Never let me go
It had been one week since Khushi was discharged and Arnav had dropped her at the Gupta house on her request. Since then, she barely spoke, barely ate… barely did anything at all. Neither families were happy, all of them mourned the loss of the baby that they found out about the day it was no longer in the world.
Khushi sat near the window in her room and watched the children playing outside. A sad smile appeared on her face, the sweet innocent children playing without a worry, she wondered how the baby she was nurturing in her womb just days ago, how would he or she have looked like. She missed the warmth she felt inside of her, even if it was just a short time, she was a mother, no one could deny that.
Garima came in and placed the tray of breakfast on the bed. “Khushi nashta ka lo.” (Khushi have your breakfast.) Garima doubted Khushi had heard her. Ever since Khushi came, she was in her own world that she shielded everyone from. Garima kept her palm over her mouth covering the sob that escaped, she could not see her daughter like that.
Garima wiped away her tear away, she walked over to the window and sat next to Khushi. She rested her hand onto Khushi’s which made Khushi turn to face her mother. Garima cupped her daughter’s face, “Beta … nashta?” (Daughter… breakfast?)
Khushi replied in a soft voice, “Bhook nahi hai.” (Not hungry.) She added, “Baad main kaogi.” (I’ll have it later.) Then she focused her attention back to the children playing outside. Garima helplessly nodded and left her daughter’s room with a heavy heart.
Meanwhile in Shantivan, Arnav leaned against the headboard of their bed. He had barely gotten any sleep last night, just like every other night for the past week. He did not attend the office nor did he leave his room. The doctor visited him twice already, concerning his low sugar levels. He was scarcely eating and when he did, it was only to please his sister and nani. He could feel her in every corner of their room. It was suffocating, yet it was comforting; a paradox to say the least.
The house phone rang in the Gupta household, Garima picked it up and heard her son in law’s voice on the other end of the line. “Ji Arnav bitua.” (Yes Arnav son.)
Arnav paused and then asked, “Khushi kaise hai?” (How is Khushi?)
A sad smile appeared on Garima’s face as she heard her son in law’s question. He called every day, two to three times a day for the past week now, asking the same question. Whenever she asked if he wanted to speak with her, he always declined. She knew something was very wrong between her daughter and her son in law.
Garima replied, “Kuch nahin badla.” (Nothing changed.)
Buaji took the phone from Garima and spoke into it, “Suno Arnav bitua, tu yahan ajao. Khushi ki madat kar, aap dono saath mein apna dard baat lo… Mein Khushi ko iss halat mein nahin dekh sakti.” (You need to come, help her… you two share your pain together… I can’t see her like this.)
Arnav swallowed, “Buaji mein nahin… Khushi mujhe dekhna nahin chati.” (Buaji I can’t, she doesn’t want to see me)
Buaji didn’t want to hear any excuses, she sternly stated, “Mujhe farak nahin padta. Mujhe meri sanka devi vapas chaiye. Usse vapas lekar aao.” (I don’t care… I just want my Khushi back. Get her back!”
“Buaji I…” Before he could continue, he heard the dial tone.
Buaji went to Khushi’s room a while later and saw her unconscious on the floor, her food still untouched on the bed. She let out a scream, “Garima Garima jaldi aao!” Garima came and saw her daughter on the floor, she quickly called her son in law.
As soon as Arnav picked up the call he heard a frantic voice, “Khushi… Khushi ko…”
“Kya hua Khushi ko?” (What happened to Khushi?) He asked anxiously.
Garima consoled herself and managed to say, “Behosh hai, baata nahin kaise… main…” (Unconscious, I don’t know how… I)
Anrav quickly said, “I’m coming.” He picked up his keys and left for the Gupta house. While on his way, he called his family doctor and explained Khushi’s case over the phone. Arnav arrived at the Gupta house and sat beside a still unconscious Khushi till the doctor reached shortly after. They all left the room while the doctor checked and treated Khushi.
“You all go ahead inside.” He told Khushi’s family as the doctor emerged from her room. They nodded and entered Khushi’s room.
The doctor walked up to Arnav and said, “I have given her saline drips and some medication to help with her pain.” Arnav nodded.
The doctor continued, “She lacking nutrients, she’s really weak… she needs extra attention, love and support, especially from you Mr Raizada. At a time like this, she needs you the most. Both of you need each other’s company.”
Buaji wheeled Shashi out of Khushi’s room along with Garima just as the doctor was leaving. Garima put a hand on Arnav’s shoulder, “Beta aap andar jao Khushi ki paas…” (Son you go inside by Khushi.)
