**zainyangel..this one’s for you mmmwah**
Two and a half years later :
As narrated by Arshad :
What is happiness?
If you could describe happiness in one word what would it be?
For me, right now, THIS was happiness. Sleep. Blissful, undisturbed sleep. And I was thoroughly enjoying it. Zainab had also dozed off a little while ago and the house was silent. My parents were in Zeerust for a few days, and we had at least another two weeks to wait before sleep would officially be classified as a luxury!
I felt myself drift into the gentle waves of slumber, allowing myself to succumb to its comfort ever so peacefully..when I was roughly shaken out of it without warning.
“Are you freakin deaf Arshad!??!!!” , Zainab bellowed angrily, standing at the foot of our bed
I must be dreaming. And if this was a nightmare, then it wasn’t too far off from our recent reality and it was still sleep so…I dozed off again.
“If I could move, I would murder you right now you insensitive $#*#@* !!” , Zainab shouted again , “get the hell up!!”
I forced my eyes open and tried to sit up. Zainab was a bundle of mad moods in the last two months of her pregnancy, and her personality seemed to be somewhat schizophrenic! Not that I could actually say that aloud though…
“What is Zainab? ” , I asked groggily
“What is it!! Your baby wants to come out THAT’S what it is!! I’m dying in pain and you’re sleeping like a dead person! !” , she cried and held the sides of her tummy in pain
Okay dead people don’t sleep…because they’re dead right? Ignore.
I bolted right out bed in a bid to calm my wife . The baby wasn’t due as yet so maybe this was a false alarm…
I walked up to her to hold her when…I felt it. Our rug was wet!!
“Did you just pee on the carpet??” , I said, suddenly wide awake ,while making a mad dash for the bathroom
“My water broke you idiot!!! Don’t you dare go to the bathroom now I bloody need to go to the hospital! !”
Right. I wasn’t thinking. I slipped my sandals on, threw a kurta over my pjs , got Zainab ready, called the doctor, grabbed the already packed hospital bags, all of seven of them, in between getting Zainab to the car and locking up. By the way, that was right actually. We had seven hospital bags. And I had no idea why.
“Don’t worry baby…We will be there in no time ” , I said reassuringly, when I myself was so scared.
“This is all your fault! All your fault! ” , Zainab cried as she winced in pain
“I know I know I’m sorry ” , I said lamely
“What do you know?? you know nothing! Can you push this baby out? Can you? ?” , she shouted again
I have heard about pre -labour tantrums but I never thought that it would be like this! This wasn’t my wife, this was a monster! And as much as I would have loved to record it , I wasn’t exactly sure if I would have lived to actually show it to anyone:-p
Not very long after, Zainab dished out a lengthy variety of foul words as her pain intensified.
I tried Laeeka for the third time, and still no answer. What did I expect anyway…It was 1 in the morning!
I didn’t want to disturb Maariah, because she was also due anytime now, and I hesitated calling Aara, because she had just gotten back from yet another trip yesterday. But then I thought of the words I’d have to hear if I didn’t….
“Zainab’s in labour! “, I said quickly, without waiting for her to say hello
And a few seconds of silence followed while Zainab continued her foul word marathon.
“Woah !” , Zoheb laughed
“I’m glad that you find it funny but I am convinced that Chucky has possessed my wife! ” , I said, hoping that Zainab didn’t hear it
“Relax Arshoo.. we’ll meet you now at the hospital ” , he said in a way that made me feel a little relieved
And when I finally saw the hospital , I realised that I had never been happier in my life !
“I want this baby out of me!!!!” , Zainab yelled, grabbing my collar as I helped her out of the car
“I need a porter to help with this luggage please ” , I asked one of the medical staff who had come to wheel Zainab in
“Do you freakin think that this is a hotel! !!!” , she screamed, grinding her teeth in pain, and well, frightening the team of nurses too. Zainab was like a banshee on a mission! !
“What did I do now? ” , I asked confused, while I ran with all these darn bags
I was on the verge of tears myself! I wanted my mummy now!!!
“You have done everything, I don’t want you anywhere near me!!!” , she shouted angrily while they began to wheel her away
“Okay love I’ll wait here ” , I said softly, not wanting to piss her off again for a reason that I myself didn’t know
“Don’t even think about it Arshad Kazee! I need you right next to me , this is our baby not just mine!” , she cried
I was a wonderfully mixed ball of I don’t know what! I didn’t know what to make of it or what on earth to do! I just froze right then and there!
“Arshad I looooove you I need you okay ” , she wailed just as suddenly as she had screamed a moment before that
“I love you too ” , I said , very unsure of what she was going to say next
“So what the fudge are you doing standing there like that just get over here now!” , she scolded
“Go go go Arshoo drop the bags we’ve got them ” , Zoheb said, trying to catch his breath and Aara followed in tow , grinning like she had just seen the funniest thing ever
I don’t know about Zainab but hell. ..I think I’m going to need an epidural!
