“Every night, we kiss Mumma’s photo goodnight, and Rishabh always promises to be a good boy… for her.”

“They’d warned my wife that her pregnancy would have complications. Still, she ached to be a mother so much that she decided to give it a shot. And on the 25th of Jan 2018, I first held my son in my arms; I burst into tears when the doctor said, ‘Both mother and baby are healthy.’

Priyadarshi, my wife, was so happy that she distributed sweets to all our neighbours–she wouldn't let Rishabh out of her sight even for a second. But our happiness was short lived–dheere dheere uski tabiyat kharab hone lagi.

When we consulted the doctors again, they told us that her liver was damaged–‘The situation is critical,’ they warned; I was shocked. In the next 3 months, things just spiraled–Priyadarshi was bedridden. I took over all the household responsibilities; from warming the milk for Rishabh to singing him loris, I did it all.

But not even for a second did I suspect that things would go so bad so soon. When Rishabh was 5 months old, her condition deteriorated, but before I could rush her to the hospital, she collapsed in my arms. In her final moments, she told me, ‘I know that when I’m no more, you’ll be both father and mother to our Rishabh.’

I was devastated–for about 6 months, I was barely able to get out of bed. I stopped going to work; my parents moved in with me to take care of Rishabh. In my weakest moments, I’d blame myself for not taking care of Priyadarshi properly–‘Was there anything more I could’ve done?’

This once, when Rishabh was 6 months old, I was so lost in my own thoughts that I didn’t even realize that he was crying. My mom rushed in from the other room to take care of Rishabh and scolded me, ‘Kuch ho jata Rishu ko toh?’ That incident jolted me–I knew I had to pull myself together for my son.

I tried my best to be there for Rishabh–I opted for work from home permanently, so that I was able to devote most of my time to him. From waking him up, to cooking for him to playing, we spend all day together. I give him piggyback rides and tell him stories about dinosaurs before putting him to sleep; Rishabh just loves animals.

Rishabh was 1 year old when he uttered his first word–out of nowhere, he said, ‘Mumma’; I cried from within as I hugged him tight. Rishabh has just turned 3, and even now, he sometimes calls me ‘Mumma-Papa’, and then quickly corrects himself and says, ‘Papa’. Although Rishabh and his mother only spent 5 months with each other, I’d never want him to forget how brave she was. So every night, after his bedtime stories, we kiss Mumma’s photo goodnight, and Rishabh always promises to be a good boy… for her.”

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