Parallel Lines

Parallel Lines

“I am going to wear a pink lehenga,” announced Kritika.

“You have all your life to wear your favourite colour.  Wear red at your wedding, as it is considered auspicious,” explained her mother while arranging a set of dresses on one side.  

The elaborate wedding shopping was being segregated in different bags. It included a variety of dresses, cosmetics, jewellery, accessories, and footwear.

Kritika once again checked the lipsticks and nail enamels. Her favourites were amaranth and taffy lipsticks, and fuchsia, flamingo and tumultuous pink nail enamels.  Everything was being meticulously organized and put away in separate bags. 

“No. I’ll wear only pink, the flamingo pink lehenga,” Kritika said adamantly while arranging her peach bracelets and brick bangles in a box.  She once again tried the necklaces and admired them.

“My daughter will not be a stereotypical bride.  Let her wear what she wants to,” quipped her father, while he sat on the lone chair which was placed in the corner of the room. 

One look at the room, and one could understand the fondness of the dweller for pink.  Cerise curtains hanged at the sides of the window, and punch sheets covered the bed.   A tiny lemonade night lamp sat on the bedside, while crepe laminates adorned the wardrobes. A pink wall piece hanged in depicting flowers in different hues of pink.

Her mother shrugged, “If you both have decided, then let it be.”

Kritika flashed a broad smile at her father and raised her right-hand thumb. 

Her father responded by blowing a kiss.

Being the only child, Kritika was pampered.  She was marrying the love of her life, Mohit.  They had met each other during their post-graduation.  Mohit had to go the extra mile to woo the stubborn Kritika.  But soon, she found herself head over heels in love with him.   

It was a grand wedding.  The stage was decorated with Kritika’s favourite flowers – pink lilies and roses.  The guests were in awe of the decorations.  Pink was the theme.  The chairs and tables were covered with blush pink cloths.      

Kritika looked ravishing in a flamingo pink lehenga when she entered the stage.  Mohit was speechless at her sight.  His off-white kurta had traces of pink in it.  They both looked divine together.  A couple made in heaven!

On their wedding night, Mohit gifted her a baby pink silk scarf.  ‘Mohit’ and ‘Kritika’ were embroidered with red on it.  

Mohit said, “This is our symbol of love.  Always keep this close to you.”

Kritika held the scarf close to her chest and said, “I love this.”

They both worked in MNC’s and hence their lives were busy.

The first year went in a jiffy.  Though they knew each other since their post-graduation days, it was fun exploring each other.  Living together had a different charisma.  They found themselves falling in love with each other deeper every day.  

The first year of their marital bliss was like an extended honeymoon. They watched endless movies, travelled a lot, and had the most of their time.  

Mohit surprised Kritika with gifts, flowers, and candle-light dinners.  Every day, he made it a point to prepare breakfast and tea before Kritika woke up.  She was a pampered wife and enjoyed the attention.  

Once, he instructed Kritika to be ready for an evening long-drive.  He drove the car towards the airport. 

Surprised, Kritika asked, “What’s going on?”

Mohit showed her two tickets to Singapore. 

Kritika’s joy knew no bounds.

Yet she protested, “But, what about packing and all?”

Mohit answered, “You can shop as much as you want from Singapore! This is my first anniversary gift.” 

Kritika moved up and down in the car with delight screaming, “Yay!” 

With the onset of the second year, the advice and expectations of family and friends poured in. 

“Plan soon, or else it will be too late.”

“Don’t wait for too long.”

“Age will soon catch up. Act fast.”

“Don’t be so career-oriented.”

Kritika didn’t understand why the whole world was so bothered about her starting a family.  They had a good job, were married just a year back, and were enjoying their life.  Did they need a third person between them at this stage?  She wanted to travel the world before planning a family.  She wanted to explore their relationship further.

Sadly, only Kritika was at the receiving end of those words. 

When she discussed this with Mohit, he brushed it away.

Ten months later –

Kritika and Mohit waited with bated breath.

One minute passed.

Two minutes.

Five minutes.

“Only one pink line,” declared Mohit.

Kritika was silent. 

Mohit consoled, “It’s ok.  We are too young anyway.”

It was difficult for her to hide her tears.

Then, started their escapade with the pink lines.  Kritika longed to see those two parallel lines in her favourite colour.  But unfortunately, it was always one pink line. 

Mohit always supported, “It’s ok. Next time.”

Eight months passed.  Still only one pink line. 

They consulted the best gynaecologist. An array of radiological and blood investigations was conducted.  Kritika was diagnosed to have Premature Ovarian Insufficiency. She had to undergo many tests regularly to keep a check on the hormone levels.  Periodic sonographies were conducted to assure the quality and quantity of ovulation.  

