Friendship turned into a relationship which then transformed into a union between two hearts and two homes into one, which later resulted in the desire to complete their new family, with the addition of a child.
In the summer of 1984, Khushi inhaled and a surge of energy filled her body, channelling her inner strength, she gave it her all and that was the moment she heard the doctor exclaim, “It’s a boy.” They both looked at the tiny baby that was in the doctor’s hands, a rush of emotions flooded the new parents. Arnav looked at Khushi and kissed her forehead.
The doctor laid the baby on Khushi’s stomach and shook the baby in attempt to get a response. Khushi began panicking, “Why… he’s not crying.” Arnav looked Khushi, feeling helpless, not having any answers. The doctor quickly cut the cord and ushered the baby to the nurses in the corner of the room.
Khushi gripped Arnav’s hand, they both waited with batted breath to hear their son’s first cry. They looked over to where the nurses were trying relentlessly to make him cry. They sent a tube down his throat, in order to expel any fluid that may have been swallowed. Then they put an oxygen mask over his face while rubbing his hands and feet.
“Come on little guy.” Arnav whispered while Khushi remained silent, waiting.
A small cry filled the room but he was not out of the danger zone, the nurses were still concerned about the way he was breathing. They quickly wheeled him down to the Neonatal Unit while another nurse spoke to Arnav and Khushi about what was taking place.
The squeaky marble floor and pale white wall in the silent corridor set the atmosphere, sombre and tense. He leaned against the white wall feeling helpless. He could not do anything for his son even if he tried, it was all in the hands of the doctors and Khushi’s devi maiya. He was torn between his wife and his son, he wished he could be at Khushi’s side, reassuring her that everything would be alright, but he couldn’t stand his son being alone either. Ultimately Khushi made the decision, saying she was fine, she forced him to leave her side and be with their son.
The NICU nurse came outside to meet Arnav, “Your son is doing fine, much better. He’s a little fighter. He had some difficulty breathing at birth, for a precaution he was brought to the NICU, he is breathing much better now, he’ll be okay.” Arnav nodded. The doctor added, “You can meet him, now that he’s stable.” He nodded again, “I would like that.” He moved to the sterile area and got a yellow scrubs suit on over his clothes. He sanitized his hand just as he entered the room. The nurse ushered him over to the incubator where his son was inside. He sat on the stool and held his palm against the incubator, “My baby boy, your mummy and daddy are right here with you.”
The nurse said, “You can touch him if you’d like.” Arnav smiled and the nurse opened the circular opening at the side of the incubator.
Arnav’s heartbeat increased as he stretched his hand into the incubator to touch his son for the first time. His breath hitched as he touched him. He was so tiny, so soft, so perfect. He caressed his arm as he studied his son’s face. His little chest heaved up and down almost animatedly.
A little while later, a nurse suggested skin to skin with the baby because it was a great help, since Khushi was still in the L&D ward, Arnav could do it. He readily agreed.
Arnav opened the first few buttons of his shirt and the nurse laid the baby on Arnav’s chest. Snug on top of his daddy. Covering the two of them with a blanket, she left the room to give them some privacy.
Arnav clasped his little fist, “Hey there buddy… I love you. You had mummy and daddy scared. I can’t wait for your mummy to see you. She’s been waiting so long. Get better quickly.”
A little while later, Khushi was wheeled into the neonatal unit to meet her son. She saw the most beautiful sight, her son snuggled on her husband’s chest where he sat in the rocking chair. She smiled as she got closer to them. Arnav got up with their son and a nurse helped Khushi onto the rocking chair.
Arnav lowered their son into her arms. Once his tiny body made contact with hers, she knew what heaven felt like, nothing was as special as feeling her baby in her arms like that. She touched him as gentle as possible, “Hi buddy…”
Arnav stroked Khushi’s shoulder, “Which name are we going with?” Khushi sighed, they had zeroed in about ten names that they considered but still they couldn’t settle on one yet. As Khushi pondered, Arnav looked at his son and said, “I know it’s not from our list of names but the name Adhivam just came to me.”
Khushi smiled at Arnav, “I love that name, its unique and special just like our little one.” As the baby cooed, the new parents grinned at little Adhivam, in amazement that they made this tiny human being.
Two week old Adhivam
The loud wails of their newborn baby had both Arnav and Khushi up at 3am in the morning. Arnav got out of bed and picked up Adhivam from the crib close to the bed. He brought him back to the bed and rested him on top of Khushi as she sat up. She opened the first few buttons of her top and Adhivam latched on to nurse. While Arnav could have slept peacefully, he chose to stay up with his son and wife. He wound an arm around his wife, cuddling with her as they both watched their son fill up his little tummy.
