"Are you both married?"
Rekha and Satish looked at each other awkwardly. Satish answered, "No.. we're engaged to be married." The doctor looked wholly unconvinced, but did not pass a judgement. "Well, I'm afraid Rekha is pregnant"
Six weeks ago, they had consummated their relationship under the heady influence of a bottle of wine, a candlelight dinner on the beach, the cool, salty sea-breeze and the full moon riding the cloudless sky. They were both sure that their togetherness was meant to be.. and that they would spend the rest of their lives with each other. All was well until Rekha missed her monthly cycle and started feeling giddy in the mornings. By then, they had moved in together, and they decided to visit a doctor to confirm their suspicions.
Rekha was in shock. She was unnaturally composed when the doctor asked matter-of-factly if they wanted to keep the "fetus". Satish recognised and appreciated the doctor's attempt to make them comfortable with the idea of abortion by not referring to it as a baby. Somehow, the doctor's sympathetic attitude brought home the truth more forcefully. He replied quietly, "We need some time to think about this". "I understand. But this decision had better be made sooner than later. It would be best for everyone." "Thank you doctor".
As soon as they left the clinic, Rekha burst into tears. They streamed down her cheeks as she hugged herself tight, running her hand over her stomach helplessly. Satish was torn to see her so distraught, besides the anguish of having the most difficult decision of his life hanging over him. He held her close, and managed to calm her down. "Let's sit down and talk about this sweetheart. We'll figure something out. I love you, and always will. I'll never leave you. We're in this together, and for life."
The Answer - Unborn.
Two hours later, they sat miserably across from each other in a CCD outlet near the clinic. It was clear right at the outset that they were in no position to have a baby. They simply could not subject their families to the social trauma and the subsequent repercussions. They both had siblings to think of, and the effect this would have on their prospects. They weren't prepared to fight it out with society when the pain could be avoided. What they couldn't come to terms with was the question of whether they could live with it if they opted for an abortion.
"Is it murder if we do it? Are we killing a baby?" Rekha asked tremulously.
"I don't think it is. There is no baby as yet. It is unformed. The doctor said the fetus isn't a human being yet. She was pretty emphatic on that point. But if we wait any longer, it will become one." Satish was trying to convince himself as much as consoling Rekha.
"We can't keep it, can we? We could go live in the U.S.. Our GRE scores were pretty good. Maybe we could get admitted to the same college and leave together. We could always tell everyone later that we got married in the U.S. and had a baby right away. We could tell our parents the truth later, once we're away from here. That way, they won't have to face a social boycott. Satish.. I'm scared. What if we never have children again? What if this drives us apart instead of brining us together?"
"Rekha, I love you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I would never leave you, no matter what. We are in this together, we'll always be together. This is our decision to take - not yours, not mine. And even though your Green Card master plan may work, I don't think you'd be able to fly by the time we get everything done."
Rekha smiled through her tears at his attempt at humour. Satish smiled back, looking visibly relieved. He held her hands in his. They were cold to the touch. He rubbed her hands to warm them. "We need not hurry.. Let's take our time, and we can do it whenever you are comfortable with it. I'm with you every step of the way." She nodded wordlessly and sat staring into the distance for a while. "I want it done right now". Satish was a bit surprised, "Are you sure". "Yes. Right now. Before it can grow anymore."
The procedure was short and painless. She was wheeled into an operating room, anesthesised and the next thing she knew, she was waking up in a hospital bed with Satish sitting anxiously by her side. "How are you feeling? Are you in pain? I was so worried, but you were so brave darling. No fuss at all. We'll have loads of children, I promise. I'll change diapers, clean up baby poop, walk them to sleep in the middle of the night - whatever you want me to do." He hugged her tightly. She was relieved - to feel no pain or discomfort and much much more so to have Satish with her. She blinked back tears that were threatening to spill again and smiled weakly,"Promise? Don't go back on your word later."She was discharged within hours and they returned home.
For days, Rekha would wake up crying in the night and Satish would rock her back to sleep. They would sit up at times convincing each other that they had done nothing wrong, that this was best for everyone, that they could not have done anything else. Day by day, Rekha grew more remorseful, and Satish started getting irritated about it "Stop thinking about it already. Its been over two months. Its done and over with". After being admonished by him once or twice , she stopped telling him about her insecurities and the wounds in her soul that were still raw. They drifted apart, Rekha battling her inner demons, Satish finding himself disenchanted and unable to cope with her continuing depression. Eight months after that day, they decided to break up and go their separate ways.