Akash Ganga apartment was centrally located in Bhubaneswar. It was close to many popular markets and good hospitals. People living in Akash Ganga were like a close knit family. Many grew up together and went about with their lives.
Mukund and Mr. Dash’s family had a unique and emotional bond. Mukund Mishra was a popular and successful gynaecologist of the city. He gave life and hope to many desperate couples. He was living in Akash Ganga since the time he was pursuing his PG. Mrs. and Mr. Dash lived in the flat next door. They were amongst the very first people who took possession. They had a lovely daughter named Kanta. Mukund treated Kanta as his younger sister, and Dash family took him as their son. No festivals, no cricket matches were ever complete without Mukund. He had no family of his own, he stayed mostly in hostels. Earned scholarships and was financially supported by his aunt.
Around four years back finally, Mukund had reasons to be truly happy. He had found love of his life. Tarini. She was also a doctor like him. Her specialization was paediatric. When they got married, the most common compliment or comment that they received was, “You make a great pair. One Gynac other Pead”. They were so happy with themselves that they didn’t care much.
Kanta got attached to Tarini, and Tarini became her friend, philosopher and guide. Not just she was not just a good doctor who was good with kids, she was a genuinely caring human being too. She could go out of her way and out of her comfort zone to help people. Sometimes for people, who were completely strangers. She didn’t become a doctor to get rich but to help the neediest in the society. That was the trait that Mukund noticed about her initially. And the more he came to know her, he fell in love deeply. Love that was so deep, beyond limitations, they understood and knew each other like their souls were one. Both were doing well at work too. Mukund had also started doing social work with her, and started keeping medical tools and equipment’s at home for emergency.
One fine morning Tarini, told the magic words to Mukund and he was on cloud nine. The words were “We are going to be parents”. They both paid a lot of attention to Tarini’s health. Dash family was also completely involved in this journey of adding a family member.
With time, Kanta had grown up to marriageable age herself. Her would be husband worked in a MNC in Noida, and hence she enjoyed whatever counted days were left with her parents. All the while when things were going so well, Tarini developed complications in her pregnancy. Despite being cautioned by doctors, she decided to go ahead as the child was going to make them happier. Tarini insisted Mukund to execute her delivery. Initially he hesitated as doctors usually don’t operate their closed ones, he finally had to give in to her demands. She was sure if there was anyone who can get her and the baby safely out of this danger, it was him. In the meanwhile, Kanta got married and shifted to Noida. She stayed in touch with Tarini as much as her own mother.
On a fateful night, Tarini struggled for breath. She has a lot of bleeding and cramps in stomach. Mukund rushed her to the hospital. They started doing the ultrasound to ratify the baby’s position and checked Tarini’s vitals. But her BP dropped like a stone going down to ocean floor. And before he could do anything, she had closed her eyes. She held his hand tightly until she breathed her last. He had lost both of them. The grief was taken over by guilt and remorse. “I could not save them”, were his words before his face turned into a stone and he got out of the OT.
While 8 months have passed since that incident, Mukund has not been himself. He stopped going to clinic and stopped seeing patients. By choice he turned into a compulsive alcoholic and had no intention to get out of his little favourite hell. All the good memories were now haunting him, hence he disconnected himself from everyone and everything. Including himself. He used to cry, howl and shout all the time in his drunken state of despair. Neighbours could hear his hopelessness and anguished wails too. They tried to speak with him, trying to bring him out of this dejection but nothing was helping. All the happy and positive memories of Tarini led him to more depression and gloom. Those good memories became a torture.
Today morning, Kanta arrived from Noida. She had the good news to share with Mukund. But she couldn’t gather courage to face him. As her happy moments and his heart wrenching moments came into life almost at the same time . She is nine months pregnant. Gathering all the courage she could muster, she tried knocking and calling Mukund a couple of times. She wanted to meet him. But he didn’t answer the door.
The Dash family kept a tiffin with cooked food every day at his door. Sometimes, he accepted and sometimes, it rotted. One day, Kanta kept the tiffin and stood there. Something told her that he will open the door today. As it had been three days, he hadn’t eaten anything. When he opened the door, she couldn’t hold back her tears. He looked shabby, thin, scruffy, and unmanaged. He saw her, their eyes met but before she could approach, he banged the door at her face. The moment he saw that Kanta was pregnant, all the things that he was running away from came back haunting him.
It was a good relief from Dash family that Kanta had reached home safely. As the same week, the PM announced nationwide lockdown due to covid19. All public transports including air and rail were purged. The situation was unprecedented. Few weeks passed, Kanta wore a mask and gloves to feed the stray dogs. Helped old people in the apartment, installing contact tracing, essentials delivery apps on their phones. She was doing her bit, and that’s how she was reminded of Tarini. Tarini had taught her that giving back to society is way of living a satisfied life. The moment everything started getting back to normal, the weather department released an advisory that a cyclone, like never before in last many decades, was knocking on the coast of Orissa.
For days there was no electricity, no mode of communication, dust storm everywhere. It was scary and life threatening. In the middle of the day, kanta stated getting cramps. The labour pain was increasing, and no ambulance was ready for pick up.
Finally, Mr. and Mrs. Dash banged Mukund’s door, he was their only hope. They knew he was the best. They just prayed that he was sober and not passed out due to intoxication. The noise of the harsh wind was making there screams less audible. They were crying “Come out, Save Kanta”, “she needs you”,”we have no one else, come out”. Finally hearing their cries, Mukund opened the door. For the sake of old days. He could hardly face the daylight. They rushed him to Kanta, who was wring in pain. Unbearable pain, her water bag had already burst open. Seeing her like this, all of a sudden, a streak of energy, a sense and emotion woke him up.
He rushed to his flat and picked up all the medical equipment. He instructed Mrs. Dash and asked her for all that was needed to make the delivery happen and got back to work. Looking at him Mr. Dash hoped of saving both his kids today. One from physical agony and one from mental. He prayed as he folded his hands and closed his eyes. Jai Jagganath
After three hours of tedious and tiring labour, she finally arrived. When Mukund held her, she was all in mucus and blood. But looking at her, he smiled for the first time in last nine months. She took all his burden away. And at that moment, guilt is replaced by happiness.
He said you are “MUKTA”, you set me free. You have given me my life back.
Tears started streaming down everyone’s cheeks. Kanta cried happily for being a mom for first time, Mukund for coming to terms with his own life & Dash Seniors for their kids’ happiness!
And the little one who was the reason for their happiest moment chuckled momentarily before rolling into her mother’s lap.
‘This post is written for Speakeasy Blogging Challenge 2020 by Ruchie & Dipika‘.