Praying for one last time, she opened her hopeful eyes and came across the last person she was expecting to see.
Arnav Singh Raizada.
It was indeed him, dressed to perfection in a crisp and immaculate business suit wrapped around him like a second skin and effortlessly flaunting that more than perfect physique of his. The confidence with which he carried himself could give any male model a run for their money Oozing confidence was like his second nature and he could charm the pants off of anyone, doesn’t matter the time and place. Boardrooms or hospitals. Despite that, Khushi didn’t fail to notice few miniscule changes that would have slipped past anyone else. The two days thick stubble was giving him a more roughened look, if not anything. His otherwise thick manes that used to be gelled and set to perfection, were a bit disheveled as if he had raked his hands multiple times through them. His eyes were a bit puffy around the rims, as if deprived from sleep or so Khushi thought. She sensed slight hesitation in his orbs as their gazes met for the briefest of seconds before she diverted hers.
What was he doing here? And why now? Why after putting her through ten day of sheer hell? Why now when she has decided to finally move on with her life. When after devoting almost a year of her life to him and still got the treatment she didn’t deserve in the first place, Will he offer her crumbs now? If this is how his reaction is going to be every single time, its better he doesn’t make an appearance in her child’s life, at all, only to backtrack later on.
With that last thought, she hardened her swaying resolve and the mother took over the wife again.
He had noticed it.
Noticed the exact second Khushi slipped into her mask, feigned ignorance to his presence and Arnav flinched as the lump in his throat grew larger thus becoming difficult for him to swallow past it. He cursed himself for millionth time in last few days. He could say he understood her reaction as he was the root cause of all, but then the mere thought of her slipping away from him, like she just did, caused a sudden pang of pain so deeper in his chest that left him unsettled. Unsettled and scared and he absolutely loathed that feeling now with all the fiber in his body.
From where to start? He was the creator of this mess of epic proportions and it’s him, who has to sort it out now and rectify it. And rectify he will. He knew his reaction to this whole situation was just so inappropriate and wrong, so over the top that he felt disgust seeping through his skin and into his veins, just at the mere thought of it. After that sort of reaction, he knew he wouldn’t blame Khushi if she chose not to talk to him ever in her life again. He could see the colossal damage he had already done and wondered if the situation is now irrevocable. His fists clenched at his side at that painful thought. He was purely banking on the belief that Khushi’s Devi maiyaa might guide him a bit here for he was absolutely clueless on how to proceed without rekindling those painful memories of last 10 days for her again. He wasn’t here to make any excuses for his behavior. His ultimate goal was to win her back if she would let him. He knew he had hurt her immensely and probably it was too selfish of him to expect her forgiveness at a place like this, in a situation like that but desperate times leads to desperate measures and Arnav Singh Raizada knew it firsthand. He would do anything to rectify his mistake, if only, she would be generous enough give him another chance.
He came to the realization, albeit a bit late, that he had already wasted a significant portion of his life by dwelling too much on his past, by carrying the demons on his back till date, by even pushing away the most beautiful thing to have happened to him in a very very long time. It wasn’t just her who had to go through this valley of torcher he created with his own hand, he was an equal sufferer too.
It had been a day crafted in hell. The raw pain slithered his chest and sliced his heart as he opened up to Khushi regarding his past. It brought back those haunting and painful memories that he had always tried keeping at the back of his mind, enclosed in a box. It felt like the other way around that day. Like it wasn’t him, but the past that was revisiting in all its ugliness. The whispers in his head and the ghost of his past felt too real and he practically relived each one of those beatings and abuses. His past gripped his present in its claw and threatened to destroy everything he had achieved till date. As if his past had again gotten hold of him and turned him into that helpless eight year old. He had tried hard to overshadow his immense fears and worries by keeping his guards up that day. He never wanted Khushi to peek into his insecurities and irrational fears. He wanted Khushi to see him as anything but that helpless child who couldn’t stand for his rights, who couldn’t save his mother from the clutches of his father. That’s what revisiting his past had always done to him. Made him weak and vulnerable to say the least. He couldn’t say no to her when she came asking about it. He knew he could have denied answering her, but then it was Khushi we are talking about. He could have postponed the topic but then it would pop up someday, again. He decided against his better judgement and unfolded everything infront of her. He was on edge all day. It had scarred him again and its effect was as raw and fresh as it had been decades ago. Now, He regretted telling her all of that. Maybe he would have reacted sanely then, after witnessing his horrors coming true that day. Those pregnancy test sticks laughing on his face, confirming how life decided to play yet another cruel joke on him. He felt betrayed. Manipulated. She knew this all along, yet, decided to stay mum. She, who hadn’t trusted him enough and questioned his loyalty that day. What was that? Are you having an affair with Alyssa? Did you ask her to abort the child? Those were the questions that felt like a slap to him and opened up some realities that day. Isn’t trust, which the whole world talk about, supposed to be a two way thing? He would never question her loyalty if he had seen her with a guy in a similar situation. Yes, he wasn’t famous for handling emotions well but then, over the time, despite his initial hesitations, he had finally allowed himself to intervene in this foreign territory. It was as new to him as a new born and he felt cheated when she questioned his intentions in the first place. How could she doubt that he’ll even suggest such a thing? The most hurtful of all was when she confessed about Alyssa’s filthy lies. No, he didn’t care an ounce about that woman. He wouldn’t spare another thought to Alyssa as far as he was concerned. It was Khushi and her actions that shook his beliefs then and left him rattled. Three days. Three whole days since Alyssa fed her lies and she stayed quiet. To hell with what was going on her mind. She would have mentioned that night itself had she trusted him enough. Should have told him about the whole incident. Instead, she decided to jump to conclusion herself based on a stranger’s event of the incident. Despite all this, he gave her the benefit of doubt then. He offered her something he had dreaded his whole life. He knew how hard it was for him to offer that talk. To again come face to face with his past. Yet he thought it might be the right thing. For her. For him. For them.
