Pramod got Pooja admitted in the hospital at the first sign of labour pain. It turned out to be a false pain and the gynecologist advised her to stay as she may deliver the child in a day. Pramod came around 8pm to stay in the hospital visitor’s lounge.
It was around 4 am she thought. Pramod was by her side. A nurse came with a bundle of white sheet along with the head nurse. Their faces were grim. When Pooja tried to raise her head in eagerness to see the baby, the head nurse said it is a boy and weighed nine pounds. She did not come forward to show the baby. Pramod stood up as Pooja beckoned the nurse near.
It was then the head nurse said” This baby is not normal as babies generally are though all limbs are normal. Brace yourself”
What Pooja and Pramod saw was a hideous baby with a large egg shaped head .The eyes were unusually small but very close to each other. The nose was beak shaped that flared big at the nostrils. The mouth was very wide and forehead narrow. The ears were protruding and disproportionately large for the head. Both of them gasped at the monstrosity shown as their baby.
“No, there must have been a serious mistake. This cannot be ours. There is obviously some goof up. Please check again” exclaimed Pramod. Both Pooja and Pramod were good looking couple.
The head nurse replied “We also felt the baby is so different from you two but there cannot be any mistake as in the last four hours this is the only baby born and it is yours beyond any doubt. We are sorry for you” and asked her colleague to leave the baby in the bassinet near the cot. The junior nurse said before she left that if the baby cried, she can nurse it.
Pramod saw tears trickling from Pooja’s eyes.”Do not worry. We will leave it somewhere outside a church or destitute home.”
“No, it is our baby and not a destitute. I cannot agree to discard it” she sobbed
“This is a freak. It cannot be rectified even by doctors and will grow uglier in the years to come. I am not sure whether he will be a normal baby or dull” he said with anguish
“Still it is our biological child. We must accept him. Thank god he is not blind. But I shudder at the thought of all visitors to our house look at him with contempt and commiserate with us.”
The baby cried and the nurse rushed in to leave it by Pooja’s side. The maternal instinct overpowered her revulsion as she nestled the baby close to her. Pramod turned his face and walked out. She ran her hands tenderly on the innocent young baby that smiled at her. The smile looked queer and for a moment sent a shudder. But she soon over came and kissed its head softly.It seemed that baby was after all not as ugly as she initially felt.
Pramod came in and said in peremptory tone “I have come to a decision. I just want your approval for giving it in adoption to some poor family along with some hefty amount. Our own maid who is childless will gladly take.”
“No, they will take the child for the sake of money and neglect it. They may even starve it or kill it. I cannot agree under any circumstances.” she said even when she was distracted by the giggle of the babe.
“You have to make a choice, either me or the baby. I cannot have him in my house” he told her emphatically
She let out a loud scream saying “No, I will not agree” and cried hoarsely.
It was then a nurse rushed in and came by Pooja’s side and asked her ‘Are you ok? Why did you scream? Why are you crying?”
Pooja turned to her side and not finding the baby asked the nurse “Where is my baby?”
The nurse laughed and said “What baby? Are you dreaming? The labour pain hasn’t even commenced. May be by this evening when the doctor gives an injection to hasten it” she said
Pooja blinked in happy bewilderment and asked “Where is my husband?”
“I have asked him to get the necessary medicines, rubber sheet and a few other items. He should be here any moment”