The Missing Piece of the Puzzle
‘There! Done for the day!’ Tripti said to herself, closing her diary and slipping it into her bedside drawer. She let out a big sigh as it had been a long day. ‘I wonder what time Abhishek is going to head home. I hope the surgery went well,’ she said to herself.
Suddenly Tripti’s phone beeped. It was a text message from her husband.
‘Finished surgery. On my way home.’
While she waited for her sweetheart, Tripti decided to flip through her diary. As she browsed through the last few pages of her diary, she decided to dig out the old diaries she had written over the last couple of years.
One diary was full of happy feelings, budding love, commitment, and hope; all this was before she tied the knot. The other diary was full of running errands, finding it hard to make time, lack of self-love and self-care. No doubt there were happy days, but there were more crazy ones too.
‘Why is life so topsy turvy? Why am I always on the move? I feel like something is missing. But what?’ she pondered to herself.
After her marriage, her mother-in-law (Mummy) had fallen sick and got breast cancer. Tripti nursed her through until she recovered. Her father-in-law (Daddy) perpetually had some health issue or other. He was a grouch potato. Always finding fault in everything. Never content with anything. Tripti felt by the time she picked herself up, something or the other happened that tugged her back down.
Tripti’s time spent at home was often lonely and sad. It was like a dark cloud covered the house. There was no laughter and enjoyment amongst the members of the family. Everyone mostly stayed to themselves or stared at the television for hours. The silence in the house grew to be very depressing at times. She was waiting for the silver lining to appear or perhaps a strong wind to come and whoosh away the dark grey clouds.
Soon enough, Abhishek was home from work. He looked knackered and ate his dinner in silence. He was off to bed and told his wife to wake him up early as he needed to be at the hospital early to check on his patients.
Tripti tossed and turned on her side of the bed, finding it hard to sleep. All she could think of was all the pages she had reread in her diaries. ‘Something is missing. Where is the spark? The inner feeling of happiness? Why is everything so dull and slow? How come Abhishek and I have grown further away from each other? I know we both have our own professional lives. We are busy individuals trying to make life work, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try to make time for each other. Do all couples go through this same thing?’
The following day, Tripti dragged her groggy self out of bed at 5:30. She cursed herself for not getting adequate hours of sleep. ‘Only coffee can save me today,’ she mumbled to herself while she made herself a strong cuppa.
In due course, she wound up all her morning chores. Her husband had already gone to work. So, she had time on her hands before getting ready for work.
‘Have you taken all your medicines, Mummy?’ Tripti asked lovingly.
Mummy nodded and smiled. ‘Are you alright? You seem a bit off today.’
‘I’m ok! Lack of sleep,’ Tripti rolled her eyes.
‘You kids need to get your lives in order. At least six to eight hours of good sleep is mandatory. Only then will your body and mind function well the next day,’ Mummy explained. ‘You know it’s necessary to get enough sleep to conceive.’
‘Conceive? Who said anything about getting pregnant?’ Tripti wondered and stared at Mummy in silence.
‘Sit next to me. I’m sure you still have some time before you have to get ready for work,’ Mummy conjured. ‘So, yesterday, your mother and I had a chat over the phone.’
Tripti listened attentively and knew what she was going to say. It wasn’t the first time Mummy had tried to have one of those conversations.
‘Well, we were both wondering when you guys are going to make us proud grandparents?’ Mummy grinned.
Tripti shuffled her feet and sighed. ‘There we go again.’
‘Think about it, dear. There is no pressure, but there are a lot of things you need to consider. Talk to Abhishek, and let me know.’
The following week, Tripti shared the good news with Mummy. ‘Abhishek agreed. He feels it is the right time to have a baby. Although I have to admit. I am a little overwhelmed.’
‘Don’t worry. We are in this together,’ Mummy smiled, rubbing her back.
It was not long before Tripti was pregnant. The whole family was delighted when the twosome shared the good news. Abhishek took good care of his wife; they unconsciously grew closer as time passed. Tripti felt her husband seemed more involved and available.