But despite regular hormonal therapy, sonographies didn’t reveal fruitful ovulation.  So, they were given the options of IUI(Intra Uterine Insemination) and IVF(In Vitro Fertilisation).  

These treatments drilled a hole in their pockets and required Kritika to be under bed rests. Every month Kritika was hopeful.  But the second pink line always betrayed her.

The treatments tortured her emotionally, physically, and financially. Due to frequent leave, she lost her job. She didn’t have any other motive in life. 

Kritika’s mother once advised, “Go for alternate medicines like Ayurveda or Homeopathy,”

She continued, “Our neighbour was talking about an astrologer. He is very good at his predictions. He gives some stone to wear or a ritual to follow.”

Kritika rolled her eyes.

“No harm in trying,” pushed her mother.

When Kritika talked about this to Mohit, he said, “Stop it. You have a medical condition. Let science handle this.”

Kritika’s mother was adamant.  She took her to the astrologer.  The astrologer, who looked like any ordinary man, took a long time studying her horoscope.  Then he advised some chanting to be done in the early mornings, and a pink stone to be worn by Kritika. 

Kritika went against Mohit’s wishes and wore the bright pink stone on her finger.  Kritika’s mother was hopeful.

Kritika again waited for those two pink lines.  But it was not to happen. 

Month after month, the second pink line was nowhere to be seen.

One day, she asked Mohit, “Why don’t we stop all these fertility treatments?  We have undergone many cycles of IUI and IVF. I am tired. Why don’t we think beyond that?  There is life out there. These treatments are making me feel worthless.  I want to lead a normal life.”

Mohit said, “I know. Just wait. I am hopeful.”

Kritika felt her words fell on deaf ears.  Their differences grew.  After five years of their wedding, they hardly had any topic to talk about.  

One night, she took out the pink scarf which Mohit had gifted her.  She caressed the names written on it.  She held it close to her heart and wept.  

We have lost our magic.

She desperately wanted the charm in their life back.

She took out her wedding album.  Her face had changed drastically in five years.  Her permanent smile which had given her those laughing lines had vanished.  Instead, a constant frown had appeared.  She had lost that fun-loving girl somewhere and was a stranger to the face in the mirror.

Why am I feeling so hopeless? Is there nothing beyond those two pink lines?

That night, she gathered courage and asked Mohit, “We have done everything possible. Why don’t we go for surrogacy or adopt a child?”

Mohit didn’t answer.  

Kritika continued, “Why don’t you accept the fact that I cannot conceive?  Embrace the reality and act accordingly.”

Mohit left the house without speaking a word.   

Kritika felt dejected.  It had become Mohit’s routine to leave the house before Kritika woke up.  They hardly interacted.  Kritika feared the worst.

Is he seeing someone else?

She immediately regretted for bearing such a thought. 

She didn’t know whether Mohit was right.  He was spending a fortune on fertility treatments, while she wanted to think about other options.  Mohit made her feel that the sole reason for their wedding to exist was a child.  She felt incomplete.  

On the contrary, if she was not able to bear kids, she should be receiving more love and warmth. He should have understood that married life is not only about having kids.  She didn’t understand that when she was ready to mother a child whom she had not given birth to, then why was Mohit not ready?

Kritika became an introvert.  She went into her shell and detached herself from the world. She avoided attending social functions. She feared people would ask her something by which she may get offended.   

She avoided looking into the mirror.  She didn’t like dressing up.  Her hair had started greying prematurely. The quality of her hair had deteriorated, and density reduced.  The regular drugs caused unanticipated accumulation of fats.  She looked way beyond her age.

She never enjoyed any festivals.  Festivals were like a bane to her. She started hating her favourite festival Holi.  She hated the colour of Gulaal.  She hated the tinge of any pink colour.  Her choices had changed. 

One day, while watching a scene on the TV, she got carried away.  She saw that a sterile woman was not invited on auspicious occasions.  People gave her different names.  Some even called her a witch!  

Not able to bear her inner turmoil, she had suicidal thoughts.  She didn’t find any reason to live and found her life aimless.  But she knew she had to save herself.

That night, when Mohit came from the office, Kritika decided to have an open talk with Mohit. 

She approached him, “I understand that you want to have your child and hence we are going through all these treatments.  But when will you try to understand me?  I am not meant just to deliver kids.  I am a human being with my desires and wishes.  Why having a child is our only motive? I am losing my individuality and identity in this race.

“You know these treatments are harming my body.  I have lost a lot of my hair.  I have put on weight unnecessarily.  And now, I am having suicidal thoughts.  

