It’s a boy, exclaimed the nurse to the frail woman in a yellow cotton saree, sitting at the edge of the wooden bed outside Mumbai’s Sion Hospital’s gynaecology department. An overjoyed Tara folded her hands as a gesture of gratitude and waited for someone to call her. Her best friend since childhood, Chanda had delivered a baby boy and she wanted the whole world to know.
Her world was small, though. Her husband Bhima and Chanda’s husband Somu made up her world. Chanda and Tara were married off when they were hardly 14 to Somu and Bhima. Carpenters by profession, both men worked under the same employer and were partners in crime in their younger days. Fed up of being bachelors, they decided to look for a bride and one thing led to the other and they ended up marrying girls who were best friends. It’s been 6 long years where they moved villages, towns and finally settled in Dharavi. The men worked with a builder and the women did odd house chores.
Happy in their oyster, they lived in a 4 feet by 4 feet shanty in the bylanes of Dharavi. Their happiness was however blurred by the absence of pitter patter of tiny feet. Sneha didi who often visited the shanties had asked them to see a certain doctor at Sion Hospital who could perhaps help them have children of their own. The couples, shy by nature never made that visit.
Tara looked outside the window. Rain drops splattered on the window sill outside. Some of it splattered onto her face. It merged well with her tears. Today, it stands proven that she can never be a mother.
The cellphone in her hand buzzed. She hurriedly lifted the black instrument wound tightly by a rubber band to her ear. Bhima, my sweetheart, we have a baby boy. The nurse said Chanda is fine too. I am yet to see both but we will be home tomorrow evening.
Wonderful Tara. I will tell Somu. He will be overjoyed.
Tall, well built, brown-skinned, Bhima was akin to his namesake from the Mahabharata. His green eyes were an aberration to his Indian look. He ran towards Somu, a short dark-skinned lean man who dropped the hammer in his hand and looked at Bhima with eagerness.
We have a boy Somu. They will come home by tomorrow evening. Let’s do a double shift today so we can be home full day tomorrow. Somu hugged his friend, looked up and thanked God almighty for been merciful.
The wail of a baby floated out of Tara’s shanty. Chanda was sleeping peacefully on the bed and Tara was cuddling the baby to sleep. Both men entered the house and immediately the baby seemed to sense them and became quiet. A gleeful Tara showed the baby proudly to the men. The men, exhausted from their double shifts looked at the baby in amazement, too scared to touch him. He was small yet chubby, a dark mop of hair over his fair round face and seemed to smile in his sleep. Somu saw a tiny foot propel itself out of the cloth wrapped around him. He tickled the small feet. The baby opened his light green eyes and looked at them. The colour drained out of his face. He looked at Bhima and Tara. Nothing but joy was written over their face.
Hearing the commotion, Chanda woke up. She saw her husband and smiled at him. Somu could not react. Chanda got up and picked her baby.
Somu, see, our baby is finally here.
Yes, our baby is finally here, chorused Tara and Bhima.
Somu walked out of the hut….walked as far as his feet would carry him. The rain poured on him relentlessly but he kept walking. He knew he will have to do, just that, for the rest of his life.