Nine months flew by. Tripti gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. She had big shimmering eyes, fair skin, and curly hair, just like her dad.
‘I carried her in my womb for nine months, and she turns out to be a carbon copy of her daddy,’ said Tripti as she lay on the hospital bed.
Abhishek couldn’t get control of his excitement. He was simply beaming with joy. ‘After all, whose daughter is she,’ he smiled proudly and kissed Tripti on the forehead. ‘I had no idea you were so strong!’
For the next couple of months, Tripti closed all doors and dedicated her entire being to her newborn infant; from exclusive breastfeeding to changing diapers to many long sleepless nights, Tripti found herself immersed in the life of a young mother. The peeing, pooping, burping, and sleeping process were a vicious cycle that ruled Tripti’s life.
Daddy named the newborn, Arunika – ‘early morning sunlight’ since she was always wide awake, cooing in the wee hours of the morning. Arunika brought so much happiness and sunshine to the entire family. Although Abhishek spent long hours at the hospital, he couldn’t wait to come home to his little bundle of joy. No matter how tired he was, he still made an effort to help Tripti as much as he could. As husband and wife, they worked as a team. They found themselves connecting both emotionally and physically. A warm, loving hug and a kiss on the cheek were enough to pull Tripti through and make her feel better even at the end of a long day.
Arunika was a happy baby and hardly made any fuss. However, as she grew, she was a handful and was always up to some mischief or other. As she learned to walk, it was hard to make her stay put in one place. Arunika needed to explore every nook and cranny in the entire house and kept Tripti on her toes throughout the day. Her laughter and tears brought life back into the house. Her Dadaji would come running to console her every time she cried. After all, she was Dadu’s angel. He was no longer a grouch potato…there were some exceptions.
Tripti went to the office twice a week, and the rest of the days, she worked from home. One day, Tripti was remarkably busy and had a heap of emails that needed her attention. Arunika sat on a playmat with a box of crayons and some rough sheets of paper to scribble on.
Her mother surrounded her with other toys to play with so that she would be occupied. Arunika picked up an orange crayon. The bright orange color seemed to fascinate her. She was busy scribbling as her mother stepped out of the room for a second to go to the kitchen to get a glass of water. Her phone rang, and Tripti loitered around in the hall talking over the phone.
As the conversation went on, Tripti started to worry. Her gut told her something was wrong. Her mind told her, ‘I’m sure she is ok or is she?’ and her heart told her to drop everything and get back to the bedroom immediately.
Tripti came in and saw Arunika picking her nose. She was stunned to see that Arunika had pushed the crayon right up into her nostril. It was a perfect fit and refused to drop down.
Tripti tried everything possible to remove it. ‘What if I make her smell pepper?’ Unfortunately, even that didn’t work. Her last resort was to grab a cab and head to the emergency. She tried calling Abhishek, but he was in surgery and didn’t respond to her call. Her in-laws had gone out for lunch to a friend’s place.
Tripti rushed her daughter to the emergency room at the same hospital as her husband practiced. The nurse carefully inserted a pair of long forceps and gently took out the bright orange crayon without hurting Arunika. A couple of minutes later, Abhishek was standing by his wife’s side, holding Arunika close in his arms.
Tripti let out a long sigh of relief that it was all over.
On the way back home, Arunika sneezed the entire ride. The pepper was finally taking some action. But that was not the last adventure for this little explorer.
The once dull, monotonous days had been replaced by fun-filled, exciting, happy ones. Dadi and Dadu’s hearts were full of Arunika’s unconditional love and her sweet, mischievous ways.
Tripti felt as though the dark grey clouds were swept away with the love of their only daughter. She had finally found the missing piece of the puzzle. Although it took her a while to figure things out, she somehow managed to get the hang of her new life.
Like every other night, Tripti wrote in her diary. She flipped through the pages and smiled to herself. After a long time, she was able to make peace with her hollow and anxious feelings.
The jigsaw puzzle was now complete with her missing piece, Arunika.