17. The Paper Was Delivered Earlier Than Usual – part 1

As became the routine, when I returned home one afternoon from work Hemma was seated in the living room with tea for me …only this time there were some +sweets.  And waiting for me there in our living room, the rest of the family had assembled.

I looked around the room searching their faces for a clue as to why the gathering and complete with sweets to boot!

My bhabhi= approached me and in a near whisper she said to me, “You are going to be a father.  Hemma is pregnant.”  I was shocked and then, I was taken by such a sense of pure delight!  I announced I would call the doctor for an appointment the next day to get confirmation before we present this joyful news to everyone else.

Not long after tea and talk, I went to our room to change my clothes.  Hemma was right in back of me.  Behind our *closed door she hugged me, crying tears of joy and said, “This is our present from God!”

I responded happily with loving hugs and supportive whispers.  I told her that going forward she must be careful.  ‘You can continue doing the things you do okay, but no heavy lifting!’  and still speaking excitedly I told her that I’d take her once a month to see the doctor for a check-up.

Also I thought to say to her, ‘… and whatever your heart desires to eat, just tell any of us and we’ll get it for you!’  We were able to get to the doctor the next morning.  My mother came along.

We got the confirmation we came for.  He looked at my mother with a smile, then at Hemma and me and said, “You are going to be a mother, congratulations to the both of you!”  Shortly afterwards he provided a list for Hemma; proper diet along with some exercises she can do at home.

Now we couldn’t wait to share the beautiful news with the rest of the family …the world!  It was time to buy boxes of sweets and along with the good news, deliver them all over.

Every afternoon upon my return from work, she’d have my tea, hot and ready for me and we’d anxiously watch the belly grow.  My mother and sister coached me along the way on how to become a father and a great dad!

About four months had passed and it was time for some looser clothing.  I wanted her to be as comfortable as possible.  I brought her some muumuus to wear around the home; certainly less binding around the waist!

It was in the last trimester, perhaps about 33 weeks when Hemma began experiencing some pains that seemed abnormal; not only to my wife but the [experienced] ladies of the house too were concerned.

It wasn’t but moments after we arrived at the hospital and Hemma was admitted.  She was watched closely but the doctor didn’t seem distressed.  One day, two days.

On the third day our baby boy was born!  I was allowed to enter the room only minutes after his birth; I heard him cry!  The nurse wrapped him in a blanket and handed him to his mother.

Hemma placed him on her chest and he stopped crying; he was comforted for sure.  I embraced the two of them, gratefully.

Our son was born just about four weeks early and the incubator was on standby waiting for him.  After twenty minutes or so Hemma handed him to me; I held my son, fully and completely and with all the love I had in my heart.  God, he was so beautiful. 

|||


+sweets               ‘sweeten your mouth’  is generally the saying when good news is celebrated.  It is customary to provide sweets; not necessarily like candy but more confection-like.  Similarity is “Here, have a cigar, I’m [going to be] a father!”

bhabhi=              sister-in-law

*closed door       We are taught from early on that displays of affection between ‘he & she’ are to be in private

16. I found a piece of my heart that was still available!

23rd May, 1954 – The week of tradition has passed and the time has come for me to bring Hemma home.  I saw her standing at the front door and when she noticed me walking up to her house, her face lit up immediately!  

Her greeting for me was one filled with warmth and acceptance as she gestured to me with an open arms greeting, inviting me into her parent’s home.  As I walked passed her into the house I sensed very strongly that she was most anxious for me to take her into our new life and this pleased me.  

We entered the living room together where I was greeted by the family.  The younger sisters and the 2 little courier pigeons aka little brothers now called me jija-ji -respectfully big sister’s husband- and the parents now called me beta (as in dear child**).

We shared pleasant conversation for a little bit and then lunch was served.  All the while we are talking, my stomach grumbled gently which I’m certain was due mainly to the delicious smells coming from the kitchen.

I knew I was in for a treat because the vegetarian phase had now passed and well, I’m not going to tell a lie, I’m not vegetarian as was my father and brother; no I couldn’t do it.  I did reveal that part of me while docked in Australia, remember?

Anyhow lunch was beautiful and the anticipation of the very next step was both Hemma’s and my dessert.  What can I say?  The time had come for the final departure from her childhood.  She would now take up the journey into her husband’s home** and her new life.

Goodbyes and all that stuff … a quick skip forward to walking down the street.

I realized this was the first time that she and I were completely alone, ever!  I took this opportunity to ask her a question.  As we walked along I solicitously asked her, ‘Did you miss me during this past week?’

We had been holding hands as we walked and at this point she looked into my eyes and said, “Very much.”  No further steps were taken and then Hemma added, “I love you and I want to spend all of my life with you so don’t ever leave me to go anywhere!”

Hemma then wrapped her arms around me and hugged me just as tight as she could.  I chuckled, quickly responding with, ‘Okay I will never go anywhere without you.’

I thought to myself at that moment, ‘I lost Sonia.  And then I lost Noori.  I will not lose you.’

We arrived at my house, now our home, to lots of huggie-buggies but not before a quick welcoming pooja* to bring in the new daughter.  Everyone was there to greet her, greet us, as the newlywed couple.

It wasn’t long before Hemma was being shown the various rooms in the house; now she would see where our bedroom is and of course the kitchen!

Speaking of which, after that delicious, filling lunch and the nice stroll home, this man was ready for his afternoon nap!  Without missing a beat, Hemma made certain no one disturbed my peaceful slumber, and I rested very well.

And so began our life as husband and wife; young and innocent!  I returned to work and Hemma slipped into her role at home perfectly.  We did all the fun things; enjoyed movies at the theatres, had picnic lunches at the beach, shopped, went for milkshakes on a perfect day and visited friends and family for tea time or meal time, whatever the time was!

You know our backyard is the heavenly Pacific Ocean and so there are lots of secluded stretches of gorgeous sandy beaches to laze around on.  Our climate being of tropical nature allowed for most any day to be a fabulous beach day!

I can tell you at this point in my life, I was very happy.  We did fall in love with each other, I am certain.  I had a loving companion to go forward with and together we dreamed and planned; everyday was fresh and exciting with the prospect of a hopeful future.

|||


*** usually used for either gender although beti is feminine

**   It is customary the wife moves into the husband’s home and becomes part of that family  going forward; the honorable role of daughter-in-law.

*     pooja – prayer