As narrated by Laeeka :
Who would have guessed that both Zainab and Maariah would go into labour on the same day! It was so exciting yet so nerve wrecking at the same time!
Immy had called us immediately after calling Maariah’s parents and we had rushed off to the hospital. And as luck would have it, Arshoo and Zainab were also in the same boat!
I felt a tinge of heartache as I watched Riza help Immy offload Mari’s hospital bag excitedly, as I knew that we would probably never experience that same feeling. But I had come to terms with it, if it was meant to be, it will be.
Right now all of us, along with Zainab and Maariah’s families waited anxiously in the visitors lounge, but these two babies were taking their own sweet time to make their grand appearance.
“Why don’t you sleep a little babe “, I whispered to Riza
“On one condition…Zoheb had better stop snoring because he sounds like a fire engine! ” , he laughed
And our eyes were fixed once more upon Zoheb, who had fallen asleep yet again, resting his head on Aara’s lap, stretched out across the two seater couch which was way too small for him.
“Leave him man ” , I laughed, “he’s probably exhausted, they only got in yesterday anyway ”
“But his snoring is dangerous!” , Riza laughed, and Zoheb then sort of gnarled in his sleep, causing Riza to fall off his couch in shock and laughter
“How do you deal? “, I asked wide eyed, relieved that Riza didn’t snore at all
“Easy…watch this ” ,Aara smiled
She lowered her head and whispered loud enough for us to hear…”baby you’re snoring ”
Surprisingly, Zoheb mumbled a cute apology and silently went back to sleep. Weird yet cute. He had heard none of us, but his mind seemed to be subconsciously tuned to her voice and he listened!
“If his snoring disturbs me, I just ask him to stop and well, it stops until I fall off to sleep again ” ,she said sweetly while playing with his hair
“Well you could have done that sooner and saved us the torture”, Riza mumbled, rolling his eyes at Aara
“Why would I do that?”, Aara grinned cheekily and very soon had a pillow thrown in her face!
Another hour had passed and Riza had finally joined Zoheb in dreamland.
Aara and I chatted away, catching up on the last few months. They had just returned from Brazil, Immy had joined the private sector and now headed the chief team of one of the most reputable security companies around, Arshad had added the first branch to the expansion of his new clinic for kids, Zainab was creating waves with her photography, Maariah was on Rums and Fati’s A list for wedding confectionery, Riza tasted the sweet flavor of success at an art festival in Milan recently, I had expanded my boutique and Nemo had completed his internship and moved to Detroit 20 months ago . Everyone’s lives had changed and yes, we naturally saw less of each other but made it a point to still do our date night atleast every two weeks with whoever was around.
Another hour flew by…still no news…and Aara had now dozed off too. Zoheb and her looked so cute together. I had never seen her this happy and this helpless before. Happy because she really was on cloud nine and Zoheb had truly lifted her up to touch the sky. She was enjoying her freelancing, travelling for most of the year and at home, their apartment looked like you were stepping into a different country with every turn that you took. Every nook had a different theme and it was soothing and exhilarating at the same time.
And helpless…helpless because Nemo had become very distant from her. They hadn’t seen each other in 18 months and he had thwarted every attempt that she had made to meet up with him with some excuse or the other. We had last seen him a year ago and I know that he had deliberately not come home for the last Eid because Aara and Zoheb were here. He would chat very often with Zoheb but very rarely with Aara and it hurt her to her core.
Nemo hadn’t gotten over her, as much as he played it very cool, I had seen right through it on a Skype conversation that all of us had with him a few months ago. He was talking to me but his gaze continuously shifted to her face as she spoke to Arshad not too far behind me. Like an undying candle that was down to its very end, yet would not stop burning. And that longing in his eyes broke my heart into a million pieces.
But we were incomplete without him and I was certain that now, more than ever, that I was ready to take that next step. A step that would better our lives and also maybe help him to face her again and gain some closure. Because he had promised me that when that day comes and I make that decision,he would drop whatever he was doing and be there for me and Riza.
I was about to shut my eyes for a few seconds when a familiar voice, with a very, very excited tone called out to us…
“It’s a boy!!!”
And right in front of us, stood a beaming, teary Immy with the biggest smile spread across his tired face
Aara, Riza and Zoheb woke up with such a fright that even Immy started laughing through his tears !
“I have a son” , he smiled…”I have a son”.. and we came charging towards him with hugs and good wishes
“What about Zainab? ” , I asked eagerly as we walked towards all their family members who were just as ecstatic as we were
“It’s a boy!!!” , Arshad said loudly, exiting the delivery room…and then he looked at us….and passed out across the passage.