The flashing lights of a cop’s car parked by Shaurav’s apartment can be seen from ten blocks away. An ambulance is right behind the car and the medical crew is hurrying into Shaurav’s apartment with a stretcher. Shaurav is surrounded by a few cops. They are asking Shaurav all sorts of questions but Shaurav is mum, staring at the wall. He moves his eyes to his wife who is unconscious and lying on the floor and then he moves his eyes to his baby son trying to catch the shiny toy hanging above him. The baby looks like he is unaffected by the commotion in the room.
Shaurav was one of the smartest students in high school. He was not the best looking kid in school but was very personable. Though at times people had seen him lose his temper, he was popular among boys and with girls as well. Boys liked to follow him and girls liked to talk about him. Seema was a girl in his class who didn’t seem to be interested in him or admire him. Out of all the other girls who admired him, Shaurav liked Seema. She was simple, good looking and a decently smart girl. Her indifference towards him was the biggest turn on for him.
As soon as the boys knew that Shaurav was interested in Seema, they started calling him with her name and Seema also started being teased with his name. Though they hadn’t talked to each other yet, their classmates talked about them. One day Shaurav wrote Seema a love letter and handed it to Seema. He said he would like to get an answer the next day. Seema talked about the letter to her friends and they all started on how smart a guy Shaurav is, how fun he is, this and that. They all told Seema that she will never find anybody smart and caring like Shaurav in her life. Her friends talked so much good things about Shaurav, she had to say ‘yes’.
After Seema accepted Shaurav’s offer, they became a famous couple in the high school. Everybody knew about their relationship, even the teachers in the school were aware of it. The relationship flourished even after they graduated from high school. As they hadn’t yet joined any college yet, they didn’t have to study, so they went to Dhulikhel, Nagarkot, Thankot, Manakamana and many places in Shaurav’s bike. They went to movies and frequently visited each other’s house when nobody was home.
Shaurav and Seema planned to go to the US for further education. They wanted to get into the same university in the US but Shaurav got into a very well known university of the States whereas Seema made into a decent college. Though initially they didn’t like the idea of living in different states of the US, they agreed finally, hoping it would be good for both of their future.
They both got the US visa easily and left Nepal on the same day in the same flight. They had the same flights until they reached New York. They talked a lot in the journey. They planned about their future, talked about getting married after graduation, buying a house etc. After they landed in New York, they had to take different flights. Seema cried when she boarded her plane leaving for Houston. Shaurav hugged her tight and said he will always be there for her despite the distance between them. They knew they were going to miss each other. After about half an hour Shaurav also boarded a plane departing for Boston.
Even though they were in different states, their relationship didn’t deteriorate. They talked over the phone almost everyday. Shaurav visited Seema whenever he had enough money and a long weekend. Whenever Shaurav came over, they stayed in a motel as Seema’s dorm wouldn’t let boys stay in. Shaurav liked visiting Seema often but he thought it would be wonderful if they could always live together. Shaurav wanted Seema to transfer to one of the schools near his University but Seema didn’t want to leave her college as it was very good for the program she was doing.
Eight months passed by since they landed in the US and the summer vacation started. Seema decided to go work at Ocean City for the summer to collect her tuition for the coming academic year, as she didn’t have any scholarship. Though Shaurav didn’t need to go work in the summer he decided to go to Ocean city anyway, it served him dual purpose. First, he could make some extra money to buy a car and could help Seema in her tuition. Second and more importantly, he could live four months with Seema.
Shaurav, Seema and some other Nepalese students rented an apartment at the Ocean City downtown. The apartment was not spacious, but surprisingly nine Nepali people cramped together in that apartment. It had a small kitchen, living room and two bedrooms. Nobody ever used the kitchen as they all ate their meals at the places they worked at. There was no food in the fridge but the fridge had a better use, it was used as a shoe rack. It’s because there was no shoe rack in the apartment and the boys used every inch of the floor as their floor bed.
These students who came to the US with the expectation of sleeping in a room with views of skyscrapers were happy to sleep on the floor. They couldn’t sleep much either because they had to work almost about sixteen hours a day or they wouldn’t be able to make enough money for rest of the year. Some had a very good job that paid them overtime whereas some had to work in minimal wage at multiple places.
As Shaurav was the one who didn’t really need much money for school, he was ready to pay the big price for one of the bedrooms. He and Seema shared the one-bed bedroom. Though Shaurav didn’t want to live with Seema like that with so many other people around, he had no other option. The good private apartments were ridiculously expensive which he couldn’t afford. So he compromised living in that apartment with seven other people. They had some privacy in the room but sometimes the boys didn’t mind to sneak into their room with some excuse, even at nighttime.
