Chapter  6, Pt 1 of 5


When you were listening to Doctor Naqvi you almost felt that you were experiencing the incident yourself. Even our little son would sit in his lap and listen to him spell-bound. He loved children and he often hinted that we ought to have another child soon, so that the two would grow up together and be good companions to each other.

This thought was already in our minds because we were of the opinion that it would be a mistake to have an only child. We went through the same doubts once again. Could we afford and manage another child just then? Would not it be better to wait a bit longer and so on. But our earnest desire to have a companion for our son gradually dispelled all those doubts.

We arranged to go to Bournemouth for a fortnight while I was in the early stages of pregnancy. It was the first time since I had been in England that we were able to take a holiday together. It was not easy, even in those days when there was no scarcity of domestic help, to get somebody really suitable who would take over the responsibility of a doctor’s household, who would look after the locum properly and would be good at taking messages.

This time, Mrs Smith who had become more of a friend of the family than a mere part-time helper, offered to live in our house for that period. She was most anxious for us to have a holiday together.

We were going in our new car, a beautiful Daimler which Sheel had bought a couple of months beforehand. I did not think we could afford such a luxurious car, but he was used to taking chances. “It will pay for itself,” he said. And he also told me a secret that when a very long time ago he was returning from a long drive in his small Morris Minor, he saw a beautiful Daimler come out of an old mansion, he fell in love with it there and then and he made a wish and a promise that he would possess such a grand car one day. So now his wish had come true and he felt most happy and proud that he was taking me and our little son to Bournemouth in the Daimler of his dream.

The drive was a very pleasant one indeed. It was the beginning of May and nature seemed to be at its best. We passed through some beautiful green and yellow pastures, some picturesque hills and forests, which comparing with Indian forests seemed very small indeed.

In Bournemouth, we stayed at the “Majestic Hotel”. It was a fairly large place with beautiful back and front gardens, two tennis courts and a swimming pool. There were mostly men waiters and they seemed extraordinarily attentive. Nothing was too much for them. Our waiter, who had a pleasant, round and somewhat crimson face, would go to any length to please our little son and make him eat plenty. Of course, they served quite a few courses at each meal. You simply could not finish all the food, which was put before you. How lucky it was that we had that holiday to look back on, all through the coming war and afterwards.

I liked Bournemouth very much. I liked its long avenues of shady trees, its flowering shrubs and its sloping mysterious chines. We went in the car to Blue Pool, Sand Banks and the other picturesque spots around Bournemouth.

All good things come to an end sooner than we expect them to. Our fortnight in Bournemouth passed away all to quickly. We enjoyed our holiday immensely except for one thing. That was the slight whooping cough, which Sheel had caught from somewhere. He was almost sure that he picked up the germ from the hotel swimming pool. It seemed strange that a grown man, and a doctor at that, could get that while our little boy and myself escaped it. Luckily he only whooped in the evening time when we tried hard not to laugh at him. So on this account at least, we were glad to get home, though sure enough within a week after that our son caught the germ and developed very bad whooping cough.

They say it never rains but pours. It happened in our case just at that time. No. I did not catch the cough, but I did something much worse than that. I slipped on the freshly washed kitchen floor and fell heavily on my left side. The pain and the shock was terrific. I had to be carried up to bed.

I often put the blame for that mishap on my fanciful sandals, which I had no business to wear in the house, especially during the mornings when I simply had to rush around. But I had taken that risk many times before. We women take a lot of risks in making ourselves look attractive all the time. I probably took that risk once too often, for which I had to pay a heavy price. Or was it because, as I had often heard my mother say “What is to be will be”. Was I destined to meet with that accident through some reason or other? One never knows whether to blame oneself for some neglect or to blame one’s hard luck on these happenings.

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