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The Third Wheel

A Shot Story by Amruta Siva

“I said - we shall discuss on the implications of further actions later, first send your account details to Dad”, Vijay yelled.

“I shall not, why do we need another plot in Bangalore, we are already burdened with three EMIs. I will not send the details”, bluntly replied Vijaya crisscrossed on the floor and MacBook on her lap. 

“Why wouldn’t you? How dare you? I order you, right now to do as I say”, he hissed with angry eyes. 

Vijaya remained blank. He couldn’t take her refusal or rather disrespect to his command. Even Vijay was not interested in buying a plot in Bangalore, because he knew it doesn’t make sense. They had debts in a row and their second child on the way, in less than a month. His dad wanted Vijay to invest in a plot for some “God only knows why” reason and Vijay was not on a mood to argue or convince his dad on the cons of it, so he agreed to send Vijaya’s bank account details to his dad, so that he could make an inquiry in India if the account was eligible for an NRI loan.

“You have my details, you have been the one using it and sending your dollars to the account. If you wish to send them to your parents, do it by yourself, why bother me?”, Vijaya questioned. 

By this time Vijaya’s mom Neerja who was playing with her granddaughter Vandhana in the bedroom came out to the living room where her daughter and son-in-law were arguing.

This was Neerja’s second trip to the US in the last five years. She was on the loss of pay leave at work and had come for her daughter’s delivery. She never really liked her daughter marrying Vijay. It was a match fixed by Vijaya’s dad and Vijaya liked, so Neerja eventually had to accept, but she never had been with them for long in their married years to know how the couple was coping or adjusting to each other. Vijaya never complained or told anything, so it was bit of a shock mixed with embarrassment for her to see the couple fight.

“Would you even dare to hurt her, in your rage?”, yelled Neerja seeing them. Just then Vijay rushed towards Vijaya and slammed the open MacBook from Vijaya’s lap. He had intended to break it but did not expect that the laptop would bang on Vijaya’s 9-month pregnant oversized belly. Vijaya felt an acute pain momentarily, but she was determined to stay strong. Neerja was devastated at the sight. She became speechless.

“Do whatever you want”, Vijaya pushed herself from the ground and got up. She went inside the bedroom and locked herself in. 

“Have you been treating my daughter so shamelessly all these years? I never knew that my daughter is being harassed by you. Why on earth are you both together, if you can’t talk through a problem in a civilized way?”, cried Neerja.

“No aunty, I don’t want this. I can’t take it anymore. This is not the way your daughter should have been taught to talk to her husband. Let’s see where this goes, today everything needs to end and fall into its place”, stated Vijay.

Vijaya could hear him clearly.

“What do you mean? Aren’t you happy with my daughter?”, Neerja questioned with a shocked look.

“Not just me, even Viji isn’t happy. Ask her. We are not compatible. Nothing else than the syllables on our names, only match. A way out is the only logical and good step for both of us.”, he said.

“And for Vandhana? And for the baby who hasn’t even yet seen the face of the world?”, Neerja further asked.

“For everybody”, he retorted.

“Mom, you don’t get involved into all this. Just watch Vandhana and you both stay in the bedroom, I don’t want her to watch all this”, said Vijaya coming out of the bedroom and tried to haul her mom and daughter in.

“If that’s how you feel, I am fine with it. I shall leave with my daughter and grandchild right this minute. I can take care of them until my last breath.”, Neerja kept arguing oblivious to Vijaya’s words.

“I am booking tickets for you and Viki along with your mom, you shall all go back to India”, Vijay said facing his wife. He now was quickly searching for the flight tickets on the MacBook which had managed to survive the fall.

“What about Vandhu?”, Vijaya asked.

“She stays with me” he replied. “Viki needs to be with you since you would be breastfeeding” he added.

Just like a surrogate mom, she thought and moved to the kitchen to do the dishes. She remained calm. She didn’t stop Vijay from booking tickets. After a few minutes, Vijay got off the couch and headed to take a shower. Vijaya quietly did the dishes and went into the bedroom along with her mom and daughter.

