He stopped to look at the clock on the white wall. 8 going on 9. Raking his hand through his hair, he loosened his tie. His stomach growled. He realized he hadnt eaten anything since that call.
At 4pm, his wife of 4 years had called him in muted panic. 'It's time.' ..was all she'd said. He grabbed his suit and ran from the presentation that he'd slaved on for more than a month.
'It was time..yes ! and so it was."..was all that he could think.
He ran down the 10 flights and found his way to his car on his shaky feet. Jumping in, he backed at breakneck speed and drove out to the highway. His mind was abuzz with thoughts while his eyes were alight with a subdued excitement. Prayer on his lips- his plea to to God for safety.
For years, Myra and he'd thought of this day - dreamt of this day. Since college, when they knew their eventuality, this day had seemed to be an inevitable and a veritable proof of their love. Jobs, house, car and dogs - all fell in place slowly as they worked hard to turn their dream to reality.
And it was time, for a new life to enter their life.
Their joy knew no bounds, when the confirmation came. Love shone and sparkled in their eyes as they held hands and planned more. Future seemed to be candyfloss with a silvery glow - that reflected in their spirits. The 9 months of joy had passed away too quickly it seemed - and today was the day.
Sifting through the flashbacks, he felt that perhaps, he'd been waiting for this day all his life. In every image, he could see Myra and the infant. He felt, that all his life, he'd worked hard - for this day, when all his love and effort would bear fruit.
A small smile full of dreamy anticipation hovered around his lips. He paced up and down - restless and anxious - like a lion caged. As he turned for his n-th walk up and down the floor, he sighted his old man, walking towards him.
The men stood silent. The older one , with his hand on his son's shoulder.
Across the hallway, the nurse's voice rang out- summoning them. Both men ran towards the green door - breathless with excitement.
'It's a girl', the nurse smiled at them.
He walked in to see his wife exhausted , yet serene. Her luminous eyes lifted up, over her veil of sweat to meet his. He closed the distance between them and held her tight, while his father looked on.
The wail brought the instant smiles as little Misha was carried to her parents.
He looked at her - mesmerized by Creation's full essence. She was perfect - his little princess. His wife held the baby close to her heart. He could feel all his love for them both - overpowering him. He reached out and touched his baby. Together they held her.
'This is it' , he thought. 'I'm a father.'
The beauty of the realization hit him as tears welled up in his eyes. This was his child - the one for whom, he could do anything and be anyone.
He kissed her tiny fingers and thanked God once more - in deep gratitude- for the miracle. Fatherhood, dawned on him that day, as he felt its sheen in its full glow.
2nd part -
Around the same time in the same hospital, another baby wailed too. Ali , looked on at his 6th baby. His look was austere - like the rest of him. His friends in fact likened him to an old black and white movie whose reel the rat had eaten up.
He stood, immobile and expressionless. All that occupied his mind was- money, moolah, numbers and dollars.
In that space of time, his mind spanned back to the last decade of his life- scanning the intricate details. His first child, Samir, had brought him joy as he felt that the boy was his achievement - his payback for his labor of love.
His wife was a simple Hindu girl, whom his parents had thrusted upon him at an age of 22. Samir, too seemed the apple of her eye, as she doted on him, lavishing all her lidded love his way. Samir, was her rescue from her husband's scorned ways.
But the chain soon followed. The violence at home followed by more roughness and more babies. Next came Sara, followed by Anam, Amol and Farook. Sara seemed to find favor with her father too.Ali felt drawn to his daughter, and lived each day to see her smile.
His sons were tough and hardy - but boys could not evoke what the brown eyed girl child could strongly bring forth. Even as he stood there, watching his wife holding the new born for the first time - he held Sara's hand tight. He turned to her- saying in his gruff tone - 'Another little brother for you.'
Sara smiled at him. Her childish innocence warmed his heart as he prayed to Almighty to always look after her.
He felt nothing for his sixth child. 'Just another burden', he thought.'Another mouth to feed.'