But then it all changed again that night. The talk they were supposed to have next day, he was pretty sure what he wanted out of it. He wanted to make her understand that he needed just two things from her. Time and some support. His past wasn’t easy for him. It was something he had buried deep down under, and he wasn’t comfortable talking about it. He knew he had issues. Issues that he might turn out like another version of his father. It was a very irrational fear but a fear that over the duration of more than a decade had instilled its roots deeper inside him. He knew to have a better future he needed to let go of his past and he was hoping to take steps in that direction. It was a first for him and to make that happen, he needed those two things from her. Her support and some time. Few years probably. That’s all he wanted to ask. He knew it wasn’t much he was asking and was pretty hopeful too that she would happily agree. But then the news that she was already pregnant did some serious blunders to his newly found peace as if his world was suddenly flipped upside down in a matter of few seconds. And the rest is history.
He knew whatever amount of explanation he was willing to give, it still wouldn’t justify his impulsive reaction. He truly regretted behaving that way and the burden of guilt that he was carrying was becoming heavier with each passing day. But then, he was glad too for the course of events that took over that day as things became clearer to him which wouldn’t have otherwise. He would have continued to live in his present and comfortable state of denial. Maybe, its destiny’s way of showing him the path, path that he would have overlooked otherwise. His past was still there, unresolved. His fears were still hanging in there, fresh. His insecurities were as raw as it had been years ago. Stepping inside this hospital’s room, he felt as frightened as a child going for its first day of school. He had nothing against pregnancy or children. It’s his own self that he couldn’t trust. What if he failed miserably in his responsibilities as a father? Won’t that be unfair on the child? What if he couldn’t love the child like the way he or she deserved? Just because he helped in creating someone, what if he couldn’t feel affectionate or caring towards it? Wouldn’t that practically destroy yet another childhood? Those were the ever persistent questions that had stopped him from contacting her. That had over the time shaken his beliefs over himself. But then, as the days passed, his own fears and insecurities took a back seat as his mind began prioritizing more important things. More important beings. And so, finally, putting all his doubts and fears to the back, he was here before his mind could talk him out of it. And Now that he was here, all those fears were now dancing free, the pressure on his chest was back again and his confidence was swaying, questioning his intent.
He knew as unhappy and unaffected she seemed by his presence here, Khushi wasn’t the kinds to create scene publicly and he was going to bank on that very fact to his own favor and prayed for it to work.
“Sorry I was running a bit late. She.. is my wife”
He replied glancing towards Khushi who still refused to meet his eyes.
At his reply, the doctor passed him a genuine and warm smile, which sort of lifted his wavering spirits. At least someone is not offended with his presence.
“Mr Raizada? Oh, Please come in. We were just about to start so you haven’t missed anything. This is a very special moment for the parents. Its your first one, right?”
It was Arnav who replied, with the hint of hesitation lurking around the corner. Indeed a first for him and it felt like he was sitting in an examination hall and the question paper was total out of syllabus.
“Then I am so glad you could make it on time. Please have a seat”
The doctor informed him happily before turning back to Khushi and started with the procedure. There was a moment of hesitation in his steps as all his fears once again tried clogging his mind, making it a foggy and jumbled mess, but a firm minded Raizada fought against them and effectively pushed them back to their hole. Ignoring the doctor’s suggestion, he went towards the only place where he should have been from the start. He knew he got distracted for some time but hoped the place to still be vacant, for its sole owner.
