The longest wait. The intractable excitement.
Applause. Applause. Applause.
Maheer went to the office, not being able to extend his leave any further. His smile screamed devotion. His eyes talked about sleepless nights. His hands talked about dread. His voice told about stories unsaid.
“Congratulations!” his manager came forward and hugged him.
“Thank you, Boss,” replied Maheer, with a stifled tone.
“Now you’ll have to wake up in the middle of the night, and clean diapers.”
Maheer laughed. He saw his other colleagues pausing their work and coming closer to congratulate him.
“So, sweets?” one of his co-workers asked.
“Oh right, sweets.” Maheer took out his wallet. Taking a look at the meager notes, he took out his phone and ordered sweets. After all, sharing sweets after having a baby is part of the culture.
As he kept walking with his manager towards the meeting room, he noticed that some of his colleagues were following him. He decided to let the suspense lodge. The manager opened the room of the meeting room and bam! Starting from a lovely cot to balloons and small toys, his co-workers surprised him by buying gifts for his first baby.
Maheer couldn’t stop smiling. He never imagined that his colleagues would be so happy for his child. Tears kept flowing from his eyes like a waterfall.
“Oh my God, you all didn’t have to do this! This is too much!” Maheer told them.
“Oh come on, we might not love you which is why we overburden you with work, but we love our nephew!” they all laughed. Maheer took out his phone and clicked a selfie with his colleagues, and with the gifts in the background. After lunch, he cut a cake and distributed the slices amongst his colleagues.
“Sir, I actually need to leave early today…” Maheer started requesting his supervisor.
“Yeah stop there. Of course, you’ll go early. Go home, give that munchkin some love from me.” she said.
He took an Uber, and as soon as the chauffeur saw so many gifts and balloons, he asked, “First child, Sir?”
“Yeah”, Maheer smiled back at him.
He reached home, and after wishing the Uber driver a goodbye, Maheer waited, till no one was around him. He took the gifts and threw those into the dustbin near the gate of his apartment. He called the guard and asked him to keep the cot in a corner of the storeroom.
Ceaseless cries and shattered dreams
Everyone’s silent but the suspense screams
Waiting for a sadder fate to befall
Indeed, life does surprise us all.
The door was open. He entered it, and rounds of wailing welcomed him. Maheer, being unable to control his tears, fell on the floor as he looked at the white cloth. He could listen to his relatives whispering – “Someone tell me everything please. How?”
“Neonatal death. Premature birth.”
Maheer hugged his wife and requested the hujur to start the prayers. Indeed, the residence, inside the mother’s body was temporary for the gone baby.