“She says she’s fine but she’s going insane. She says she feels good but she’s in a lot of pain. She says it’s nothing but it’s really a lot. She says she’s okay but really she’s not.”
The only sign of life was the constant beeping of the bedside monitor showing the vital signs of life. Beside the monitor sat a tired looking Vikram. Stressful days, sleepless nights and the frequent occurrences of Maya’s periods of elation and hyper-activity had taken a toll on his youthful looking forever smiling face. It was in one of those periods of elation that Maya had just walked into the river when Vikram was busy playing a game of volleyball with his friends. It was the just the view of the finger tips that Vikram noticed when he went to pick up the stray ball that had rolled beside the river bank. Maya’s wedding ring had picked up a ray of the sun and gave a last cry for help before sinking. Vikram at once had jumped into the icy cold waters of the river and had pulled out a pale looking Maya who was almost on the verge of drowning.
Maya had spent dazed days and disturbed nights after the death of her baby. It had been almost a year since then. The once vivacious Maya had become the quiet one; her infectious energy and zeal for life had eroded away; the copious smile had disappeared. She was always engrossed in deep thoughts. She would often talk differently as if she was looking at the world from the haze of a veil. She would spend hours criss-crossing her food idly on her plate on the dinner table; occasionally looking up to listen to Vikram’s stories of the day; try hard to concentrate; try even harder; fail; and resume the criss-crossing. The days would be no different. Often she would not go to work. The headaches kept on coming back. Previously she used to get those headaches only in the afternoons when it was very hot but these days they have been coming back at every odd and even hour. Whenever she was at home Maya would just lie down on the bed or sit on the chair in her study, fold her legs, pull them close to her and gaze out of the window; looking at the birds on the trees chirping merrily.
“What are they so happy about?” she would think. “Why am I not happy? Where is my baby? Why do all the bad things happen to me?”
“Are you okay Maya?”
Maya looked up and saw an anxious looking Vikram.
“Oh yes I am fine.” She said smilingly.
“What were you thinking Maya? And look you have spilled your tea.”
Maya looked down on the floor. She could see her life in the spilled milk. Meaningless lines going towards meaningless destinations.
“Maya what’s the matter? Why are you so lost? Are you okay?”
“I am fine Vikram; just a bit tired and having a headache.”
“These Migrane attacks have increased oflate Maya; are you sure you do not want to see a doctor?”
“I will lie down a while. They will go away. Don’t worry.”
Vikram knew all was not well with Maya. She has been lost since she had lost their child. What a mother goes through when she loses her child is beyond the realm of imagination of a man. A life she had nurtured within her and which had grown slowly inside her little by little every-day is incomprehensible in words. A bond so strong that started even before it came into this world. Vikram had assumed that resuming work would help Maya get over the loss, but things worsened. Often Maya forgot to disembark the bus and miss her stop; she would walk over the edge of the window and stoop out precariously; she would forget to eat her meals for the entire day; sometimes she would just walk out of the office and sit on the middle of the road staring blankly at the honking traffic dangerously swishing past her; and most of the times Maya would just sit in the corner of her cabin, fold her legs, bury her face in the circle of her hands and cry. Vikram would often receive a frantic call from Maya’s boss asking him to take her home. After every urgent call for help from Maya’s office, after every psychotic episode of Maya, Vikram hoped Maya’s condition would change; he hoped that the emptiness and the desperation that Maya felt after the loss would eventually be filled and Maya would come out of it one day; he just hoped and prayed for the day to come soon.
It was a frigid winter afternoon when Vikram received yet another distressed call from Maya’s boss.
“Vikram you need to come to the office immediately.”
“What is the matter? Is Maya alright? Is she crying again? Is she having her panic attacks once again?”
“Vikram Maya is in the terrace walking dangerously on the edge. All our pleas have been falling on deaf ears. It is like she is in a different world altogether. We just don’t know what to do. Vikram please you need to rush, please.”
The call ended and Vikram looked stunned at the phone.
“Are you ready for the presentation Vikram?”
Vikram looked up and saw his boss barging inside his room. He stopped as he saw the distraught Vikram staring creepily at his cell-phone.
“Vikram are you alright? Is everything okay? Is Maya alright?” he asked.
Maya’s condition wasn’t a secret anymore given the number of times Vikram had to rush out of busy meetings and important presentations just to reach her on time.
“I have to go Sushil, Maya is in trouble. I can’t lose her. I have lost my child but I can’t lose her. I have to go.”
Vikram rushed out of his cabin even before his boss could say or ask anything.
When Vikram reached the terrace of Maya’s office building he saw Maya sitting on the edge, her feet dangling and she looking up at the clouds, talking; sometimes smiling; sometimes raising her hands and calling someone; sometimes hugging herself or someone she was imagining.
“Maya” Vikram said.
Maya turned around as she heard Vikram’s voice and smiled. The smile that had vanished from Maya’s pretty face since the baby died, the smile that Vikram loved so much, the smile that would make all troubles vanish from Vikram’s life, the smile of Maya, Vikram’s Maya.
“Hi Vikram, what are you doing here? Oh look our baby has started walking. It is almost a year isn’t it. I was worried why she isn’t walking. But look now she has. I always get worried so much.” Maya said.
“Maya you need to hold my hand and get down from there.”
“But Vikram my baby wants me to sit here and wait till she reaches me.” Maya said.
