Nandini was admitted to one of the best maternity rooms. They had planned everything in advance. They had already paid for the package of the delivery, the room, the services required – both doctors, maternity nurses, neonatologists etc. Manik didn’t want to leave anything for a later stage so he had prepared for the hospital facilities. He settled Nandini on the bed and asked for the doctor.
The sister on duty informed him that the doctor is on her way and will be here any moment. Since there was enough time to go for the delivery, they need not panic.
Manik thanked her and returned to sit on Nandini’s bed.
“See, I prepared everything ahead of time!” He raised his collar and bragged.
Nandini giggled adoringly, “Except the duffel bag with towels and thermos bottle.”
Manik rolled his eyes, “And Ma was so irritated at me.”
He narrowed his eyes and stared at her, “Tell me honestly, Nandu… you always love it nah, when I am scolded?”
She couldn’t stop smirking. But still, she tried to nod and refuse, “Nooo!!! You are my husband, Manik. And I am a dutiful wife. I can never be happy when you are miserable.”
He didn’t believe her, “Really?! Why does it sound fishy?”
She shrugged and pressed her lips with a clearly naughty twinkle in her eyes. He almost chided her using his eyes and leaned ahead to tickle her, “Liar!!”
She laughed candidly and then immediately, she stiffened, “Ouch!!”
He straightened, alarmed. And worried. “What happened? You fine?”
She settled herself properly, nodded to relieve him and smiled warmly. “I’m great.”
“Sure?” His face was still drawn, “I’m such an idiot. I hope I didn’t hurt you.”
With her hand raised to his cheek, she spoke in a soft voice, “Manik, you need to stop being so anxious. I know you are strong and able when it comes to anything else in the world. But whenever I’m involved, all buzzers in your system go off at the same time.”
He smirked to disregard her concern and pressed his lips on her forehead. Instinctively, he said, “Ever since I was a kid, I was always worried about losing things or people I love the most. It happened for a few times, that I lost people I loved and was attached to – my grandparents, best friends…”
“I know that, Manik.”
“So, you should also know that I am trying to overcome that anxiety but my reactions to your discomfort and pain arise from my old-time victim mentality – that – so much bad has happened with me…that I am going to lose people I love… blah blah… and also… that nothing bad should happen to you… because I am responsible for taking care of you… etc…”
She smiled and stroked his arm lovingly, “Stop living in self pity. Nothing will happen to me.”
He twisted his lips and said, “I wish I was as strong as you.”
“You will be!! And you have to… or else, you will be a lost case with the baby too. I don’t want a softie as a father to my baby. You’ll have to be strong, and strict, and stern!”
“Yeah??!!” He asked, lifting a brow, “Do you want me to be a tough parent?”
“Of course! One has to be a good parent, spoiling the kids. The other has to be a strict parent, who disciplines the kids. Or else, they will be using us against each other. Let’s be a team and train them. It’s called ‘good cop-bad cop’ theory!”
He rolled his eyes, “You read that on some website!”
She giggled, “Obviously! Do you think, I make up parenting theories.”
He laughed too, “But honestly, why do I feel that you are going to be a stern mother. The jailer types.”
She made a helpless pout and frowned, “I knew it! I so knew it… that you will become the softie papa and leave all disciplining part to me!”
“Ha! Suits you… the way you discipline me…”
“I discipline you?” She opened her mouth widely.
“Manik, who gives angry glares to me, now and then? The way you suddenly fire in anger, the way you behave like a cranky baby… did you even forget how you throw tantrums with food… I am so well-behaved, nice, and mature as compared to you.”
“Okay! Forget it. The baby is listening…” He chuckled, “Don’t create a bad impression for me, already.”
She laughed again and whacked on his arm, before wincing in pain again. The contractions were becoming stronger. His face appeared tense once again. Nandini looked at him and nodded hopelessly, giggling away all over again, “Stop it, Manik. I am fine. By the time, I deliver, you will become hypertensive with these ups and downs of adrenaline in your blood stream.”
He folded his hands across his chest and shrugged, “Can’t help it Nandu… It’s a reflex action!”
The doctor arrived by then and asked Manik to excuse them for some time, till she examined Nandini. Manik walked out of the room, but not before giving her a soft blink, assuring her that he was around and she will be fine.
Nandini smiled blissfully and paid attention to the questions that the doctor asked. The doctor left after a few minutes after telling them that there was still time and she will be taking Nandini to the labour room after an hour or so. She allowed Manik to go inside the room and sit with Nandini for the mean time.
After one hour, the nurse arrived to take Nandini to the labour room and Manik was asked to wait in their room to welcome the baby and the mother. Manik was nervous, already. He gave a loving, assuring look to Nandini and said, “All the best, okay! Don’t get scared. Don’t get worried. You will be fine.”
Adoringly, she shook her head, “Tell that to yourself, hubby! Please don’t be worried or scared. I’ll be back with our world beside me.”
She was shifted on a gurney to be transported to the labour room. He moved her hair away from her face and bowed down to kiss her on her lips. Observing her pale face keenly, as he said, “Do you want something?”
“Manik, I get my strength from you. I can be relaxed and calm because I know that you are with me… you will do anything to make me comfortable and happy. You will fight the world for me. I want you to remain strong at all times. Please stop worrying about me.”
He smiled, “You’ve said that before.”
“I’ll always keep repeating.”
“I’m really going to try.”
“Promise?” She opened her palm before him.
“Promise!” He slipped his palm over hers and grasped her hand in a firm hold. After giving it a warm squeeze, he raised it to his lips and kissed her hand, and then he let her go.
He took a deep breath and sat down on the couch in the room to wait for the good news. He decided to watch TV to pass time and not drown in anxiety, worrying about Nandu. He had promised her that he will not worry.
And he could do anything to live up to the promise made to her.