“I am at the hospital, they want me to stay back. Will keep you posted” Read the message on the screen of his phone.
For the first time in his life, he had begun to panic; he could even hear his heart beat as he booked himself into the first flight to Bombay. But it was hard not to be excited; he was going to be a father.
Father, the word sounded so alien, yet so familiar. Although he adored children, both he and his wife had consciously chosen not to have any: they did not want any distraction in their flourishing careers. But today, he realised why the world, or most of it, wants children. He sometimes wondered how did he, the self-confessed pragmatic; manage to turn into such an emotional fool. But then, love can make you do anything.
Ria and him were not supposed to fall in love. They were not even supposed to meet. But a flight that they boarded together changed the course of their lives. Although as different as chalk and cheese, they took an instant liking for each other; it was hard to tell when the liking transformed into love. Or if it was love at all, or just comfort – the comfort of sharing their roots. Their comfort was evident that day too, in his bed; when he had made love to her all through the afternoon, well into the night. It seemed as if they had always known—and loved—one another. As they lay together afterwards, she had casually mentioned how he was only the second man to have touched her; he could not say the same though.
A few weeks later she had called to inform him of the baby, “let me keep it please, I assure you, it will never be a hindrance to you” she had pleaded. It took him no time to give in; he suddenly wanted to be a father too. True to her word, Ria had never complained about being on her own. She managed everything, from the morning sickness, to the check-ups and now she was alone in the labour room struggling to birth their dream.
It was raining when he landed in Bombay, the traffic and the rain had made a mess of the roads and it took him almost two hours to reach the hospital. He paced to the labour room only to be told that Ria had already been shifted into a room, excitedly he ran towards the ward; he was just about to enter, when, from the large window, he spotted Amit, sitting by Ria, holding the little girl in his arms.
In his excitement of becoming a father, he had completely forgotten about Amit, Ria’s husband. Together they made a pretty picture – Ria, Amit and the baby – a picture that had no space for an outsider like him. He hurriedly turned away and walked home.