I parked my Pulsar in the portico and stepped into my house. I kicked off my shoes, reveling in the subtle feeling of rebellion to see it land berserk on my wife’s meticulously polished sandals. We’ll have an argument for this am sure. But it was fun to see her chide me while placing a hot cup of coffee while I peel down my socks and place it dutifully in the dirty laundry basket. She takes extraordinary care when it comes to our home. There was never a thing that was out of place.
The large fruit basket always rested in the middle of the circular teak wood table, the stack of little ducks that sat on top of our TV always stood in ascending order. The stack of magazines stood in military attention with the Thursday’s Kumudham always on top. Even her saree did not rebel the stiff pleats that she made. And she always came to the living room when she hears my Pulsar, with a hand towel in her hand. Today something was terribly wrong. I didn’t find her at our living room, and I threw away my socks looking around for a colorful blur of saree. I went inside looking for her and stood frozen at the sight that greeted me.
My wife stood near the window, her shoulders stooped. I went closer and her shoulder started shaking with tears. My wife was crying hard. I’ve never seen her do it in our seven years of marriage. Not even when her beloved grandmother passed away. ”
“Archu!” I turned her around. “What happened ma?” I gently lifted her face to mine. And she was smiling. What happened to her? My wife was never the kind of woman who showed any emotions in the extreme and this completely extreme and opposite reactions emanating simultaneously from her confused and scared me. As her answer, she handed me a long, thin, white and blue strip.
It had two red lines.
I clenched her hard as a sharp jolt of pleasure ran through like a pulse of electricity.
“Are you..?” I choked on my voice. “Are we?” I kept asking her unable to believe my eyes.
“I hope so… “My wife said through her tears, “I really, really hope so “and all her pain, hope, and disbelief oozed through her voice and touched my soul.
I pulled her close to me and slowly kissed her tears away. “Let’s have a chat with Dr. Anu, shall we?” I asked my wife, smiling at her. She nodded back with a smile and started pulling away. She went out of the bedroom and minutes later I heard
“For heaven’s sake why can’t you keep your shoes on the rack” I chuckled. Yes. All was going to be absolutely fine.
After twelve damn weeks, I realized how utterly wrong that last sentence had been.
“Please be seated, Hari.” Doctor Anu said, gently touching my shoulder.
“Why Anu?” I exploded. “Why should this happen to her? To us?” I sat down clutching my head with both my hands.
“Is it because of the miscarriages? The uterus problems she had?” I asked. “Is it … because of me?” I whispered shivering with an unknown chill.
“Calm down Hari!” Anu patted me gently.
“This is a genetic defect that happens even when both parents are healthy. This happens due to the mess up of a chromosome. Nothing else but fate could be held responsible for this.”
“If it is tangible, I’ll squeeze the breath out of it and watch it die. Bloody fate!” I spat
“Don’t we all want to do that?” Anu murmured. “Let’s talk about solutions instead of problems,” she said.
“But you said Down syndrome is not curable” I burst out again.
“Yes it is not curable” Anu replied, “So you have two options in front of you. One; you start preparing yourself for it, take counsels from the doctors and therapists I suggest and start building an environment for the kid. Or” she halted.
“Or…?” I asked looking up at her.
She crossed her arms and took a breath which instantly gave me an awful sense of foreboding.
“Clean slate protocol” she murmured.
A stunned silence fell over the room. I didn’t realize it would hit home this hard, but it did and it hurt like hell. For the first time in the last ten minutes, I turned around and looked at my wife who sat erect in the corner seat. Her stance was erect, her face wiped off clean of every human emotion. Here I was moaning and thrashing and shouting and there was the woman who has much more severe impacts and pains out of it, sitting like a piece of chiseled rock.
I broke down. I started crying like a child. All the pains and sufferings that she went through flowed from like a tangible force and cut me deep and hard. I suffered all her pain and she sat there incapable of feeling any of the emotions. I turned back to Anu.
“Anu!” I said my voice resolute. “What are the possible risks if we terminate the pregnancy?”
“You’ll probably lose all your chances of further conceptions as your wife’s already week uterus would take further batter after this. We’ve already spoken about other methods of having a baby, maybe we could look at those options”
“No!” came my wife’s steely voice. “NO!”
“Archu!” I grabbed and shook her hard. “We did not go through seven years of whatever crap we went through to end up like this” I said. “All those prayers, the countless bloody treatments, and the harsh words our relatives shoved up our ass…” My wife cut me with a cold and angry glance.
“NONE.OF.IT “she enunciated slowly, “Not one of it gives us a reason to commit a murder.” she said.
“But, Archu…” I said, and she stopped with another cold glance.
“Do you think I can live with myself knowing that I have committed two murders before I could get my perfect child? I did it once” she said her lips trembling “I did this once and it has been killing me every damn day. Another one like that will send me to the grave Hari” she cried,
“I’ve always believed keeping things in the perfect order made my life perfect” she murmured more to herself “I’ll not kill my child because it is otherwise” she whispered and walked away.
“Our ducks on the TV stood in ascending order” I whispered as I cried my heart out my long time friend Anu, my tears slowly blurring out the determined woman with a straight posture who walked out of the room.
3 years later:
I parked my car in the portico and carefully removed my shoes and placed it besides a couple of pair of tiny little shoes that were thrown around in a haphazard manner.
“Bubba!” came a squeal followed by a fit of laughter.
I went inside, scooped my daughter and whirled her around. The whole room echoed with her squeal of delight.
“Lakshana kutti!” I cajoled as my transferred my daughter to my left hand to hold my wife who came in with a butterfly sticker stuck haphazardly on her head.
I gently removed it and gave her a kiss.
“Lakshu, let’s get appa some biscuits,” Archu said as she carried our little angel to the kitchen.
“Bichi” I heard her voice followed by pretty giggles.
I stood looking at my wife’s badly crinkled saree and her wide, bright grin. My eyes automatically went towards the little ducks on the TV. They all stood in random order each in a different direction; I reached out to arrange them but decided against it.
All was perfect, just the way it was.