When I moved my gaze from the book to my left Ragini, I found her soundly sleeping. I smiled and bent to her forehead placing a kiss. She like always smiled in her sleep. Patting her head a bit I slid down beside her and placed the book on the side table.
I wonder how she guesses my presence in her sleep also. She snuggled up to place her head over my chest. I caressed her hair. Soon sleep covered my while I was watching her baby bump which touched my body and created a bit distance between us.
The noise from my alarm clock woke me up. I turned it down before it could spoil Ragini’s sleep. I moved my gaze to check if she was disturbed. Luckily she did not.
Just then it crossed my mind. Lucky will be at the door anytime now. I had told him to drop the milk packets. Now a days Ragini insists me that I spend more time beside her while she sleeps. So I don’t get the time to pick the milk packets myself. So I have assigned the work to her favorite Devar who is at times idiotic also.
I moved away from her slowly placing her head on a pillow. Tiptoeing fast I reached the door and opened it. I was on time as Laksh was about to bang on the door bell.
“Hey Bro” he smiled widely. I rolled my eyes. “What had I told you about hitting on the doorbell you idiot?” I whispered deadly.
He bit his tongue. “I’m sorry I had forgotten that you gave me the spare key so that I don’t disturb Bhabi’s sleep” he said pouting.
“Thank God I had full confidence on your dumb empty skull” I glared him and he mouthed a sorry. I grabbed the milk packets and the news paper from his hands and he walked to his apartment. Nodding my head I closed the door silently.
I placed the milk from one packet in the vessel for it to boil and the other one in the fridge. I searched the cooking book which I had bought with other pregnancy care books to check for a new diet recipe. Though she will not eat half of it also properly and I have to give her the achat Dadi maa sent to get the right taste I had to make it.
I started to cut the vegetables and prepared everything needed for the recipe. “Sanskar” I heard her lazy morning voice. Removing my apron I walked to the room.
She sat on the bed pouting. “You woke me up” she rubbed her one eye cutely. I smiled walking to her and sat beside her. She placed her head on my chest.
“You know right I need my favorite pillow” she drew patterns on my shirt. I kissed her hair. “I’m sorry. I was just making the break fast” I covered her from one side.
“Again those boiled vegies isn’t it?” she looked up at me. I smiled sheepishly at her. “I don’t want to eat them please” she pouted.
“You have no choice Biwi. You have to eat it for one more month. It’s your vitamin supply. Remember you refused to take those vitamin tablets and I have to compensate your vitamin intake. So you have to eat them” I nuzzled her nose with mine.
“No na” she pouted cutely while I pecked her lips. “Now get ready. I have made your favorite custard along with it. Your taste buds will not curse you” I refrained her from saying her usual dialogue.
“Not fair” she cried. “Please” I squeezed my eyes. “I promise I will bring your favorite Rasgulla in the evening” I caressed her cheek.
“But I want you to make it” she bent her head. I smiled nodding my head. “And you will come back early?” she cutely asked like a small kid.
Some times I wonder am I taking care of my pregnant wife or some 10 year old girl. “Okay I will ask Joe if he is ready to give me permission for the third time in this week” I caressed her hair.
“You know you are the best pathi in the world” she snuggled in to hug me and I smiled at her cute antics.
My phone buzzed. “Hello haa maa. I already made the break fast for your Bahu alright” I reported to mom. “Good” I heard her saying. “Now give the phone to my Bahu” she demanded.
“Oh hello I’m your son. Not some telephone operator in between” I whined while my mother chuckled. “Jal kukda Kahika. Give the phone” she laughed.
I pouted handing the phone to Ragini who chuckled looking at me. “Make me eat those boiled veggies more. Karma hits you back pati ji” she teased and I twisted my lips.
“Hello haa Mom” she spoke over the phone and I sat admiring her while she excitedly narrated everything to mom. They bonded really well more than my expectations.
And Dadisa also pampered Ragini more than I expected her. On one thing in the world what brought my mom and Dadisa together was Ragini’s pregnancy. They never argued over anything in that matter. May be it was mutual how they felt about this phase of a woman and the measures to take care of a pregnant lady.
I walked to the kitchen leaving the daughter in law mother in law duo to enjoy their time. As I was placed the food in the trays and walked to the dining table I saw Ragini walking out of the room freshened up.
She looked no less than an angel to me every time. The pregnancy had brought new aura to her already charming beauty and every time it made me drool.
