Location: Mithibai College, Vile Parle West, Mumbai
I had to wait for two hours outside Mithibai College to give her the news.
Clutching on a few blood reports from Lilavati Hospital, I was patiently waiting at the bus stand at seven in the evening because my girlfriend was in a lecture inside the college campus.
Earlier in the day she had complained of dizziness and exhaustion but she was certain that she was not pregnant.
When she came out of the campus and as we were walking towards the auto-stand, I broke the news to her. She looked at me in disbelief but never moved a face muscle.
It was a blank response.
The decision was already made even before the reports were out. We had decided to abort the baby.
A series of thoughts were going through my mind as she walked beside me in complete silence deciding not to hold my hand as we crossed the street. Clearly her mind was working on this alone. She was lost in her thoughts.
I decided to get lost in mine too.
(Rewind 30 days back)
Location: My apartment, Sion West, Mumbai
Even before she moved into my apartment in Sion (in the Eastern suburbs of Mumbai), she had discussed this with me numerous times. Given the fact that we were very active sexually, she had told me clearly that she wouldn’t want to have a baby.
She was in the broadcast industry as a reporter and she feared that getting pregnant at that point of time would adversely affect her career and she feared that she might not even have one, if she gets ahead with the pregnancy.
So, we were taking all kinds of protection during sex – yes both of us. While I always used a condom, I had an inkling that she used to be on pills.
But sex is a strange game and sometimes it doesn’t let you take preparations. It was not possible to say no to sex if you didn’t have a condom inside the side-table drawer. Also, as we had discovered, the fragile condom could not be trusted fully either. Hence the second round of protection.
Every now and then, I would buy a pack of those pregnancy kits and she would do a check. It was a kind of a game and we enjoyed it. Till one day, the results of the game appeared to have changed.
During those days when we were having baby issues
One day, after doing a check, we forgot to immediately discard it. It was on the bathroom table. A minute or two later, I noticed a faint second line on the indicator panel. It was a faint line. I told her immediately. She looked at me in disbelief.
“Let’s try once more. Go and bring me more pregnancy kits,” she ordered.
It was then a rerun of that scene in R Balki’s film, Ki and Ka: I went to the market and brought six pregnancy kits of different companies. Two of them showed a positive, two didn’t give a clear result and two more gave a negative verdict.
Our common friend advised a blood test – apparently the sure-shot way to find out.
I called her in office that afternoon and said that she needs to go for a blood test. That day, something major had happened in the city and she was busy with follow-up reports. She agreed for a blood test but only in the following week.
The report came three days later. It was positive.
That day in front of Mithibai college, we decided to visit a doctor the next day.
Location: Lilavati Hospital, Outpatient Department
Both of us were standing in front of a doctor’s chamber at Lilavati Hospital. She had decided to abort the baby. I was not willing.
The doctor wrote something on the sheet. They were all vitamins etc. to support the pregnancy. But she insisted on an abortion.
The doctor said that an abortion is not possible at Lilavati Hospital. We will have to go another private clinic to get it done. The cost of getting the foetus aborted properly was not a mean sum.
We still agreed.
A week later, we decided to consult another doctor, a sister of a reputed former Bollywood heroine and a leading gynecologist at Lilavati Hospital. Her husband is considered a leading figure in Mumbai in the realm of IVF (In-Vitro Fertilisation).
We were already late and she advised a USG (Ultra Sonogram). “Your baby has got a beating heart. Listen to it. Then come back to me again,” the doctor ordered.
Again a few days later (on her off day), when we landed at the doctor’s chamber for the USG. A strange experience happened.
There, we heard a sound; it was the sound of a beating heart. It was loud and clear. It was faster than a normal heart beat. The heartbeat struck my heart.
She was startled on hearing the sound.
After the USG was over, I spoke to her. Softly but firmly. I told her that I cannot have that sound muted. Ever.
Before she left for Calcutta
The doctor had a very stern and clear advise. This is the first pregnancy and she wouldn’t advise us to terminate it. Rather, she said, medically it is unethical to terminate a first pregnancy because it might create issues later. She also said that we have to arrive at a decision fast because a delay might mean endangering my wife too.
We were through with our court marriage by that time too.
But she didn’t say a word.
She largely kept quiet for the next few days, going through the course of the days mechanically. I could see that she was torn between the baby and a career. She really wanted to be in office because she believed that her promotion is due. Sitting at home and nursing a baby was not her idea of life.
Five days later when she didn’t bring the topic up, I tried talking to her again. She said that she hadn’t arrived at a decision yet.
I decided to take matter in my own hands.
I called her elder sister in Mumbai and told her about her pregnancy. She told everybody else in her family. Her phone started ringing incessantly. She answered most of those calls in monosyllables and promised to call everyone back. She never called anybody back.
She clearly was torn between her career and her baby. Meanwhile, time was running out. Any further delay would mean more medical complications and of course, a very complicated abortion.
Unable to extract a decision from her. I took the drastic step.
I called my mother.
My mother was a terminal cancer patient and she was somebody who had never made a request to her. I have never heard my wife say no to my mother either. There was a great bonding between them.
My mother asked her to come and meet her in Calcutta. I was advised to stay back in Mumbai. My mother by that time was in no position to take a flight as the cancer had spread to her pelvis region from the uterus.
The doctors were not ready to operate on her anymore because she had already gone through more than 10 major operations (including one where we had to amputate her right palm). She was in a bad shape but she was strong as ever.
Five days later my wife took a flight to Calcutta. She came back after seven days – beaming, smiling and back to her old self.
She said that she will try to have the baby along with her job. But that was not the point.
The point was, she was ready to have the baby.
That was perhaps the happiest day of my life. The next few months were the worst struggle for her as she tried to straddle between her job and her pregnancy and things got complicated along the way.
That’s a different story.
In the first week of August 2012, I got a call from my mother at 10 PM. She wished me all the best for the baby.
During the conversation my mother told me that she wanted to listen to my voice for the last time. Two minutes later, she was out of breath.
My father said later that she was smiling the whole time despite being in severe pain.
She was at the newly constructed Tata Memorial Hospital in Calcutta.
She was in constant pain.
She also spoke to my father about the joys of becoming a grandmother for the first time.
By the end of August, I was in Calcutta to conduct my mother’s funeral.
On February 6, 2013, my son was born at Lilavati Hospital, Bandra, Mumbai.
The conversations between my wife and my mother are a secret to this day.
The first photo of Suhaan and Sonika. This was taken inside the Operation Theatre at Lilavati Hospital, Bandra West, Mumbai