The plate fell off her hands and the lunch she had prepared with a lot of love shattered along with the shards of china. Mili felt as if the world was going round! She managed to clasp on to the curtain though pulling it down along with her as she fell flat on the floor.
“Mili, beta what happened? Keshav, bring some water. Help me pick her up to the sofa. Mili, open your eyes beta.” Though Mili could hear her mom’s sound, it seemed far away. She couldn’t open her eyes, not until her mom splashed some cold water on her face. She felt exhausted and was perspiring.
Mili worked in the customer service department of a renowned home appliances dealer in the town of Kochi. She was all of 38, happily married and the mother of a busy 16-year-old, Keshav. Her husband Ajay worked in Delhi, a few hours by flight from where they lived. She lived with her parents, mother-in-law, and Keshav in a small apartment near her office. Keshav had just completed his 10th. It’s the month of April and Keshav is happily enjoying his vacations after the grueling board exams.
Mili tried to remember what happened to her. She had prepared Keshav’s favorite Poori and Chole for lunch and was bringing it to the table when she blacked out. She opened her eyes to see 4 pairs of worried eyes looking at her. She took another 5 minutes to try and stand up on her feet only to trip and sit down again.
“Beta, here, have this water. Wait; sit for a while here itself. Don’t bother to get up now. Keshav, help Amma get up slowly.” Mili’s mother seemed composed and was instructing Keshav who had gone numb seeing his mom fall down like a leaf! Keshav was healthy and quickly composed himself and helped his amma get to the nearest sofa where he made her sit comfortably.
Mili drank some more water. Suddenly, she wanted to puke! She was too exhausted to run to the washbasin though she didn’t want to dirty the hall. As if Mili’s mother was expecting this, she caught hold of the puke which she disposed of in the washbasin quickly. Mili just couldn’t believe what had just happened! She could see the even more shocked faces staring at her, except for her mother, who was trying to hide a mischievous smile.
Mili’s mother took control of the situation very calmly and asked Keshav to bring some lemon from the fridge. Her mother-in-law helped Keshav with cutting the lemon though she was as confused as was Keshav and Mili’s father!
“Here Sheila didi, I have cut the lemon! But will that help?” She couldn’t hide her shock but was coming to terms with the fact that Mili’s mother, Sheila, was indicating. She wasn’t even sure whether to call it a shock or surprise! “Paro, how many did you have? And you still don’t understand? You have become old!” Sheila was smiling ear to ear adding to Mili’s shock. Raghu understood what his experienced wife Sheila was indicating and hid his smile behind the newspaper. Keshav was going crazy wondering why these old ladies were grinning when his mother was unwell and had fainted.
“Keshav, call the taxi. We have to take your mother to the hospital.” Sheila asked Keshav and he obeyed as he still wondered what was going on. Mili was still wondering how she let this happen after all these years! But then, she wasn’t sure yet. It could even be her anemia or irregular periods that have been troubling her over a few months now. Sheila seemed pretty confident of what experience told her – “Good news! Her daughter is pregnant again.”
Keshav got ready to take her mother to the hospital but he was refused by Mili as well as Sheila. He didn’t like that! Even if Mili had the flu, she insisted that Keshav accompanied her to the doctor and now she’s refusing to take him along. Nevertheless, he decided to wait at home along with his grandpa and grandma. He couldn’t understand why everyone seemed rather happy while he was worried to hell over his mother’s health!
“Amma, are you sure? Could this be that? But I am nearing 40! And Keshav is already 16 now! I don’t know how he will take it.” Mili was all questions on her way to the clinic. Sheila remained calm and composed. She assured that everything will be fine. Sheila had been watching her daughter turn pale and slow over the last few weeks. Though Mili has been complaining of tiredness and nausea and blamed it all on the hormones, Sheila was waiting for nature to take its own course.
It didn’t take them long to confirm the good news. Mili was pregnant by 2 months now. She was still unsure but called up Ajay to share the Good News. Ajay had left to Delhi after his week-long holiday 10 days back. He visited Mili at least once every month. They had even traveled a lot with Keshav as soon as his exams got over. Ajay gulped down the Good News which came as a shocker to him too. He was as bemused as Mili and had the same thoughts on how Keshav would take it.
Mili was relieved to know that Keshav had gone to his friend’s house to stay overnight. Though he called up to check on Mili, she was happy not to face him at that point of time. She assured him that things were going fine and she was just a little tired. The next day morning, Mili woke up, as usual, to get ready for work only to be stopped by Sheila and Paro. They persuaded her to take a couple of days’ leave and promised that she could resume after that.
Mili wanted to avoid a direct confrontation with Keshav and her office seemed to be the best escapade. Moreover, she could get some time away on her own to think over the matter and decide whether or not to continue with it – work or baby whatever it may be! Keshav came in after breakfast and was eager to check on Mili. Sheila, Paro, and Raghu welcomed Keshav with a Laddoo box which surprised him.
“How’s Amma? What did the doctor say? What’s this Laddoo for?” Keshav was all questions. Mili was not looking at his face which added to his worry. “Amma, are you better now? You do look pale! What did the doctor say?” he asked Mili.
Mili mustered up some courage to tell him the “Good News” on his face. But Sheila tactfully interfered and asked Keshav to sit near her. They were the best of buddies, partners in crime and always troubled Mili over silly things whenever she was home. Sheila and Paro were already too excited about the guest who would be coming in another 7 odd months. Sheila was also unsure of how this young man would accept his yet to be born brother or sister. It’s a delicate age and the matter was also quite delicate.
“Beta Keshu, do you know when your amma was so happy earlier?” Keshav looked at Sheila bemused. Mili looked rather worried and pale and Sheila says she’s happy!!!
“When she heard that she was pregnant with you. She immediately decided to quit her job which she had earned with so much hard work. All she was bothered was your safety and health.” Sheila’s words had Keshav thinking. ‘Does that mean? But at this age? Is that even OK? But 16-years gap?’ Keshav’s mind was full of questions he couldn’t even ask.
Mili took Keshav to his room and asked – “Keshu, do you have a girlfriend?” Keshav was shocked! He wondered why she would ask this question at this point! “No Amma but why? What happened to you?” he asked in return. “Keshu, if you have a girlfriend, I don’t know how she would take the fact that your mom is pregnant with your sibling who would be 17 years younger to you” Keshav was not yet ready for it though he fully understood what Mili said.
They both had a long serious discussion. Mili was ready to go with whatever Keshav wanted – the baby or an abortion! She knew he was old enough to understand things. But to her surprise, Keshav seemed to be more worried about her health. All his doubts were regarding whether she would be ok with the pregnancy. He seemed as excited or more than his grandparents. Mili was relieved! She assured Keshav that things were all normal and that she was born when Sheila was 40!
Sheila, Paro, and Raghu were all ears and waiting eagerly for Mili and Keshav. Their smiles gave away the decision. While Keshav ran to his friends to share the happiness and the Laddoos, Mili called up Ajay to share the Good News! Ajay was even more excited to share his part of Good News that he finally got transferred to Trivandrum after a year’s wait! Now that indeed was Good News in a package for the entire family. They will be seeing more of Ajay at home now that he will be working a few hundred kilometers away in the same state. As for Keshav, he was waiting for the bundle of joy as much as the rest of the family were.