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The Implausible story of Motherhood

A Short Story by
Sudha Chandrasekaran


What if a mother’s feelings are not normal as they should be? Will motherhood bring further defiance into Shailaja’s life or does it provide a beacon of hope?

BEFORE:

Few more weeks and here I am ready for motherhood. But definitely would not be prepared for this new phase if I can help it. Deepak has been over protective and is taking care of me and treating me as though I were a piece of Swarovski crystal, branded and invaluable.

The apartment ladies look at us enviously, “Hey yaar, you both are beautiful couple. Deepak is such an adorable husband.”  They cast a smiling glance at us, as Deepak accompanies me religiously during my leisurely evening walk. “Shailu dear, walk slowly and watch your steps, but do walk, if not your sugar level will shoot up….,” says he at 4 in the evening every day. He cajoles me gently even as I barely take my eyes off from the pages of the exciting murder which is about to be committed in the thriller that I started reading a couple of days. It was a book which was always in demand and I had got it a couple of days ago from the library, after having reserved it a month ago. Little do the ladies know my ways. Without Deepak’s urging me to go for evening walks, I would be rather sitting at home idly, devouring crime thrillers and binge-eat masala cheese crackers with dollops of tomato sauce.


Deepak’s jaw is straight; he wears a determined look; and his shoulders are well-squared. All that is left is for him to roll up his sleeves and put on his armour plate.  Yes, he was getting ready to fight out the battle, which I am pretty sure, will be failure as it happened in the previous couple of occasions. Already two miscarriages and I am positive my body is not meant to be the receptacle of motherhood that God wished it to be. With these thoughts in my mind, I walk by his side during our evening walk around the apartment. I see his lower lips slightly trembling which gives away the fear which he was trying to conceal. Well, let Deepak continue this battle as far as he can. It appears that he is a born father, anxiously waiting for his flesh and blood to vomit on him and spray ‘warm liquid’ all over him! Deepak feels that I will turn out to be the perfect mother foil to his perfect father dreams. This does not fool me in the least.


I tend to get the feeling that during the past occasions, the unborn babies would have just guessed my motherhood-less feelings. I continue to read the crime novels so that they would get to know how bitter a place the world is- It is better you do not make your entry here! Perhaps this little one will also get inkling about this. And then maybe I can call it quits and stop my attempts at winning this game of motherhood. This is the last trial after which even Deepak has to call off his fatherhood dreams.


We continue our walk around the apartment block with Deepak keeping a stern watch on time, so that we make sure to complete our regular walk of an hour as advised by my gynecologist. All the while I notice Deepak casting loving glances at the small kids, who are screaming and shouting with glee in the play area of the apartment.  The helpers and parents dance attendance on them with anxiousness writ large on their faces, fearing that some untoward accident may occur even if they are left attended for a moment. I can see that he considers my safety his priority and makes sure I do not trip and fall anywhere. Instead of returning home, I take a turn towards the side road instead, which is fully choked with the rush hour traffic. It’s really interesting and fun to gaze at the bored and  frustrated expressions on people’s faces  when they are stuck in the bad traffic with no way to go - either forward or backward.  Bored are they and so am I.


NOW:

Finally Deepak emerges to be the winner as this one just does not listen and IT has made an entry into this world. No more ‘IT’! I should think of a name. Well, Deepak has named him Aaarav. “Isn’t  a nice name, my dear Shailu? The rising notes are bringing sweet tunes to our otherwise dull life now, is it not my love?”


Deepak leans forward and kisses my forehead, brushing back my falling hair. I am not overjoyed and I am lying still on my hospital bed, with my back feeling a burning sensation as though someone had set fire to it. I am in  no position to complain as it was I who opted for C-section to avoid the suffering experienced through forced labour , known as ‘normal delivery’!


I lie on the bed thinking deeply about our conversation the earlier day. Does Deepak think that our life was tuneless before Aarav’s arrival? “Hmmm…”  I let out a sigh with a plastered artificial smile. Deepak is enthusiastically responding to calls and messages congratulating them as if Aarav has not just made his grand entry into this world but has secured admission for his PH.D in Harvard and Stanford and authored a book on Artificial Intelligence!


IT! Well, it’s Aarav now. I practice the name rolling it around my tongue. No special feelings pop up! Anyhow I have to go ahead. The nurse brings him to me, wrapped well into a bundle of joy, perhaps, to be fed his first dose of that precious mother’s milk. The nurse tries to persuade but hmmm...there is no sign of that magic mothers’ milk that springs forth. Finally the nurse gives up her attempts and takes Aarav outside to be fed on formula milk. Deepak looks anxious and worried and I moan, feeling my hurting back. Soon Deepak forgets the milk and rushes to my side to assist me and stacks up the pillows behind my back to make me feel comfortable.


On our return home from the hospital we start getting a stream of visitors.

“Shailu, you mean to say that Deepak does pitch in with Aarav’s feeding, his bath …. Very lucky Shailu,” comment her friends. In addition to all this, Deepak has already made arrangements for a nanny by browsing through several websites.  If I thought that he was malicious, then I would have probably felt that he thinks of me as a useless mother. But never once has he said it even in his weak moments, for he feels that I am more than a perfect mom and an extraordinary one too. I play my part and protest against the additional expenditure as already our expenses had gone up with the arrival of Aarav.

“This big expenditure is a total waste Deepak. We can manage ourselves and more so I am on maternity leave now and can easily manage Aarav without any external help.”


“No Shailu, all that you need is total rest. Don’t even think of the expenditure. Whom do we earn for if not for my love and our darling Aarav…?” His voice wavers and eyes glisten with tears, just waiting to over flow over the cheeks at any time. I try to cloak my embarrassment. But on the contrary his face is just naked and brimming with love. So, I gracefully accept the situation. That being said , when our neighbours come knocking, I just call my help  and she duteously places Aarav in my lap for a short while, constantly  on the move, to take care of him whenever the situation demands.

“Such a cutie pie; look at his captivating smile….,” comments keep flowing.

The short story continues here......