Valeria5 mins 168 5 mins 168
“Are you feeling better now, Sofia?” Martina asked me, dressed in a protective suit as she came to check up on me. I felt weak and tired; no wonder, I had given birth barely a couple of days ago and I had just woken up from a deep, medicated sleep.
I looked at her and gently nodded my head.
She smiled at me, dressed in a protective suit, mask, and gloves. I knew her name: Martina Rossi, and how she had disinfected the room with rubbing alcohol.
“I shall bring her in, in a moment.”
“Sure… excuse me, can I please have some water?”
Martina came up to me and helped me sit up. She adjusted the pillows around me and handed a glass of water.
“I shall let you know once Roberto arrives,” she said.
Though I was brimming with delight inside, I knew that something was wrong the way Martina went about her work: checking my vital levels, making notes on her clipboard and the eerie silence outside.
“Is something wrong?” I asked Martina, finally. “Is my baby okay?”
Martina looked at me, and it was only then I noticed her exhausted face and eyes. I had been stuck to my bed for a week, and I had no visitors. Roberto had to go an unavoidable business trip to France and we haven’t been in contact for some time. I wanted him to come back soon and hold his daughter. We had decided to name her Valeria, symbolizing strength.
“Your baby is healthy, but…”
Tension ran through my body like electricity as I almost screamed, “What is it, Martina? Please tell me, I beg you.”
She came closer to me.
“I don’t know if I’m supposed to be telling you this, but the entire country has had a lockdown. People are confined to their homes, schools, and offices have been closed and millions of people are stranded at the airport.”
The bubble inside me died.
“Oh my God, Roberto!”
Martina took hold of me.
“You must not panic, you’re not well enough yet. We are trying our best to control the situation, believe us. However, we must be careful… okay?”
If only Roberto were here; I couldn’t bear to think of him stuck at the airport when all he wanted to do was to see his little girl.
Martina brought Valeria to me: wrapped in a soft pink blanket, her mouth slightly open as she slept in peace unaware of the chaos outside.
“I shall be back in some time, Sofia. Please take care, and do not worry. Dio è Buono.”
“Take care, and thank you.”
With that, I was left on my own with my baby. Beyond traumatized at the thought of Roberto being quarantined, he sent with his co-passengers into an isolated room. All he wanted to do was to see his daughter, and I had let him down.
He never wanted to go on this business trip in the first place, but it was only I who had pushed him to go ahead. I knew that this was a big project for him, and he needed to be there.
“I don’t want to go, Sofia. It’s more important for me to be here…”
“I’ll be fine, I have Martina with me and she’s an expert. You should go for your business trip; I’m sure that she can wait a week just to see you first.”
When would he see his daughter? I was consumed with joy mixed with fear, distrust, and unhappiness. Yet, I was as helpless as the next person in the hospital.
A couple of hours passed by, there was no news of Roberto. That’s when I desperately asked for Martina’s phone to make a call.
“I need to call him, please.”
Martina looked distressed as she refused.
“I’m sorry, but I can’t. I have texted him about you, and I will let you know when he texts back, I promise.”
I took her hand.
It was about nine o’clock.
Suddenly, there was a song outside my window. I wasn’t Italian by birth, and I had to strain my ears to understand some of the words.
The people were singing songs to lift everybody’s spirits, Martina told me.
As I hummed to the familiar song, I realized that this was the time not to break, but to face the situation with courage and hope. My daughter would not grow up in a world of negativity but of optimism and community. She would be strong and brave enough to challenge whatever life threw at her, with a smile – just like her name predicted.
Just as I whispered her name into her ears, Martina ran up to me with a smile.
“Roberto’s on the call, and he wants to speak to you.”