The honeymoon was over. I took a deep drag at the last of my clove cigarettes, and tried to come to terms with the memories of a seaside holiday that had got over too soon. Soon, I would have to move back to plain old tobacco – the no-nonsense smoke of a familiar, down-to-earth routine.
I threw the butt away. The prospect of the familiar journalistic routine was paralysing: wading through innumerable takes of news, cleaning, polishing and making them suitable for public consumption…
Then, for a moment, the depression lifted. There was a new worry; I realised that I had missed a vital part of my routine. My usually-not-so-welcome monthly guest – my chums — had not arrived.
Am I pregnant? Panic.
Must be a false alarm, I consoled myself.
But, how could that be? I have always been clockwork regular, like the cases described in the medical books.
“Why not get it checked,” the husband suggested. He had come out for a smoke.
How did he know? I looked questioningly at him. “You were talking aloud,” he smiled.
My heart sank. We had just been married. Shouldn’t we have spent some more time with each other before the kids arrived? No savings, too. A baby must be an expensive proposition, I mused.
But, why am I thinking about savings, I don’t think I want the baby.
“Right,” nodded the husband with an indulgent smile.
I looked beetle-eyed at him. Why is he agreeing with me? Shouldn’t he, like any other male, want the baby?
The next morning, I waited for my fate to change colour. “Please, don’t turn pink, please, please…”
The self-test pregnancy kit was oblivious to my fervent pleas. It went about its job like a thorough professional – and turned pink. Actually, magenta.
Does that mean I have two babies inside?
The husband appeared at the bedroom door with a contented smile pasted on his face. I was tempted to knock it off with an upper cut. However, self flagellation took over.
How can this happen to me. I, who considered myself to be a smart woman who knew her ovulation period like the back of her hand.
A change of mood, and anger raised its head. Why didn’t it happen to him? Perhaps Bou (granny) was right. I must have been cursed in some previous birth to be born as a woman.
“Shut up,” rebuked the husband. “You’re delirious.”
His eyes were dancing, his cheeks flushed. But, what he said was, “So, do you want the baby or not?”
Am I that transparent? He seems to know everything I’m thinking about.
“I don’t know.” I tried to marshal my scattered thoughts, look at it in a new way.
The child could actually be a blessing in disguise. I can quit smoking and take a nine-month ‘off’.
But, do I want the baby?
“I would like a kid,” the husband admitted. “But… it’s your body. You have to decide whether you want to go through this,” he said, scratching his post-holiday paunch.
I looked up. He had a bigger bump than I would have in my fifth month. “You look pregnant,” I smiled.
“Ya. With ideas.”