"Where is she? Is she alright?" Ahem rushed upstairs followed by Deepu telling him that Gopi's contractions were increasing by the minute and she was in pain. "Ahem Bhai, we were thinking of bringing her downstairs but she is not even able to get up. I called Dr. Desai..."
"Deepu.." Ahem turned around and held her shoulders, "Jigar is just outside in the car. Go make a call to the Doctor and tell her that we are on the way and to keep everything ready. Go.."
Ahem hurried into his room and rushed to the bed where Gopi lay writhing in pain. "Ahe..m..ji" Her face convulsed with pain, Gopi called out to him as he rushed forward. His Kaki sitting next to his wife stood up giving him space to sit next to his wife.
"I am here Gopi. We are going to the hospital now. Don't worry.." Ahem held to Gopi's hands while she pressed her hands tightly as the next contraction hit.
"Gopi vahu... See Ahem is here. We will soon be at the hospital. Be brave Beta.." Kokila wiped the sweat off Gopi's forehead and implored to her.
Deepu barged into the room right then and informed that the doctor wants Gopi at the hospital immediately. The already buzzing room buzzed more and Parag was instructed to take Panna with him from her room and wait for Chirag. Hetal volunteered to stay with Baa while Ahem and Koki cajoled Gopi to stand up to go down to the car.
"Ahem, Go on. I will get the bags. Come on Deepu" Ahem nodded at his Kaki while she rushed out to get the already packed bags. Hetal stopped just one minute and came back to Ahem. Her eyes with love she placed her hand on his cheek.
"It will be alright beta. You will see. Now just be strong for our Gopi." Hetal placed her hand on Gopi's head too while Ahem nodded. His face was tensed and worried but he managed to give his Kaki a small smile. Hetal rushed out followed by Deepu while Ahem and Koki brought Gopi downstairs slowly.
"You will be fine Gopi. I am right here beside you.." Ahem held on to Gopi's hands tightly as she squeezed his hand in pain as the next contraction set in.
Kokila and Hetal hurried outside as Parag carried the bags the two had packed earlier in anticipation of the delivery to the car as Deepu hurried outside informing Dr. Desai of the status on the phone.
Jigar revved up the car and waited with Parag and the others. "I will come with Panna and the others in the other car. Now you guys go carefully. Gopi beta, your Kanhaji will be there for you." Parag said softly. Kokila and Deepu helped Gopi sit in the backseat while Parag reached Jigar's side.
"Jigar, keep us informed. And drive carefully." Jigar nodded and Parag turned to Ahem. "It will be alright Ahem. I know it is hard but trust me on this." Parag patted Ahem's back and took Panna's hand in his as he stood a little away giving space for the car to move.
"AHEMJI..." Gopi's cry split the air and Ahem rushed to take his place next to her. Deepu got hurriedly on the passenger's side near Jigar as the car zoomed into the darkness towards the hospital.
"He has not taken even a drink of water. All he has done is sit there or walk up and down. It has been four hours now and the doctor says it might take longer. Jigar, talk to Ahem Bhai.." Deepu said her eyes following Ahem's walk as she looked up from where her head had rested on Jigar's shoulders.
"He will not listen Deepu. He is with Bhabhi now in his mind and his heart. He will not listen. Let him be." Jigar said softly and kissed Deepu on her forehead.
"But.. You said.. You said just a while back.. that Gopi.. Gopi.. was..alright" Ahem choked his words, anger and confusion clouding his face. Dr. Desai looked at Ahem and tried explaining again.
"Mr. Modi, everything was fine but the sonogram shows us that the baby's position is not normal. It has faced backwords which means that the birth will be difficult. We are trying our best."
"YOUR BEST? Your best is not enough... I want my wife and child safe.. YOu hear me.. I want.."
Jigar forcefully pulled Ahem with him outside the room as Chirag and Deepu requested Dr. Desai to do what was needed. Parag took Panna outside to the hospital's mandir wanting to shield her from worry and commotion that had broken out.
"Her best... Gopi is in so much pain and she says she will do her best.." Ahem ranted and turned towards the doctor's room again and was barricaded by Jigar. "Bhai, calm down Bhai.. Please. They are doing all they can. Bhabhi will be fine. Calm down."
Jigar found Ahem fight him and then slacken as the reality hit him. "Jigar, Gopi needs to be alright. She has to be... I.. I need .. to see.. her.. now.."
His last few words rushed, Ahem ran towards Gopi's room without heeding even Koki who called out to him.
"Kaki, let him go. He needs to be with Bhabhi. Let him." kokila had nodded understanding that this was harder for Ahem. It was his first time just like it was for Gopi. "I will have to be with Gopi until they take her to the delivery room but later.." Koki ended looking at the room she saw her son go into.
"Give him a few minutes Kaki." Koki nodded at Jigar.
"Jiju, Deepu ben will Gopi ben be alright?" Panna's tiny voice sounded from Deepu's lap. Deepu ran her hand through her hair and told Panna as to how Gopi soon come back with a baby to cherish and play with as her eyes filled with tears.
Ahem did not know how long he had sat there. He suddenly had the urge to walk. He stood up and started walking but that gave him no relief either. He did not know how long it had been since he had seen his wife wheeled into the delivery room. People had gone in and out and now there was no movement. Just silence in the hospital corridor.
His eyes went unseeing at the others waiting for someone to come out of the room as his legs carried him towards where Gopi was.
His eyes went to the door that was closed. He could see nothing. He had promised her that she would never be in pain again and here he was helpless to help her. Tears clouded Ahem's eyes as Gopi's face came in front of him. She had been in pain, lots of it he could see. She had not cried out until she had been unable to hold any longer.
Then it had been hard seeing her struggle after every contraction, each one more intensive than the next. The nurses had kept doing something to her and her body. He had not understood completely. He had heard her cry and had seen her tears but also the determination that had set in those eyes while he had Stood beside her helpless holding onto her for his life, seeing her writh in pain.
Ahem placed his forehead against the cold walls of the delivery room. He had not even told her how much he loved her.
"Ahe..mji.., Ah..mji.. listen." Her words slurred with pain Gopi caught Ahem's hand tight in hers. He leaned down to her struggling to hear over the sounds of the hospital.
Her eyes had looked into his panicked ones and he saw his love reflect in those dark brown eyes in the midst of the pain. He tasted his own salty tears and let it flow unobstructed. Inspite of her pain, she had wanted to soothe him and tell him that everything would be alright.
She had known somehow that she would return back to him, her husband, because she could not leave him alone and lonely, because she was as incomplete without him as he was without her. Theirs was not just love, it was a little more than that.
I love her. She needs to know that. I love her. Ahem repeated again to himself. Ahem hoped that Gopi knew that he would pull her back from even the ends of the world if he had to. He could not survive without her.
"I am there Gopi. Just a few more minutes. The doctor says it will be fine.." His words choked with pain, Ahem kept repeating what he wanted to hear and believe. The doctors words combined with seeing Gopi in so much pain was making him weak inside. But he wanted to stay strong for her, his wife and for their love.
"It.. is..alright..Ah..m.ji.. I.. will be..fine... It is ..ok.. I prom..ise.."
Ahem held on tighter to her hand as the stretcher was pushed into the delivery room. He nodded, tears now flowing through his eyes. He cared naught what the others thought. To him nothing existed but his Gopi.
"Please come back.." Ahem begged as the nurse stopped him from going in. "Not now sir. You will have to wait outside."
Ahem had not realized when her hands left his. He stared down at his palms, empty, like he felt. The heat of her hands still radiated in his but he was starting to feel cold. His eyes frantically watched as the last of her stretcher disappeared into the delivery room. The door closed completely and all he could see was darkness.
"I love you Gopi. I cannot live without you. Please...Please be alright.." Tears pooled as Ahem whispered softly to the walls. He hoped that she heard him waiting for her just outside.
"Kokila, she will be alright. Our grandchild will be playing in your hands in just a few minutes, you will see." Kokila nodded looking straight, trying to stop the tears in her eyes from falling. She had called Mota Bhabhi as soon as the doctor had told her about the baby facing backwards.
