Meera dipped the second stick into the collection of urine and within minutes the line appeared again. The instant pregnancy test read positive a second time.
Her suspicions were firmly confirmed. Butterfly flutters of excitement filled her stomach. She couldn’t wait to tell Kevin her good news. It would be a nice surprise, she hoped. He would be back in two days from his visit to his hometown – New Orleans. He went to see his ailing mom. It was not news that she wanted to share on the phone. His expressions mattered. Apparently, their excitement at graduating summa cum laude and having jobs already lined up at the prestigious Texas medical center has yielded dividends. This was a bit unplanned, but that is the likely result of getting carried away.
She fretted a bit over how it would affect her new job. She wondered if she would make a good mother. For some reason, she felt sure Kevin would make a great dad. For a huge guy, he was very gentle and caring. Meera daydreamed. She could visualize the adorable bundle of joy. The baby’s features would be a merge of Kevin’s dark handsome looks and her delicate Asian look. For a moment, she paused a bit on how her baby would be classified, but she did not ponder seriously on that question. This is America, where everything is almost possible. Her child/children would have the best upbringing that they could possibly afford to give them; and they would be loved very much – that was the most important thing.
They had dated secretly for a while but she was tired of pretending that he was just a friend in front of her friends and family. Their love affair had blossomed from their respected friendship as two medical students studying together. They were both very intelligent and supportive of each other. They found they shared a whole lot in common except their race, and religion, but Meerah felt that these issues were not insurmountable.
Kevin, made her feel very cherished, and most times, in the duration of their relationship, he deferred to her a lot. His handsome, calm and confident demeanor had left her tongue-tied at the onset of their study, but his dogged, and positively infectious attitude had finally managed to draw her closer. She knew she had found her soul mate.
It was time to introduce their love to the World. She hoped her parents would grow to love Kevin as much as she did. Especially when their grandchild arrives. Her parents are enlightened and educated. Her father is a talented surgeon whilst her mom who has been a home-maker all through was quite abreast with the changes in time.
Kevin’s reaction was as expected and more. He was ecstatic but expressed his concern about her family. Assuring him that her family would come around, she advised that they break the news to them as a team over the weekend.
Saturday evening’s dinner ended in a fiasco. Kevin had been to the home of the Misra’s before, but that was in a party of other friends. They had come for Meera’s birthday as well as the festival of light – Diwali and the festival of colors – Holi. Now seated as the only stranger in their midst was not a very comfortable feeling. Meera’s mother did not appear quite as warm as before and Dr. Misra was very polite to the point of distant.
He liked curry, masala and all the Indian dishes that he had tasted in the past, but tonight he could hardly swallow a bite. The meal was barely over, when Meera decided to break the news of their engagement to her parents.
Her mom flew up in surprise, knocking over the flask of black tea, her brother flew into a tirade and the situation went downhill very fast. Tears, table banging and hot invective exchange of words in Hindi flew up and down the room. It was chaotic. Kevin could not understand what was being said but knew that it did not sound good. Dr. Misra asked him to leave and out of respect he left with a lot of unease.
The heated argument went on with a lot of acrimony and blame passed from one end to the other. Mrs. Misra chided her husband for not supporting her proposal to find a husband for Meera earlier than now. Now she was about to lead them into a mess. How would she live it down, she wondered.
”You cannot mean to marry him?” she queried her daughter harshly.
”I do mama, I love him” Meera replied.
”No you cannot”, she continued. ”We always marry our own”.
”What is wrong with him”? ”Just who is our own”? Meera wailed. This was not the reaction she had expected. She knew they would be taken aback but not this difficult.
”Deepak, please talk to your daughter”, Mrs. Misra implored her husband.
”Well, I am pregnant and I would like to marry my baby’s father”, Meera declared adding fuel to the fire.
Her mother squeaked very loudly and sank in the couch in a half swoon.
Her brother promised to kill Kevin.
The dog ran and hid behind the big potted plant.
Sanjay’s wife Amira shrank into her seat like a frightened mouse, her kajal darkened eyes standing out starkly in her face.
The only person who seemed to maintain a semblance of control was Dr. Misra, the only sign of his distress was the increased tick of the veins by his temples.
Meera stormed upstairs to her room. She fumed as she thought through the whole scenario. She had never really liked the clannish, caste systems of her people, where the discrimination even amongst her people was so visceral. Their caste system was so wickedly divisive that she still could not understand why some people were considered ”Dalits – untouchables”.
She hated the arranged marriages of two strangers; her brothers marriage was a case in point. Amira, her sister in law never looked happy and never spoke much. She suspected that Sanjay was being too overbearing towards his wife. She suspected that he beat her, but nobody said anything.
She could not understand her parents, especially her mothers vehemence towards Kevin. They got on fairly well with their African American neighbors and the handsome Sudanese couple that taught in the school district. She was glad her orientation was not like theirs. It would be a rough path to take, but if running off to be with Kevin would be the answer, then so be it.
Mrs. Misra calmed down and started plotting. She knew that antagonizing her daughter would probably incite Meera’s rebel heart into eloping with that black boy. If it was a nice white boy, maybe, it would be easier to condone. But this! It was unacceptable. Now she could see why Meera always took her recent supportive stance against the police for what she perceived as a persecution of the black race. The whole situation was still incredulous but she had to thread with caution. She still felt angry with Deepak for failing to heed her advice, but as a mother, she had to take charge and correct things before they got out of hand. They will be off to Mumbai as soon as she can make plausible arrangements.
There was an uneasy calm in the house. It seemed as if everyone including the dog tip-toed around each other the following day. Having thought through her plan, Mrs. Misra made her daughters favorite soup, which was strongly laced with herbal condiments to stimulate uterine bleeding and take care of business. She knocked on Meera’s door, waving a flag for truce and invited her to come and eat with her.
Thankfully and mindlessly consuming the steaming, tasty bowl of broth with chapati, Meera listened to her mothers chatter.
© Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha