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“I'm not doing this again” he said. “I'm sorry Anjali. This is our third try. We cannot afford another failure”
“So you've already decided we're going to fail?” Anjali yelled at her husband. “And since when did it all become about the money? I thought this was something both of us wanted.”
“I do want it, Anjali” Akash said, trying to pacify his wife. “But we're hemmoraging money. We've tried this twice before. My financial situation is a mess and you haven't been to work since...” Akash stopped. He realized he had crossed an invisible line. He looked at his wife's face, which was screwed up in pain. He saw the tears in her eyes and wanted to kick himself for bringing it up.
Anjali remembered her decision to quit like it was yesterday. She had been the editor of one of the leading fashion magazines in the country. She had married her college sweetheart and had just found out that she was pregnant. Quitting her job seemed like the natural thing to do. It felt like her entire life had been building up to this point. Her baby. Her family.
The miscarriage changed everything. The doctor said it was nothing to get worried about. That they could try again. The second time she lost her baby, she could see the disturbed look on his face. The third time, she knew this was it. She would never be able to have a baby.
Surrogacy was the only way out. It was expensive, but she and Akash decided to give it a shot. It had been two years since the day all this started. Still no baby. Implantation Failure. Meanwhile, the state of their marriage had deteriorated. Akash had gently suggested adoption but Anjali would not hear of it. She had dreamed of having a family of her own since the day she got married.
Akash tried convincing her to go back to work, but even that was too painful to consider. He collegues had thrown her a baby shower-cum-farewell party before she left. All the gifts were locked up in the attic, along with her career, her future, her happiness and her marriage. They had failed a total of five times including the miscarriages. Five times she had the thrill of anticipation, of longing, only to have her hopes crashed.
“Please, Akash.” she said, trying hard to keep the longing out of her voice. “One last time. I promise if this doesn't work out, then that's it.”
Akash looked at his wife. She was miles away from the confident, smart, beautiful, woman he had married. This ordeal had taken a toll on her. He couldn't remember even one day in the past two years when they had not discussed this. And every discussion, inevitably ended with Anjali in tears and him trying to comfort her. Didn't she realize that this had been hard on him too? Every time she got her hopes up, he did too? He longed for a kid of their own, who would call him “Papa”. Every time they went to his office parties, seeing his collegues children running around, calling out to their parents, creating a ruckus, it killed him a little inside. But he had to be strong for Anjali, even if it meant shedding quiet tears in the shower or in the bed, late at night.
“One last try” he said.
They were both in Aradhana's home. Aradhana was their surrogate. She was a plump, jolly woman with eyes that sparkled. Akash and Anjali had taken an instant liking to her the first time they met.
Anjali had brought a home preganancy test with her. She had tried to keep her hopes at a minimum. Akash was holding her hand which had become clammy. He could not stand the anticipation. Aradhana called out to Anjali. The two women started at the test.
One line. Two lines.
A tear flowed down Anjali's cheek and washed away months of pain.