I still remember that fateful day in the wintery January of 1983, when I realised that I was pregnant! Our joys knew no bounds. I was 28 and eager to start a family. Barely married a few months ago, my husband and I did not have much: just a single room house on rent, a few essentials and the both of us. My husband, fresh out of Med School, had recently acquired a job with a grand hospital and was earning a good Rs. 3000 per month. We had little, but we were happy. And now, a little one was to come into our lives soon. It was a heartening feeling; but a little scary too. How would we manage? Would we be able to afford a good life and provide for a bright future for our child? All my fears and anxiety were laid to rest by my husband who was very supportive, and by my family and friends. And thus began the beautiful journey of motherhood.
We were very excited. We began nurturing our dreams: thinking of names, buying clothes, collecting important tid-bits from family and freinds (recent mothers' hand-me-downs), plans to save money to buy toys and crib...
And then it struck me - my husband sonographed me and gave me "the news" (at that moment I could not decide whether it was good or bad) - I was pregnant with twin girls!
For a moment I was shocked - I could not react, and when I did, it was not pleasant. It was simply impossible: raising two girls, together, in a one-room house, on a meagre salary... It could just not be done! I gave up. I told my husband I wanted to abort the babies. I would not be able to handle them. I wasnt sure we could pull it off. My husband, though crestfallen at my reaction, convinced me that we could make it if we tried. My family came to our rescue. They collected lots of baby things, came to live with me and help with the pregnancy and promised to help take care of the babies when they arrived. And so I agreed, and the journey continued.
The next few months' were pretty comfortable. Sure, I had some weird cravings at weird timings, and I suddenly stated hating my favourite foods. There were good days, bad days, horrible days, and great days too. Everyone pitched in , in whatever way they could. There was a lot going on, both inside and outside, but I was so loved and taken care of that I did not realise how time flew.
Then one fine day in late August, a month before the due date, things started to speed up and we were surprised to know that the stork intended to visit us a month before plan. On August 30th, 1983, I finally gave birth to the two most beautiful and precious babies ever! It was fairly smooth though exhausting., but all my tiredness went away when I saw the tiny little bundles of joy!
They were born premature, and as a result were very weak, thin and sick. It was a miracle they survived, but they were getting better by the day. The were identical twins: fair, rosy, fragile - and everyone who saw them fell in love with them. The doctor who delivered them told me she had 4 sons and desperately wanted to adopt my second baby. Smiling, I refused. Smiling because just a few months back I was ready to abort these little ones, or give them away; but today, I could not bear to do that! My brother-in-law also wanted to adopt my second one, and so did a few others, but I politely refused them all. These were my babies, my fruits of labour; and I was going o keep them, love them and nurture them twice as much as any mother! The two little Japanese dolls (as my doctor called them) had a band strapped to their wrists to differentaiate between them: one with a blue strap, one with a red one. We deided to call the elder one Mini, and the younger Tini for the time being, till we finalised their proper names.
And then our world came crashing down - Mini improved and came back home a week after her birth, but suddenly Tini was getting sicker and sicker. As it is, in multiple births, each kid doesnt get equal nutrition during pregnancy, and in this case Tini was the weaker one. She was going from bad to worse and stayed at the hospital. The days crept by. Finally she started to get better, and by the time she was 13 days old, she was well enough to visit her home for the first time. There was much jubilation. With lots of hopes and dreams, we finally got Tini back home, and lay her next to Mini. What a beautiful sight they were! We decided to keep a watch throughout the night. My husband stayed up for a few hours while I slept. Then he woke me up, and it was my turn to stay up and watch over Tini's condition. While the 3 slept, I stayed awake, but very drowsy. Dont know how and when but at some point I fell asleep and was only woken up by loud crying noises of Tini, in the wee hours of the morning. We all woke up, and after doing whatever we could to calm her down, we realised something was wrong. We rushed her to the hospital. apparently she had caught a deadly infection on the blood called Septicaemia from the hospital itself, and was very sick. Though enraged by the lack of proper care in such a big hospital, we first concentrated on immediate steps for Tini's treatment and recovery. Those few hours were the worst hours of our lives. We hoped, wished and prayed, but it was too late. In the wee hours of a September day, when the little one was just 2 weeks old, she succumbed to the disease. The other half of Mini, my second Japanese doll - was gone! The baby so many people wanted, did not go to anyone; not even to us.
With heavy hearts and tearful eyes, we went back, wondering if there was any way we could have avoided this. Had I stayed up, could we have saved her life? Maybe, maybe not. Thus came an end to our dreams, hopes, wishes, happiness: atleast half of it. Though she spent all her life in the hospital, we missed her presence. But all the same we were grateful to God that Mini was alive and kicking. She continued to be sick for a year or 2, but after that she flourished. But even today when I see Mini, sometimes I think of the little one, long gone: of how pretty she would have been, how her life would have shaped up... Would she have been a star student? Would she have had a great sense of humour? What would have her marriage been like?
' Sweetheart I know you were going thruough hell, and aybe it was a blessing for you to be liberated. But do know, all of loved you and still do. We did whatever we could for you, and above all, we miss you and wish you were here. But, as they say, sometimes God gets lonly and needs some nice people around him. I guess he needed you the most, amongst all of us... '
(FYI, My old nickname is Mini)