"Enough is enough. Now you expect me to do this also. Do u realize, I also get tired. I work my ass off the entire week. Do you even consider, I am a human too, not some money vending machine for your luxuries and comfort" Sejal shouted in fury.
Akash looked at her, took a soft breath and said softly - Sejal, why are you over reacting. Is this matter worth shouting for. I mean...
He could not complete, as Sejal thundered again as she dropped her hand bag on sofa in frustration - What the hell do you mean by, I am over reacting.
She smirked in anger and said - Look at the audacity of this man. He sits at home, doing nothing and he is telling me, I am over reacting. Wow.... Fantastic...super.
Akash still said in a sober tone- Sejal please. It completely slipped from my mind. I had meant to go at the bank and get the Neft done. But I saw a recipe on YouTube and thought I should ...
Sejal Interupted him again and shouted in agony and disgust -You are a useless man Akash. I regret marrying you. All you are interested is bloody cooking videos . You disgust me. No sense of responsibility at all. It was important to get the money deposited. But no... You carry on with your bloody YouTube videos.
Akash's patience was wearing off, controlling his tone, he said - Please if you had added that client in your beneficiary yesterday, you could have transferred the money today online.
Fire danced in Sejal's eyes as she hissed - Oh man... right... My fault... Bloody my fault.... I am wrong. I should have added. You like a Fucking ass keep sitting at home and point out my flaws.
Akash looked at her and said in a stern voice - check your choice of words Sejal.
Sejal pointed a finger at him and shouted at the top of her voice - You don't give me lessons on what I need to say and what I need to talk. A person who has no spine to stand for the family and its responsibility, dare not lecture me. Look at yourself. What a mess you are. A highly educated man, rotting himself at home, cause you are too lazy to get your ass off the house and share the responsibilities.
Before Akash could reply, Sejal rushed into her room.
Akash sat on the sofa, his head held in both his hands as he tried to calm his nerves down. A few minutes later, he rubbed his face with both his palms and got up. He picked up a bottle from the dining table and gulped down the entire content.
He moved towards the room to check on Myra. She was fast asleep. He slowly shut the door again as softly as possible. He looked towards his room, not seeing any possibility of entering into it today, until and unless he was ready for another heated, never-ending argument.
He picked up his phone from the centre table, adjusted a cushion on the sofa and lay down. He was about to open the facebook app, when the door to his room opened. He saw Sejal walk out of the room animatedly and move toward the refrigerator. She opened the door and took our a chilled bottle of water and closed the door. While going back she glanced at Akash and muttered - good for nothing.
Akash heard the words and closed his eyes for a few seconds. He heard the room door slam. His eyes fell on the wall clock. It was twelve ten at night. He took a deep breath and opened his facebook app.
'you have memories on this day'.
He clicked on the words and a picture of Sejal and his came up. Sejal had uploaded the pic on 20 September 2010. He was tagged in the pic. He could not stop himself from smiling as the memories related to the image danced in front of his eyes. This pic was taken in Sejal's college. He was on his knees, his hand on Sejal's hand and the ring shinning on her ring finger. The look on Sejal's face was priceless. She looked so happy and radiant.
He still remembered. He had just completed his MBA in Finance from Canada and flown down all the way to Delhi, to propose to Sejal who was in the fourth year of engineering in IT.
He remembered the timid and shy Sejal when she has first entered the gates of IIT Delhi. He has just stepped in third year. He and his group of friends had ragged her.
In the course of time, he fell in love with the simple and easy going Gujarati girl. His last day at IIT had been emotionally upsetting for both of them as he had enrolled for MBA in Finance in an institute in Canada. Sejal had not objected once as she knew Akash was very career oriented. He dreamed big. He wanted to become a hot shot in the Finance industry. She had supported his decision and encouraged him to go. Both had made promises to each other, to happily adjust to the difficulties of long distance relationship cause both knew it was a dream of Akash to run a business empire and be known among the hot shots of the country. He was a very career oriented man since the time he understood life.
