“I’m running five days late on my period. This has NEVER happened before. But Rahul and I have always used protection. This can’t be!” That’s what replaced the taken-for-granted warm hug I’m usually welcomed with.
“Okay, let’s go get one of those home pregnancy tests. Don’t worry. I’m right here,” was my instant response. A quick run to the chemist, which was met with visibly judgmental looks – because let’s face it, we did look “young” – led to us anxiously waiting for that dreadful line to turn pink (pregnant) or blue (not pregnant).
“Blue! It’s blue!” Simi said.
“See, I told you, you have nothing to worry about.”
“Then why on earth is my period late by FIVE days!? Are these things even accurate?”
“Of course they are! Stop stressing.”
“No. I don’t believe it. Why would I not get my period then? You know what? You take a test too. If yours also says ‘not pregnant’, I’ll be more relaxed.”
The things we do for our besties! I went into the washroom, unaware of how that one little act of solidarity, meant to pacify my best friend, was going to change my life drastically.
“It’s pink,” I said.
“What? It can’t be! See, I told you these things aren’t accurate. Why do you look so stressed, Anu? Don’t take it so seriously!”
My mind was blank, I didn’t know what to say.
“Did you and Arjun ever skip protection?” Simi continued. “Wait. Aren’t you on the pill?”
“No. Got off it a couple of months ago. Maybe you’re right. These things clearly aren’t accurate.” I tried to shrug it off.
“Haan. Forget it. Let’s just go to bed.”
A couple of episodes of F.R.I.E.N.D.S later, we snuggled in her bed, but that “wrong” result on the test wouldn’t allow me the comfort of sleep.
“Simi, are you awake?”
“Yeah. You can’t sleep either?”
“Can you come with me to the gynaecologist tomorrow?”
“Of course,” she said.
We both called in sick at work the next morning. After an hour of waiting, and three tests – blood, urine and ultrasound – the gynaecologist asked me with a straight face, “Are you married?”
“There are two ways you can go about abortion – one, I give you a pill and you bleed profusely for 10-12 days; or two, let me conduct a small procedure in the OT.”
The possibility of me wanting to keep the baby clearly escaped her. Her attitude amused me, but not enough to for the tight feeling in my gut to disappear.
“Why are you proposing an abortion without even asking what I have to say?” I countered.
“Do you want to keep the baby?” Pat came her reply, shards of naked judgement piercing me.
“I need time to think.”
Without waiting for a response from the doctor, we got up and left the hospital, Simi holding on my hand. A call to Arjun – the partner in crime of three years – was next. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about his response.
“Ajju, we need to talk.”
“Sure, love. Are you all right?”
“Yes. Please go somewhere where you’re not surrounded by people,” I said. He would be at work right now.
“Okay. Hang on a minute.”
A minute that seemed to last a lifetime before I could break the news to him. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to talk to him at all about it, but I didn’t really have a choice. I couldn’t be selfish - or confident - enough to take the decision by myself.
“What is it, love?” a concerned Ajju enquired.
“I met a gynaecologist today. Just got out of the hospital. I don’t know how this happened, but she has confirmed that I’m pregnant.”
The silence that ensued lasted a little longer than I’d expected. Any response would’ve done right now... “Are you sure?!” “How can this be? We’ve always used protection!” Something. Anything.
“Are you there, Ajju?”
“Ya, love. Sorry, the boss is calling in between. Can I please call you back in a bit?”
Simi sat a few metres away from me, perched on a semi-rusted iron chain that demarcated a parking spot, giving me the space I needed to break it to Ajju. Once she saw me hanging up, she walked up to me. “How did he take it?”
“His boss called, right after I told him. He’ll call me back when he can.”
“Cool. You wanna get some pizza?”
She knew my everyday pick-me-ups.
Hours passed by, so did the day, and the call from Arjun was still awaited. As the sun set, I began to question everything I held to be true. Close to midnight, I called up Simi and said I needed to take a decision on the abortion as soon as possible.
She said, “Wait for his call. He might’ve had a really busy day - it’s a Monday! If you don’t hear from him tomorrow either, we’ll see. Also, since you’re going to be weighing your options, please think practically. Go for work tomorrow, clear your head. Give yourself a break and get back to thinking about this when you can. Whatever decision you take, you have me by your side.”
Another day and a few texts to Arjun later, I decided I wanted to go through with the abortion, and preferred going for the OT procedure instead of bleeding endlessly, staying holed up inside my house, for 10 days. I really couldn’t afford to take so many days off work - a couple, I could manage.
The gynaecologist suggested we do the procedure a day later. I was mentally prepared. Or so I thought. In a desperate last attempt, I dropped Arjun a message saying, “I’m getting it aborted today.”
The message, obviously, was not met with a response.
When the anaesthesia’s effect wore off, I woke up to find Simi by my side, my cheeks getting moist and my heart feeling lighter by each waking minute. A little too light.
* Names have been changed to protect privacy.
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A frantic late-night call from the bestie scared the living daylights out of me. She just said, “Come over. Now.” The 4-km drive to her house filled my head with drastic possibilities about the situation I was about to counter.