From the moment I entered the house, I could sense it.
Mutilated toys were scattered all over the floor and a stripped off mattress laid naked at one end of the room with the bed-sheet dangling somewhere on the couch. There were scattered cushions near the gaping main door (giving anyone a free access to the house). The TV was playing some silly “parivaar” drama. The washing machine rumbled from the balcony and the micro oven in the kitchen kept on beeping, trying to draw the attention of its master on completion of its job. To me it seemed nothing lesser than the remnants of a battle field!
I could hardly move without stepping on some squeaking toy.
“But, where were the owners of the house? Have I reached the correct address?” I wondered and undoubtedly if it wasn’t at broad daylight, I would have rushed out of this obscure house to make a call to 100. However, concern for my beloved friend overpowered the inner fear and I managed to walk towards the bedroom.
The room was dark with all the blinders down and a blended fragrance of milk and baby cream lingered in the air. Once my vision acclimatized to the darkness, I realized that the condition of this room was comparatively better. A furniture which once used to be the dressing table was stacked with baby food cans, diapers and bottles. Though nothing was scattered on the floor, the bed had way too many pillows than an average King sized bed could hold. Slowly as my gaze travelled towards the other end of the bed, I could see my friend sitting. The sight was not even remotely close to the mushy mom and child moments portrayed in baby product ads. In a flash, I was introduced to a whole new perspective on motherhood!
My childhood friend sat upright. The little baby seemed fast asleep on her lap with the face buried in the mother’s bosom. The mother’s hair was disheveled. She was gazing at the closed window and hadn’t realized my sudden presence. I slowly managed to tiptoe towards the vague human structure outline in the darkness and tapped Shreya gently on her shoulder. As she turned towards me, her eyes gave me a shock! I could see nothing else than stress in her eyes. Though her frail lips succeeded in giving a smile, I couldn’t feel the utopian joy of motherhood on her facial lines. Beads of tear were running down her eyes as she sat in dissolution. I could sense her sobbing but entirely in silence. She managed to nod at me and gestured me to sit down in front of her. I barely manage to signal to her that it’s okay and murmured “I will be seated in the drawing room, watching TV, may be.” Shreya smiled once again and nodded affirmatively.
Hustling out of the room, I rushed to the balcony for some fresh air. Wasn’t motherhood supposed to be the best experience? At least, that is what we had always heard. The movies and the people around us had always given a very glossy picture of motherhood.
Listening to the stories, I had always thought a baby is an angel. Her presence can only be a matter of joy and I cringed from the thought of stress that a baby could probably bring along. For once I also thought, “Shreya must be incapable as a mother and therefore the scenario is like this.”
A few more negative thoughts might have crossed my mind if I had not heard the warm welcome from a male voice. Turning around I saw Nikhil standing with his bright smile and a twinkle in the eyes.
I rushed towards him, gave him a tight hug and without wasting any time jumped straight to the point. “What is wrong with you guys?
What have you done to my friend?
Is she going through any mental trauma?
Is your baby, Bristi? Bristi, is the name I guess, not well?
Are you guys going through a bad patch in your relationship?”
“Sit down.” Nikhil tried to calm me.
Shoving off the bed sheet to a corner he made some space for me to sit and continued, “Let’s have a cup of coffee in next 30 minutes. It is 5:30pm. Shreya will join us by 6:00pm max and then you will get the answers to all your questions. In the meanwhile, can you help me with a glass of water? ”
On any other day, his nonchalance would have freaked me out but slowly I was getting grooved to the house’s ambience. In spite of all the indiscipline there was something very pacifying in the air.
Giving him the water, I sat beside him. Slowly he finished the entire glass, looked at the watch and muttered, “I will take 5 minutes in the washroom. Do me another favour; turn off the micro oven in the kitchen and start folding the bed sheet please.”
I acted as advised. He took a little more time than 5 minutes but it wouldn’t have been enough for any man to freshen up after a long day in office. On rushing out of the washroom, without wasting any time, he joined me and we both started placing the things in order. There was a big box in the store room, already half filled with toys, where he stacked the mess of the room. It hardly took us some 15 minutes to make the room livable. And just as we were about to sit down and look at our own efforts, his alarm made him spring up.
Tuning the TV channel to 9XM, he turned the volume high.
“What now?” I probed.
In a mysterious voice, he said, “Wait! I will be back in 5 minutes again” and vanished into their bedroom closing the door on my face.
Each moment seemed like an hour. The visuals of the mother & daughter duo started drifting in front of my eyes, engulfing me into dreadful thoughts.
It was 6:20pm pm and just as I was about to get up, when I saw the two most beautiful ladies … something has happened in this last one hour, transforming the stoned duo into the most vibrant one! Shreya still looked weak; nonetheless, in the shorts and sleeveless tees she looked the same school girl. The baby in her arms stretched for me as if she knew me for ages. Behind them stood the man of their life. It was the picture perfect moment.