He startled as the room door opened again. He dropped the phone on his chest and saw Sejal pick up her hand bag and started to go towards her room. She stopped and looked at him and spitted the words - Carry on with your mobile. You are fit for this only. The house is your world. You have nothing else to do. Enjoy your King's life...
She slammed the door again. Akash watched the closed door for a long time. He then looked back at the pic. He scrolled down and saw another memorable pic. One that was uploaded by him in the year 2014. This pic brought a way more broader smile than the previous one. It was again a pic of Sejal and him, but here Sejal was heavily seven month pregnant, and it was her baby shower party.
He looked at the pic, he looked decent in the black Jeans and light pink Tshirt and Sejal was glowing in the royal blue gown. He smiled again as he remembered that he had worn pink cause he wanted a daughter and Sejal had worn blue cause she wanted a son. He recollected that the pic was clicked by his best friend Saurav, who had been his friend in Canada where he had done his MBA.
He looked at the pic for a long time and then closed the app and kept the phone on the centre table. He lay on the sofa and thought about the baby shower party. Just one month later, he remembered he was engrossed in a meeting at his office at 7:30 pm, when his cell phone rang.
He heard the panic ridden voice of a scared Sejal who said that her water has broken.
"Sejal, you have just entered eight month of your pregnancy. What... I mean... How" said Akash in a worried voice.
He heard the ragged tone of Sejal "Akash... I m not kidding. My water broke. I am.... I am having severe cramps. Please... Please.. Come.. Quick"
Akash had sensed the panic in her voice. He had grabbed the wallet and car keys from his office table and excused himself and ran outside towards his car. He started it and accelerated right from the start, all throughout the way trying to pacify a scared and panicked Sejal. He knew she was alone. Their only neighbor was out of town.
He disconnected for two minutes and informed the hospital and Sejal's doctor. He informed Sejal's parents.
He drove as fast as possible and was by Sejal's side in less than thirty minutes. He lifted a crying Sejal effortlessly in his arms and carried her to the car and made her lie down in the back seat as cautiously as possible. Within the next twenty minutes Sejal was hospitalized and in the next one hour, she had a c-section and his daughter entered the world.
He could never anticipate the feeling of her arrival, cause her arrival left both of them scared. She was put on ventilator with minimum chances of survival. The seventeen days that she was in the hospital has been seventy decades of pain, frustration, agony and hurt.
Seeing their little piece of heart all pricked with needles and machines had left Akash and Sejal shattered. Both had cried days and night. Prayers being their only support. EACH SECOND THEY HAD FEARED THE WORST YET HOPED FOR THE BEST.
After fifteen days of unimaginable struggle, after fifteen days of fighting the most negative thoughts, after fifteen days of endless prayers, when the doctor has declared their daughter stable, Akash had broken down in the doctor's chamber.
He remembered going back home and hugging his wife and crying for infinite moments. Both LETTING GO of the pain and fear of their loved one being snatched away.
He cupped Sejal's face in his palms and had kissed her forehead and and repeated the book name of his favorite author Robert Sculler.... TOUGH TIMES NEVER LAST, TOUGH PEOPLE DO.
Akash wiped Sejal's tears and then his own and said - no more tears now. My daughter is comi...
Sejal interupted in a low voice- ours.... Ours...
Akash smiled- yes, our daughter is coming home day after tomorrow. I want to give her the grandest welcome possible. Our princess is coming home. My MYRA is coming home.
Sejal looked at him and quizzed - MYRA?
Akash smiled -Yes, thats what I have named her.
Sejal fell in love with the name instantly and whispered - MYRA....
And they hugged each other again and their eyes went moist again.
They brought MYRA home with huge celebrations, spending lavishly in her home coming.
Three months passed away, Myra moved from their heart to their soul. She was the apple of their eyes and the centre of the universe .
One morning Sejal woke up to find Akash getting ready.
'Are you going somewhere Akash ' Sejal questioned.
Akash turned towards her and said - "Yes Sejal. Going to office".
"But today is Sunday. Last two Sundays you are going to office Akash. You told you will be taking this Sunday off.
Akash adjusted the tie knot and looked at her and said -"It's important Sejal. The client is coming all the way from Sri Lanka. If I get the project. We will be able to leave this 3 bhk flat and move into our dream villa. This is my big chance to success."
