03. Com(m)a | Ivory

August 16, 2020 Sujay Sarma

The Mumbai job did not last very long. Soon, they returned to Delhi. They returned to live again with Satish’s family. She was in the final trimester of her pregnancy. Satish said he would start a business. Together, they started a training institute. Things were not ‘great’, but they were doing well enough. She taught…

The Mumbai job did not last very long. Soon, they returned to Delhi. They returned to live again with Satish’s family. She was in the final trimester of her pregnancy.

Satish said he would start a business. Together, they started a training institute. Things were not ‘great’, but they were doing well enough. She taught craft and artwork, while he… He spent his time flirting with the receptionist.

“Are you coming to the doctor today?” Spruti asked him one day.

“It is my day off.” He returned to the sports page of the newspaper.

“I’ll come with you, beta.” Satish’s mother called from the kitchen. “Just give me a few minutes to finish washing up.”

“Thank you, mataji.” She called back. “I’ll wait.”

“Better fill your water bottle, beta.” Her mother-in-law suggested. It was to be an ultrasound appointment today.

She made a face at Satish. He pretended not to notice. She had hoped that seeing an image of the baby he had helped make would cause some kind of change in him. But alas! That was not to be, it seemed.

When they returned from the appointment, she made it a point to stick the printout of the ultrasound picture prominently on the wardrobe in their bedroom. She hoped that he would see it.

Later that evening, Spruti went into her bedroom.

“Why would you do that!” She screamed in horror.

Alia, Satish’s youngest sister, rushed into Spruti’s room.

“What happened, didi?” She asked, concerned.

Spruti was seated on the icy cold floor, her eyes red. Her cheeks were wet with tears that had streamed down them. On her lap, in her hands, she held torn up bits of paper. It was mostly black, with splotches of white.

It had been a photograph once.

Alia stiffened when she realized what it was. She quietly sat down next to her sister-in-law and held her by her shoulders. Spruti leaned on Alia and sobbed.

“Why?” She kept repeating over and over.

A few months passed. It was now the final week before the baby would be here. Thunder cracked its whips in the night sky over Delhi. Rain poured in endless copious streams. A strong wind made things worse than they would be. Everything was wet.

Spruti lay in bed, her eyes wide awake. She tried to speak, but could not. She could not breathe. There was a heavy pounding in her chest. She felt unable to move her arms and legs. Her head began to throb.

“Help!” Her silent voice cried out, and no one heard her.

She felt movement beside her. Satish turned around to face her. His eyes opened. For a few minutes, he lay there looking at her.

She hoped he had noticed the sweat on her face.

“Oh my God!” he jumped up. “What happened to you!”

She could not answer. He saw the pain in her eyes. With the back of his hand, he felt her face. It was hot. Was she running a fever? Finally, he noticed she could not breathe.

“Let me help you up.” He said and pushed and pulled her swollen body into a sitting position and tried to get her comfortable.

“Wait.” He said. “Let me get my mother.”

He got off the bed and ran out. “Ma! Ma!!”

About half an hour later, they were at the hospital. While the family paced around outside the emergency ward, the doctor was checking her. Luckily, her gynec had been on duty that night.

“She has developed high blood pressure.” The doctor delivered the verdict to the family. “You can go see her now. Just don’t cause her any stress.” She warned with a smile.

Alia rushed to her sister-in-law’s side. “How are you now, didi?” She smiled comfortingly.

Spruti’s eyes searched for Satish.

He was nowhere to be seen.

Alia noticed the poor girl’s distress and shook her head.

Bhaiyya did not come.” She said, sadly. “Ma and Pa are here.”

Spruti smiled weakly and tilted her head to embrace Alia’s hand between her head and shoulder. And then she closed her eyes.

“Satish…” She called out. “Satish!”

But he did not answer

She poked her head out of the kitchen and looked out. Satish was right there, a few feet away. But he was getting ready to go out. In a hurry.

“Satish!” She called to him.

But he seemed not to hear. He put on his sandals and stepped out of the house. Quickly turning off the gas, Spruti headed out to follow him. Reaching the main gate, she looked right and left. She spotted him disappearing around a corner. She ran behind him.

“That’s not funny.” She thought to herself.

Where was he going? She wondered.

She spotted him hail an autorickshaw and get into it. The auto spun around and headed away from her. She hailed the next one and bid him to follow. They rode through many roads and streets. Finally, he stopped below a hotel of some sorts. She followed him inside. He did not stop at the reception desk, but headed into an elevator.

She watched the numbers climb. It stopped. And did not go further. She took another elevator and followed. She wondered how she would find out which room he had gone to. But when she got out, strangely, there was only one room on the whole floor. Surprised, she knocked on the door.

A girl answered.

Spruti lost it. She felt anger bubbling up inside her and fainted.

After a while when Spruti opened her eyes again, Alia was nowhere to be seen. The room was empty. And different. This was not where she had closed her eyes moments ago. She looked around. A trio of machines above her head silently ticked away at signals of her health. A long couch stood on one side, a small window. Was it the same hospital? Was this a dream? She wondered. Where was everyone?

“Alia?” She called. Her voice echoed in the room. “Ma-ji! Satish!”