Neerja was extremely upset. “I had never thought that such a day would come, but I always knew that this match wasn’t right. I had never seen honesty in his eyes, but your dad was adamant. He was the one who hooked you up with him and it is you who is suffering now. I never wanted you to come to the US and stay so far away from us, but you were bound to. I never wanted my grandkid so away from me, but I bore all the suffering just because I thought you both were happy, to be together and to be here, but now that I know that neither of you is happy, what is the purpose of all the suffering and sacrifice. I agree with Vijay that a way out is the only logical thing to do for the betterment of all of us. I don’t understand why you have to go through all this burden. Just because you are married, and you are the female in the relationship, it doesn’t mean that you need to take all the pain. We don’t need any of this, if he doesn’t need you, you don’t need him either, if kids are the problem then we shall figure something out”, she mumbled lying on the bed.

Vijaya remained silent. She brought dinner for her mom and fed smashed peas and potatoes to Vandhana. She set dinner for Vijay on the table, ate a bit. Vijay hadn’t returned from his shower. She went to sleep in the nursery along with Vandhana. The night dragged in. She tossed from her side to side, each time getting up from the bed carefully. She felt uneasy and suddenly panicked.

She came out of the nursery and saw Vijay glued to his laptop. He was probably finishing the payment process for the flight tickets, Vijaya thought. He raised his head and looked into her eyes for the first time in the last five hours. He felt something was wrong. 

“I don’t feel the baby move”, she said feebly.

“What? From when?”, he panicked and rushed towards her.

“From the time, you had kicked the laptop on me”, she frowned.

He changed his night pants and took his car keys, while Vijaya lied to her mom that they were going out to the Starbucks for a coffee. Neerja went into the nursery to accompany the sleeping kid.

It was around midnight and was snowing heavily. They sat inside the car and Vijay cleared the snow off the windshield.

“Do we need to call 911? Are you all right? Can you walk?”, worried Vijay.

“Where are your specs? You can’t drive in the snow without them”, Vijaya said oblivious to Vijay’s questions.

He left the heater on, in the car and ran to the apartment for fetching his glasses. 

“What on earth have I done “, he cursed himself. Had he been composed for five minutes, they would not have been rushing into the emergency now, he slapped his forehead.

“Name – Vijaya. Age – 29. 36 weeks pregnant. I am Dr. Michelle’s patient”, Vijay told at the front desk of the emergency. 

“Reason for coming in?”, the lady asked with a friendly looked.

“I bumped myself over the kitchen counter a couple of hours back and am not able to feel the baby move since then”, she told in a low voice.  Even with pain and panic, she told those words that seemed so real. 

“How long has it been that you haven’t felt the baby move? Could you give a specific time?”, she questioned.

“Probably five hours”, Vijay answered.

After the blonde lady at the front desk made a couple of calls following the protocol, Vijaya was given a wheelchair and taken to the birthing place emergency suite. 

“Do you know if you are having a boy or a girl?”, the guy who wheeled her in enquired.

“A boy. We have picked his name already – Vikram. I have a two-year-old girl at home. This is my second.” She replied. She seemed to be giving more than required details to everyone now because she thought they were some kind of medical details that was being inquired, she didn’t realize that the guy was just trying to have a friendly conversation with her and pacify her. Vijay though aware of the happenings remained silent. He was scared as well.

For the next four hours, doctors and nurses came in and out. She was NST monitored to check the fetal heart rate and scanned. Though the doctor’s seemed to be confident that a kitchen counter encounter would not turn into a serious situation, they had to make sure medically. 

“Even on occasions when mother’s face something as bad as a car accident, generally the baby turns out to be safe.” the doctor on the night duty said.

“There is so much fluid between you and the baby, so a bump shouldn’t hurt him” the nurse smiled.

“No more bumping into things”, the guy who scanned her laughed.

The couple tried to laugh back.

 For some time, between the outsider’s visits, the couple were left alone in the room. Vijay was holding onto his wife’s hand clasping tightly. 

“I am sorry. I just couldn’t take you not trust in me, I would never do anything without both of us agreeing to it.”, he said while a small tear fell on Vijaya’s hand. 

The short Story continues here....