Three month old Adhivam
Khushi entered the living room to see her two favourite people, her husband and her son, on the alphabet mat. Both the boys were on their stomachs, having some quality tummy time. Arnav rolled over and helped Adhivam roll over, he looked up to see Khushi leaning against the wall staring at them.
Khushi joined them on the floor and Arnav said, “Mummy is here… Adhi come on… show mummy how you roll over.” As if on cue, Adhivam rocked his body and rolled over partially, the rest of the way Arnav helped him roll over.
Nine month old Adhivam
“Come on baby.” Arnav opened his arms while the barely nine month old Adhivam waddled over to him, this marking his first steps. As he leapt into his father’s arms, Arnav gave him a high-five. “You did it I’m so proud of you.” He struggled out of his father’s arms and crept over to Khushi. She kissed his chubby cheeks and hugged him.
One year old Adhivam
As the clock stroke just past midnight, Arnav and Khushi crept into their son’s nursery. Though Adhivam was sound sleep, they both kissed him and cradled him. “Happy first birthday baby!”
Three year old Adhivam
Arnav was on the phone while Adhivam played on the playground set he had gotten for Christmas. Adhivam played in glee but after a while he got bored playing without his daddy. In attempt to get his father’s attention, Adhivam climbed on top of the monkey bar and sat down. When he waved his hand at his father, he misbalanced and felt himself falling. Luckily, his feet managed to remain tangled in the bars while the rest of his body dangled upside down. “Dadddyyy…” Adhivam screamed in between his sobs. As soon as Arnav heard him yelling, he dropped his phone and ran frantically towards his son. He managed to untangle Adhivam quickly and he pulled him snug into his arms. He inspected his skin for any bruises or cuts. “Are you okay?” Adhivam nodded in between his sobs. He cradled him in his arms and took him inside to Khushi, where he was showered with even more hugs and kisses.
Five year old Adhivam
Khushi turned to her husband as they both fidgeted, “Think he’s okay?”
Arnav caressed her arm, “I’m sure he is… its the first day at school, the very first of many… he’ll do fine.”
Eighteen year old Adhivam
Adhivam froze hearing the stern voice of his father, he quickly turned around as the lights flickered on. He met his father’s gaze. “Dad”
“Your mother was worried sick. You could have at least called once.”
“Sorry dad, I lost track of time. Is mom angry?”
“She was, I managed to handle her. She fell asleep waiting for you.”
With a guilty face Adhivam said, “I’m sorry, I’ll make it up to you both.”
Early the next morning, as Khushi came downstairs, she found a bouquet of red roses and a lovely card. She inhaled the scent of the roses as she opened the card.
I’m really sorry… I didn’t mean to make you worry like that.
Twenty year old Adhivam
Adhivam quickly made his way through the crowd to where his parents were standing. Arnav hugged his son, lifting him slightly off the ground. “I’m so proud of you son.” As soon as Arnav released him, Adhivam leaped into his mother’s arms, “Mr Graduate, congrats.”
Twenty One year old Adhivam
Adhivam knocked on his father’s study door. He walked inside and sat opposite his father, “Dad I need some advice…”
Arnav leaned back on his chair, “I’m all ears… what’s wrong?”
Adhivam cleared his throat, “Okay so there’s this girl and I really like her but she kinda hates me.”
Arnav muttered under his breath, “Sounds like a case of Arnav and Khushi all over again.”
Adhivam looked at his father, “Dad you said something?”
Before Arnav could utter a word, Khushi walked in and sat next to her son. “Your father was just like you, he had a hard time in the ladies department…” She winked at her husband, “Despite how our relationship began, if its meant to be, it will be, if you are soulmates, your love will pass all hurdles.”
“Our relationship and twenty five years and counting marriage is solid evidence.” Arnav said proudly to his son while he covered Khushi’s palm with his own. “Follow your heart son! There, lies the answer.”
Adhivam grinned, “Thank you… for everything.”
A few weeks later, Adhivam showed his girlfriend inside the house. He yelled from the foyer, “Mom? Dad? Where are you all?”
He heard his mother’s voice, “In the kitchen.” The youngsters made their way into the kitchen.
Adhivam looped his hand around his girlfriend’s waist, “Mom, Dad, this is Shraddha.”
Arnav and Khushi smiled at each other, with a bright smile mirrored on each other’s faces,this was the girl he spoke of, from the study. They already felt like they knew her. They greeted her and welcomed her into their lives.
Twenty three year old Adhivam
“Mom, dad I got it…” Adhivam beamed from ear to ear. Khushi cupped his face, “You got the job?” He nodded. She kissed his cheek, “I’m so happy for you son.” Arnav high fived Adhivam, “I told you it takes time but hard work pays off…let’s celebrate.” Adhivam nodded, “Dinner’s on me.” Arnav was about to protest when Shraddha entered the room with a smile on her face, “Dinner’s on me…” She winked. “Can’t protest even if any of you wanted! Its my treat for getting such a lovely family.” Arnav, Khushi and Adhivam all nodded and chuckled at her antics.