A nurse entered. “Ah. You are awake.”

She looked at the monitors and approached Spruti and checked her pulse. Finally, she smiled.

“Let me get the doctor.”

“Wait!” Spruti cried, grabbing her arm. “Where am I? How did I get here? Why am I here?”

“It is best if the doctor tells you.” The nurse said uncomfortably, wrenching her arm away and rushing out.

A few minutes later, the doctor came in. It was her gynec.

“You were in a coma.” The doctor told her. “It has been two weeks since the day you came to the emergency ward with high BP.”

“Two weeks!” Spruti was surprised. So was that whole thing with Satish and another girl a dream?

“What about…?” She asked, looking down at her still swollen belly. She was kind of reassured that was still there. But she wondered why it was still there, the baby should have been born last week!

“The baby is okay.” The doctor assured her. “But because of your condition, we decided not to operate.”

“So when are we doing the operation?”

“Oh, I was waiting for you to wake up. I have already asked for the theatre to be prepped for us.” The doctor smiled and left the room.

Alia and her mother-in-law walked in.

“How are you feeling, beta?”

“I feel alright ma-ji” Spruti smiled wanly. “Did Satish not come?”

Alia shook her head and grabbed her arm. “Don’t go into another coma now!” she chided her.

“Satish is away on a business trip actually.” Her mother-in-law said apologetically.

“Oh, you don’t have to apologize for him.” Spruti said.

“You know,”Alia began, clouding up. “When you were in coma, he had the temerity to suggest…”

Spruti noticed her mother-in-law urgently place her hand on Alia’s arm. Instantly, Alia shut up.

“Suggest what?” Spruti asked, trying to sit up.

“Nothing, beta. You should rest now. Let us go see about the arrangements for the operation.” Ma-ji said uncomfortably before dragging Alia out of the room.

Spruti’s mother came in and spent some time with her. They talked local gossip about their neighbours back home, cheering her up. The chat improved Spruti’s mood and condition quite a bit.

“We cannot do the operation today.” Her mother-in-law declared, barging into the room.

“Why not?” Her mother asked, turning around.

“I just got off the phone with my Guruji. It is not a good day today.”

“What did he say?”

“He said it is not auspicious to have a baby till Wednesday.”

“Ma…” Spruti begged.

Her mother placed a reassuring arm on her child. “I don’t care much for your astrologer’s advice when it is my daughter’s health on the line.” She told her daugther’s mother-in-law firmly.

“But.. The baby…” The other lady began to protest.

Spruti’s mother looked at the other lady sternly and walked out of the room. She was determined to save her daughter’s life.

A few minutes later, a group of nurses walked in to prepare Spruti for the delivery. They were quiet.

“What happened?” Spruti asked the nurse closest to her.

“Your mother and mother-in-law had a huge fight. Your mother signed the papers, so we are taking you to the theater now.”

“Thank God!” Spruti whistled.

An hour later, Spruti stared into the glare of the overhead lights above an operation table. Surgeons and nurses circled her. She looked for her gynec and spotted her preparing to operate.

“Hey!” She cried out through the breathing mask.

The hubbub came to a halt.

“At least knock me out before you start cutting me.” Spruti laughed.

The gynec nodded. The anesthetist hooked up a general anesthetic and asked her to count back from ten.

Ten… Nine… Eight… She remembered counting up to five.

She was out.

She was beautiful. A daughter. Though born under trying circumstances, ‘Naina’ as she was named by Spruti, was healthy.

On the third day after the delivery, Satish came to see them. Spruti let him have a moment with the baby and watched him act as if he was happy. She waited for everyone else left the room.

“I want a divorce.” Spruti stated emotionlessly. “Let’s end this disaster.”

He sat down beside her. “Naina needs a father.”

“That father is not you.”

“Okay.” Satish said, meekly. “If that is the way you feel.”

Spruti was disgusted with how easily he agreed to it.

“Have you rekindled things?” She asked. “With her…”

Satish got up and left the room without answering.

Spruti was disgusted, she felt insulted and humiliated. She turned her head away from the door and wept silently.

During the divorce, the proceedings of which dragged on for months through the system, he did not contest any of her claims. She stated his infidelity as the reason for seeking a divorce. He did not even ask for custody of the child. Somehow she was both relieved and unhappy about how easily he was ready to give up everything.

“Here’s your ring and the mangalsutr you gave me.” Spruti said handing the ornaments back to him, as they parted ways outside the court house.

“So what will you do now?” He asked.

“I haven’t planned anything.” She admitted, quietly.

“How would you manage? You have a child to look after.”

“I don’t know, Satish.” She confessed. “But, it is no longer your concern.”

She walked away from the courthouse. Her eyes drowning in tears, her life in tatters, with a child on her arm and a great unknown ahead.

About the author:

Sujay Sarma is an IT industry veteran, about 43 years of age. He has spent 25 years in the IT industry and has done it all, and seen it all. Now, his passion is writing [blogs, stories, novels] and music. He has his own YouTube channel called "Sujay Sarma's Musical Adventures" where he posts his covers and originals, and a Podcast named "Interesting People Interesting Stories".