She tried hugging me but today her baby bump had grown a bit more making it difficult for her to reach me completely. She stamped her feet like a small kid. “I can’t hug my Pati also now” she fake cried. “Aww” I stopped her from doing so.
“So what?” I walked behind her and covered her in my embrace placing my hands over her stomach. I kissed her cheek and she blushed.
“Now is that okay?” I asked her and she nodded her head. I made her sit on the chair and fed her the food. She was stubborn than the most stubborn kid I have ever handled.
I had to develop special pleasing skills to make her eat the breakfast. And by the time she finished I used to be so exhausted that I used to feel like sleeping for whole day. But duty commitments.
Joe had promised me that he will talk to the seniors about my maternity leave. Don’t be surprised. As my company is a multinational company they had maternity leave for the men also. In those days they can help their wives to take care of the baby.
I knew I needed it most post pregnancy of Ragini so somehow I was trying hard to be regular with the work so that I can get a chance to get those leaves sanctioned.
“Biwi” I whined while she tugged to my shoulder not letting me leave for the office. “I promised na I will be early” she pouted acting like she did not hear what I said. I took a deep sigh rolling my eyes.
I cupped her face and kissed her forehead. “I had told you just one more month and I will be always beside you. Then we will take care of the baby together” I tried cheering her. Her mood swings always made my heart wrench always because I can’t see her like this.
She kept staring the ground. “But I need you now” she spoke with low tone and it made my heart squeeze. “Because” she looked into my eyes with her tearful eyes.
“Later you will love the baby more” she said and I couldn’t help but smile. “You think so?” I bent my head to her head.
“I don’t know” she stared the ground again drawing patterns with her toe. “I love you and you more than anyone in this world but” I stopped and she looked up at me.
“But after my mom” I confessed what I felt. “I know” she held on to my shoulder. “I will never want you to love me more than her also” she placed her head and held tightly.
“But I feel weird” she said and I understood it was hormones which were making her feel this way. “You will love our baby more than me. Just have faith” I consoled her kissing the side of her head.
“Oops” we both looked at the door where Laksh stood closing his eyes.
“What the hell?” I walked to him and stood crossing my arms. “I just thought not to disturb Bhabi’s sleep you see” he smiled sheepishly and it did not amuse me.
“Laksh ke bache” I pounced grabbing his neck. “I’m sorry… I’m sorry… But at least don’t curse my child who hasn’t even landed in the world” he struggled in my hold.
We heard Ragini’s laugh and looked at her. Finally she cheered up and looking at her like that I loosened my grip on Laksh’s neck.
“Finish your incomplete romance I will wait in the parking” he whispered and ran from there and I stood admiring Ragini’s laugh.
Finally bidding her bye I walked to the parking where Laksh was waiting for me. We drove to the office.
I asked Joe about the permission and he agreed with a smile. I always say this that he is the best boss who understands my personal commitments also.
“Bye Joe” I wished him while leaving. “Sanky wait” he stopped me. I looked at him confused. He handed me a box. “What is this?” I looked at him confused.
“Those are comfort slippers. It’s Bhabi’s 8th month right and she will be having difficulty with her leg pain. The slippers comforts the legs. And this is the ointment my wife suggested. Apply it on her legs she will be relieved of the pain.” he smiled at me.
“How did it went out of my mind that from the seventh month she will be having this pain” I pulled my hair frustrated.
“Hey Sanky relax. You are going through a lot. As much it is difficult for your wife it stresses you out and it is natural that you forget one or the other thing” Joe consoled me.
“I’m the worst husband” my voice cracked. “You are the best husband Sanky. You know what everyone will do in such situation either they will send their wives to their Mayka or call their mother for help. But you single handed took care of your pregnant wife. Trust me when I see you run around all the time just to make sure you finish your work early and reach your wife I feel I missed this. Even I could have done it for my wife instead sending her to her mayka. I wouldn’t have missed those precious moments” he rubbed my back.
“I need to leave” I bid him bye and on my way I just thought how careless I have been from a month. How can it just slip out of my mind.
I remembered the times Ragini tried hiding her pain. I know she doesn’t want me to know about it. But I just wish she would have told me.
“Ragini” I rushed inside the house. She was watching something over the T.V. She tried getting up but I stopped her.
I sat near her legs while she watched me confused. When I touched her swollen legs she drew them back. “Sanskar. What are you doing?” she asked confused.
