As they wheeled her away into the room, I stopped at the entrance. Though my thoughts were starting to wander, and my legs were refusing to move, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the mid-wife help transfer my wife onto the bed, and prop her up with pillows. “This is it!” I thought as I willed my feet to respond, and take that fifteen- step walk towards my wife. I slowly walked up to her bed, and sank into the single cushioned chair beside it.
Heavily exhausted from lack of sleep the previous night, and loaded on epidural shots, my wife kept drifting in and out of consciousness. The doctor had mentioned that they would try to “push” in a couple of hours and it might be best if she rested until then. "Labour was going to be hard as it is, without the added fatigue from no rest” she’d added. I sat wondering what I had gotten myself into. I kept asking myself if I really wanted to go through with this. As I watched the rhythmic rise and fall of her chest, I found myself thinking about us and what we’d been thorough in the years gone by.
Neither of us were believers in love at first sight. I mean, to see someone and know that they’re right for you. Surely things like that don’t happen in real life. Well maybe for a handful of people, but definitely not for most of us. And ours was far from even “like" at first sight. I first met my then “would-be-life-partner” while pursuing my engineering degree. If my memory still functions well, the year was 2001. She was the stereo-typical studious first-bencher, whose talents ranged from academia and sports to music and quizzes. Me - I was the cornball back-bencher, who wasn’t necessarily a bad student, but whose talents were more suited for extra-curricular activities like music, some amount of sports and general slouching. We couldn’t be more poles apart, if we tried.
Though we studied in the same college and even the same class, it wasn’t until a college trip in 2003 that we started talking. At the beginning, our chats were usually about trivial things and college gossips, as you’d expect. At some point though, we both felt that we were “inversely right" for each other. She was organised, practical, meticulous and focussed. And that hasn’t changed to date. I was (and am still) easy-going, sloppy, unplanned and definitely carefree. As it normally happens with premature relationships, I, as the guy, was really vocal about taking the next steps, while she remained in the quiet whenever this topic was broached upon. However her smile and twinkling eyes left me in no doubt that we both wanted the same thing.
Most of 2003 passed by in a haze, with me trying to convince her that we should go around (note : It wasn’t a proposal as such), and she singing the “let’s just remain friends” tune. As the next year unfolded, I decided to do the honourable thing and give her some breathing space. After all, it had to be a mutual decision, if we were to go ahead with this for life. The year 2004 was an eye-opener for us. It was the penultimate year of our engineering degree and we both knew that the end was near. She had a lot of high expectations riding on her - to graduate top of the class, gain placement with a good company and choose a path which would hopefully propel her into a successful career. Me - I had two objectives; complete my engineering degree with decent grades and elicit a favourable answer from her. After all, time was running out.
April 7th 2004:
Weather wise, it was probably one of the least romantic days. The Indian summer was already underway, and the unrelenting 46 degree Chennai sun beat down on the barren land of our college grounds. Fortunately for us, we were sat in the cooler surroundings of our college library. As an avid reader (and not to mention one of the few air-conditioned rooms in our college), the library was my favourite haunt. As I sat immersed in a novel wrapped within a Digital Signal Processing (DSP) text book (hey, don’t judge me!), I felt something flutter onto my desk. I looked up from novel/DSP text, to see her flowing dupatta trail her graceful walk. I glanced down onto the desk, and saw a note, which was folded with absolute precision. Holding my breath, I carefully opened the note. Inside was a single word. THE single world which was capable of making me jump up on the desk and sing one of those cliched Bollywood numbers. Resisting the urge to do anything cheesy (as if !!), I smiled and watched her walk out of the library.
Now if this was Bollywood movie, I would probably end it here saying that “that was and is our Platinum day of love”. But for those of us living in the real world, whilst this was a close contender, I’m going to chug along to the remaining part of the story. There’s a simple reason for it. Though that was the day my “future wife” agreed to make our relationship official, we were both still very young at heart, young in love and to an extend I might even say immature. I’m not downplaying the importance of this momentous occasion in our lives, but hopefully when you finish reading you’ll understand why I did, what I did.
In the interest of saving you some time and escapism from the cheesiness, let’s fast forward a few years to the time of my present writing, circa 2012.
Happily married with the occasional tiffs and expecting our first child, the year began as a hope-laden one. We’d been together for almost eight years, and were ready to start a family. As with any couple in love, we’d had our share of disagreements, arguments and “Talk-to-the-hand” moments. But deep down in our hearts, we both knew that we’d be there for each other. She’d already proved that to me more than once - be it leaving everyone she knew behind and moving to the UK with me (even prior to marriage) or leaving her dream job in Pune to be closer to me in Bangalore. As for me, I was yet to deliver on my promise. Of course I took care of her needs and was there for her as any normal husband/partner should. But I was yet to show a selfless act of support. As I’ve once posted before, I am not the bravest of souls. And so when my wife asked me to be with her during the labour and subsequently the birth of our first born, I was surprised when I agreed. Probably on a sub-conscious level, I knew this was my chance to make good on my promises to her. Which brings me to the present.
