Shanaya screamed out in pain. She couldn’t bear the anguish of the disaster that had just happened. The bed was a puddle of blood with Shanaya sitting right in its middle. With her head in her hands, she was crying out loud.
“God, why always me? Why me?” screamed Shanaya with a trembling voice.
Hearing her, I rushed into the room. The sight was awful. I couldn’t stand it and fell on my knees. But in no time I got up thinking, if I break down what would happen to my beloved wife.
I gathered all the broken pieces of my heart and mind. I stood up, held Shanaya and guided her to the washroom. I gave her a warm bath.
I held my tears and tried my best to raise her spirits. “Shanaya, please dear, stop crying. We can`t change our fate.”
“But why we, every time. What wrong have I done? What conspiracy does lady luck have with me?” snivelled Shanaya. There was annoyance and grief in her tone.
“Please, dear, calm down. We need to go to the doctor right now.”
Shanaya could not control her tears. They were just not willing to stop rolling down her cheeks.
“Rutvij, this is her fifth miscarriage. Please, no more risks now.”
Dr. Nila Mehta was a leading gynaecologist. Her words were aching in my ears. I so wanted a baby but not at cost of Shanaya’s life.
This shock had struck her so badly that it almost took the life out of her. I remember the mornings when she used to sit near the window and sob. She had confined herself to the four walls of the room. She did not like to go out of the house. She was like a dry leaf resting on water – with no life within her and being carried away wherever the waters of life took her.
Once I took her to the beach as I could no longer see her pain. The water was still. There was no moon to sparkle the dark night sky. Shanaya and I were walking hand in hand. We stared at the motionless water which was just like our hearts – so many feelings within but still static from outside. We both wanted to just scream and cry out our emotions. But we both knew it well that if one would cry, the other would just break down. We just gave hope to each other and looked forward to a brighter future.
Just then Shanaya`s eyes fell on some kids playing. All were wearing the same T-shirt of ‘Sai Baba Orphanage’. She almost screamed out in joy as if she had seen a ray of hope in the darkness. Her happiness knew no bound. She looked like a peacock rejoicing in the first rain. I was totally perplexed.
“Rutvij come on fast. Please,” she said.
“What happened Shanaya? Have you gone mad?”
“Just come with me, darling.”
She asked me to drive to the ‘Sai Baba Orphanage’. I was completely bemused. I had not the slightest idea of what was going on in her mind. Maybe she wanted to play with the children there, I thought.
As we reached the orphanage she rushed into the office.
“Ma’am I want to adopt a child. A new born baby,” she said.
“Please have a seat ma’am. It’s not that easy as there are some legal procedures to be followed.”
Shanaya didn’t even want to wait for a second. She just wanted a baby in her hands. I was a mute spectator to that moment. I wasn’t a part of the play but I had been with her through her most painful journey and I hadn’t seen her so happy in a long time.
We completed some of the procedures and we were told to come back the next week. We felt this week was the longest one ever. Positive thoughts entered my mind – we would no longer be Mrs. Shanaya and Mr. Rutvij; we would be mom and dad. The cries and laughs of a small angel would glisten our little house with joy and bliss. Next week we were taken through the legal procedures and documentations. Every passing day now, we looked forward to the next.
A few months passed. Now there was a new member added to our family. We named him Alhad. As was his name, so was his nature. The sweet sound of his cries and the pleasing sound of his footsteps brought elation to our house. It was a pleasant morning when I was taking photographs of Shanaya and Alhad planting a mango tree. Our lives had totally changed. The coin of our fate had flipped and everything was full of joy. When he smiled, I forgot all worries of the world. When he slept soundly in my lap, I could feel the serenity of oceans, warmth of fire and coldness of winds. He was just like a bird. The flutter of his wings and his sweet voice would make our house more beautiful than a paradise.
But this was the silence which indicated a storm of which we were ignorant about. One fine evening, Alhad was sleeping in his cradle when our eyes fell on him. We noticed something unusual in his breathing pattern. He was breathing heavily moving to and fro about his place. We decided to visit a paediatrician the next morning. He said that everything was normal. He advised us to consult a cardiologist and take an ECG report to be on a safer side. The meeting with the cardiologist was a kind of a turning point in our lives.
He asked, “Do you have a hereditary heart problem?”
Shanaya and I did not understand what the doctor was saying.
“Why, what happened?” I asked.
“Your child has multiple holes in his heart.”
These words of the doctor banged in our ears. Shanaya fell on her knees. Tears welled down her eyes. In that broken condition, she asked the doctor “Is there any cure?”
“He will have to undergo two surgeries. One now and the other after one and a half year. It’s a one in ten lakh case. We can just try and hope for the best.”
Our world stopped. Everything turned dark around us. Nothing right, nothing wrong; only a blurry image. Why is God taking such a difficult test? Why fate is playing such a game with us, I thought.
The first operation was planned the very next day. Shanaya just gazed from the window of the OT at the small, tender child with injections piercing his entire body. She was traumatized seeing that dreadful sight. I was broken into pieces but I tried my best to give hope and courage to her. “I have to be strong to support her,” I thought.
We took Alhad home. The doctor used to come home daily for dressing. Alhad would cry out loud in pain. Seeing him cry, Shanaya would burst into tears. I recollected – when we took Alhad to the hospital for his vaccines, Shanaya could not see him cry and she would also weep. I comprehended how difficult it might be for her now. She would say – “I wish God would give me all his pain.” Sometimes I could also not control my tears, but I had to be brave, otherwise, Shanaya would break down.
The first operation was successful. The next one was after a year and a half. That one and a half year were very difficult for us. We tried our best to keep Alhad happy and smiling.
I used to say, “Shanaya, don’t worry. The operation will go well.”
She was totally broken inside but to keep me in good spirits she would reply, “Yes. We have never done wrong to anyone and so God cannot do this to us. Everything will be right. Just pray for the best.”
Our world had fallen apart. We were in the middle of the sea with no shore around. We had lost our way and did not know what to do and what not to do. The days and nights seemed so long – full of pain, full of anguish with no guarantee of future. We looked all around but there was no light passing through the steep walls. Amidst everything dark, we tried to see a ray of hope when we found Alhad smiling. When I would weep, Alhad would come to me, wipe my tears, give me his smiley ball and say, “Papa, don’t cry. Take my toy.”
“What has this innocent creature done? For what reason God is punishing him,” I wondered.
Time passed and the day of operation came. Shanaya woke up with a sudden jerk. It was the first thing that came to her mind in the morning. “What if he is gone! Soon, this bedroom, the house in whose eastern corner it sat, and the tiny garden outside with its gnarled old red hibiscus and the half-grown mango tree they had planted together, all those would be gone as well.” It was the strangest feeling ever.
We took Alhad to the hospital. The doctor took him in the operation theater. Shanaya asked the doctor if she could be in the OT but he denied as he knew that she wouldn’t be able to bear that sight. Shanaya and I stood outside with our eyes static on Alhad through the glass hole. Prayers after prayers came out from our mouth. I held Shanaya’s hand tight. “Don’t worry. Nothing will happen to him.”
The operation started. We were not allowed to see it. We could only hear his cries. Maybe for the last time. We trembled at this thought.
The doctor came outside, his head fell down and in a low tone he said, “Sorry. We tried out best but……”
At that very instant Shanaya fell down on the floor. I held her tight and hugged her. It was the most traumatic moment for both of us. We both could not control our tears.
Tomorrow would start without him… the sun would rise without him… he would not be so far apart… he would be in the heaven but also in my heart… I thought.
And for the first time, I said, “Why me?”