The small room on top of the hill station witnessed two friends sharing their untold secrets. Now, it was Avi’s turn. He lit up a cigarette. He stared at the window. He could see a full moon on top of the distant mountain. After one or two puffs, he did not mind taking any more. Smoke went up spiralling from the red cigarette head, hold in between his two fingers. He started unfolding the last stage of this game. Others listened looking at him.
“You all know my wife, Sumi. She is the most amazing woman I have ever met in my life. We married after a prolonged courtship period of eight years. I met her when we were in college. I asked her out during second year in college and from then onwards there was no more loose ends in our relationship. Oh, such lovely days those were. You all know the story. How we met? How we tied the knot against our family consent?
To be truthful, I knew that she was the one in my life and I still feel the same for her. I consider myself very lucky to have found her as a life partner. We did not think twice leaving our parents’ house and stay together in our very different and small world. We worked hard, saved a lot from our expenses to move out of renting apartment and buy our own house. It was a white canvas that we painted as we wished. We spend a lot of time together after coming to home from office.
Sometimes, we feel a void in between us. This void cannot be filled by our family members who eventually approved our stands on marriage and gave in. It can never be filled by friends that we both like very much. We tried spending a lot of time together in different activities such as cooking, learning western dance, reading good books. We both feel that the void could only be filled by a new addition to our family. The most beautiful gift of God. I could sense the void is getting bigger and darker every day. We have been trying to have a baby for long. After numerous appointments from renowned gynaecologists, countless check-up sessions and innumerable medical tests, we are yet to get the gift to fill the void. They say, it is a very complex process for her to conceive. Not sure is it about the age or any past medical issues. We are relying on medical advancement but inside we are always praying for a miracle to happen suddenly.
In those innumerable journeys between our home and those clinics, I still remember the very first time I went to a clinic with her. It was our very own unforgivable mistake. One of my close acquaintances suggested that clinic. Although it was a major decision, I could not consult with anyone else other than her at that time.
On the very fine morning of the appointment, I picked her up and boarded the bus. It was the longest journey of one hour that we made that day. Not because we were tired, but because of the silence in between us. I remember her, tensed, silent self of Sumi. It bothered me a lot but I also did not speak. We made our decision earlier for the visit. We agreed that it was something necessary and was best for both of us to have this session.
On reaching there, we went to the reception and asked the receptionist about our appointment. The receptionist informed us regarding the terms and conditions of the procedure of our appointment and both of us signed the consent letter and filled up the necessary paper works. We waited on the bench outside for our turn to come. We did not tell anyone about the visit and kept only between us. Sumi was sitting beside me, holding my hand very tightly. Both of us were nervous but decided to remain silent. We already decided on this decision and there was nothing more to discuss.
When the doctor called her name, she rose silently and looked at me. I could not meet her eyes. It was still, void, expressionless. She went inside. I waited for six long hours on that chair. I was waiting the procedure to finish and her to get back. I could only hope for her wellbeing.
After six long hours, the doctor came up to me and informed me about the successful completion of the procedure. He also informed me that I could take Sumi to home. We took a cab while coming back to home as she was feeling weak. While coming back, I had a look at her. She was looking outside. I could see tears rolling down her cheek. She decided to remain silent. So did I.
The clinic we went on that day was not at all renowned one. We enquired couple of years later about it and could not find its existence. It was like those clinics that open up locally with limited infrastructure just to meet the demand of healthcare in our country and disappear over time either being uprooted by legal actions from medical council or being vandalized by berserk relatives of a patient who dies for the negligence of clinic authority or involved doctors. Not sure what the reason in this case but it was the worst mistake we had ever committed. We still believe, the complexity we are having now is somewhat related to the procedure she had that time. I feel guilty about it. Although she does not speak much about it as it was a mutual decision. Still, I feel like a murderer for that incident. I held myself responsible for killing our very own happiness.”
Preet and Ranjan listened to Avi’s story. They were not aware of any such incidents but they knew Sumi and Avi for a long time now. They could not figure out the cause of the guilt their friend having.
“Now a day, it is very important that you take treatment from reputed institutions. You cannot trust all the procedures they have in road side clinics. These illegal clinics are growing like anything. But I do not understand, why you would need to go to such clinic without consulting with you family about anything so important? You could have at least consulted with us? Why did you go there? Was it for any kind of surgery or pathological tests? Something bad could have happened to her. Thank God that she is healthy and happy with us. Why would you feel like a murderer?” asked Avi.
Avi took a deep breath. He was feeling heavy from inside. Suddenly everyone could see excruciating pain on his face. After a prolonged silence, Avi replied-
“The incident I just told you about was of our college days. We could not afford much expense back then also could not ask for any help from others regarding information. The clinic was a private abortion clinic and she was twelve weeks due into her pregnancy.”