Vrushti - Ch 2 - The Furore
Vrushti - Ch 2 - The Furore14 mins 536 14 mins 536
Asok was jolted up by a commotion. He must've dozed off while sitting next to Anahita, she had been shifted from the operation room back to her room for recovery. Asok felt guilty as to how he could afford the snooze, while his wife and new-born were in such a state, though a few sleepless nights can take a toll on the strongest person, but he had to be alert. The ruckus seemed to be coming from the outside and this was not the usual disturbance of the air drills from the Naliya airbase. This sounded chaotic; this sounded like a huge swarm of bees humming altogether at once. He turned to make sure Anahita was still under sedation, he looked down at his watch and saw only about an hour had passed since he spoke to the doctor.
Opening up a window in this room did not seem ideal, that would mean he would have to open the shades which were dimly illuminating the room and he did not want to risk waking up Anahita. Confronting Anahita was a moment he presently feared. Tiptoeing to the door, he stepped out. The corridor was empty as he had left it earlier, except for a nurse who rushed out of her console which was beside the operation room and ran down the stairs.
The very first thought to hit him as if everything was alright with his child. He dashed to the room and saw through the little transparent window, separating the sterile room, temporarily set up as the intensive care unit. What he saw was heart-wrenching. His new-born angel had several tiny tubes running all over her, a tube entering through the little nose, while some tubes taped to her minuscule wrists and probably injecting in some fluid, the largest one seemed to be taped to her chest and was probably infusing some medicine in her lungs. She was placed in a dome-shaped glass enclosure and was bathing in what seemed like pure oxygen. A nurse, sat in the corner of the room monitoring the vital signs of the baby. Even though pained to see this, he was reassured all was well at least for now at this front.
The din emanating from the outside continued. Asok, now totally perplexed, dashed towards the window he had been staring out this morning, he was left aghast with what he saw.
Hordes of people had gathered in and around the hospital premises. All kinds of vehicles had blocked the access roads to the hospital on both sides, on land and the lev-plane. Asok was simply awestruck trying to understand why such a huge crowd had gathered. He peeped inside Anahita's room to find her still unconscious and the curiosity got the better part of him.
He made his way down the stairs, passing the reception area where presently Sheetal was no longer seated. She was standing by the entrance foyer, with most of the hospital staff and the relatives of the inpatients. Asok joined the people who were here to understand what was going on. The security present was apparently under-equipped to handle the situation. The crowd included couples, families and even the elderly who seemed to mean no harm. They all looked just too happy. Asok could recognise quite a few people in this group, who were from Tera itself. The doctor who probably was in her cabin was the last person to join this inquisitive group.
Taking charge of the situation, she demanded to know what this was all about. A man seemingly in his mid-forties stepped up with a woman, who looked like his wife. The doctor immediately recognised them as the last couple who had come for delivery at this very hospital. Nervousness took over and she thought was this something to do about the past event. As they got closer, Asok saw their eyes were glistening and seemed they would weep out.
The man's voice quivered, "Is it true?", to be interjected by his wife, "We heard a baby is born in this hospital today, is it true?" Dr. Mehta who was totally taken aback as to how the news got out and spread so rapidly, but could not decide whether to answer in affirmative or negative, and just turned towards Asok. Before Asok could react or utter a word, the crowd almost in unison exclaimed, "It is our baby too, please let us see the child", someone said, "We want to give the child our blessings, please let us in". Asok, now overwhelmed with all the love that his child had already garnered, stepped up on the ramp, which under normal conditions was used to transfer patients from an ambulance to the emergency ward, to him this looked no less than an emergent situation. The sun had almost reached the vertex and was shining down bright. He raised both his hands joining them in a formal Namaste, the uproar of the crowd slowly dwindled down to the peaceful roar of some distant car engines.
He started by introducing himself, "I am Asok, I am the father of the infant girl that is born this morning". The crowd burst out into applause and instantly was now all ears for what Asok further had to say, "And I am totally overwhelmed with all the love and affection that you already bear for my child and appreciate that you all came from far and wide. But I must admit that this is a very difficult time for me and my family, my wife is still unconscious from the complications in the delivery, while the infant is critical. Your enthusiasm is very endearing, but am afraid I cannot allow you all presently to see my child in this condition, I myself can't bear to see her like this" At this moment, a cold wave of pessimism gripped the crowd and almost everyone decided that this child too would not survive, though in their heart of hearts they so much desired for the child's endurance. That very moment, the man whose child had perished earlier, reached out for Asok, held him by the shoulder and said, "Your child is our child, she is the daughter of Tera, a child of Kutch, she has all our blessings, she has the blessing of Maa Ashapura and Haji Peer, we will all pray for her. Do not worry, my friend, please consider us a part of these testing times, we were here to be a part of the happiness and celebrate this moment, but stand here with you as brothers in arms against your hardships. This moment will pass and we will soon be seeing your child grow to be a beautiful young lady." Asok suddenly felt his vision blurring out and realized that his eyes were moistened by the hope that was now instilled in him. Within moments, the crowd dispersed and Asok made his way up back to check on Anahita. He now had the strength to face her and impart the same hope he had acquired.