Sejal had seen the pictures of the villa, that was on the outskirts of the city. She had loved it and she had seen the Hunger in Akash's eyes to own it.
Akash saw her lost in thought. He snapped his fingers to bring her out of her thoughts and said - Sejal, it's three months. Myra is completely fine, hale and healthy. You should join back office now.
Sejal immediately looked at his daughter sleeping beside him and muttered - "what about Myra".
Akash smiled -"what about Myra. I have fixed everything Sejal. She will be at Daffodils creche, that is at the corner of our lane. You will be home by six in the evening. You can then get her home.
Sejal looked at her husband hesitatingly and said - "Are you sure Akash".
Akash smiled - "Yes Sejal"
"She will be fine, right " Sejal spoke looking at her daughter.
Akash went towards Sejal, ruffled her hair and said - "Yes mommy... She will be fine".
Sejal nodded her head and then bend and kissed Myra lovingly on her forehead and went to the washroom.
The next week Sejal joined office too, leaving MYRA in the care of the creche.
A year passed by and both got engrossed in their careers, giving as much time as possible to Myra.
To be continued....
Akash heard a noise and came back to the present. He hurriedly got up as the noise had come from Myra's room. He rushed inside and his breathing calmed as he saw Myra sleeping peacefully. He saw the toy car was lying on the floor, the one Myra had insisted to sleep with. She might have pushed it in sleep and it fell on the floor.
He walked towards her, pulled the bed cover upto her chest and kissed her cheek. He caressed her forehead and sat beside her and kept looking at her.
He drifted into thoughts when MYRA was one year three months old.
He was at office when his office colleague Vidyut knocked his cabin door and came inside.
"Akash, keep your morning free tomorrow. Its my son's first birthday tomorrow. My wife and me have decided we would be going to the orphanage tomorrow and donate food and clothing. You had also expressed a desire of doing so on Myra's birthday but we could not go. Let's go tomorrow. Get Sejal Bhabhi and Myra Also". Said Vidyut.
"Sejal has office Vid, and Myra will be at creche, I won't be able to handle her alone. But I will join you."
"Cool, see you tomorrow at 8am at Hope orphanage at Greek lane", saying so Viraj left the cabin.
Next day, Akash along with Vidyut, his wife Sonia, his Eight year old daughter Samaira and one year old Viraj reached the orphanage.
Akash's mood dropped a little as he remembered his initial years at the orphanage. He was nine years old, when he was adopted by new parents. He had no idea when he was born, where he was born and to whom he was born. He just knew the parents that adopted him. But he did remember his initial nine years vaguely at some orphanage in Indore. He then shifted with his new parents to Delhi. Life gifted him some beautiful with years with his parents but he lost both of them too in a car crash when he was in first year college. But the twelve years that he had with them, he had received infinite love and care and inculcated discipline, values and the wish to succeed in life. He learned the value of money and hard work. He was brilliant at studies and after his engineering got a scholarship for MBA in Canada.
He was distracted as he heard Vidyut's daughter Samaira speaking to a eleven year old boy. He saw Vidyut and his wife talking to the nuns who took care of the orphans.
He leaned closer to hear the kids as they were talking in almost whispers.
Samaira- "Oh really "
The boy - "Yes we all celebrate our birthday together once a month, who all came in that particular
month. Its done on every first day of the month"
Samaira- "I have a party on 7th Nov every year. I celebrate it on my birthday only"
The boy- "Wow. You have a date"
Akash smiled sadly as he too did not know his birth date. He celebrated his birthday on the day his parents adopted him.
He got distracted as he heard the little boy talk.
The boy - "You got a mom and dad. How lucky you are."
Samaira looked at her parents and nodded.
The boy - "You can talk to them. You can hug them. You get to spend all your days with them."
Samaira said with her innocent heart - "No . I hardly see them. When I get up in the morning, my maid gets me ready. She cooks breakfast."
The boy - "Why".
Samaira spoke - "Because Mom and dad both go to office. They come late and by the time they come I sleep. I only see them on Sundays and most of the time they are sleeping".
