Chapter 71: The Dawn of a New Era
Ishaani looked at the clock in the corridor and sighed moodily. 6:25AM. She descended from the staircase only to meet Claudine below, looking at her worriedly.
"Nothing! I've been walking from the last forty five minutes, but nothing! This is ridiculous!" Claudine gave Ishaani a sympathetic look while Ishaani fumed.
"Sit down, you've walked a lot."
"This is so unfair! You had twins within the stipulated period, why am I a week overdue?" Ishaani felt hot tears spring in her eyes and she angrily wiped them off. Claudine looked at Ishaani, a strong look on her face.
"Look, you are a strong girl, it's going to be okay. Besides, overdue cases are very common. It's alright." Ishaani seemed least convinced by this, and now tears left her eyes openly, in huge sobs.
"Claudine... I'm so scared! I... I don't know... my child... I... I don't know..."
"Is it kicking?"
"Yes... I felt one 15 minutes back."
"Then you have nothing to worry about. And stop crying, for crying out loud, you'll frighten everyone."
"I'm so frightened, Claudine. Seven months ago, back that night, I didn't bother about my life because I wanted to save Ranveer's life. I did not want my child to be fatherless in that moment... I did not want another Sebastien happening. I did not care about anything, but to save him. But in the hospital... when the doctor... I never felt my heart go so cold. If the doctors would have told me otherwise, I would have... have..."
"You're having nightmares now, aren't you?"
"What about Ranveer?"
"He has them just the same. Those nights, we just sit the nights and he lets me cry. Sometimes, he cries as well. We only console ourselves by the fact that our baby kicks regularly. It helps us control our emotions. The nightmares claw at me, Claudine, they claw at me. I've been strong for both Ranveer and my child, but I don't know whether it's good enough."
"Now you look here," Claudine gave Ishaani a reprimanding look. "What you did back then wasn't wrong, although it was stupid. But you have got to let it slip away, or else you're going to ruin it for Ranveer and yourself, not to mention your child as well."
"I'm trying and trying, but it's not easy."
"You know, back when I was expecting Freddy and George and I was estranged with Martin, that one month, my life was a nightmare. Several nights, I was so sure that Martin would call it quits, that he would no longer be able to pull it off. I would be more concerned about Martin, for on the night of the confrontation, I stole away his armour of steel and left him at his most vulnerable. Do you know what I did during those nights? I pulled on for the sake of my kids. I knew that they would help me see better, and found help me fight my way through this. And I was proved right. Not only did Freddy and George help me, but Martin as well. We still have nightmares, we still worry, but at the end, we know that we have two of our most prized treasures that will help us see the dawn that will help us fight life. You and Ranveer need to keep the same faith up as well."
"Goodness knows you're right. I and Ranveer have been employing the same thing, but sometimes, it's too scary."
"Have you spoken to Ranveer about this? About what you've told me?"
"Yes... the night you and Martin told us that you were staying back. We initially made a pact not to talk about it, but we had barely made it to the room before we starting arguing over it."
"Well, that would explain the yelling fancies we could hear."
"Yes, it wasn't pretty. Ranveer was just as angry that I entered the library to save him, given that I wasn't in my best form. He was pretty mad about it, told me it was a moronic risk I took with the child."
"He isn't entirety wrong, but I think he understood you nonetheless."
"He always does. But I had my own share of angry retorts ready so well... we balanced it out."
"Do you feel a little calmer?"
"Yes... yes I do. God, what would have happened had you not been there?"
Ranveer and Ishaani sat in the dining room, Ishaani playing with her food idly. The house was quiet as all the remaining family members had gone to the park along with Timmy, leaving the house at the liberty of the expecting couple and Claudine. Fred and George were at their grandparent's place for the weekend. Ranveer could clearly see Ishaani's frustration as she jabbed at the chilli forcefully and Ranveer shook his head reproachfully.
"Sunny, leave it. You've had a lot of it."
"And it's still not working! Damn it, why isn't the water bag bursting?! Is it made of iron of something?" Ranveer bursted out into peals of laughter but sobered instantly at the murderous look on her face.
"Laugh as you will, Ranveer, this would be much less amusing had you been in my place." Ranveer gave her a guilty look before he chuckled nervously.
"Don't be unreasonable now, sweetie... you've been patient so far, it's just a little more."
"Easy for you to say." Ranveer gave her an apologetic look, before speaking uncertainly.
"There is another way as well..."
"No! You are not trying any sitcom show tricks on me!" Ishaani blushed furiously, but Ranveer couldn't tell whether it was out of anger or out of the enticing though, but either way, he decided to surrender.
"Alright, alright! I'm just saying..." Ishaani gave him a small smile before her features were contorted with pain.
"What?" Ranveer gave her a concerned look.
"Another kick. The baby keeps kicking, but doesn't want to leave." Ranveer got up and quickly walked over and sat on his knee, staring at Ishaani deeply.
"It's because it loves its home. You need to think about her."
"Her? You think it's a girl then?" Ishaani looked at him hopefully, her mind taken off her worry.
"You've been glowing radiant in these nine months."
"You're so corny." Ranveer gave Ishaani a sly smile and he could make out that Ishaani looked considerably cheerful as well.
"There's sauce there. Wait." Ranveer quickly wiped away the sauce from the side of her lips, his finger lingering on her cheek for some time. Ishaani gave him a soft look before she pulled him up and let him kiss her cheek softly.
