(As told to Indira Nityanandam)
We had been college sweethearts who got married
I affectionately caressed Anahita’s cheeks as the child smiled in her sleep. Gehana had left me with this precious gift: something to remember her by but also to keep racking my brains for an answer! An answer which would evade me but which I couldn’t not think about!
Memories keep rushing into my head all the time, memories of the wonderful initial years and of course the horrors of her last few days. How I wish I could use a mouse to delete all unwanted images but I do know I am not a computer but a flesh and blood human being, with feelings and emotions, joys and sorrows, hope and despair, but above all, a memory to last till eternity.
How can I forget our first meeting in the University building corridor, her shy smile as a common friend introduced us! And then past and present coalesce as those two years rushed by, without a moment of doubt about our affection which grew into love even before we realised it! How our friends always referred to us as Amit and Jaya – me all of six feet and she hardly five. We were inseparable; needless to say the butt of many jokes too! But who cared, we had each other and that’s all that mattered.
Love blossomed and marriage followed, our cosy nest became our entire world. We needed no one and no one seemed to need us either! An occasional visit to and by both sets of parents was our only link to the outside world. Of course, we both had our teaching jobs which gave us our bread and better, our rice and sambar.
Then she became pregnant and everything changed
When did it change? Can I find an exact moment, a specific event when I noticed a change, something to worry about? Gehana was pregnant, I was the caring, doting husband waiting on her hand and foot, cooking, cleaning—I did it all! Her faraway look, her brushing away my affectionate hand on her shoulder, my loving embrace no longer welcome – I pushed it aside as pregnancy blues. Anahita came into our world and I was on cloud nine but Gehana … she was not even one bit bothered about this little bundle! The doctor called me aside and explained ‘post-partum-blues’—it seemed mumbo-jumbo to me but I kept nodding my head as if I understood it all! I requested her Mom to move in with us and she reluctantly agreed.
As we were packing to leave for home, Gehana was in the washroom for much too long and I heard some commotion from downstairs. More interested in leaving for home, I called out to Gehana, knocked at the door and finally pushed it open. The empty bathroom flabbergasted me but by then there were a dozen people in the room—all jabbering in Latin it seemed to me! Gehana had jumped off the window, with not a word to any of us! I looked at the wailing Anahita—held her close and vowed to myself that I would be more than a mother to her!
Related reading: I was so depressed I tried to commit suicide
I came home to an empty house full of memories
We came home—home seemed a misnomer, for it was Gehana who had converted this brick and cement structure into our home. Every inch of this place had memories: here she stood that day when she announced her pregnancy, this the chair where I kissed her the first time in this house, this the window she waved out to me when I was leaving for Cochin, this… this… I could go on and on! I pulled myself together, I wanted positive vibrations around for my dear baby.
All this was five years ago and today I am proud of the way I have managed, pulled myself out of my sorrow, worked to provide a loving home for my baby, be both Mom and Dad to this little, innocent, helpless bundle of joy.
I’m trying my best for our baby
She became my reason for living, she became my anchor in reality, she pulled me out of any trace of dejection by her cherubic smile, she was both parent and child for me. Of course I missed Gehana, I flogged myself for not realising the seriousness of her condition, I envisaged various scenes of what could have been, etc. Our two mothers did their best to give me the physical help I needed to bring up a newborn baby.
Today is Anahita’s fifth birthday and I can’t hold back my tears, a luxury I allow myself only when my little darling is fast asleep. The tears for what could have been, the tears for Gehana and her unspoken pain or despair, tears for having to brave life all alone, tears of nostalgia for the years that we spent together. But, as usual I brush away my tears, put the blanket on Anahita, switch off the light and get into bed, for ‘Tomorrow is another day’.