The boy - "Oh... Are we same same."
Samaira - "No... I meet my parents on Sundays. You don't have parents as all".
The boy looked down and nodded sadly.
Samaira pointed to her bruised knee - "You know yesterday I fell down. I hurt my knee. I cried the whole afternoon. The maid kept shouting at me."
The boy bent and touched the knee gently and Samaira winced, and the boy immediately pulled back his finger.
That moment Vidyut called Samaira and she went.
Akash did not know, what hit his heart so hard. But suddenly he felt very uneasy. The words, "ARE WE SAME SAME" vibrated in his heart.
His heart went to Myra who was in the creche. He felt suffocated. His own childhood at the orphanage began to spin in front of his eyes. The lonely days, the scoldings, at times the beating too.
He took out his hanky from his pocket and wiped tiny droplets of sweat that had formed. He went to Vidyut and excused himself, and rushed out of the orphanage, leaving a confused Vidyut wondering what happened.
He got into his car and rushed towards the creche. He wanted to see Myra once. He felt the incredible need to take her in his arms.
In the next fifty minutes, he was sitting in the office of the creche, waiting for a pass to enter the creche. The spectacled Plump lady sitting there, wrote his name and relationship with Myra in the card and handed it to him and said politely - Just ten minutes Mr Jain. And do not let Myra see you. Children if they see their parents, they get difficult to keep for the entire day then. She is in the first floor, right hand side room.
Akash nodded and took the stairs, again feeling suffocated by the lady's words -"DO NOT LET MYRA SEE YOU".
He rushed to the first floor, the room door was closed. He peeped through the open window and his eyes fell on the seven times eight kids. He immediately spotted Myra. His fifteen months old daughter was clumsily running towards a toy and she fell and her painful voice pricked his ears. His heart skipped a beat in horror and he saw the Attendant pick Myra up, she brushed her knees and said - "Nothing happened. Told you don't keep running." She picked her up and put her in the children's bed that was surrounded by a high wooden type fence. And she went to another kid, while MYRA wailed.
Akash could not take it anymore. He pushed the door open violently and in the next second Myra was in his arms. He kissed her numerous times and calmed her down.
The attendant telling her to move out of the room did not register and he checked for a bruise on Myra's knees and thankfully found none.
He lost his cool on the attendant as she was persistently telling him to move out. He shouted at her violently and took MYRA out and climbed down the stairs. He went to the office and shouted at the lady sitting there - "This is how you are taking care of my daughter. If she falls down, just pick her up and throw her on the bed and let her cry. "
The lady saw the attendant enter too and she told what happened.
The lady tried to put reason across Akash, but he left the creche, with his piece of heart in his arms.
All the way to the home, he was restless. How could Sejal and he have been so selfish to leave their little piece of heart with complete strangers. He looked at Myra, sitting in the front seat of his car, strapped gently with the Extra seat belt to keep her still and nibbling at the orange cream biscuit. She caught her father looking at her and gave him such a heart warming smile. His Heart pounded so hard inside his chest as if it would burst open.
He reached home and excused himself from all the numerous official calls. He cancelled two urgent meetings.
That evening he took a decision and waited for Sejal to come home. He had informed her that he had come home early and picked Myra from the creche.
The door bell and he opened and Sejal was in his arms and she kissed his cheek and said excitedly - "Akash... Akash... I have been promoted. Now I am the Senior HR Manager. I can't tell you how excited and happy I am.
"You have to quit your job Sejal" said Akash.
Sejal's grip slipped as she distanced herself from, believing she had heard something wrong -"What"...
Akash repeated - "You have to quit your job Sejal. I want you to stay at home with Myra and be there for her. I am not allowing my daughter to grow up in creches and with Maids.
"Excuse me, I did not get you." Sejal said.
Akash cleared his throat and said - "I have spoken in simple words . You are quitting your job and will stay at home with Myra"
"Are you kidding me Akash. I am not in the mood for joke. Come baby, let three of us go out for dinner and celebrate. My hard work has paid off. I m the HR manager now" Sejal said as she pulled at Akash's right arm.