Anahita lay tranquilised unaware of all the happenings since the time she gave birth to the blessed infant. Asok for a moment felt jealous that she just lay there peacefully oblivious to all the on-goings while he had to face them without her by his side, but another part of his conscience reminded him, it was her who had been in the hospital for three months lying on an inclined bed, allowed only to get off the bed once or twice in a day to relieve herself for calls of nature, she was the one who braved all odds and was willing to take every risk to bring this child into this world. At this instant, he felt the magnitude of love for Anahita, he probably had never experienced. He started lightly moving his fingers through her long hair, wildly spread across the pillow. Asok could see that her eyes, though closed, had some kind of moment, probably this was what they meant with REM or rapid eye moment. He thought he saw a little smile appear on Anahita's lips, but couldn't be too sure, since Anahita always looked as if she was smiling, even in the toughest times of life they had been through, this was what had made Asok fall madly in love with Anahita the first time he saw her, the captivating smile had Asok go ahead and ask this girl to marry him. But this time it was different. Would Anahita still be calm and composed as ever after Asok narrated the happenings of the morning?
The first thing that Anahita could feel was her throat was parched, twice she had this feeling and dreamt that she had fulfilled her requirement for water, but this time the system wanted water for real, she felt a tingling feeling in her head but wasn't sure what it was. Slowly she opened her eyes, and a warm smile formed on her face on seeing Asok sitting by her bed, playing with her hair. Her throat was terribly dry now and she managed a croak while signalling with her hand for water. Asok immediately got off his seat and punctured the cap of a cup of water. While sipping on the refreshing drink of water, her mind instantly wandered off to understand why only two of them were in this room, where was her baby? She instantaneously put down the cup, half way through. Asok realized this was the moment he feared, this was the moment he had been collecting all the strength for since morning.
Like an innocent child who'd unintentionally broken an expensive toy, Asok's expression was dismissive and yet wore a smile, he did not want to directly break the news to Anahita. But Anahita would have none of it. Her face had a thousand questions being thrown at Asok, words did not seem to matter. Asok was being interrogated and he knew that any minute detail he hid now would be instantly caught. He affirmed to his wife, that she had delivered a beautiful baby girl and the child was placed in intensive care a few rooms down the corridor. The questions which were written on Anahita's face now took verbal form,
"Is our child alright?"
"Is my child in any form of danger?"
"Asok, are you lying to me?"
"Please don't hide anything from me"
Asok simply nodded mechanically in "Yes" or "No" to her questions.
Shattering the moment, the door opened and a nurse walked in, she had noted on her console that this suddenly very important patient was up and likely needed to be attended. With a huge smile, almost extending ear to ear, the nurse chirped a formal congratulatory greeting to this primigravida patient, she did it quite well even though she may never have congratulated any one ever in her entire nursing practise for a successful delivery. Anahita was presently not interested in the formality, now focussed her interrogation to the nurse. The broad smile waned a bit, but had an affirming assurance. She calmly replied to all the questions that Anahita had while she routinely went about noting all the monitors around Anahita, Asok felt a little relaxed but nervous nonetheless since the nurse recounted the entire event reminding him what he had just been through. And the obvious question popped up, "Can I see my daughter?" The smile waned further to a level where it would almost be a smile, and with an authoritative tone, the nurse replied "Yes, of course you can...but not now. Presently, you need to recover, so does your child." She attached a bag of a transparent fluid to the patch on Anahita's wrist and left the room.
Asok grabbed Anahita and gave her a tight hug, though it was very inconvenient as she was laying on the bed and he was partly seated, she sighed lightly. He whispered to her "Nothing will happen to our daughter, she is the love of thousands, she is the beloved of Kutch" and he narrated out the incident about the gathering that had happened while she was sleeping. Asok handed her half the cup of water she had left aside saying "You're not going to waste that, are you?" and she obligingly gulped it down.
