Vrushti - Ch 1- Enigma Is Born
Vrushti - Ch 1- Enigma Is Born12 mins 886 12 mins 886
Sometime around dawn, on March 27, 2177 AD, when the sun was shedding warm dull hues of orange light, long shadows were being cast by the thorny Babool shrubs over the austere land of Tera, Kutch. Few decades ago, one could've heard the pandemonium created by the high-pitched screams of the peacocks and the cacophony chirping of sparrows. But today Tera, the barely-known hamlet was no longer the same, of course you could hear the cawing of the crows and occasional hiss of the pitted vipers, whose population seemed to have risen in the recent past, or so it seemed since many could now be seen in the open.
This morning was different for one person altogether. What Asok was experiencing this morning, was something he had never felt before. His feelings were a complete khichdi of anxiety, nervousness, excitement, ecstasy and yet there was this empty sinking feeling in his mind. As he waited outside the room, where his wife, Anahita had been bed-ridden since the last three months, the dam holding his fears was about to erupt and push him to the brink of insanity. He shook himself out of the darkness that was clouding his mind and thought to himself that this was not the time to succumb to weakness or panic, yet he almost felt as if his knees would give way and he would come crashing to the ground. To push this sinking feeling away, Asok moved away from the bland white door with a large brass "2", which indicated the room number, separating him and Anahita to the row of seats which were laid along the one of the windows of the nursing home. The waiting seats were the typical ones which could be found in a hospital where the metal was shaped for back-rests with tiny orifices and the cushion at the bottom had pretty much formed the shape of the people who often sat there, there were screens jutting out of the left hand-rests with a coin slot for people who wanted to be entertained. A smile almost appeared on Asok's face when he saw how huge the depressions were on one of the seats, imagining how huge the person could be. But the overwhelming odour of the disinfectant being sprayed by the janitor brought him back to reality and the smirk vanished to oblivion. He chose not to sit, but began distantly staring out of the window.
At the very same moment, just down the corridor, Anahita so much wished that Asok was by her side and that she could hold his hand, at the same time she so much hated the doctor and the nurses who had asked Asok to wait outside. For Anahita this was going to be the end of the three-month long bed-rest, which had started a few months after the sweetest moment of her life, when she had whispered to Asok that he was going to be a father. Anahita felt the pride of womanhood and being blessed with the opportunity to become a mother. At the same time, she was overcome by trepidation, thinking about giving birth to a child in these hard times. She chose to move her mind away from such negative thoughts and decided to concentrate on the promise she had made to Asok of bearing good and positive thoughts for her pregnancy. The fan above which lazily kept rotating at a slow pace stole her mind away for a moment. Her train of thoughts was derailed by the nurse who injected an IV fluid into the little patch which was attached to her wrist. This patch looked like a flexible plasma watch except it showed all the vital signs required to be monitored and this patch had a receptacle nozzle from which medicines could be administered intravenously, though this smart patch automatically administered the daily nutritional dosage of folic acid, Vitamin D, etc., but the nurse ascertained this dose was absolutely necessary. The steady blinking of the blue heart icon reminded Anahita that negative thoughts were impacting her pulse and that could be bad for the impending delivery.
She just couldn't help it; her thoughts just went out to the day she was brought to this hospital. As if by an emotional connect, Asok, who staring out of the window too was thinking about that day. The day she was almost imprisoned in this room. Every individual that looked at her while she was on her way to the hospital in the second trimester, many had not even seen what a pregnant woman looked like, she probably was the first pregnant woman after seventeen years in Tera. The last woman to carry a baby to term had delivered an acutely dehydrated still-born, the very thought of this made Anahita break into cold sweat, the way things suddenly went wrong and she had spotting and bleeding and how she had to call Asok at work to express her paranoia and the moment she had to be instantly transferred to the hospital, where the doctor had said that it was too early to predict how the pregnancy would proceed and she would have to be instantly put to bed-rest under constant medical supervision. It was not only that she was the single pregnant woman in Tera, but a sonography scan revealed few abnormalities. The doctor came to the room number 2 and while checking Anahita with a grim face asked Asok to come see her in her cabin. The cabin was in the outpatient department at the ground level right below Anahita's room. He instantly reached the cabin, only to find that the doctor had not returned yet from the routine visit through the hospital. The receptionist outside asked him to be seated in the cabin till the doctor returned. The girl behind the reception was Sheetal, one of the last few successful births in Tera, she was in her early twenties and probably doing a summer job here. Like most of the recent births, she too wore a pale, under-nourished look and was quite skinny. She guided Asok to the cabin with a gesture of her hand.
