" I take it you haven't really planned the baby?"
"Yes i mean no...are you absolutely sure?"
Still in shock, Tara just hugged her friend tight steadying her as she stood ready to drop.
"Don't worry Noyona everything is just going to be fine. now don't fret or panic. its a regular pregnancy, nothing to be concerned and worried about. now just go home and relax. and remember not to work yourself to the grave. eat healthy and stay happy. now smile. and come back for a check up in two weeks."
On their way back home, Tara finally asked the thing that had plagued her ever since they both walked out of the doctors clinic.
"So aren't you happy about the pregnancy?"
"Hm yeah i am..." Noyona just shrugged
"Your reaction is far from happy. what is wrong?are you thinking about Neel's reaction? wont he be happy?"
"Neel is partly the problem. he loves kids no doubt and will be elated. but at this point of time where things are hardly working out well for us i don't want to have a baby who will be born under such circumstance. I've wanted Neel's baby ever since i can remember, but i want our child to be a welcomed addition in our lives, where he/she grows up amidst two loving parents in a warm and loving atmosphere. i want our child to just give a new dimension to our lives not just come as a most obvious step to a four year old marriage."
"Makes sense. But don't you think you are really over doing it all? i mean why don't you just think over this? having a baby is a big deal, i don't think you should stress yourself out. why wont you just talk to Neel? instead of keeping silent it will help clear it all right?"
"You think i haven't tried? but who has the time? Neel walks in late, tired and sleepy and before we can talk he walks out. we have stopped communicating during the day, only if there is something we want to eat or pick up on the way."
"The matter sure is grave. Just try talking. it helps. and trust me hearing about the baby will transform him.just give him the chance. men are weird. until you tell them they just dont seem to get a point. so now don't fret. just take the rest of the day off and calm down."
Tara hugged her as she got off the car and headed home. it was a mixed blessing. a part of her was thrilled to think of Neel's baby growing each day within her; and the other part of her feared the fate of her marriage if things went on the way it did. she just hoped she could share her happiness and jubilation with Neel. while climbing up the elevator she decided to call Neel and finally tell him the news.
"yeah hi....did you call for something important? because I'm really busy, i have a presentation in exact 7 minutes...lets talk when i get back OK? try and understand.. take care..talk to you later"
"Oh! okay... ya ya i understand... talk to you later.. i have something special i need to tell you..see you at night..and yea? best of luck!"
That night when Neel finally returned home, it was way past 2.30 and Noyona was fast asleep.Neel hurriedly packed his trolley, arranged him papers and laid out his suit, shirt and matching tie. putting his laptop to charge, he set the alarm and finally snuggled in to Noyona who just curled up against him and drifted off. in barely two and a half hours, the alarm went off and Neel got up. he had been assigned for an important business meeting out of the city and he had to leave at the earliest. Giving her a woeful glance, as he set the coffee tray on the bedside table for Noyona to wake up and have; Neel picked up his luggage and made his way out but not before kissing his sleeping wife goodbye..
I haven't been really fair to her, he thought. i will take time out for sure, but first i will have to handle and seal this deal, then I'm taking time off and it will just be Noyona and me, promise.
Noyona woke up to a note on the pillow beside her and gloom filled her and her heart sank.
"I'm so sorry sweats! but i had to leave you sleeping. I'm leaving for Delhi, for a week, maximum two. its urgent, last night's deal came through but we need to do the set up for them and im required there. so sorry couldn't tell you personally. you looked so peaceful while sleeping that i didn't want to wake you. you take care and ask the maid to stay over if you need. will try and be back soon. take care,Neel"
Tears rolled down her cheeks as she crumbled the note and threw herself on the pillow. The happiest news of their lives was there waiting to be welcomed and Neel had no time, not for her, or their marriage and surely not for their baby. pain sliced through her gut almost ripping her apart. the one person whom she wanted to tell the news, who deserved to know it, just dint bother to be there...
Before she could take stock of the situation, she rushed to the loo and spent a good 30 minutes there emptying all that she had eaten in the last 24 hours. she heard the phone ringing but before she could drag herself to the bed where the phone was, the breath was sucked out of her and darkness spread enveloping her!!
"Noyona..Noyona.. wake up.. are you okay?? Noyona can you hear me?? Get up!!"
She stirred and managed to blink at Tara who was white with fear clutching her to herself.
"Phew!! What happened? are you okay? i called so many times and when you didn't pick i had to drop by and saw you sprawled on the bathroom floor."
After Tara put her to bed, and got her a cup of coffee tucking her in, she glanced at the note that Neel had left Noyona. she paced furiously along the length of the room. then she turned to Noyona..
" Where do you keep your bags?"
" I'm not leaving you like this here.. you get me? you are packing your things and you are coming with me to my place?"
"But.. but what about Neel? wont he worry? and what about Avik and Rashi? it just isn't right!"
"Don't you dare tell me what is right and what is wrong! Neel for one will learn his lesson for not being there for you at a time like this. i never took your problems that seriously but now even i think things have gone too far. you just don't worry about me, Rashi for one will be thrilled to finally get to see more of her mashi and as for Avik, well he will just be glad to accommodate you. and you are forgetting that we live in a duplex. You know you are always welcome over..c'mon don't worry you wont inconvenience us.. in fact I'm sure it will do you good."
"but.. it just doesn't seem right. trust me i will be fine..."
"are you going to allow me to pack your bags or do you want me to beat the hell out of you?"
One look at Tara and Noyona knew that arguing was futile for her headstrong friend whom she had known ever since college days. without a word she directed her to her things. in minutes she was all packed and ready to leave... she left Neel's note where she had first found it. on an afterthought she didn't leave a note behind.
"You sure things will be fine Tara?"
"Now don't get me started" Tara warned.. and then smiled... "Wait till Rashi sees you home when she returns home and especially when she hears of the baby.. my my! wont she be thrilled."
Brushing aside a lone tear that slipped out, Noyona picked up her hand bag and keys and pulled the door, she looked back for the last time..as it closed with a click...
to be continued...