He picked up Sara and barked at his boys to follow him. The younger two seemed transfixed - their joy too reflected their puerile love. Looking at them, Ali, marveled at the serenity of innocence. For the first time, he was jealous of his own brood.
He felt that all his feeling and emotions had been snatched away , when his parents had not let him marry Fatima - his childhood sweetheart. Instead, he was given another fate - where his life seemed empty and vague.
Nothing made sense to him - as he existed his way through life. Sara was his only reprieve. For her again, he refound his capabilities to emote and feel.
His wife had often wondered aloud at his stoic stance. But little did she know, that his heart was dead and leaden with stone - a cover for all the love he's stored for Fatima.
He still lived in his belief - that oneday, he would find her and they'd be together.
3rd Part -
Matt stood, with beads of sweat outline his pensive profile. His eyes were closed and brows knotted in thick concentration. An atheist at heart, he found himself strangely praying for mercy.
The nightmare had started when Becky, had called him in panic, sobbing into the phone. The two words would be drilled into his head forever.
"I'm pregnant. It's all because of you..", she'd screamed.
He could sense her anguish and felt her rising fear.
He could imagine what could be going through her mind - dreams, life, hopes and parental love all clashing and enmeshing into a blurred obscurity.
He raced to her house, to be by her side - though he felt nothing.
Looking at her, he found himself feeling claustrophobic, struck by the reaffirmed realization that Becky was not and never could be the woman he would marry.
It was not that mistakes didn't happen, or that pregnancy was a scare. Becky was a soft girl She could not deal with the enormity of what she would have to go through. So Matt must think for her.
He knew his actual responsibility lay in what his old man would say- "Marry her boy. She's a fine girl and if she's the mother of your child then it's only right, you two raise it together."
But Matt knew that the words were far from the solution. They were the problem and presented no hope for happiness. Becky was a 'fine girl' indeed - but looking ahead , he could not see any family with her. He felt no love and therefore must not feign or show any.
Routes were always of 1 and 0 for him. He'd sat in silence ever since the call- pondering his course of action.
Should he swallow his own dreams and pride and get entangled into a marriage with the girl whom he would never love? Or should he walk away from it all ? Or should he decide with Becky and rather persuade her to give up the child , since one born out of wedlock would only inspire scorn in its life.
He estimated that she would be around 3 months pregnant. Just at the right time, he felt. He walked through the options in his mind. Fatherhood was not what he wanted now and he was clear about it.
Becky had to abort and he would ensure it.
The cold calculative blue eyes, sought the time in his Tissot and taking a deep breath, started his car towards Becky's house. Reaching there, he felt dismal and empty - the pit of his stomach had a nasty feeling settling in like sedimented bile.
He stopped for a moment and imagined how it would be like holding his own child. Maybe, he could be a good father and give an innocent its life which both would treasure as parents. He felt like a murderer and a traitor to Becky's hopes. He knew Becky loved him. But he also knew that he had none to spare. She didnt fit in , in his definition of life and future.
It must be done.
He rang the bell and the door was immediately opened by a pale and teary eyed Becky. They held each other and he tried to impart his strength to her.
He drew her to the couch, sat her down and spoke
His words were clipped and his tone reflected no emotion. He felt heartless but perhaps he was that then.
Becky looked at him with round eyes of surprise as silent tears fell from her eyes.
She clasped his hand in her small white palm and decided that no matter what, Matt would always be the one she would love. The child would be a symbol of their love- but she could sense that there was none from him.
She nodded slowly to his plea and called up the hospital. It was the same hospital where a certain of life greeted one and a bundle of responsibility sought another.
He drove- his profile cold and hard while her mouth was set in a determined line. She refused to feel anything. She would later- when alone , she knew she would break down- struck by horror.
4 hours later, the nightmare was over. The ordeal had left them drained but in Matt, Becky sensed a curious glow.
He dropped her to her home, and with a brief smile - left. Never to return back to her.