The Bump – Chirantana Mathkari, Baltimore

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She sat on the sofa, helpless. Her eyes wandered around in the drawing room. She saw the toys lying scattered on the floor, she saw the wallpapers full of crayoned lines, she saw the dining table, at the other end, in a mess and then as she tossed her head downwards, she saw her bump. The old singlet was on the verge of letting go off its buttons, and her mind on that of losing its patience.
Two and a half months done, six and a half to go. That felt like infinity. As her elbow decided to rest against the hand of the sofa, her palm curved in an arc to rest her lips. Her chin jostled a bit as she tried to adjust her face. Her mind was heavily pregnant with thoughts today.
Her mind, as restless as ever, started showering her with things said till date:
“Marry him. He’s a good guy. He’ll keep you happy.”
“Let’s have a baby.”
“Oh, honey. They are twins! I am so happy.”
“At this stage, having another baby would help your twins socialise better.”
“I am not sure.”
“Let’s give it a try.”
Wait. Had he said “Let’s give it a try.”? Who says that? Let’s give getting pregnant a try? How could he say that! And how could she have given in to him?

But that was how she was. She would give in, most of the times, if not always. She would adjust her needs for her family, change her schedules for her friends and forget and forgive so easily, that maybe people took her for granted now.

The alarm on her phone rang, as it flashed the ‘feed the fish’ message on the screen. She hated it for disturbing her thought process. But she knew well that she would have easily forgotten to feed the fish had she not set an alarm in advance. Reluctantly, she got up from her seat, went up to the fish tank, squeakily opened the lid of the pellets, raised the top of the tank and spread the pellets equally, hoping that each of the fish would get them. The hungry goldfish quickly took to nibbling the pellets, as they tried to get sufficient food for themselves. Survival of the fittest. Science always managed to capture her fancy.

She would have otherwise gone and helped herself with a cup of tea but today, she chose to retreat to the sofa again. Her legs crossed themselves and her neck flexed itself on the edge of the back rest, as her mind wandered again in the past.
“You’re the best vet ever! You saved my cat’s life today!”
“Don’t you ever feel like leaving everything behind and going back home?”
“The cake you baked was so delicious! How much love did you pour into it?”
“Home is where the heart is.”
“Mommy, do you think the baby pigeons will fly now?”
“Thanks for coming out with me! I thought you wouldn’t.”
“I can’t tolerate it when my house is in such a mess!”
“I am afraid the old dog won’t make it. Could you tell its owners?”
“You’re too young to become a mom.”
“You won that trekking competition? Woah! I still don’t believe it!”
“How I love going on long drives!”
“Honey, I really need to work harder for us. For the kids.”
“I’ll be fine.”
“Kid, could you pass me my spectacles? I can’t read without those at all.”
“I do.”
“What is that one thing in your life that you could never let go off?”
“Saving lives.”

“Saving lives.”
Her mind suddenly jerked. And then shuddered. Her hands decided to go numb, as her blood had already rushed to her heart. What was she doing with her life? And the life in the bump? Her heart was beating rapidly in her rib cage, as her lungs tried to remind her to keep breathing deep. After all, the only person who could convince her that she is alive was she herself!

She could not give up so easily. She could no longer sit ideal at home.
She got up from the sofa and had a shower as quick as the bump would allow her. She dried her hair well and put on the most comfortable sundress, the one that would accommodate her bump well. Suddenly, sundresses felt like the best invention mankind had made till date. She combed her hair, unknotting each strand and then twisted and turned it in order to get the bun right. Her eyes peeped at her face in the mirror as she slid the wooden pin into the bun. She felt a bit better remembering that it was the pin he had gifted her a month ago. Maybe he had just got busy earning more. Maybe he loved her just the same. Her fingered played with the jewellery box as her heart tried to choose the perfect earrings to match her dress. As her lips curled on finding her favourite ones in place, her hands helped her slide them into her ear piercings. Her skin blushed slightly pink when she dabbed a bit of perfume on it and her nose wriggled and let out a tiny sneeze. “What next?”, her mind asked her.

The kids won’t be back before 6 p.m. from school and he would take even much more time than them. She had almost half of the day for herself. She picked up her purse and made sure that her debit card and her driving licence were in place. They were placed well in the inner pocket with tissues and some mint in the other. She looked around at the house once before picking up the car keys. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as organised as her purse. She shrugged her shoulders, opened the house door, latched it and headed to her car.
The sun shone bright outside as she increased the volume of the music player in her car.
“…..but if you never try you never know……just what’s your worth….”, the speaker blared. ‘Fix you’ from Coldplay was one of her favourites. Her eyes glittered and she smiled. But her fingers punched on the ‘pop music’ screen as her body decided to perform some dance moves with the help of her shoulders.

“I’m in love with the shape of you……I’m in love with your body……heya heya heya heya hoo”, she found her mouth singing aloud soon.
Soon out of the traffic, the countryside roads helped her rest her palms steadily on the steering wheel. Her ears heard some thunder in the sky and as her eyes looked straight ahead, they caught the glimpse of some raindrops hitting the windshield. But her heart didn’t mind the rains. So her leg continued to press on the accelerator of the car. Her nose took in the smell of the fields, just wet with showers. After driving for almost three hours, she decided to return home. She felt her hands play with the steering wheel and her legs striking a delicate balance of placing themselves on the accelerator and the brake, as her waist and her bump moved in perfect coordination with the beats of the songs.
As she approached the city, she slowed down her speed. And then as the car came near the speed breaker, her leg let go off the accelerator but the other leg didn’t press the brake either. And she smoothly got over the bump. She felt alive.

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