Hi, this is my first ever piece of writing. Ignore the typos and Swasan / Raglak are my couples.
So, this is going to get a little emotional. I’m afraid someone gets seriously injured and, as you can probably tell, there is a baby involved. Might tug on your heart strings a little. And I know from the beginning it will seem like Sanskar isn’t involved but he is don’t worry.
P.S. – I love you friends.
If you have siblings, especially older, you know that siblings are like extra parents. They take care of you and make sure you have everything you need and then some. My older sibling spoilt me and pampered me. They have always looked after me, made sure I never got hurt and have always been there when I need someone. I can talk to them, especially Ragini, more than my parents. Any problems, I would go to her.
So, when I found out I was going to be a masi, I was over the moon and I promised I would treat the baby like Ragini had treated me, be almost a second mother, well Ragini was like my third mother after my mum and grandma, but the point still stands.
Still, I was more than a little shocked when Ragini asked me for a favour but there was no way I could say no.
‘Swara, we’ve been thinking and we decided that we need to have someone who will look after this baby if something were to happen to us’ Laksh began.
‘We were wondering if you would agree to look after your niece/nephew if need be?’ Ragini asked.
‘Me? Are you sure?’ I knew they wouldn’t go to my parents, Ragini had fallen out with my parents because she had wanted to get married and they said she couldn’t because she was still young to get married.
‘Yes. We know you’ll love this child more than anyone, possibly even more than we will. There’s nobody else we would rather chose. And anyway, what are the chances of something happening to us both?’
I had agreed but I should have known then that she had practically just cursed herself.
2:36 a.m. on the 15th October 2016 is the time my life completely changed.
I got a phone call from the hospital telling me my sister and her husband had been in a car accident. Ragini was critical, Laksh hadn’t made it.
All I could think was of the baby. Ragini was still pregnant.
They said they were operating, trying to save the baby and I needed to go to the hospital.
I went, didn’t hesitate. Didn’t even bother to change out of my pyjamas.
When I got there, I barely had to wait five minutes for the doctor to come out, but it felt like five hours. I was waiting anxiously, having only been told that Ragini was still in the operation theatre when I had asked the receptionist.
‘Family of Ragini Gadodia.’ The doctor called. I rushed over. From the look on his face, I could tell the news wasn’t good. ‘You must be Swara.’ It was a bit of a surprise to not be recognised, but it was also nice to be treated normally for a change.
‘Uh, yeah. I’m Swara.’ I confirmed.
‘Miss Gadodia, before I tell you anything, please do understand that it was a delicate situation and we always want to save the child first.’ I nodded apprehensively. ‘The baby made it. We managed to operate in time and she is mostly fine, a little early and a little small, but she’s healthy.’ I breathed a sigh of relief. My niece was okay.
‘What about… what about Ragini?’ I asked.
‘I’m really very sorry, Miss Gadodia. There was nothing we could do. She lost a lot of blood and it came to a choice between her or the baby. She didn’t make it.’ I barely managed to comprehend what he said.
‘Ragini…she didn’t make it?’ I asked just to make sure I heard right.
‘I’m sorry. But, the baby does come first.’ I nodded. That’s when the fog cleared a little.
‘The baby, did my sister get the chance to name her?’
‘No. She saw her, but that was it.’
‘Can I see her?’
‘I’m afraid you’ll have to wait until they’ve gotten her cleaned up and done the preliminary checks. But I will send someone out then.’ I nodded and the doctor gave me yet another sympathetic look before going back through the doors.
I sank into a chair, wishing I had someone with me.
I felt my phone digging into my side, so I took it out of my pocket. I accidentally hit the lock button as I did. The screen came on and I looked at the background picture. It was an old picture, from over a year ago now. It was a picture of me and Sanskar, the person who had been my best friend, my shoulder to cry on, my support. We hadn’t spoken in months, but right now I needed him.
So, I called him and hoped he would pick up.
If your phone rings at 3 a.m. you know it’s an important call. Especially when you haven’t spoken to the person calling in six months.
I was still awake when I got the call. I knew that it was Swara calling because Sanam Re was her ringtone. I wouldn’t have picked it up if it were anyone else.
‘Swara? Everything okay?’ I asked, already knowing the answer would be no.
‘Sanskar, thank God you answered.’ I could hear the tears in her voice.
‘What’s happened?’ I was immediately alert.
‘Look, I know we don’t really talk anymore and I’m really sorry for calling you so late, but I need you.’
‘Don’t apologise, you need me, I’m there. Where are you?’ I asked.
‘At the hospital.’ I started to worry a little.
‘Are you okay?’
‘Physically, yes. But that’s about it.’
‘Alright. I’m on my way.’ I didn’t give her chance to protest before I hung up.