“You couldn’t tell me this?” I pointed at her legs squeezing my eyes. “What?” asked she confused still. “Your legs are swollen dumbo” I dragged her legs towards me. “Leave them will you?” she demanded. “Unless I massage and reduce your pain I won’t” I took the ointment I brought.
“Please Sanskar. You should not touch my legs” she pleaded me. “Please” she pleaded. “So shall I tell Lucky? Or shall I call mom here?” I asked her. “No…no… are you crazy?” she asked nodding her head.
“I am right now. You did not tell me from a month and I was also an idiot who did not notice it. They are swollen gosh” I said painfully.
She bent and kissed my head. “You know I could not look at them from the time” she pointed her baby bump. “And you were so worried always. I had heard from mumma that it was common during pregnancy so did not bothered you” she said apologetically.
“This is normal?” I pointed at her legs. “It was pure carelessness Biwi. I had told you even if it is slightest thing you should inform me. I want to do everything to you so that you don’t miss your mother’s care during this time” I looked into her eyes while my eyes turned glassy.
“And you never let me miss her” she wiped the tears in my eyes smiling. “I swear. I never even remembered mom. So much that she was hell angry on me that I forgot her for so many days” she chuckled making me smile.
I hugged her baby bump. She made me sit beside her and placed her head over my chest and I caressed her hair. She placed her hand over my fast beating heart. “Relax” when I heard it from her mouth it always soothed me.
I forwarded the box Joe gave me. “What’s this?” she opened it. “Joe gifted it to you. He said that it will relax your legs” I said kissing her head.
“So sweet of him” she smiled looking at it. “And there is your Nalayak Devar. What has he gifted” I teased her.
“Oh please my Devar does more than you realize. He goes to pick up the milk packets in the morning. Don’t you know how much he loves his sleep but for me he goes to get it as I want to spend more time with you” I looked at her. “What?” she asked confused.
“You knew?” asked I. “Then what you think I will imagine a ginie will bring those milk packets while you will be sleeping beside me?” asked she and I nodded my head smiling.
“You are way smarter than you look” I dragged her to a side hug. “That I am” she said proudly making me smile.
I looked at the clock. It was my last day in the office. I have been granted 4 months of maternity leaves all thanks to Joe. He insisted the management on my behalf. Ragini was admitted in hospital two days back and today was her due date. And I could not take a leave as I had a very important meeting.
Though I wanted to ditch it but then it will be wrong to disappoint Joe in return for what he had done for me.
I rushed out of the office as soon as the meeting was over. “Sanky” I heard Sahil. He has always the wrong timing. I rolled my eyes before facing him with a fake smile.
“Take” he forwarded the keys. “Take my bike today. You will reach early” he said panting and I looked at him dazed. I hugged him to thank and he was taken a back due to it. Though I hate him a bit less than Laksh but today he was my angel.
I drove the bike towards the hospital. I rushed to the ward Ragini was admitted. She was playing Ludo with Dad. She clapped her hands like a small kid.
Mom made her drink the juice and Dadi sa was peeling some more fruits. While chutki played with them her mother was looking at the tablets.
I sighed deeply. Because I expected a worst scene to see. “Sanskar” she waved at me happily. She was about to get down from the bed. But dad stopped her. “He will be stinking” he made her chuckle. “Dad” I whined while I hugged my wife.
“But I love my stinky Pati Dev” she chuckled. And I signed my dad to look at her. He smiled looking at her.
The evening passed and it was time for Ragini’s sleep. I did not knew why was I feeling so restless. I made her lie and sat beside her. The tiredness of the day did not let me stay awake.
Though her mother insisted that she will stay I wanted to be beside Ragini because she needed me more than anyone right now. They traveled back to the apartment while chutki stayed back.
She lied on the couch and I relaxed my head beside Ragini.
Suddenly I felt her faint voice. I woke up immediately. She was struggling with the pain and I was numb. For a moment I felt lifeless when I saw her twitched face.
“Sanskar” her voice brought me out of the trance while a tear tripped my eye. “Doctor…. Doctor” I screamed and chutki woke up hearing me.
“Jeejs. What happened?” she approached us. “Chutki. Take care of your sister I will call the doctor” I got up but felt a grip over my wrist. When I turned I found Ragini pleading me not to leave her.
I looked at her helplessly. “I will call the doctor. You be here jeejs. She needs you more than anyone” chutki rushed out.
I caressed Ragini’s hair while she cried. Each passing second just made my heart pain more and more.