"She told me she was so frightened Mota Bhabhi. I could do nothing for my child." Kokila let go as Hetal hugged her. "Our Gopi is brave Kokila. She will be alright. Did you not see just how determines she was about having a natural birth? She will be alright. Krishna Bhag.."
"Krishna Bhagwan will not let anything to happen to my Gopi vahu." Kokila finished as she hugged Hetal back. "Yes. Everything will be fine. Gopi will be alright." Hetal held on praying for a quick birth and for Gopi's safety.
..outside the room...
"I cannot wait." "I want to go in NOW.." "Shh..Deepu, give them both a few minutes, will you?" "Naanu, won't the baby be so cute!!!"
The sound of chattering filled the hospital the minute the doctor came out, all smiles and had congratulated the entire family. The corridor which had been silent just a few minutes ago, filled with shouts of joy while the Modis celebrated the arrival of their newest member. Ahem was the only one missing.
Kokila and Hetal were thanking the doctors and congratulating each other while having Baa on call. Panna stood excited along with Parag talking a dozen a minute while Chirag was distributing sweets to everyone around proudly proclaiming that he had become a grandad.
Jigar and Deepika were bickering about who would hold the baby first.
"Gopi.. How are your feeling?" Ahem sat beside Gopi who looked tired and disheveled. She was fighting not to sleep and opened her eyes wide enough and smiled at her husband. She weakly extended her hand towards him as Ahem hurriedly went forward and enclosed her hand in his.
"I am here Gopi..." Gopi again smiled a bit. "Congrats Ahemji. Did you see our son?" She whispered her eyes pooling with tears of joy. Ahem nodded his head vigorously and smiled. "They have taken him away to weigh him and other procedures but he will be back here in a minute. How are you? You were totally awesome. The doctor said so.."
Ahem leaned closer and cleared the stray hair on her tired face and cupped her face in his hands. He kissed Gopi's forehead and drank the sight of her in. Gopi nodded assuring Ahem silently and he gently hugged her to him.
"And you Ahemji?..." Ahem heard the whisper mixed with teasing and love. Ahem looked up, held her on each side of her arm and tried to look stern but failed. "I am alright. Now. I .."
Gopi touched him gently on his cheek and Ahem rested his cheek into the warmth her palms and sighed. He then gave her a small smile.
"Mr and Mrs. Modi, here you are. Your son wants to meet his parents."
And before he knew it, Ahem was staring down at a bundle of blankets in Gopi's hands and a tiny face staring at him from the midst. "Anirudh Ahem Modi, our son." Ahem gently caressed his baby's cheek not able to take his eyes off the baby.
"He looks just like you. Is he not perfect Ahemji?" Gopi said in a awed voice looking at the child and gently touching every finger.
Ahem stood speechless. He then gently slid into the bed next to Gopi hugging her and his son in her hands. "He has your eyes." Ahem whispered. "Thank you Gopi. I love you so much."
Gopi snuggled closer to Ahem and looked down at her child. Then she turned her face up and gave Ahem a dazzling smile in return. "We love you too Ahemji. And I love you more."
"Mom, your grandson." Ahem grinned widely as he walked out of the room his son enclosed safetly in his hands. The family immediately rushed forward each exclaiming as the took the first look of the little one.
"Ahem, How is she?" Kokila asked after Gopi, her eyes searching Ahem's face for a reply. Ahem nodded giving her all the assurance she needed and Kokila's eyes sparkled.
Here.." Koki took her grandson in her hand from Ahem as a couple of tears fell silently . Hetal was next and the grandmothers exclaimed at the baby as Panna, Parag and Chirag waited their turn. Panna ran excitedly to Ahem and hugged him.
Ahem kneeled down in front of the excited child and grinned widely. "Did you see your brother?" Panna hugged Ahem and exclaimed that he would from now on be with her all the time and that she was his elder sister which meant, "..he will always listen to me and I will be the best sister in the entire world" Her hands matching her words Panna talked in her happiness as Ahem listened to her childlike love and its sincerity. "Jiju.. He is choo..small.." She loudly whispered and Ahem nodded. He took her hand in his and both walked towards the family.
Ahem laughed out aloud as he saw Deepu telling Jigar that she would not give her little Ani anytime soon while Jigar jumped around trying to catch a glimpse of his nephew.
"He is falling asleep.." Deepu hushed and Hetal went forward to take the child in her hands. A nurse came out right then and informed the family about the nursery just around the corner where they would keep the baby for the night if the mother so desired. And then there were formalities...
"Mrs. Modi is sleeping now, so.." Ahem went forward and took the forms from her hand while Jigar turned to Deepu. "Deepu stay with Bhabhi. I will go with Bhai to finish the formalities." Deepu nodded and took off into the room gopi had been shifted to.
"Can they go in?" Ahem asked nodding at his mother and Kaki. The nurse nodded and grinned suddenly. "Yes Sir. But please be silent. Mrs. Modi is very tired and has just slept." Kokila and Hetal immediately followed the direction Deepika took, while another nurse followed them bringing a cradle for the sleeping Anirudh.
"One minute Bhabhi.." Deepu hurried forward to place a small tikka on little Anirudh's forhead and also Gopi's. Then as the entire family watched, Gopi walked into the house carrying her child.
Baa stood up waiting to have a first look at her great grandson as Ahem held Gopi around her shoulders and slowly helped her walk into the house towards Baa.
Baa looked at her great grandson while Panna, Deepu and Ahem made Gopi comfortable on the sofa. Tightly enclosed beside Ahem and Panna, Gopi looked on as Baa played with little Anirudh.
"You should rest Gopi beta." Baa said touching Gopi's head while Gopi nodded tired. Ahem immediately sprung to action while Panna ran forward to the room downstairs that had been temporarily converted into a bedroom cum nursery for Gopi.
Koki took over from Ahem and slowly walked Gopi to the room. Gopi lay down on the bed and Deepu entered the room with the baby.
"Beta, try to sleep a bit now. You will have to wake up in another hour." Gopi nodded and closed her eyes. She was tired from the car ride. She suddenly felt cold and shivered a little. A warm hand ran over her forehead while she felt the rug cover her till her chin. "Sleep now." Her Maaji's soothing voice sounded. Gopi turned a little sideways, took her maaji's hands in hers and slept peacefully like she had done the past two days. She felt secure and safe.
"I do not think I will ever be able to see you in so much pain again." Gopi raised her head from Ahem's chest were she was resting. They were both lying on the bed, Gopi resting on Ahem both holding hands. Their son was sleeping peacefully in his cradle.
"Ahemji, it is not something you can avoid." "I never knew just how much Gopi. When you cried out in pain, I felt just so helpless.. It was frightening. I just never ever imagined what you have to go through to bring another life into the world. Thank you so much for the gift of our son." Ahem kissed Gopi on her forehead as his eyes stung remembering those few hours.
"Shh.. It is alright now Ahemji. And I always had the most important thing with me, you love. So it did not hurt that much. I love you Ahemji. Anything for our love" Ahem tightened his hold on his wife as both fell asleep peacefully.
"I fell in love with her all over again at that instant. She looked so divine, only my Gopi can look like that. She smiled at me through her tears and then lifted you to me. And then I fell in love with you too. My little Ani.." Gopi came into the room smiling as she saw Ahem softly finish his story and place their son in the cradle.
"He will get bored Ahemji hearing the same story again and again." "He will not. I will never tire telling him about my wife and our son will never tire hearing about his mother." Ahem sat next to Gopi as she placed her head on his shoulder.
"Happy?" "Hmm..Completely." Ahem kissed Gopi's forehead as she replied. "I am glad. But now you need to sleep. You have to wake up in three hours again and I do not want you to tire yourself out."
"Ahemji between you, Maaji and the others I will become lazy. No one lets me do anything. Not when I was pregnant and not now." Gopi complained playfully.
"That is because Gopi..." Ahem held her face in his hands, "That is because we want you to enjoy and take care of you sometime. You took care of all of us for so long.. It is time we took care of you."
Ahem kissed her lightly on her lips. He slid beneath the covers taking her in his hands again as she slept with her head on his chest, close to his heart. "Now sleep. I will wake you up when it is time.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ to be continued~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~