Father’s day special: Dad’s the way it happened

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Nearly nine months of waiting and this is what it has come to! Will it live or will it remain uborn?
Nishiraj A. Baruah’s
way to fatherhood wasn’t that easy

“Is that Mr Baruah?” it was a grave voice on my cell.

“Yes?”

“I am Dr Debasis Dutta.”

“Yes doc, how are you?” I said chirpily, wondering why he was calling me.

“Er, well, your wife is with me. She will have to go through an emergency operation. I am a little concerned about the baby.”

My heart sank and I could hear my heart beating. My eight month pregnant wifey hadn’t told me that she would be visiting her gyno after her office!

“What is it, doc?” I managed, as I walked out of my office cubicle out into the terrace, “Will the baby live? Is my wife okay?”

“The baby is moving a bit too much inside her as if it is under some stress. I am sending her for an Ultra Sound. I will take a decision in a while. How soon can you make it?”

I was in Connaught Place, New Delhi; it was peak hour rush; and it will take me more than an hour, and so I said.

We had been delaying our baby for a while, focusing instead on career and travel. And now when we wanted it so badly, this is what it has come to. My mind was racing, trying to figure out what next? I was going through exactly the same feeling when years ago, around the same time (about 6 pm) I heard over the phone that my dad had just died. I felt far way – wanting to be by wife’s side ASAP, yet feelling utterly helpless. I felt more hapless coz I didn’t have my car.

A colleague overheard me and asked concerned: “What is it? What happened?” I rushed out of the office, trying to flag down an auto. No empty autos and when I found one without any passengers, the autowala refused to go. It was frustrating, as I wasted precious minutes. I could have killed if the next empty autowala had refused, but I didn’t give him a chance. I just jumped into it and literally ordered the driver to move. “I will pay you whatever you want. Just move,” I hollered.

Those who drive their own cars would be familiar with this: You simply run out patience when others drive you around. And in situation like mine, well, I just felt like taking over the driver’s seat. As we drove past the Bangla Sahib gurudwara, I looked at the golden dome high up and prayed hard. “Gurudev,” I said, “Let my baby live. I will bring it up as a Sikh.”

The phone rang. It was wife. “Where are you now?” I asked. She said she had done the checks and now on her way back home from the clinic. The doc had said he would let us know in a while if the operation was required. I, of course, went straight to the doc. He said he needed some time to think and went out of his chamber. I followed a little later to find him sitting in his car alone: He was obviously thinking. God, is that really bad??

Soon, we got a call. Operation would be done at 11.30 pm and that we should pack things up and move to the hospital. “Will the baby live, doc?” I asked. “100 per cent,” he said. The hospital, he assured, has state-of-the-art facilities and that there was nothing to worry about. However, he added, it would be expensive. “No problem,” I said, wondering how expensive, but didn’t dare to ask. Well, if the expenses came around to Rs 2 lakh, I should be able to manage, but if it is more than Rs 10 lakh, I would not know where to get the money from.

Over the months, the doc had become more like family. He was a cutie doc, really, a little child-like, whom we took a liking for right from our first meeting. He seemed intelligent, articulate and his knowledge of his chosen field seemed impressive. He would talk with passion; and it would not just be medical science. It could be anything from Mayawati to Madonna, fast cars to fashion; Hollywood to Bollywood. He would be impeccably dressed and we noticed that his female colleagues – nurses, docs, administrative staff, simply adored him and loved chatting him up. The good doc is also sporty, goes swimming, and I often used to tell my wife that he is the perfect hero for any Mills and Boon novel.

To our delight, the doc also kind of liked us and seemed to enjoy a good round of conversation with us. This meant that soon after the routine tests are done, we would end up chatting far longer than any professional requirement. It was during such conversations that we got to know that he has two children: a pretty school going daughter who he dotes on and a teenage son who is insane. We were really upset to hear this last bit. He would sigh: “You see, even a gynecologist like me could not prevent this.” We were also amused to learn that he is perpetually afraid of his wife, also a doc, who came across to us as a no non-sense woman.

Back home, we were gearing up for the big night. We packed up stuff for a lengthy stay. The doc had advised my wife not to eat too much; but as I was finishing my dinner, she could not help pouncing on the pieces of fish on my plate. Interestingly, wifey never liked fish, but soon after her pregnancy, she had this terrible craving for fish. This baby of ours, we knew then, is gonna love fish.

I have decided against informing her aging parents about this sudden developments: Let them enjoy a god night’s sleep. I would manage this episode on my own. Too many people around means too many opinions, too much confusion. The hospital is one of the best: Just pay money and everything would be taken care of. But wifey insisted on calling one of her cousins and told him that she was on her way to a hospital for surgery and if required, would be called.

At the hospital, the doc finally appeared, his face beaming with a smile. “Don’t worry. Everything will be fine,” he assured us. By this time, I was quite calm and in control. Two large pegs of vodka that I quickly gulped down like water in the bathroom before starting for the hospital might have helped.

“Come on, give her a hug,” the doc said, as she was wheeled into the OT. I kissed my wife’s cheeks, said good luck, as tears trickled down the corner of her eyes. “Doc, wait a minute. I think I should call my parents,” she said.  And so at 11 at night, she woke up her clueless and startled parents to say, “Baba, I am going to be operated in a while.”

It was time for me to play the waiting game. I sat right outside the OT. It was quiet and the corridors were empty. And I kept praying, “Let my wife and baby be fine! Let my wife and baby be fine.” The security guard came up to me and said, “Go to the other side. That’s where the new-borns come out from.”

Finally, the OT door opened. A doc, whom I had never seen before, and a nurse appeared, pushing a little trolley. I closed my eyes hard and prayed.

“Is that Mr Baruah? The doc asked.

“Yes, doc” I managed, a million emotions racing past.

“Well, you just had a bay girl,” he said. Then, removing a warm blanket, showed her naked little body to me. “She is normal, but her weight is little less. We are shifting her to the ICU,” he added.

It was a tiny face, the size of a squirrel’s, very fair, her eyes shut tight, even as she let out a squeaky sound. My eyes went down to her tiny genitals, as if to make sure it was a girl, as the nurse quickly covered her again and moved on.

“She will be okay, no”

“Yes, yes,” the doc said. And Mrs Baruah is fine too.”

The ordeal was over. I am a dad now. How was I feeling? No, it was not ecstasy. I wasn’t exactly feeling on top of the world or whatever you are supposed to feel.  It was more a feeling of relief – all these months of waiting for the D Day was over. It would take a while for the feelings to sink in.

A little while later, wifey was wheeled out in a stretcher. Highly sedated, she simply smiled at me, a tired smile, as I sat next to her and held her hand, letting the silence do the talking. And what did the silence say?

Well, it seemed to have said that a survivor was born. A survivor who would one day become a star.

Tara is now a six year old.

 

Nishiraj A. Baruah

Former Executive Editor of Air India's in-flight magazine and Harper's Bazaar Bride. Lifestyle journalist, travel writer and blogger who collects knives and plays the drums.

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