Thankfully, the roads were mostly clear at this time of night so it didn’t take me long to get to the hospital. I parked my car and went inside, immediately spotting Swara.
I went over to where she was sat on one of the chairs and she stood up. She hugged me and I could feel her small frame shaking slightly.
‘It’s okay. I’ve got you.’ I murmured, stroking her hair to try and comfort her. I couldn’t help but notice that she still fit against me like a puzzle piece. I tried not to pay attention to that though, mainly focusing on calming her down. She was still crying on my shoulder. ‘It’ll be okay. Everything will be okay.’ I told her, though I wasn’t sure what was wrong.
I kept whispering words of comfort and after five minutes, she calmed down enough that she wasn’t crying. She picked her head up off my shoulder.
‘Sorry, I kind of drenched your shirt.’ She sniffed.
‘It’s fine. It’s just a pyjama top.’ She wiped at her face and I felt in my trousers pocket, sure I had a tissue or something. I found a face towel, don’t ask I really don’t know, and handed it to her. She tried for a grateful smile but it ended up as a sort of grimace. ‘You want to tell me what happened?’ She nodded, but before she could, a nurse came out through the double doors and headed towards us. Swara broke out of the hug and turned towards the nurse.
‘Miss Gadodia, you can come through now.’ The nurse told her.
‘Thank you.’ She turned to me. ‘Come on, I’ll explain in a minute.’
‘I’m sorry, but it’s only family allowed.’ The nurse said. I was about to tell her to go ahead and I would wait, but she spoke first.
‘He’s family.’ She said, taking a hold of my hand. To say I was surprised would be an understatement. But I followed her and the nurse through the doors and down a series of corridors into what appeared to be the paediatric wing.
‘She’s in there.’ The nurse said, gesturing to a room.
‘They didn’t tell me she would be in a room. The doctor said she was healthy. Does she have to stay?’ Swara questioned, making me more confused.
‘She is healthy, but we want to keep her a couple of nights just in case. And she was quite early, it’s normal.’ The nurse assured. Swara nodded and thanked the nurse again before turning to the room.
There was another nurse in the room, sat next to a small cot. I was getting more confused by the second.
‘Come on. I’ll explain everything in a minute, I promise, but I need to see her first.’ I nodded and followed Swara into the room. The nurse got up as we entered.
‘I’ll give you three some time. I’ll come back later to discuss things.’ She said, leaving the room and closing the door.
I looked at the little cot to see a baby swaddled in a blanket. I looked at the card on the cot.
Baby Girl Gadodia? It wasn’t Adarsh’s kid, Uttara wasn’t a Gadodia anymore and Swara definitely could not have a kid. Ragini had been pregnant last time I spoke to Swara, but she was married. Then again, she did keep her last name. So this was Ragini’s daughter but where were her parents?
Swara let go of my hand and moved towards the cot. I watched as she gently lifted the tiny baby and cradled her. She looked so natural holding a baby. It made me think of dreams I had had once upon a time.
Dreams of me and Swara together. Settling down with her. Starting a family. I had often dreamed about seeing Swara with a child, but I had always thought it would be hers, ours. Swara was the only girl I had ever thought about settling down with.
She smiled at the baby girl, but a tear fell as well.
‘Shona, why are you crying? Shouldn’t you be happy?’ I asked, knowing it hadn’t been a happy tear. She looked up at me like she had forgotten I was in the room.
‘Sanskar, I shouldn’t be the one holding her right now. We shouldn’t be the ones here.’ She sounded close to tears again.
‘What’s going on, Swara?’
‘Can we sit down first?’ I nodded and she took a seat on the bed. I sat next to her.
‘Now can you explain?’
‘Do you remember, back before we stopped talking, I told you Ragini and Laksh asked me to take care of the baby if anything happened to the both of them?’ I nodded.
‘And you said Ragini said something like nothing would happen to them.’
‘I should have known then that something would happen.’ She sighed.
‘Why? What happened?’
‘I got a phone call about half an hour before I called you. Ragini and Laksh had gotten into an accident. They told me Laksh didn’t make it and Ragini was in critical condition and I needed to come down to the hospital. All I could think was that Rahini was still pregnant and the baby might not make it. I barely even thought about my own sister.’ She took a breath before continuing. ‘Five minutes after I got here, one of the doctors came out. He told me that it was a delicate situation and they had to try to save the baby first. He said she was fine, early and small but healthy. And then he told me that Ragini didn’t make it.’ She stopped talking and I wrapped an arm around her shoulders. ‘I don’t know what to do, Sanskar. I’m not ready for a kid! And I can’t do this on my own! My parents aren’t even going to accept her. They don’t even talk to me because I supported Ragini! I’ve got no-one.’ She cried.
‘Yes you do. You’ve got me. You don’t need to do this alone.’ She looked at me in shock.