In the doctor's cabin, a white coat with the doctor's name, Dr. Ambica Mehta, embroidered over the breast pocket was placed on a hanger on the curtain rod. A laser sono-scope partly dangled outside one of the lower pockets. A small check-up bed with several drawers underneath was lying behind the curtain rod, an insipid but clean white curtain was partly pulled over to cordon off the check-up area. In the centre of the room was the doctor's desk with a chair of the doctor towards the cordoned area and two visitor chairs on the other side of the desk. The desk itself was very well organized with a writing pad with embossed "Ambica Mehta, MD" and the usual Rx in the top left corner, a pen-stand with some pens and a highlighter, while the whole desk was the usual communication touch surface with a lock screen and blinking cursor asking for a password and the hospital hologram being projected above. About a dozen huge medical books lay in a rack just above the desk on the right side. Quite old school, Asok thought, who has books anymore?
Asok just couldn't hold his patience, why was it taking the doctor so long just to visit another 6 patients, from what he could remember the hospital had just eight rooms. A year passed by, turning in to a decade and the decade into a century and Asok looked up at the time projection on one of the walls with posters of dehydration prevention, only five minutes had passed. His anxiety now knew no bounds, he stepped out and approached Sheetal explicitly expressing his impatience and asked her why the doctor was taking so long. Pat came the almost-mechanical reply, it would take the doctor another 15-20 minutes, he could return to Anahita's room and wait there, she would call him once the doctor was back. But that would mean rubbing off his anxiety and impatience on to Anahita, who already was under duress, he promptly decided against it and opted to wait in the doctor's cabin. Moreover, he didn't want to waste a single second in finding out what the doctor had called him for.
Two centuries later, ten minutes in actual time, the doctor walked in to the cabin with two nurses following behind. She instructed them about some medical changes for some patients, while they transferred some data from the slates they were carrying to the main console, soon they left. After exchanging pleasantries like "Hello Asok, how are you?" the doctor occupied her seat. The doctor was in her mid-fifties, one of the best doctors Asok had seen in his life, she had started this hospital with her husband over 25 years back and had established a name in the surrounding areas. Unfortunately, her husband who too was a great doctor, had passed away a couple of years ago and now this hospital was being run all by herself and her assisting nurses. She looked flustered but wiped off the expression on confronting Asok. She swiped her index finger to log in and the desk completely turned in a monitoring console with figures and graphs appearing from all the patients. Asok almost saw Anahita's name under the tab showing a blinking red number 2, at which she gestured a swipe on a certain detail from the desk console to a flexible slate she was holding.