Right beside her.
She heard his footsteps approaching her bed. Heard the uncertainty in his steps, a moment’s hesitation before he closed down the last few steps separating them. He bend down and kissed his favorite place on her head. His lips lingered there for a second too long as if in dilemma but with the same authority as earlier. Caressing her hair, he carefully placed the lock behind her ear before he waited a moment too long for her to acknowledge him and Khushi was baffled at his audacity. He cannot walk in and walk out of her life as per his convenience. She knew she couldn’t say anything to him in the presence of the doctor but that doesn’t mean he would get whatever he want. This will not sway her newly found determination. He, will not sway her determination, specifically. She doesn’t need him now. Doesn’t need his sympathy or anything else that he might want to offer her. She needed him that day to assure her that everything will be all right. His just one call, or a single text might have worked. That he’ll come around in time was what she was dying to listen. But he couldn’t offer her this smallest thing then. Now, it’s too little too late and so with an even harder resolve, Khushi pursed her lips into a thin line, looking towards anything but the man standing inches away from her. She tried tugging her hand back with every ounce of force she could apply when he took her hand in his own but her strength fell short compared to his enormous one. She felt angry. Angry, helpless, and weak. At herself. At him. Sitting on the bed, beside her head, he intertwined their fingers together and squeezed it lightly, placing a feather light kiss on her knuckles before covering it with his other palm and like a revolting teen, adamant on proving her point, she did not revert the gesture back. Did not grip his hand. That would surely send the message across. She would not give him the least hope to cling to. Her ignore him mission got distracted when the doctor turned and addressed both of them with an soothing smile on her face,
“Are you guys ready to meet the little one? Let’s see, how the baby is doing. Trust me, this is the best part”
She snapped out of her thoughts at that and felt her heart beating rapidly and thumping in her chest against her ribcage, jumping up to her throat. Due to Arnav’s sudden and out of nowhere appearance, her fears and nervousness had taken a backseat. But now, they all bounced back together in full swing, putting her on edge as earlier. She tried breathing deeper to get her nerves under control. Everything will be alright. Devi maiya is with her and she’ll take care of everything. She held her breath as the doctor applied the cool lubricating gel on her abdomen and spread it around. Taking a small handy device, she then rolled it forward and backward on her abdomen. Those were the final moments as she waited and she felt like she couldn’t breathe anymore. The wait, the anticipation of all, along with her lingering fear and now Arnavji’s sudden presence. It was too much to take. Her emotions were all over the place and her senses had gone for a toss. It was taking everything in her to not cry out aloud to her heart’s content. The doctor adjusted her spectacles as she glanced towards the monitor applying slight pressure on the wand. Minutes later the high frequency sound beamed through the abdomen to her womb and finally created a black and white picture on the screen. Once, the doctor took few measurements and was satisfied with what she was looking for, she turned towards both Arnav and Khushi whose eyes were already glued to the screen while they were trying to make sense of the cryptic picture themselves.
She pointed towards the screen before continuing,
“This black area around here is all gestational sac, the small white area is the yolk sac and here, if you look closer..umm..”
She tried pointing to the exact place before turning towards them wearing a genuine smile on her face,
“This. This is the baby”
And the world stopped right there for Khushi.
Her baby. The precious life that was growing inside her womb and she could see it live on screen. Though the baby, as see saw on screen was the size of the lentil but it was enough to fill her heart with overwhelming emotions. Tears surfaced to the eyes and threatened to fall down but she didn’t care. It was the most blessed feeling she had ever experienced. She was going to be a mother of this tiny sized fetus someday and she couldn’t wait enough for that day to come soon. The doctor informed them that the fetus is doing good as its just around seven weeks. They could have a better view in the next ultrasound. On the whole, she didn’t find any complexities and the development was phenomenal. They were informed that the fetus has already started forming facial features, a tiny body with an oversized head. Though she couldn’t see that with her naked eyes but got thrilled to her core hearing details about her baby. The doctor then did something on the device and seconds later loud and constant woosh-woosh filled the room.
“and..that the baby’s heartbeats”
She felt with each beat her heart was racing faster, thrilling her to the core, the slight tremble she felt was a proof enough as to how magical that feeling was, to listen to the heartbeats of the baby growing inside her. Despite her contented heart overflowing with joy, her fingers numb to the point of no sensations got her attention back. It was then she realized that he was squeezing her hand so tight that her fingers were practically numb due to the loss of circulation. It was then, she glanced in his direction for the first time properly and saw something she never thought she would see.