Asok's day ended shuttling between the make-shift NICU and Anahita's room. Most part of what was left of the day Anahita was still drowsy, swinging between consciousness and sleep, every time she woke up and saw Asok the edges of her lips widened revealing a proud smile.
Asok was watching the sun go down on a really dramatic day from the windows when he warmly felt a hand on his shoulder. Turning around he saw his good friend, Naleen, who also happened to be his boss. Asok had never felt like an employee or a colleague, Naleen had always treated Asok as a friend and rightly as a friend would, he offered unconditional financial and moral support. He gave Asok a warm hug congratulating him again and made his way out of the hospital. Walking to his car, Naleen felt proud that a good friend more importantly a nice person like Asok was bestowed with a beautiful child and shared the joy. At the same time remorse almost hit him, Naleen's attempt at parenthood had been shattered in the third trimester a few years ago after which his wife and he never recuperated to think again. Now that she too was gone, he possibly would never know what it is like to father a child.
A week later Anahita was in this same location, flabbergasted with the assembly of people around her, each eager to just get a glimpse of the little marvel. This time around, elaborate security arrangements were made, but Asok had gestured to let the enthusiasts come see her, while being careful not letting anybody touch the young one who, as per the pediatrician, may still be susceptible to infections. Surprisingly, the visitors behaved in a very orderly manner and formed a queue to meet the young one. The hospital staff was standing right at the entry as if to bid farewell to their favourite patient, Dr. Mehta in the lead. She looked like she had conquered the world. While the little child in the arms of her mother had cuddled in swaddles of cotton cloth, her tiny left hand sticking out revealing a little sticker patch on the hind-side of the arm. This would dissolve into the skin in about a week after it had administered the required medicines and vaccines. Asok wondered if this caused any pain to his infant.
Anahita felt a tiny drop of water fall on to her forehead, at first she thought she was imagining things, it was definitely the concoction of meds causing her to have delusions. But another tiny droplet landed on the tot's forehead. Immediately, the atmosphere almost seemed to turn damp and a cool breeze brought in a sweep of the humid earthy whiff. This was nothing short of a miracle. Asok and Anahita almost miraculously uttered "Vrushti" in unison. Vrushti – A Drop of Rain, that's what they would call their firstborn, who seemed to be enjoying the dip in the temperature while the cool zephyr blew the four visible hair on her face like silken threads on a daisy. The mob was elated at this divine sign.
Asok made sure to get Anahita comfortably in the rear of the car, which was parked between the yellow lines with a board which claimed this parking was for patients only, before the precipitation increased. Rains, a word almost forgotten whenever occurred necessarily meant a cocktail of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide. The convergence formed did not seem to be affected even if it were to rain raw acid on them. The sky kept getting darker with bales of clouds densifying above like the crowd below, it almost looked like a contest between the two. From above the heads one could see the approaching rain with hazy columns of mist above a veil of dust right at the horizon, within a few minutes this place was going to be drenched.
Asok entered the car going around, from the right rear side where had settled Anahita, to the front left, he blamed his confused state of mind for acting funny since it didn't matter if you entered from right or left, right-handed or left-handed steering cars could only be found in classics which were driven on roads, the world had moved to central drives to better suit the aerodynamics required for levitating cars.
No sooner had he occupied his seat he was greeted "Hey Asok, I hope you're having a great day, Hope you too are doing well Anahita, it's good to have you back, there seems to be an infant occupant in the cabin, congratulations Asok and Anahita, have you taken the precautions required for an infant? Do you want me to explain infant safety procedures?" "No, NAINA, we have taken all safety measures, tell me about the weather" said Asok, once again looking at approaching sheathes of haze. "It is 28 degrees, light drizzle, the precipitation PH level is at 7.2 and does not show any acidity, do you further want to know the hourly forecast or the 5-day forecast?" The people surrounding his car had moved away and formed a proper path for his car to move out. The Navigational Artificial Intelligence and Network Aggregator robot acronymed NAINA asked, "Asok, are you heading home? There seems to be heavy traffic up ahead within a 100-meter radius, the ETA home is 18 minutes with a 3-minute delay in the traffic, do you want to go Auto or Manual with assistance." Asok didn't care how he reached, he just wanted to go home, he said
"It's okay NAINA, I'll take it from here, bye for now"
"Bye Asok, glad to help"
By now the light drizzle had picked up to become what could be called rain and the wipers turned on sensing the intensity. He shifted the gear into drive mode and was on his way home with his family.
Family, yes, now he had a family. For months he had pulled out of this driveway all alone, today he was heading home with a family.
(Continue to Chapter 3 - Lost Childhood)