A minute there she almost looked like she had lost a major battle and abruptly, she started using all the adjectives she may have ever learnt. "Beautiful, wonderful, awesome, great, marvellous...", while Asok decided in his mind that she had finally lost it and had succumbed to the work pressure, was about to blurt out "Will you say something, Doc?" Suddenly, the doctor burst out, "Asok, the amniotic fluid in Anahita's uterus is critically very low..." Asok went numb, moments back time just would not pass and now it seemed time had come to a grinding halt. He just did not know how to react, he robotically got up from his chair, "...but the good news is that the baby is perfectly fine, which is amazing, but the effects can only be known at childbirth, further it complicates normal delivery too." Still stuck in the numbness, Asok without even thanking the doctor or uttering a single word to her, zombie-ed out of the cabin. Outside, Sheetal chirped a formal thank you, which he paid no heed to and walked on. He climbed up the stairs and entered the room where Anahita was placed. Anahita had not seen Asok ever like this in their seven years of marriage, nor had Asok ever experienced such great anxiety off Anahita. Before Anahita could utter "Wha...", Asok cried out "Anahita, you're very low on water, your intrauterine fluid is low." Like a cloudburst on parched land, Anahita started crying, her fears personified, intimidating Asok further who was already finding it hard to digest the moment. He went totally cold in the arid heat of Kutch, consoling Anahita "Bu...But, but, the doctor says the baby is perfectly fine" choosing to hold back the additional statement about childbirth complications from his already harried wife.
The door suddenly opened and Anahita's consciousness was brought back to the current moment. A nurse entered and informed the doctor that operation theatre was prepped and Anahita could be transferred. Asok who was still staring out of the window realised these happenings and rushed back to the door which was now ajar.
Anahita was now being wheeled out, on the levitating stretcher which was most common to smaller hospitals like these, she saw Asok and held out her hand, which Asok immediately grabbed. Asok suddenly felt that Anahita seemed to have aged at least 10 years, but still looked as beautiful as ever. She held his hand tight and demanded Asok to promise that everything would be alright. Asok choked for words, nodded in affirmative. He walked along with the bed carrying Anahita holding her hand till they reached the operation theatre which was at the other end of the hospital's first level passage. Once again, he was restricted from entering the operation room and felt a moment of madness, wanting to revolt, his ire was contained by the calm face of Dr. Mehta, who assured Asok that this was for his own good, their own good. She assured Asok, under normal circumstances she would've liked Asok to be on Anahita's side, but this was different.
Impetuosity once again waged war against Asok's mind, and he started darting up and down the hallway while occasionally trying to figure out from the shapes that he could see on the translucent pane of the operation theatre door. He felt his throat turning dry but chose to ignore the feeling, he was pretty much habituated to this, though he could use a drink of water now. Seconds turned into minutes and minutes in to an hour, for a moment he thought he heard the wailing of a baby, but probably his mind was playing games.
A couple of minutes later, a silhouette seemed to appear on the glass pane, and Dr. Mehta stepped out. Asok immediately started reading her face, the expression he saw was a confusing one; there was glee and concern at the same time. It seemed like she was trying to find words and build a sentence like trying to build a house on quicksand, since they just kept sinking. She croaked out in a formal doctorly manner, a statement she had not made in years, "Congratulations, it's a girl".
A huge smile burst out on Asok's face. "And, how's Anahita?" inquired Asok. "She is fine, a normal delivery wasn't possible and a C-section had to be performed, she's presently sedated, she should be okay in a couple of hours." "But Asok, there's a little complication." Bam! Asok instantly came crashing down from the seventh heaven he was in. The amniotic fluid plays an important role in the development of the lungs of an infant in the last trimester, the low availability of this fluid had caused immaturity of the lungs in the neonate Dr. Mehta told Asok, that the mortality chances were a lot high since presently the infant was facing difficulty breathing, the doctor made it clear that the lungs had not developed enough alveoli, the alveoli are small-thin walled bubble like structures through which veins pass, the gas exchange takes place here, the fresh oxygen inhaled replenishes the blood while releasing carbon dioxide which is exhaled. This definitely meant critical care would have to be taken, so that there is no damage to the lungs during this development stage.
Not having any medical knowledge, Asok immediately deputed the doctor as the best judge and asked her what would be the next step. The doctor asserted that the next 72 hours would be crucial for the infant's survival and she would not be able to comment on anything at the moment. More so, the infant would have to be kept separate from Anahita in a neonatal intensive care, which they would set up in this hospital itself, since transferring the baby to some other location in this condition was not ideal. Asok nodded in agreement.
(Continue to Chapter 2 - The Furore)