Arnav Singh Raizada. His gaze was completely transfixed on the screen as he wasn’t even blinking his lashes, his mouth was opened wide, eyes even wider, and the expression that was plastered on his face was as if he was completely blown away. The man she was seeing in front of her was just the opposite of the man she had always known him to be. What he might be going through at the moment, seeing the tiny blob on screen, listening to the rapidly beating heart of her child, their child, she corrected herself, was only disclosed by how tightly he was squeezing her hand. As if it was him who needed the support at that moment. As if he too could feel that surreal moment finally sinking in his brain. She realized it was as mind blowing and as thrilling an experience for him, as was for her. Probably more than her.
And it was at that moment when Khushi couldn’t pretend anymore. She decided she couldn’t deny him the joy of meeting and seeing their baby for the first time and she wouldn’t want to taint that memory with her anger towards him.
She wanted him with her, throughout her pregnancy, throughout her life. Even after that if there was a possibility. She didn’t miss the sheer curtain of tears that had surfaced in his eyes as he continued looking at the screen without breaking his gaze once. It was then she realized she couldn’t live her life without him in it. It was then she realized this man is million, if not zillion, times better than his own father. If he was even standing here, after going through that horrible a childhood, after making it clear that it was the last thing he ever wanted, when the past is still lurking around the corner, when his painful memories are still alive and raw. Even after all this, if he’s ready to take a step ahead in the future, what would he not do after successfully getting rid of it? And she was sure that he would, someday. She needed to be there for that. And she will be. This man needed nurturing too, just like this baby. Later, she might blame her pregnancy brain for making this decision for her but suddenly overwhelmed with emotions, her fingers automatically curled around his, giving him an assuring squeeze in return. He glanced towards her suddenly breaking his trance, looking down at where their hands were connected before meeting her gaze. She noticed despite his attempts a small lone tear tried escaping from the corner of his eyes which he wiped off hastily from the back of his palm before glancing towards the screen again, while tapping his foot nervously.
“Can you play that one more time.. please.?!?.”
She heard him asking the doctor in a desperate voice like a child asking their parents for favorite candy and her heart melted for him. The doctor couldn’t help but laughed at his request and seconds later they heard that mesmerizing melody again. The little one’s heartbeat which was the sweetest things that had ever fallen into her ears. He pulled his hand back and raked it through his hair in an attempt to gain control before letting out a small laugh before leaning back on the chair for support. He got up the next instant and went near the monitor screen, touching the place which was their baby with shaky fingers. His reaction then was complete serious. Uncertain even. Something Khushi couldn’t figure out. She glanced towards the doctor who was also watching the scene unfolding, but with a warm smile on her face. She must have seen concern lingering in Khushi’s eyes, as she replied turning towards her
“Trust me, his reaction is completely normal”
They both glanced towards Arnav who was now filling his lungs with a deep breath while still in the process of ingraining the black and white picture into his mind’s memory.
“I can bet he’s going to be an awesome father. This is one the best part of our profession. We get to be a part of parent’s happiness as they meet their babies for the first time. Its such a special feeling”
The doctor continued as Khushi kept looking at Arnav in awe,
“You know this thing, we as women always have that maternal instincts within us somewhere. Since the time we started planning for babies. It grows leaps and bounds when we find out that we are expecting. We can easily relate to this feeling as its us who has to go through these hormonal and physical changes throughout. So, automatically, we form a connection with the life growing inside us as it practically a part of our existence. But, fathers, on the other hand do not get to experience these feelings. They are the silent but important partners in this journey. They can only see this, experience this through our eyes. They assume things based on what we tell them, based on what stages we are going through. That’s why I always advice couples to attend these appointments together if they can. As its practically the only time when a father gets to see the life they have created. It’s a surreal experience for mothers to be, but its twice as amazing for fathers cause they can actually see it, hear it and believe it”
Squeezing Khushi’s shoulder, doctor glanced back at Arnav with warmth in her own orbs,
“Its as new, as mesmerizing and as thrilling for him, as for you. Let him savor this moment cause this is something you both will cherish for the rest of your lives.
She added after a pause,
“I will excuse you two for some time. You both need a moment together..”
The doctor was gone, leaving Khushi speechless. She tried processing everything the doctor said and felt her each and every word to be true. If this was how he reacted seeing a tiny blob on screen, what would he do when he’ll actually hold the baby in his arms. And she couldn’t stop the fresh lot of tears that rolled down her cheeks and met the wide smile plastered on her face midway.
Please drop in your thoughts about this one. another chapter will follow ❤ Happy reading.