“I don’t feel like talking to you. Where is that Mohit who used to love me?  He used to understand my emotions through my eyes, without me uttering a word.  This Mohit can’t even read my mind.  He has become selfish.  The want of a child has made you so selfish that you can’t even fathom what I am going through. 

“You are spending lakhs on these treatments.  I feel it’s better to donate such an amount to orphanages.  That way we will be acting parents to innumerable orphans.

“I have made a decision.  I cannot live this way.  I want to separate.  And if you want us to continue, then please, no fertility treatments.  I hate these treatments which give us false hopes every month.

“A woman always dreams to live those nine months when she is pampered the most.  When I have given up those dreams, why are you still sticking to them?”

Mohit was silent.

After a long time, Kritika felt confident.  

The next morning, she left.

Her parents had decided not to ask her anything.  They welcomed her with open arms.  

She spent time with them.  They went out together for movies and restaurants and she reminisced the good old days.  She lived those golden moments again.  Her mother cooked her favourite dishes and made her feel like a princess.  They went out shopping in her favourite malls.  But this time, none of her shopping had a pink tinge.  

Once, her mother was massaging her scalp with home-made oil.

“Oh mom, you are the best in giving massages,” she declared. 

“Kritika,’ her mother murmured.

“Yes mom, continue. I am listening,” said Kritika absentmindedly while watching a daily soap.  She had become a big fan of daily soaps of late. 

“Why don’t you start working again?  You will feel much better.” Her mother suggested.

 Kritika was silent.

Her mother continued, “You are smart and were doing good in your job. Don’t forget that.  Keep yourself busy.  I know you will do wonders in your career.”

Kritika had tears in her eyes, “Sure, mom.”

She realized her mother understood her better than anyone in the world.

Soon Kritika started working.  Her hard work and expertise gave fruit and within six weeks she was promoted to a higher position.

One night, when she returned from work, she found Mohit waiting for her.  

Surprised, she asked, “You? I thought you forgot me and moved on.”

Mohit asked, “What made you feel that?”

Kritika answered, “I am here for more than two months.  You never gave me a call.  You never bothered to visit me.  What else would I think?”

Mohit held his head down. He took out the pink scarf.

“Do you remember this?” Mohit asked.

“Of course, I do,” said Kritika.  “But I thought you forgot it long back.”

Mohit sat and made her sit near her.  

There was an unusual silence.

Mohit was the first one to speak, “I have been missing you like anything these two months.”

“Is it? Then why did you never bother to give me a call or visit me?” Kritika questioned.

“I was selfish.  In the race of having a child of my genes, I forgot you.  I forgot that you are a human being first, then a woman.  And a woman doesn’t need to deliver kids to feel complete.  All she needs is love and warmth.  

“We had drifted apart due to our differences.  I was not thinking anything further than a child.  But you were right.  There is life beyond that.”  

Kritika listened attentively.

“It took days for me to comprehend what I wanted.  I considered surrogacy.  But when you are ready to mother someone else’s child, why should I be so selfish and insist on my child?”

Kritika couldn’t believe her ears!  

Mohit continued, “I considered adopting a child.  At first, it was very difficult for me to even think that I can father someone whom we don’t know. Someone whose roots we are not aware of.  But on second thought, we will be giving shelter to a homeless child.  It is a noble deed.  

“And on that thought, I visited different orphanages. In the last orphanage that I visited; I saw a ten-month-old girl.”

He took out his phone and showed her a photograph of a cute healthy ten-month-old girl wearing a rose-pink frock.  The girl was flaunting a broad smile.  She had light brown eyes and soft pink lips. She had black but sparse hair.  The twinkle in her eyes made Kritika long to hold her in her arms.

Kritika instantly fell in love with this small bundle and her innocence.  She couldn’t remove her gaze from her.  

“Pinky!” Exclaimed Kritika with delight.

At a loss of words, she shed tears. 

The next day they went to the orphanage.   After the formalities were done, Pinky was handed over to them.  They took her home.  

Pinky was very playful and active.  She kept them on toes. 

After a long time, Mohit saw Kritika smiling and laughing like a small child.  Kritika felt young and energetic again.  

“I have two parallel pinks in my life,” he said aloud to Kritika.  “You and Pinky.”

Kritika hugged Pinky.

Mohit confessed, “I was unnecessarily waiting for those two pink lines.  I have two real pink gems in my life.  My life is complete now.”

Kritika held his hand and said, “Thank you for understanding me.  I love you.”

Mohit brought the pink silk scarf and wrapped it around Pinky.  The name ‘Pinky’ best suited her.  Kritika kissed Pinky’s forehead, while Mohit kissed Kritika’s forehead.
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