‘I can’t ask you to do that.’
‘You aren’t. I’m offering.’
‘Sanakar, this isn’t just a part time thing.’
‘I know.’ I assured.
‘You won’t be able to just leave after a few months or a year.’
‘I won’t. I’ll help you raise her.’
‘What about when you get married? You’ll leave us.’ I know she was just trying to find arguments.
‘I won’t leave you. I’m always going to be there for you.’
‘You say that but someday you’ll realise that you don’t want to do this anymore. And by that point, I’ll probably be used to having you there to help and she’ll be attached to you and it’ll hurt her.’ Swara argued.
‘Shona, I won’t leave. If I already love her this much and I’ve just seen her, I’m sure I’ll never be able to leave.’ I argued back.
‘How can you be so sure? And what if you do leave? Then what? She’ll get attached to you and she’ll grow up thinking you’re her dad, Sanskar! Then you’ll leave and she’ll be heart broken!’
‘How many times do I have to say it? I. Am. Not. Going. To. Leave!’ Sometimes I felt like grabbing her by the shoulders and shaking sense into her. I would have, but she was still holding the baby.
‘You will leave! And we’ll be left alone!’ She was crying as she yelled at me and her voice cracked a little.
‘This isn’t about me leaving you both is it? This is about me leaving you.’
‘No. This is about you leaving me, again.’ She admitted whispering. Guilt filled me immediately.
‘I won’t leave. I swear to God, I won’t. That was…’ I sighed. How the hell do I explain that I thought I was doing what was best for her? I was dragging her back, tying her down. She was wasting her life trying to help me get better. I didn’t want her to waste her life on an idiot like me but she wouldn’t leave. So I had to.
‘That was what?’
‘That was me being an ass and thinking I could survive without you. Which, by the way, I have found is very difficult when you were literally the only reason I had to try and get out of the hell hole that was my own brain.’ I confessed.
‘So, you definitely aren’t leaving?’ She asked. I laughed.
‘Definitely not leaving.’ I confirmed.
‘Well, then do you want to hold her?’
‘Ofcourse you can.’ I gently lifted the baby out of Swara’s arms.
‘Hey, baby, I’m your…’ I trailed off and looked to Swara.
‘Well, if we are raising her I guess we are her parents.’
‘You sure that’s okay?’
‘I was told, in the event this would happen, give her the most normal life I could. That means being called mum or ma instead of masi. I can’t raise her as my own daughter if I look at her and feel guilty that I’m not my sister. And I’m just going to think that everytime I hear masi.’ She turned to look at the baby ‘So, yeah. Baby Gadodia, meet your dad.’ I smiled and looked at the baby in my arms.
‘So, giving her a normal life, not gonna be easy if we live in two separate houses.’ I stated, casually.
‘No. It’s not.’ Swara agreed.
‘Well, maybe we should get our own place together? You know, for baby’s sake.’
‘Yeah. For her sake.’ Swara nodded. ‘And we need to give her a name. She can’t be baby Gadodia forever.’
‘Anjali.’ I didn’t need to think about it. She literally was an angel for me. She brought me back to Swara, back to myself really. ‘Anjali Gadodia.’
‘Anjali Gadodia. I like that. Unless…’ She looked at me a little nervously.
‘Well, normal life and all. Most kids take their dad’s name.’
‘But if it weren’t us, Ragini would’ve kept the name as Gadodia right?’
‘Yeah, but it is us. We can’t always think about what they would do. We don’t even start that so it doesn’t be a problem.’
‘Are you sure about this?’
‘Entirely. Anjali Maheshwari. If it’s okay with you.’
‘Well, yeah. But it might be a little odd for her when she grows up. Me and her having the same name and you being a Gadodia. Maybe you should think about, I don’t know, changing yours, or I could.’
‘We’re talking for Anjali’s sake, right?’ We both knew that wasn’t the case, but it was easier than outright admitting our feelings.
‘Yeah, completely. Just for Anjali.’ I agreed.
‘Then, I guess you’re probably right. I’ll change mine.’ She said.
‘Well, you can’t just change your name. It wouldn’t make sense.’
‘Stop talking in circles.’
‘Marry me?’ I finally asked. I had been waiting to ask her for years, but we weren’t together and I was too chicken to tell her how I felt, let alone ask her.
‘About blo*dy time, idiot.’ She smirked at me.
‘What?’ I asked, confused as hell.
‘I practically told you I love you when we were kids.’
‘Yeah, you did. I’m just a little slow.’ She laughed. ‘So, will you?’
A/N: That made me cry, made me laugh and made me angry at some point.
I’m thinking of writing a short follow up, what do you think? You want to read it?
Hope you liked it.
See you soon. (If I get any ideas.)
Please comment. Criticism and appreciation are equally appreciated.