Shaurav used contraceptives to prevent Seema from being pregnant, but how careful could he be when he was sleeping with her everyday? She did get pregnant. Shaurav’s stand was to do an abortion but Seema didn’t agree. Shaurav was strong on his stance and tried to convince her but she told Shaurav that she was willing keep the baby even without him. Shaurav was left with no option but to marry her.
They decided to get married. The wedding was an awkward one. They both couldn’t tell their parents about it because they would ask the reason behind their rushed wedding and they didn’t want to tell what really happened. They both decided not to tell anybody back home about their wedding. They planned their wedding in a Hindu temple. Seema borrowed a red Saree from one of the ladies she knew. Shaurav wore the suit he brought from Nepal. Few boys who lived with them made it to their wedding, most of them couldn’t take a leave from their work. Summer was busy and their managers couldn’t afford their leave even for one day. Around ten people including the bride, the groom, and the temple’s priest were present in their wedding.
Shaurav had never thought that he would get married like this. Neither the bride’s nor the groom’s parents were there. Being the oldest son of the family, he always fantasized his wedding to be a grand one. He always pictured himself in a Dhaka suit and a heavy grassy garland on his shoulder. He had a list of people who he would invite to attend his wedding and go “Janta” with him. He knew he would feel special when people gossiped and kids in the neighborhood tried to spot the bride and the groom. He had always visualized his younger brother dancing joyfully at the frontline of the “Janti”, he wanted his younger sister to welcome his wife to their house grabbing by her arms. He thought about how the relatives would line up with gifts in front of the new “Buhari” for the “Mukh herne” program. Nothing of that kind was happening in his wedding; he missed the traditional Nepali marriage that he always fancied of.
Now the relatives in Nepal who would have enjoyed the dance in his wedding were going to talk bad about him and his family. He knew that these people needed something to keep them busy. Now they couldn’t be busy with his wedding, they were going to pass their time talking how sinful a crime he did by making a girl pregnant before the wedding.
For a moment, Shaurav got lost in his thoughts but the question for the priest brought him back to his real wedding. “Babu, agni lai sakshi rakhera tapai aafni patni lai satai janma saath dinuhunecha?” he looked at Seema and said “Ma dinechu.”
They got back to their apartment like any normal day. The apartment was no different than any other day and they didn’t receive any warm welcome from anybody. There weren’t any special preparation for them even on the day of their wedding. The bed wasn’t decorated with flowers petals on them. The night wasn’t very special to them as there was no honeymoon night in their wedding.
As Seema was pregnant and needed more care and attention, they both decided to leave Ocean City and move back to the Shaurav’s place. Now as Seema would be staying with him, Shaurav had to work extra hours to make more money for Seema and his baby that she carried. He bought a car from one of his seniors promising to pay later. Nepali people nearby helped them settle with their new married life. Some bought them couch, some brought an old TV, some bought them microwave oven etc. The unfurnished apartment got a little life after being equipped with that stuff.
Shaurav and Seema lived together happily for a while, but Shaurav started to realize, that married life was no close to what he had in mind. Staying together was nothing like a date. Married life just brought responsibility and commitment to his life. Seema started being the same old face he saw everyday. They started quarrelling about little things, but they were still going together well to some extent. Seema was surprised to see that Shaurav wasn’t the same sweet guy anymore, he was a husband who took care of her but she started to notice her lover gradually disappearing from Shaurav.
The day before the due date, Seema started showing symptoms of the delivery and Shaurav hurried her into his car and took her to the hospital. Some of his friends came over to the hospital to accompany him. Shaurav saw the baby coming out of his wife’s womb to this world. It was a wonderful yet different experience for him. He had never seen baby so tiny before and today he saw his own baby coming out to this world. The nurse took his baby in her arms and put it in his.
As Shaurav held his baby in his arms, Shaurav could feel the responsibility it came with it. He had just stepped out of his teenage. He wasn’t sure how to react to his early fatherhood; he stared at his baby and kept smiling. He was glad to see a part of him alive in his hands but he wasn’t sure if he was ready to be a father yet. Shaurav and the nurse together wiped the baby clean.