He wearily walked inside Khushi’s room, his eyes red and his face drawn. As he carefully walked up to her, he noticed that her hand had gotten slightly blue in the area where the IV was inserted. He sat on a chair next to the bed and asked, “How are you feeling now?”
She licked her parched lips and answered, “Better.”
He leaned forward and held her hands, “Khushi everything I said that day in the office, I didn’t mean any of it. I said it all in anger. I know nothing will bring back our baby…”
She inhaled, “Arnavji…”
He interrupted her, “I’m so sorry for everything. I wasn’t with you this past week, I only wanted to respect your wishes. But the truth is I’m barely surviving without you. Please come back home, so we can mend our relationship. We need each other.”
Khushi looked away, “Arnavji I…” She shifted slightly causing her to wince in pain. Arnav immediately leaped forward, “Are you okay?” Where are you hurting?” She wanted to reply, deep inside there was an ache, referring to the inner turmoil, the emotional pain, but instead she settled on the physical aspect of her pain. “My stomach it’s…”
Before she could continue, Arnav touched her stomach with his palm. Feeling his touch, it sent a volt of electricity through her body. She closed her eyes as he moved his palm around her stomach. She gulped as she remembered her baby that was in her womb days ago. She inhaled and pried his palm away from her stomach. He looked up at her alarmed, “Is everything?”
She fidgeted with her dupatta, “I… I’ve decided…I don’t want to go home with you.”
He gulped, “Everything between us, just like that… you…”
She replied angrily, “Just like that? I feel suffocated, I need to be away from you…Because of you my baby was snatched from me.”
“You’re right.” He blinked away his tears. “That’s what I deserve…” A lump formed in his throat, “I killed our baby. I killed us.” There was a deafening silence in the room.
He held her hand, “Just look at me once Khushi and I’ll go…” She remained rooted in her position. He pleaded, “Once please.” A few seconds passed and nothing. His eyes filled with tears, “Khushi I’m sorry for everything.” He walked a few steps away from her and turned back to see her in the same position as before. He whispered, “Goodbye.” Khushi turned just in time to see Arnav’s retreating back leave the room.
He rushed out of Khushi’s house, disregarding his mother in law as she called out to him. He entered Shantivan and went straight up to his room, locking himself in it. He fisted his palms as he looked at himself in the mirror, he hated his life, he ruined it with his own two hands. Unable to bear the anguish, he picked up a vase and flung it right into the mirror, shattering it to pieces. He slid down to the floor and took out the sonography photo from his wallet that he had found in Khushi’s pregnancy report. He held the photo close to his heart as he curled into a foetal position and sobbed.
Sometime after midnight, he got up disoriented; he staggered to his feet, took a few pills from his drawer. He grabbed his car keys and left Shantivan. He did not know where he was heading to, but he just drove relentlessly for as long as he could remember before he started to feel drowsy. His eyes drooped as he gripped the steering wheel tighter and increased his speed. He glanced at the sonography photo in his left hand and the tears began to flow, blurring his vision even more. Before he knew it he took a corner too sharply and found himself crashing into a tree. His body lunged forward onto the steering wheel, he managed to open his eyes, he heard faint voices around him. Everything ached, he groaned and hoarsely whispered Khushi’s name, he clutched the photo tighter as his eyes began shutting.
Khushi jumped up from her sleep as she felt Arnav call her name. She checked her phone, it was just after 5am. She clutched her mangalsutra and folded her palms, as she had a bad feeling. She dialed his number without thinking, but she got voice mail.
Maybe he was asleep. Or he probably turned his phone off. Khushi you are over thinking, you yourself told him to leave you alone, he is doing just that.
She put her mind at ease and lay in her bed thinking of her life with her husband and how everything was over now.
Garima absentmindedly began making breakfast. Her thoughts were filled with Arnav, he had left in haste last night and he did not call this morning, he called every morning at 7:30am. She knew Arnav and Khushi had fought but still he would have called to find out how Khushi was. Suddenly she heard the telephone ring, a smile appeared on her face expecting it to be her son in law but instead it was the voice of his sister Anjali.
Khushi was about to get off the bed, when her mangalsutra got stuck on the edge of her blanket. While trying to get it out, she saw the mangalsutra snap and the beads began falling onto the floor. She gasped and bent down, trying to pick up all the beads. Just then her mother barged into the room with her face filled with tears.
Khushi looked up and asked, “Amma kya hua?” What happened?)
Her mother gulped down her sobs and managed to say, “Arnav bitua ka accident hogaya. Operating theatre main hai woh.” (Arnav got into an accident. He’s in the operating theatre.)
