This short story, I started writing it impromptu. Here is the link to read how and why I started writing it – A MaNan Short Story
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Links to Chapters –
Chapter 1 – Scroll down
In the middle of the dark night, all lights were switched on, once again.
The temperature had dipped in the night due to the heavy rainfall all over the Northern parts of India, the cold breeze made its way through tiny crevices and made the glass windows clatter subtly against each other, the curtains flew in a confused sway. The pet dogs in the house were alerted because something was not normal, like all other days.
On normal days, this was the time to sleep for the rest of the family except Manik, a software engineer in an MNC, basically an American company, who worked mostly till late at night.
But today, the scene inside the house was as chaotic as the outside weather. Manik was up on his toes, panicking around the house to hurriedly pack water bottle, basic necessities, towel, hand wash, etc. in a small duffel bag. His mother, Sunayna, gave him a thermos bottle and said, “Didn’t I tell both of you to pack things beforehand. But who listens to parents these days?”
“Ma, please!” Manik rolled his eyes at the lecture which was to now follow for days. He took the thermos and zipped the bag.
“What please!”Sunayna chided him, “She is in her ninth month. We knew, the delivery could happen any day. But nah, both of you are lost in your own world.”
Nandini giggled at that taunt, as she slowly walked in the living room. She had never said it in words but she always enjoyed it thoroughly when Ma and Papa were taking Manik’s class. His face was a sight to behold before his parents. Manik glared at her with a dirtiest angry look on his face. She was definitely not scared but pretended to agree to behave herself.
“I wish, papa and I could come!” Sunayna said, giving the mask to Nandini. Nandini wore her mask while Manik curled his arm around his mother’s shoulder, “You know that you can’t. You are diabetic and hypertensive. Papa has just recovered from stroke. Both of you are at high risk of covid. Moreover, the doctors are not allowing more people.”
His dad asked, “I hope, you manage well.”
“The hospital is one of the best in Gurgaon. They have assured that we won’t need anyone. They will take care.”
Manik wore his mask, carried the duffel bag, and the car keys to drive towards the hospital.
Sunayna helped Nandu cross the threshold by holding her hand as it was on a slope. Manik took over after that. He held her hand firmly in his grasp to support her. Sunayna smiled lovingly and hugged Nandu.
“Stay strong. And don’t be scared. God will take care.” Sunayna applied a black dot of kajal behind Nandini’s earlobe to ward off evil eye and blessed them.
Manik drove the car, tapping his fingers impatiently on the steering wheel at every turn, every traffic light, and every time, he had to slow down. Nandini was beside him, trying the best possible position to sit, tossing and turning slowly, softly, in the passenger seat.
“Hey! Are you fine?” He asked worriedly.
Nandini made an irked face, “I’m fine!! Why are you always so panicking? I’m doing great. Just a little uneasy.”
“Just a little??” He asked shocked, “You alarmed me at 12:00 in the night to tell me that the time has come. Your contractions have increased. And you tell me that you are ‘just a little’ uneasy?? How are you so calm, womannnn??!! I would have fainted if I was in your place.”
She laughed out loud at that. He was always like that. Impatient, finicky, clumsy, and very particular about everything. And when it came to taking care of her, his impatience, his clumsiness, and his worry would spike up at a whole new higher level.
He had been so particular that he had accompanied her for all medical check-ups, ANC clinics, USG scans, and all schedule visits to prenatal clinics. He reminded her of her medicines, kept asking if she slept well, and most importantly, about how she was feeling at every stage of pregnancy.
Nandini teased him, like always, “You know what, I think, you are already at my place. You sound more like a pregnant woman than I do!”
“Ha! Very funny!” He swayed his jaw, not amused.
Nandini kept laughing, forgetting every bit of pain and discomfort, she had been going through.
Such was her life with Manik in past 4 years. When she looked back, she only remembered laughter, fun, happiness, care, and love. On the contrary, pain and difficulties, even when they had some, were lost in the brightness and sparkle of their mutual love and respect.
And now, they were about to welcome a new addition to their family. They were ecstatic about the little bundle of joy about to bless their lives with an abundance of love.
Manik asked, “Nandu, are you scared?”
“No!” She nodded, chewing the gum in her mouth that she had kept to ward off any nauseous feeling.
He shrugged, “Great, ya! How do you do that? You are not even nervous.”
She smiled, “You have no idea how serene I feel, at this moment. I am about to give birth to a baby who is an extension of us. A part of you and a part of me. He belongs to us. Our world! I feel so many things. Worry and nervousness are not even close.”
He sighed, “I always thought that I knew what unconditional was, when I fell in love with you. We were always so much in love that it scared me!”
She smiled blissfully and said, “A man and a woman believe that they know everything about unconditional love until they have a baby.”