It was a cool winter evening in Marina Beach. Several people were heading back home, but there was one man who sat there motionless, staring at the water. He was Kathir, a successful software engineer. He had it all -- a wife, a child, a nice flat in Triplicane, a calm and comfortable life... or so it seemed. As he stared at the waters of the Bay of Bengal, there was a look of sorrow and pain in his face. The day was cooling down, but there was still a deep raging fire inside his heart. No one else noticed this except an old fisherman nearby. Even from a distance, he could sense Kathir's torment -- he could sense something bad was about to happen. As Kathir continued to gaze, his life flashed before his eyes.
It was six years from the present day. Kathir and Shwetha were a newly married couple, and their family and well-wishers were congratulating them and wishing them well on their marriage. Shwetha's parents were more relieved than happy that their daughter was "finally married off after all these years". For years, she and her parents were feeling the pressure from the constant barrage of interrogative questioning of their relatives and friends. That only made her feel older, even though she was only born 24 years ago. Kathir and Shwetha, the newlyweds, were doing the usual round of visits to all the relatives houses. Everywhere they went, they got the "In nine months, I hope you'll come back as three" routine from everyone. Kathir was a little peeved about hearing that over and over. Once he and Shwetha returned to their flat, he confronted her about this.
"Shwetha, why do your relatives pressure us so damn much?"
"What do you mean?"
"What's with the whole 'come back in 9 months with a baby' routine? Why can't they just wish us well and let us live our lives as we choose?"
Shwetha was clearly irritated at this point. "Look, I don't appreciate you talking that way about my family! They only mean well, and if you can't take what they say in the right sense, then kindly don't talk to me anymore, ok?!?!". There was a angry glare in her eyes -- Kathir sensed it, and slowly walked backwards in fear.
"Hey, hey, relax. I'm sorry, I was only saying that they were putting too much pressure on us, that's all." There was a short, uncomfortable pause. "Intha chinna vishyathukku ellam yaen ivvalavu kovam varuthu [Why do you get so mad over little things like this]?".
"I wasn't angry, I just don't like anyone talking ill about my family, that's all". There was a clear defensiveness in her tone, so Kathir decided not to argue with her anymore. Kathir and Shwetha were total polar opposites. She was very traditional and conservative; Kathir was free-spirited and adventurous. He was also a bit mischievous and immature; she was was very mature and responsible.
More than 18 months had passed, and the couple went to many places together and engaged in many fun activities, mainly due to Kathir championing their R&R activities. Shwetha was a rather high-strung girl, so Kathir did his best to keep her as relaxed as possible. They both seemed happy, and all seemed well....until that one day.
"Kathir, I need to talk to you about something", said Shwetha, clearly looking worried.
"Sure, what's on your mind?"
"It's been almost two years, and we still don't have a baby yet. Our neighbors and relatives are all always bringing up the topic. I'm getting worried. What if we never have a child? I'm scared!"
Kathir was exasperated and even a bit upset. "Oh god! Why are you so worried about this? It will happen at its own pace, just let nature take it's course. Besides, who cares what they say -- don't they have anything better to do than to just gossip all the time?!?!"
"You just don't understand, do you?! All I've ever wanted was to be married and be a mother like any normal woman. All my college friends are married and have kids already. I'm still lagging way behind."
"Oh for god's sake Shwetha, this isn't a race to see who gets pregnant first. Why do you get all worked up over stupid shit like this, Shwetha?!?!". At this point, Shwetha was starting to break out into tears. Upon seeing this, Kathir quickly consoled her to prevent more waterworks. "Hey, hey. Sorry dear, I didn't know it meant so much to you.[short pause] Alright, let's do it.... we'll try really hard for a baby this time" .
Shwetha was completely happy for the first time in her life. She was finally going to get what she always wanted. She and Kathir would try for several months, and finally succeed. Little Anjali Kathiresan was born a year later, much to everyone's joy and relief.
Shwetha showered the baby with all the love and affection in her being, as did everyone else. Anjali was the center of attention, always surrounded by someone to play with her or feed her in a timely fashion. But, after nearly two years since her birth, Shwetha had noticed something terribly wrong with Anjali, something that would change all their lives forever!