“Hey” I whispered controlling my emotions. “I am gonna die” she cried controlling the pain and I closed my eyes letting those tears to flow.
“No… My Ragini is brave and strong. She won’t leave me. Remember your promise?” I whispered painfully. “It’s paining Sanskar” she held my hand tightly.
“I know right. I’m so sorry you have to go through this all. But remember I love you and I will be waiting for you. You have to come back to me” I said touching her head with mine.
“What if I loose our baby?” she took deep breaths. “You are her or his mother Ragini and I know more than you nobody can keep her/ him alive” I kissed the side of her head.
“Pakka?” asked she squeezing my hand. “Yup pakka” I said and meanwhile the ward boy and nurse arrived with the doctor and placed her on the stretcher.
She held my hand while she was getting carried towards the labor room. I so much wanted to stay with her but the doctors did not allow me. “Such dabba hospital you chose” she cried while I looked the doctors who were looking at me for her statement.
I signed her to be quite and kissed her forehead. “I know you will be all okay” I whispered while walking out looking at her. She kept screaming.
And every time she cried I felt an urge to rush to her but the closed door always stopped me. At a point I wished I would have been senior inspector Daya who breaks doors, I would have reached her.
After she cried for the last time I heard a baby cry.
It was two in the morning. After a bit time I saw a nurse walking out with the baby. “It’s a girl” she announced and I was elated as finally my princess entered my life.
I took her carefully in my arms. She was crying. And when I kissed her forehead gently she stopped crying and touched my long nose with her small hands and it felt the best feeling I ever felt. She smiled with her small lips stretching and I felt heaven.
A tear tripped my eye while I smiled. One more purpose of my life is in my arms. I hugged her gently while she moved. Her small head was fitting completely in my one palm and her butt in my other palm and she was so tiny gosh.
“Ragini?” I asked the nurse. She took the baby away from me. “We will shift the baby and the mother to the ward in half an our. She is good and sleeping due to the sedatives” the nurse walked inside and I counted the next half an hour like that was the longest time of my life.
When I entered the ward I found Ragini sleeping. I walked to her and saw our princess sleeping beside her. My world. I couldn’t hold those happy tears. I kissed both of their heads.
“Why is there no swing in this room?” I asked the nurse. “Your wife requested” she said and walked out. Ragini might wanted the baby to be beside her.
It was morning when I woke up. Our princess was already awoke. She was playing with my hair. I smiled lifting her gently and placed my one hand under her head. She smiled with her big eyes which were black just like her mother’s.
Ragini woke up and smiled looking at me. And trust me she looked more beautiful right now.
“Thank you” I showed her our daughter and she smiled more widely. I sat beside her and Ragini placed her head on my shoulder. “I missed you so much Pati dev” she whispered in my ear.
“And” I looked at her when she stopped. “Happy Birthday” she kissed my cheek and I just then realized that it was my birthday.
“You make my birthdays the best” I kissed her hair while she encircled her hands across my stomach.
“I love you” she said softly. “I love you too” I said adjusting my head over her head and our daughter smiled and we both looked at her.
“Happy birthday Baby” she took the baby in her arms. Like our princess felt her mother’s touch she smiled widely.
“By the way why did you refused to keep the swing?” I asked her confused. “Because” she was interrupted with a screech.
“Because it was my duty” Laksh entered with the swing and my family followed him with huge grin over their faces.
She smiled pointing at Laksh. “It is tradition” Dadi sa spoke. “As he is like Lakshman of Ram ji. He should be given the chance to be the best chachu to our princess isn’t it?” Ragini asked and I nodded my head in yes.
Everyone played with the baby and the time passed. I looked at Ragini. “Did it pain too much?” I asked her. She held my hands and looked into my eyes.
“I won’t tell a lie. Yeah it pained and at a moment I felt I will die. But then I remembered that you need me and I have to be with you always. I have to grow old with you. So I did not give up” she smiled through her tear filled eyes.
“And you are the best thing ever happened to me” I kissed her forehead.
“And you are mine” she smiled placing her hand over my chest aligning perfectly where my heart was jumping.
“Relax” she whispered kissing my shirt and I smiled.
My life was complete now. I have everything for a complete life though always not happy. But I had Ragini beside me who will be standing with me to face everything and I will be beside her to face everything she faces.
Hand in hand forever.
And finally the journey came to an end.
Epilogue will be out soon.
I will miss them for sure.