“Why don’t you come to me and we both can wait together for her.” Vikram said.
Maya looked at Vikram and then her baby, she rose up a bit, stopped, looked at her baby again, looked at Vikram, rose up again, reached for Vikram’s hand and came down from the edge. Vikram hugged Maya tightly. Maya closed her eyes and fainted in his arms.
That was the day when Vikram decided that Maya needs medical help. He could not risk her life once again. He even hired a nurse to be with Maya all the time. Maya was too precious for Vikram and he needed to protect her. Vikram knew the loss of the baby had been an irreparable tragedy for Maya and Maya was unable to get out of it even after a year. He knew he had to see a doctor and seek medical help. Maya was depressed, dangerously depressed.
“How are you feeling today Maya?” The doctor asked.
It was the second week since Maya’s therapy sessions began. Vikram literally had to fight with Maya to convince her to take the therapy. Day by day Maya’s condition was deteriorating. One day Maya had left home for work but never turned up. Her boss had called up Vikram to enquire about her health. It was then Vikram learnt that Maya hasn’t shown up for work although she had left home in the morning citing urgent work that needed to be finished in her office. In fact there was a very important corporate presentation that she had to make that day. Her company was about to seal a deal with a large multinational company and her presentation was crucial.
Vikram frantically started making calls on Maya’s cell-phone to check on her. But every-time he ended up in the voicemail service. He called all her friends to check whether she had secretly planned some-day out with one of them. But everyone was busy on a weekday. Vikram rushed to Sushil’s cabin and barged inside bulldozing the meeting Sushil was having.
“Sushil I need to rush home. Maya hasn’t turned up for work although she had left home in the morning for the same. I am unable to reach her on her cell-phone. I just need to check whether she has returned home or not?”
Having said whatever he needed to say to his boss, Vikram rushed out of his office and was soon on his way home. Just before the final turn of the lane that ended right in front of his bungalow, Vikram caught sight of Maya, sitting under a tree playing with a doll. He jumped out of the car and ran towards Maya.
“Maya are you okay? Why aren’t you answering your phone? Why are you not at work? You had an important presentation to make today what happened?
Vikram threw a barrage of questions at Maya. But Maya continued playing with her doll.
“Why are you playing with a doll Maya?” Vikram asked.
“Are you insane Vikram? This is not a doll, this is my baby. Look how big she has grown. Look at her eyes, they look just like you. She has even started walking.” Maya snapped without even looking at Vikram.
Vikram was speechless. He wasn’t sure what to say. Instead of going for work, Maya had walked into a toy store and bought herself a doll that she saw as her baby, her lost baby.
“I feel trapped.” Maya told her doctor finally after a conspicuous silence of about 10 min.
“Why do you feel trapped Maya?” The doctor asked.
“Because I am unable to go to my baby. My baby has started walking; she keeps on falling down and cries a lot; she gets hurt; I want to hold her; I want to cuddle her; I want to kiss her. But I am unable to do anything. She is there right in front of me but I am unable to touch her. She is crying so much; blood is coming out from her wound; my baby is in lot of pain and I am unable to help her. Why am I here? What a bad mother I am? Oh my baby my poor little baby!”
Before Maya could even finish saying, she got up and walked towards the window. Vikram jumped and caught hold of her; brought her back as she tried jostling her way out of his firm grip on her shoulders. The doctor had to give her a sedative to calm her down. It was the same case each time Maya and Vikram attended the therapy sessions. Maya grew violent after sometime and had to be administered a sedative to calm her nerves. She would then sleep for about an hour. Then she would wake up as normal and energetic as she always was. She never remembered the psychotic periods.
“What is the whole point living when we are going to die eventually?” said Maya in one of the sessions.
It had been 6 months since Maya started her therapies and almost 2 years since the death of her baby.
“Why do you want to die Maya? You have a great career; you have a loving husband, you have money, power, status; everything. You have everything that we seek for in our lives. Then why are you not happy and why do you want to die,” asked the doctor. “You know Maya it is very important to appreciate life because we really do not know what might happen the next moment and everything changes in a blink of an eye.” He continued.
“There is a funeral going on in my brain,” Maya said. “I have no reason to be happy. This life is a trap for me. It is a trap that is separating me from my baby. What is the point living without my baby. I just want to do less, think less and live less. Without my baby living this life is worthless and meaningless.” Maya said as she again got up and tried to wiggle her way from Vikram towards the open window.
The session again had the familiar ending and Maya woke up smiling and vivacious as ever; as if nothing had happened; no visible sign of any emotional struggle and pain.
It was the New Year’s Eve and Maya and Vikram had planned a pre-new year bash at their home. All of their friends and colleagues were invited. There was a smoking barbeque at a corner with Sushil, Vikram’s boss roasting some chicken. The boys were busy playing a game of volleyball and the girls were enjoying Madhav’s jokes. Madhav was Maya’s brother.
Maya suddenly saw her baby walking by the river bank that flowed beside their house surrounded by a patch of woodland. Maya got up and started walking towards her. She wanted to play in the water and wanted her mother to join her. Maya was very happy that day. Her baby was walking all by herself without any help. Her tiny footsteps made little prints on the sand. Maya followed the footprints that vanished into the water. Oh she was having so much fun; her little baby was so happy; splashing the water; cackling and making bubbles with her mouth. “Oh my baby; my Pinky Pie, my darling!!” Maya thought as she waded through the water following her baby.