“Excuse me, sir?” The mid-wife’s calm yet shrill voice snapped me out of my day dream. “Are you alright? You were mumbling something incoherently and smiling.” she goes on. “Oh, I’m sorry. I just …well…dozed off” I say and snap myself back into reality. “Yes, you’re actually here” my inner voice tells me. “You’ve got to go through with it. You can’t chicken out now!”. Great, I’ve now got an inner voice admonishing me.
“We’re about to start the process. Kindly bear in mind that it will be physically stressful for your wife, and you will have to support her as we go along” continues the mid-wife, complete unaware of my inner turmoil. “Oh, and before I forget, if you want to leave the room, you have to do it now. Once the process starts, you cannot exit till we get the baby out or unless we have to take your wife to the operating theatre for anything that may go wrong” she continues. My heart starts to beat wildly. “Are you for real?” I want to ask her. “Who says “something going wrong” and “operation theatre” in the same breath?”. As she thrusts a form into my hand, asking me to sign my acknowledgement, I realised that it was crunch time. All the “sweet-nothings of following her to the end of the world no matter what” that I had whispered to my wife over the past years, had come back to haunt me. Unable to make a decision, I look at the mid-wife and say “ Can you give me a couple of minutes please?”. She shrugs her shoulders, as if to say “whatever you crazy man”, and walks out of the door, closing it behind her.
As I watched the love of my life slowly stir in her drug-induced sleep, I suddenly feel nauseating waves of embarrassment and love wash over me. Embarrassment for having second-thoughts about being by her side for what was probably going to be the most physically and emotionally stressful day of her adult life. Love for her commitment of going through with this. Here was a person, who at the pinnacle of her career, took the conscious decision to give up all her potential promotions and social engagements that she loved, to fulfil our “collective” dream of starting a family. Here was someone, ready to tackle the intense physical and emotional trauma associated with giving birth, all out of her love for me. And just like that, in the blink of an eye, I grew up.
I wiped away a tear from my eye, and signed the acknowledgement/acceptance form. I loved her and I was going to be there for her. The mid-wife came in, glanced at my hastily scrawled signature on the form, and went over to my wife. She slowly woke her up and commenced the preparation for the delivery. I looked at my wife. Now fully awake, it looked like her epidural drugs were starting to wear off. To me, she looked to be in a world of spasm-ic pain. As I walked over to the bed, she glanced up and gave me a half-hearted teary-eyed smile. I gently squeezed her hand to reassure that I would be there with her, and that she was not alone. Once the final preparations were done, the doctor arrived. She smiled and said “Let’s do this!”
Through eerie chants of “Deep breaths…and…push”, I focus attention on my wife. She is in excruciating pain and looks like she could possibly explode any moment. Digging her nails deep into my flesh with every contraction, she cries out loud. As we briefly make eye contact, her glassy eyes silently plead to me to get her out of her misery. I fight back my tears of helplessness, and whisper to her “We can do this….together…you and me!” She smiles weakly and releases her hold on my arm ever so slightly. Three long hours and a gallon of bodily fluids later, I hold up our pale, pink bundle of joy up to her and whisper “We did it!”. As our little one cuddles against my wife, I put my arm around her and look at my watch. The date read 7th April 2012.
Eight long, sometimes amazing, sometimes crazy years, since she had dropped that little folded note, changing my life for ever.
As we cradled the little one in our hands, a realisation dawned on me. We had made the right decision all those years ago. We were perfect for each other. And eight years on, we still loved each other more and more with every passing day. What we’d been through together a few hours ago, had brought us closer than ever before. And for me, I looked at her with new-found affection. That was our Platinum day of Love.
Just like Platinum, our love had stood the test of time, and would continue forever, indestructible and always pure and true to its form. Next year, as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of our togetherness, our life will have come the full circle, and nothing but the best would do to celebrate this momentous and precious occasion of the realization of our unfading and untarnished love.
Of course, your blessings are invaluable gifts too :)
Also a bit of a disclaimer: I know my handful of regular readers probably did not expect such a "cheesy, at times romedy-ish" post from yours truly. But thank you, for taking the time and effort (yes, I know how long it is!) to read a "true story" with some "literary freedom" thrown in for good measure.