“Aaa ccident…” Khushi looked down at the beads in her hand, they once formed her mangalsutra, her Arnavji. That bad feeling. Him calling out to her.
She stood expressionless until she felt her mother’s weight engulfing her into a hug. That was the moment the dam broke, she cried for their baby, she cried for their broken life, she cried for her mangalsutra breaking, how ominous it was, she cried for her husband who was battling for his life and she cried for her own ill fate. The last words she said to her husband resonated in her ears, “I feel suffocated, I need to be away from you… Because of you my baby was snatched from me.” and his last words, “Goodbye.”
Garima and Khushi got into the car waiting on them, which Anjali had sent for them. When they got to the hospital, they saw the Raizada’s hovering around outside the operating theatre. Payal immediately hugged Khushi and helped her sit down. Khushi folded her hands in prayer.
Please let Arnavji be okay. I…I can’t lose him too.
When the doctor came out of the room, everyone rushed over to him. Khushi stood up and listened attentively from where she was standing.
“He’s stable as of now. I must say he’s one lucky man. You all can see him when we shift him to a room.”
Soon after Arnav still unconscious was wheeled out of the operating theatre. They all stood breathless as they saw Arnav broken and drained on the gurney.
“Where is Mrs Raizada?” The doctor asked.
Khushi came closer and the doctor handed her the sonography photo partially torn and bloody. “Mr Raizada refused to let this go, we had to pry it out of his hand.” She blinked away her tears as she clutched the photo. Their baby.
When he was settled in the room, the nurse announced that the family could meet him now. Anjali said, “Khushiji you go inside first.” She hesitantly nodded and entered the room.
He lay on the bed covered in bandages hiding cuts and bruises and broken bones. She bit her lip and held back her tears, seeing him in this condition. She saw him coming out of the anesthesia. He blinked his eyes a few times and inhaled sharply, “Khh…” He sucked in the air before saying, “You came…”
She kept her eyes downcast, “I…”
He smiled, “Your devi maiya punished me for hurting you. I’m just like my father… I only hurt people. I should have died tonight like he did years ago.
She looked up, her eyes red, “Arnavji aap ka…”
“I hurt you so much and you’re still here for me. I am really sorry Khushi.” He paused when he noticed her mangalsutra missing from around her neck, “But I haven’t forgotten your words just because this happened.”
She shuddered, “Arnavji shh…I didn’t mean it. I can’t survive without you. I felt like I couldn’t breathe while you were in the operating theatre. She held his hand, “I thought I lost you. I already lost our ba…” She sat on the bed and hugged him making sure to not hurt his body. He wound his hand around her form, “Khushi our baby saved me… I had the photo with me in the accident…” Khushi pulled away from him and opened her palm. “The doctor said they had to pry it away from you. The doctor gave it to me after your surgery.”
He touched the photo, “Khushi if I didn’t… then today our baby.”
She looked at the photo, “We can’t change what happened…we can only move forward.” She leaned into him and he whispered, “I love you so much Khushi…” She kissed his cheek, “I love you too.”They cried in each other’s arms for their baby and that they were united once again.
*1 year later*
Arnav was buttoning his shirt, when he saw his tie missing. “Khushi where’s my…” His sentence stopped midway, as he saw his wife come out of the bathroom in her towel.
“Ohhhfo… can’t you find anything yourself?” She said getting a tie from the cupboard. He strode behind her and encircled his hands around her stomach, “When you’re here… I don’t have to worry.” He took the tie and kissed her damp fruity scented hair.
She shook her head, “Enjoy yourself all you want, in a few months, our little one will have us fully occupied.” She touched her growing stomach and began getting her clothes out of the cupboard. Arnav pulled her against his chest, “Hmm…that won’t stop me… and besides you and I both will enjoy being occupied by this little one after all its our miracle baby.” He kissed her button nose and trailed his fingers along the length of her arms. She nodded, “After overcoming so many complications finally we’ll have our baby in our arms.” He enveloped her into his arms.
Arnav encircled his arms around Khushi and looked at their baby nestled in Khushi’s arms.
“We made this…” She relaxed against his chest.
“Hmm…she’s precious. What name should we call her?” He rested his chin on her shoulder.
She looked at her baby’s face and then said, “I like the name Nitya…”
“I like it. So its done then, hello Ms Nitya Singh Raizada.” He held onto her tiny palm and while she suckled on her other hand.
While the new parents smiled at their baby, they heard the impatient knock on the hospital door, their family members could not wait to meet the newest member of the family.
Be sure to like and leave me a comment 🙂