked into the kitchen, drank a glass of water. He had to tell his wife now. He slowly walked to the bedroom where she was lying down. He opened the door. She was awake."What did they say", she asked eagerly."You will be fine", he said.
"I have got it isn't it? She asked and looked away. Pradeep dint knows what to say.
"Go wear a mask Pradeep, and stay away", she said firmly.
"You will be alright dear, don't panic, don't worry ok? Many have recovered and so will you", he tried to assure.
"What about our child? Will my baby be infected", she asked, tears flowing down her cheeks.
Pradeep shook his head."Nothing will happen to both of you. Both of you are going to be just fine. You hear me?"
"Go away Pradeep. Stay away", she said.
"I am standing right here by the door", he was not going to move anywhere from there.
After a while, an ambulance arrived. Men with protective gears, carrying a stretcher got down from it. They laid her down on the stretcher. They dint allow
Pradeep to go anywhere near her. Pradeep had packed a few dresses and some essentials in a bag for her which they took with them. He had to sign a few papers and was informed that she will be taken to the government hospital for treatment. They gave them a contact number for inquiry. Soon she was taken into the ambulance and it drove away. The whole street was watching all this in panic. Policemen put barriers at both the ends of the street and Pradeep was instructed to self-quarantine for the next two weeks.
Everything happened so fast. Pradeep was in a daze. What will happen to her? What if he doesn't get to see her and their child again, he could not even imagine. He came inside the house, sat down on the sofa, and broke down. There was no one around to hold his hand and console him.No one is allowed to. Karthik, his neighbor stood near his doorstep. But what can he say? How can he console him?."She will be alight. Everything will be alright. We are all here with you", Karthik tried his best to pacify him but he was crying like a baby."If there is anything you need, give me a call.ok?", Karthik said and left. All Pradeep wanted now was to be with his wife. He was shattered.
They were a happy family. Akruthi and Pradeep got married two years back and are crazy about each other. Both of them worked for reputed Multinational Corporations. They earned well and welcomed every day of their life with so much happiness. Only recently had they bought the three-bedroom apartment they lived in. They dint plan to get pregnant, but when they came to know of it, they jumped with joy. Pradeep took good care of his beloved wife and Akruthi loved him more than anyone or anything else in this universe. She is gone now, they have taken her and there is nothing that he could do about it. He wanted to be with her, hold her tight, and tell her that she is going to be fine. But there is no way now. He called his parents later in the night.
"What wrong did we do to go through this?", Pradeep lamented to them. His mother was crying too. His father was trying to console them both.
"This is when we need to be brave. She will be fine. Let's not lose hope.", he said.
"Will you be able to reach her. Will, they allow you to call?",Prarthana inquired.
"I am not sure, I really don't know what is happening there. She will be admitted into an isolation ward, they said".She has taken her phone with her", Pradeep informed.
"Things will be clearer tomorrow, try not to overthink, have some food, and get some rest", Prarthana said.
"Ok, I will call you people tomorrow", Pradeep signed off.
He couldn't sleep that night. The next day morning, he tried to reach Akruthi's mobile but nobody picked. Then he called the inquiry. He was put through to the concerned people after a while. He checked about his wife, giving them all the details. He was put on hold for five minutes before someone again responded. They informed him that she is being treated in the isolation ward and in case of any emergency they will reach out to him. Pradeep had nothing to do but wait. Akruthi's parents called and he gave them the status. Everyone was praying for the couple. He made himself a cup of coffee and tried to distract himself by watching television. It was very difficult. His thoughts wandered and he missed her so badly.
The next day he got a call from the hospital. They informed him that Akruthi was in labor. He asked if he could speak to her but she was already in labor and they told him it is not possible now. He cursed himself and started becoming restless. He called his parents.
"The hospital just called and Akruthi is in labor", he informed.
"Oh, is she doing fine?, Did you speak to her", his mother asked.
"No, she was already in so I couldn't speak to her."
"She will be fine. The child will be fine. Don't get tensed.", Prarthana said.
"Yeah, hopefully. I have never been this worried and tensed in my life", said Pradeep.
"We know. It is only a matter of time and everything is going to be alright", his father pitched in.
They spoke for about half-hour and then he called Akruthi's mother to inform them of the latest news. He then waited for what felt like an era. He couldn't eat or sleep. Akruthi's mother called again in the afternoon and insisted that he eat something, so he had a bread toast and tea.
It was 9 PM at night and Pradeep's mobile started ringing. He ran to it. He was so nervous."Hello", he said.
"Is this Mr. Pradeep? We are calling from this hospital. This is regarding your wife Akruthi".Pradeep's heart was racing.
"Yes, please tell me"
"She gave birth to a girl baby this afternoon at 12:05 PM. Both of them are doing well. We have good news for you. We tested both of them again after the delivery for Covid 19, both of them tested negative. However, we have kept them both under observation for a couple of days and will test them again before they are discharged."
"Oh, this is great news. I don't know what to say. Thank you so much"
And the phone line went dead. Pradeep took a minute to let everything he heard sink in. He immediately called his parents and Akruthi's parents and put them on a conference call. Everyone jumped with joy hearing the news. After a long time, Pradeep was really happy.
"I still have to wait for a couple of days before they discharge her. I cant wait to see them", he said with a big smile on his face.
Both mother and the child came home after two days. As soon as she stepped down from the ambulance, Pradeep went running and hugged her. They were so happy and thankful that they could see each other again."I knew you would come back. I knew you would", Pradeep said fighting his tears. Akruthi was crying uncontrollably, she had no words to describe what she was going through now. To get back whatever she thought was lost forever, it was a wonderful feeling and she was experiencing just that. Pradeep held their baby for the first time in his arms."She is our blessing in disguise, our angel from heaven", he said looking at her sleeping so peacefully. Akruthi agreed.
Everybody from the apartment was out, to welcome the couple and their child. They were next to each other, they could see each other. Both of them were wishing and praying for this moment as they passed the most miserable period of their lives over the last few days. Pradeep and Akruthi walked to their home holding their child, to start a new beginning.