She was looking outside the hospital window when the cramps started. She knew it was time.
‘I admit he is sort of strange’, she would tell her friends, when she had started dating him. But isn’t that exactly what one looks for in his or her soul mate? Her friends at college had been apprehensive. ‘Steer clear of that one; we don’t even think he is the type to have a conversation with’ they had warned. But she, out of everyone else, was finally in love, or whatever fancy names the poets and storytellers gave it. ‘I am not trying to be different; breaking out of the crowd or something, when I say I like him’, she had repeatedly justified. Her friends were still not convinced. ‘I love him; just the way he is’, she had finally said with a stamp of her foot, and the chapter had not been touched upon again.
A tear streaked down her cheek as the doctor came and gave her a reassuring smile. ‘It’s going to be fine’, he said, getting into position to start wheeling her bed. Tears were starting to leak down her face now, as she struggled against an overwhelming flood of memories.
He had always been the sorts who would avoid company; just the kind that she liked. She hated the boisterous showoffs who crammed every corridor of her college. She was quite pretty; prettier than an average girl for sure. Her looks had warranted attention from the crowd she had hated to mix all her life. They wanted to take her to pubs, wanted to treat her at various classy restaurants. One of them had even tried to gift a champagne bottle in college! They soon gave up and let random rumours float around, like dry leaves in summer. She hardly cared, for college gossip was the last thing that would get her worked up.
And one day, just like that, she spotted him. He was sitting in the corner, and just…sitting. He seemed to be lost deep in thought; something she loved calling ‘spaced out’ in her own little universe. She had been forcefully snapped out of it by her friends and family a number of times, but she didn’t care. Here was the dreamer she had always wanted. That was when she had walked up to him for the first time, no violin music in the background, no choruses chortling whatsoever. He had looked up at her, and she knew that she had lost her heart forever.
“Almost there”, the doctor said, wheeling her stretcher, breaking into her comfortable school of thought. The pain was almost starting to turn excruciating; she fought an urge to slip into unconsciousness, straining herself to stay awake. Moonlight flooded the hospital corridor in a milky flood of extraordinary luminescence. She wanted to be here, wanted to live the moment. Even he ought to be around; but where was he?
Love blossomed like a cheerful spring flower; what else could a bunch of late adolescents want? After college, they had soon moved in together, sharing a flat which was on the top floor. It was rather secluded. ‘Why didn’t you get a flat on the lower floors? Isn’t this a pain? It’s almost on the roof!’ she chortled, like a disappointed school kid. ‘Look at the bright side’, he said unperturbed; ‘we have the whole terrace to ourselves!’ ‘What would we need a terrace for? she had wondered, but never asked. After all, if he thought it was worthwhile, who was she to question it?
After living in for two years, they had married. Like all couples, they had their awkward moments. She had taken up work at a publishing house, while he worked in a bank. Strangely enough, she had never ever seen him carry any documents pertaining to his job or met any of his colleagues. She found this quite fishy, but she was hopelessly in love. She found it rather demeaning to pry into his office life. Wasn’t he in love with her? That was reason enough, not to go trying to play Sherlock behind his back. It had all been fine till one day she had found feathers fluttering in his room. It was the strangest thing.’ Had been to a friend’s poultry farm dear’ he tried, quite unsuccessfully. She had seen through it, but she rather let the matter drop. A bunch of feathers, after all, were not the exact indicators of a steamy affair now, was it?
Her vision was blurry with tears, as her ride did not seem to be coming to an end. She finally spotted him, a teary silhouette of unruly hair and unkempt dressing, running towards her in slow motion. Looking like a gentleman had never been his forte and she never complained about it. ‘Well dressed snots’, as she loved calling them, were not exactly up her league.
Then, there were the dreams; or what she liked to believe. She would wake up on nights, bathed in sweat, thinking that there was a dog howling on the terrace. For a moment, she would imagine, that she was alone in bed, pale moonlight streaming through the window, and he had deserted her; but he was always there. His hand would run across her temple, wiping off the sweat and he would hug her. She would shiver lightly in his embrace and not say anything. Then she would finally blunder into an unhurried peaceful dreamless sleep.
She could feel the stretcher slowing down. She seemed to be slipping in and out of consciousness. A hazy blur, right in front of her field of vision, which she recongised as his face, peered down at her. She tried her best to try and catch snatches of what he was saying; ‘there is something you should know…secret…told you long time back…’
“Enough! Please wait here” the doctor told him, and wheeled her into the emergency. He quickly tried to peek inside the emergency room. Three people. Wouldn’t be that difficult. He had handled more before.
“You are doing great! Just a little more now…yes…here we are!” the doctor finished with flourish. Her face now lay damp with sweat and tears. She was finally breathing a little easy now. The room was slowly coming back into focus. It was perfectly quiet. Everything had gone perfectly; but there was something out of place…what had he said?
‘I am happy! Don’t you see it on my face? Don’t you see that I am happy?’ he had gone on, but she had seen through it. She had seen that he was flustered; maybe even troubled. She had hoped that it would be a mistake on her part; after all, he had been the happiest when they had discussed the prospects of fatherhood. During the months that ticked off her calendar, he had been around but seemed anxious; almost to the point of being terrified. She could sense there was something that he wanted to tell her, but words failed him every time he had tried, and they had changed the subject. Maybe, just maybe, it was the stress of stepping into fatherhood. After all, it was a new experience for him as well. After all…
“Ouch!” the doctor’s voice broke her thought process. “That’s a first! He bit me! What the heck! He has canin…”
He never finished his sentence, as a huge wolf stepped in, standing on hind legs, and silenced the doctor forever…