After the nurses took Seema to one of the patient rooms, Shaurav’s friend could visit her and the baby. Shaurav’s friend looked at the baby in awe; they had never seen a newborn baby before. They were surprised to see how tiny and delicate a baby is born. Nobody dared to take the baby in their arms, except Shaurav. He was rocking the baby in his arms looking into the just opened eyes of his baby.
After the baby came into their life, Shaurav had to work hard to make ends meet. He also had to study hard to retain the scholarship he had in school. Shaurav was taking easier classes and working as an RA at school and he was also working part-time at a gas station. He hardly had any time to study or to spend with his family.
Seema stopped attending school after she got married. She was trying to get into a school nearby but the baby was preventing her from joining one. She just stayed home nursing the baby, she hardly got any time for anything else. When the baby was sleeping she spent her time staring outside of the window. She missed Shaurav, but he didn’t get home till late. She didn’t expect her married life to be like that, she always dreamt of her and Shaurav as a romantic couple for years of marriage. She always fantasized her and Shaurav going on vacations and having fun for the first couple of years of her marriage, but things were different with the baby around. She hardly met Shaurav as he went to school during daytime and went to work at the gas-station afterhours and on the weekends.
Seema couldn’t complain, she knew Shaurav was doing it for the family. Shaurav looked frustrated even when he got back. He wasn’t the same sweet Shaurav who girls ran after anymore. He was twenty years old father who had to work incessantly to feed his family. She knew Shaurav was frustrated and sometimes blamed herself for his miserable life.
Seema understood the busy schedule of Shaurav but she wasn’t happy that he was not spending anytime with his family. Even when he was home, he looked tired and down. Seema could see that Shaurav wasn’t happy with his new life. “Will you sometimes spend time with me and our baby Shaurav”. Seema once said. Shaurav had said, “Do you think I am clubbing, gambling or drinking Seema? I am doing this all for you. Do you know how much I have to work to make our ends meet? I told you not to have this baby and you were like…” Shaurav stopped and realized what he was saying. Seema then stopped complaining Shaurav about it.
Seema and Shaurav talked very less even when they were together. Shaurav always looked tired and irritated, Seema didn’t want to ask him more questions, as he had started to react very violently when she mentioned about him not being home often. Seema was passing her days in utter boredom. She was getting frustrated herself. Now she was feeling that Shaurav and she both were not happy with the marriage. All she wanted from Shaurav was some occasional break from his work and school and spend some quality time with her. She also started feeling that they were not emotionally involved even when they were making love.
Shaurav always wanted to focus on his studies until he graduated. But all of a sudden his married life and the baby came into his life. He couldn’t focus on school anymore, he did poor on his tests. He lost his scholarship and took a semester off just to work. Even though he didn’t have to go to school, he didn’t spend much time at home. He left early and came back late, sometimes he came home drunk. Seema was now getting very annoyed by his approach.
“Shaurav, it would be better if I had married an illiterate jerk who loved me than living with you like this.” Today she raised her voice again against Shaurav’s current attitude.
Shaurav was a little drunk today. He didn’t want to start a fight. He had gotten into trouble by hitting her once before. He had hit her with his fist on her face and she screamed so loud the neighbors had called 911 figuring that something was wrong in their apartment. The police had taken him to the police station and turned him in for the charge of domestic violence in front of a child. He had been bailed out by the owner of the gas-station that time out in the condition that he will not pay him for next three paychecks.
Shaurav kept quiet today as he didn't want to start a fight again. He was losing his love for Seema but he still loved his baby. He blamed Seema for the miserable life he was going through. He wasn’t doing well at school, he had to work crazy hours to feed his family and he thought it was all because Seema didn’t agree to do the abortion earlier. He didn’t react to Seema’s words this time but sat still on the couch staring at the walls.
Seema continued, “Yes, don’t speak. That’s how you solve every problem don’t you? Well, I will give you a better solution, you wanted to kill our baby didn’t you, you still have time…..”
Now, Shaurav couldn’t take it anymore. He thought he already took enough from her, so he grabbed a speaker on the table and hit her on her head as she was saying this. Seema was knocked out and fell on the floor. She was bleeding from her forehead and wasn’t moving. Shaurav didn’t have any option but to call 911 himself this time.
Shaurav knows nobody is going to bail him out this time. He had no money and he was very sure that he was going to be fired from his job too. He knows his career is over as his background and history won’t be clean. He knows he messed up. He looks at his baby, he is unaffected by the incident and the crowd in the house, he was still trying to get the toy swaying over his head.
Last edited: 29-Jun-09 07:17 PM