In all these years, you’ve never told me this before, and I haven’t asked, it worries me a little you are sharing this now. I haven’t asked, skirting memories, like old sepia-tint photos with scuffed edges and patterned butterpaper covers, that rest snug in old tin trunks never opened. “Dr Roger insisted she stay in hospital from the 7th month itself, so they could control insulin before every meal. We were willing to try anything” Yes, I recall silently, remembering that this pregnancy, her seventh, was the only one to last full term, after fourteen years of being married, and after several rounds of doctors, saints and temples. “Wasn’t it a general hospital?” I ask, trying to visualize the dirt, chaos and bustling so very unlike her cosseted routine “Yes, a general hospital, but it had the best doctors in town. There was no space in the general ward so she slept on a mattress in the common corridor”. “oh…tough.” “But no complaints! They were strict about visiting hours so we were made to wait outside. She cheerily waved from the wheelchair when she was taken to the OT at about ten”
Under a tree in the dusty compound? With a cycle stand in a corner? A tea stall? Was it very hot? Was the hospital regulation-yellow painted, with rusted windows? Did S kaka sweat a lot, since he had just returned from London? So many questions, but I keep quiet. “We didn’t tell Dadaji. He was furious when he found out later that day. But he would have raised the roof, fretting, pushing his doctor privileges and interfering with everyone” “then?” “ By afternoon, he cooled down. Suddenly declared at tea, that you would be named ***, and that was that. Of course, he was adamant about holding you and they wouldn’t let you out of the incubator”.
Suddenly I’m proud of my snub nose.