But she stopped as Akash did not budge from his place. She looked at his eyes, they were unreadable. "What's the matter Akash" she said.
Akash told her all that happened at the orphanage and then at Myra's creche.
Sejal rubbed her forehead with her palm and said - "Are you nuts Akash. An orphan is an orphan. Myra has parents. She has you, she has me. We are family "
"How much time do we give her" Akash said.
"Of course we give her time. We give her weekends. She loves and adores us. There is nothing missing in her life." Sejal replied.
"That's not enough Sejal. She fell down today. She was left to cry"
"Oh God Akash, what's got into you. That was a mere coincidence that you happened to be there when she fell. It's a very reputed creche. They take good care" Sejal argued.
"No, my daughter is not going to that creche anymore. You quit your job Sejal"
Sejal looked at Akash and blurted - "Are you getting insecure Mr Akash, that I have been promoted, that I might reach further heights, that someday I might cross your level too".
Akash softened his tone - "Do you really believe that Sejal. I just want you to be there for Myra. My salary is enough to manage us both and the house. We don't need the added income. We are doing good in life".
Sejal looked at him and said challengingly - "Oh really. My package is good too. Why don't you give up your job and look after Myra. Even a father can do that "
Akash looked at her for a few seconds, right into her eye and then picked up his cell phone from the centre. He looked at the cell phone and then at Myra sitting on the floor playing with a fresh tomato and then at his wife and said - "I will put down my papers tomorrow. I will work part time from home. I want to be there for my daughter".
Sejal looked at him aghast and then blabbered - Akash try and understand. I want to give Myra all luxuries of life. We both need to work. I want her to travel the world. I want her to study in the best of schools, wear the best of brands and eat at the most fanciest and costliest of restaurants".
Akash looked at her MYRA and said in a soft tone - "And I want her to grow up in a loving environment. I want to be there, to love and take care of her. To live little moments with her. To make beautiful memories with her. I want to give her values, rather than monetary luxuries. I want her to become a beautiful human rather than a successful business lady running after money. I want her to wear comfortable clothes, rather than uncomfortable attire just to show off brands. I want her to eat healthy, rather than eat food at creches and food made by maid half heartedly. I want her to understand the VALUE OF LOVE before she understands the VALUE OF MONEY. My daughter has parents and she should feel it every moment."
Sejal could not believe what she was hearing. She spoke - "What... What happened to your dreams of being a hot shot in the industry. What happened to our world tour plans... What...
Akash interrupted, as he looked at Myra. He pointed to her- "I want to be the big hot shot of her life. My world is sitting right there. I want to explore the little happiness of life with her."
He looked at Sejal and said in a adamant tone - "I have made up my mind. I AM QUITTING".
And he picked up Myra and walked away, leaving a baffled Sejal, as to what hit him.
She shouted as he went - "Is Myra handicapped OR suffering from any problem that you need to take care of her."
She saw Akash turn and look at her with cold eyes and said - "Mind your language. Don't forget you are talking about our daughter."
Myra turned in sleep and Akash came back from his trail of thoughts. Since that day, he had quit his job. He worked from home while MYRA was at school and then he spend every waking moment with her. Cooking healthy food for her, helping her study, playing with her, putting her to sleep.
Not only his wife, he has faced the abuses and sarcastic comments of his family, friends and society but that had not deterred him from his determination.
Infinite fights he had with Sejal since that day. He had always said, if she quits he will join but she never did. And he did not force her too.
"Daddy, why are you awake" A sleepy Myra's voice penetrated his thoughts.
He smiled and looked down at his four year old daughter and Said- Daat was missing you my love. "
Myra smiled and tapped at the empty space near her said - "I guess daddy you are afraid. Come sleep with me. I will put you to sleep "
Akash's eyes brimmed with tears as he lay beside Myra and felt her little tiny palm caress forehead and hair, as she said - Sleep my Daddy. I love you so much "
Akash closed his eyes as the LOVE BETWEEN THEM MADE AN INVISIBLE DIVINE ENCLOSURE around them and pushed away all negative thoughts, society taboos and Baseless arguments. And the father daughter duo slept.