He kissed her cheek lovingly, his lips slowly finding its way to her own, kissing them with a reassurance that everything was to be alright. Ishaani threw her arms around his neck, letting Ranveer hoist her out from the chair.
Ranveer had barely lost himself into the mesmerizing touch of her lips when he felt her body go stiff, and her lips parted from his abruptly. He gave Ishaani a confused look as Ishaani looked to her feet, shaking her shoulder slightly. Ishaani looked up again, a look of shock and excitement flushing through her face, her body shivering.
"I think my water bag just broke." Ranveer stared at her stupidly for a few minutes before Ishaani shook him in return.
"My bag just broke! It broke!" Ranveer seemed to have been shocked out of his stupor, and he gave her an excited look. But before he could say anything, Claudine came out from the kitchen, and stared at Ishaani curiously.
"What happened? Wait... did your bag just...?"
"What the hell are you two waiting for? Go! Go to the hospital now! I'll call your family and ask them to join us straight at the hospital. I'll bring all the necessary clothes and come over with Martha. Martin can join us in some time." Ranveer and Ishaani nodded as Claudine quickly called the driver to take the car out. Ranveer now supported Ishaani strongly, as she suffered from a long contraction again.
Ranveer made Ishaani sit in the car, the former quickly entering the car from the other side, as Ishaani gave out a moan of pain. Ranveer looked at her tensed, before she gave him a small smile through her pain. Ranveer spoke in a hypnotized tone.
"That's it, sweetie, we're going to have a baby."
Sixteen sleepless hours later saw Ranveer and Ishaani in the ward, the latter's hair plastered against her sweaty forehead as she stared about aggressively. Pain suddenly etched over every inch of her face as she suffered from another long contraction, a soft shriek leaving her lips. Ranveer sat beside her, taking Ishaani's hand in her own, while she stared at the wall hopelessly.
"Five women have had their babies so far! Five! And I've been rotting here since sixteen hours!"
"Honey, you're almost there!"
"Trust me, if that nurse comes back one more time and tells me that I haven't reached-" Before Ishaani could complete her threat, the doctor entered the room, following the nurse who kept regular tabs on her. The doctor smiled kindly.
"You've been doing great so far." Ishaani grimaced in return and she gave her a sympathetic look. Ranveer stared at the nurse anxiously. The doctor carried out her regular check-up before she spoke kindly. "Well, we'll be starting with the pushing now, I guess." Ishaani made to give an angry retort when she realized what the doctor just said, and stared at her wide-eyed.
"It... it's time?"
"Yes." The doctor shut the door behind her and the nurse stood beside her, the equipment now ready. "Dear, I'm going to need you to push now."
The air grew tense as the sky was now turbulent, the indigo sky now forcefully blending into navy blue and shades of pink. The sun fought to break apart through the horizon, as the room echoed the pain of child birth, Ishaani shutting her eyes in excruciating pain, Ranveer having her hand within his, assuring her that he was there with her, that it was now a matter of time before her pain was rewarded.
The first rays of sun broke through the sky as the first cries of the baby now rented the room. Ishaani fell back on her pillow and sighed tiredly, her eyes still at the bundle in the doctor’s arms, Ranveer's attention in the same direction. The doctor looked up at the now-parents with an elated look on her face, as both of them looked at her expectantly.
"Congratulations, it's a girl. Eight pounds, perfectly healthy." The doctor smiled as she handed over the baby to the nurse, while she quickly cutting the umbilical cord and cleaned up around her. Ranveer gave Ishaani a side hug and kissed her forehead lovingly, while she gave him a tired, yet radiant smile. The doctor gave the dazed parents a nod and left the room, while the nurse quickly cleaned up the baby and handed it over to Ranveer and Ishaani, who had just gotten up again.
Ishaani stared at the baby with stunned disbelief as tears left her eyes, her mind bamboozled with what now stood in her arms. Claudine always told her that the moment when her baby would be in her arms, her life would change forever, and in that moment, she knew that it had. In her hands was perhaps the most beautiful thing she must have ever seen in her life.
Wrapped in a blue towel, she could have only described their baby as God's angel. The experienced eyes of the nurse spotted the dumbfounded look on her face and she smiled. She had seen this look almost every single day in the last 15 years of her career and yet it never seemed to lose its charm. The nurse walked out as well, leaving the couple with some privacy.
Ishaani handed Ranveer over the baby after she saw her to her heart's content. What Ranveer could only feel was his knees go weak. All that time, he had only anticipated this moment in his head several times, each time thinking about what would be his response to the news, sometimes comical, sometimes blank. But this time, it was really happening.
He felt his breath getting stolen away, as the baby's brown orbs stared back at his, looking at him curiously. Tears sprung up in his eyes, while he gently placed a light kiss on his baby's head. In that moment, he swore that he would always be there for his little girl like her shield, protecting her from all harm's way. He would be there for her no matter what, always holding her finger to show her the right path, always to help her out in all her difficulties. He would pamper her in all ways possible, be her best friend and pal. He felt his world revolve around her from that moment. Always.
Handing her gently to Ishaani now, he sat by his seat solemnly, still in awe of what God had bestowed upon them in that moment. He couldn't take his eyes off her the entire time he sat there, exhausted due to lack of sleep, yet overwhelmed, as he saw the two most beautiful women right before his eyes; the two women he loved the most.
The dawn had broken out at last; along with the rise of a new era.