Twenty Five year old Adhivam
Before Adhivam could turn around to look for his parents, his felt the protective hands of his parents on either sides of his shoulders. “We’re right here.” He smiled knowing his parents were at his sides, he placed the engagement ring on Shraddha’s finger. Among the numerous people and thunderous applause, the only things that mattered were his parents blessing and his life partner.
Thirty year old Adhivam
You are not just the bahu of this house, but you’re also my daughter. Welcome to the family, officially.” Arnav said to Shraddha as his son and bride stood at the threshold of the house decked in their bridal attire. Khushi kissed her forehead, “I couldn’t have asked for a better life partner for my son.” Adhivam looked on in admiration at his parents and his wife.
Thirty Five year old Adhivam
Adhivam walked into the hospital room adorning a sad smile. He knew it was time, but he couldn’t bear the thought of his dad having to go.
He held his father’s wrinkled palm, ever so tenderly. “Dad you need to fight. Mom and I are waiting for you. I love you so much!”
Arnav smiled, he gripped onto his son’s young hand, “Adhivam, its my time. Maybe I’ll reborn as your son.” He smiled at his son’s glossy eyes, “I’ve fought for you from the very start. At every stage of your life, I am glad I was there for everything. You know, I always wondered what kind of father I would be, I knew for sure I was not going to be like my father. I couldn’t do that to you because I knew what it felt like. I love you son.”
Adhivam kissed his father’s palm, “You make me proud dad. I am proud to call you my dad. I love you dad.”
Khushi walked towards Arnav as Adhivam left the room in tears. She cupped Arnav’s face and kissed him tenderly on his lips. “I love you jaan.”
He wheezed as he spoke with difficulty, “I love you too jaan. Hold onto life as long as you could.”
A few months after Arnav’s passing, Khushi smiled genuinely as she held her first grandchild, Adhivam’s son. She looked up at her daughter in law and her son. “What are you all going to name him?” Adhivam and Shraddha looked at each other with a smile mirrored on their faces. Shraddha spoke up, “His name is Arnav…” Adhivam held his wife’s hand, “Arnav Singh Raizada.” Khushi’s eyes brimmed with tears as she looked at her grandson cooing. She whispered, “Welcome to the world Arnav.” Her heartbeat increased as she felt him. She looked up and saw her Arnav smiling in the distance. “We have a grandson Arnav.” A tear rolled down her cheek.
Months came and went as Khushi occupied herself with her grandson. On one late evening, it seemed that her final day had come. Khushi stared at her late husband’s photograph, “I kept my promise, and I’ve been away from you for too long already. I can’t bear this torture any longer.”
As Khushi exhaled for the last time on Earth, miles away in a private hospital, the wailing sound of a newborn filled the labour and delivery ward. The new parents looked on at their newborn daughter, her milky skin and bright hazel eyes were majestic, they whispered, “Welcome to the world Khushi.”
Arnav extended his hand out for Khushi as she made her way up the fluffy pristine white stairs towards him in the beautiful sky. He pulled her into a hug and whispered into her ear, “I missed you jaan…finally you’re here!” She tapped him on his chest gently, “Couldn’t you have waited for me, so we could have come here together?” She frowned, “I wish you were there to hold our grandchild.”
He smiled at her complaints, “It wasn’t my choice jaan, I had to leave when God decided it was my time. In regard to seeing my grandchild, I couldn’t miss that moment for anything, death could not stop me, it was not possible to hold him, but I did see him, when Adhivam and Shraddha announced his name, Arnav. There’s a nice ring to it.” Laughter tickled both of their throats. She muttered, “I think I’ll like it here.”
Generations come and go, but the love of soulmates is everlasting. As the love withers away into the past, that love is reborn and blossoms into the future. When one generation of Arnav and Khushi’s love dies, it is reborn into another generation.
Soulmates are said to be two souls destined to be together, programmed to recognize each other through time and space.
Unconditional Love; Mother’s Day and Father’s Day cannot define what a parent or parents mean to you. They are your shoulder, the supporter, the extra strength, the pillar, even when you think you’re all alone, they’re standing in the shadows always. Nine months, a mother and father waits for the live they have created, they love this child unconditionally, without ever holding them or seeing them, there’s a feeling, a sense of belonging. Its magical, the relationship of a child and their parents. Being a parent is something so pure and there’s so much responsibility to mould this new human being into a good person in society. Parenthood stems much further than the moment of conception to adulthood, no matter what age a child is, they will always be protected and loved just like the first moment their parents first swore to protect and love you to double infinity.