Sangeeta and I decided to break the news to Ruchi a day after receiving the test results. Most of our friends already knew. Sangeeta’s parents were extremely delighted and if mine were alive, they too would have been.
‘Honey, we’ve got some news for you,’ I told Ruchi hoping to excite her with my high octane pitch.
‘Some wonderful news, we have,’ Sangeeta added patting her tummy as if it would give Ruchi a clue to what was in store for her.
Ruchi stared at us for a second, before a hint of happiness crept into her doleful seven year old eyes and she asked, ‘what’s the news?’
‘Darling, you’re getting a new playmate!’ I told her.
‘That’s right. Someone for you to play with,’ Sangeeta dutifully chimed.
Realisation slowly dawned on Ruchi. She discarded the PlayStation console and jumped out of her chair, a small smile on her lips.
‘Mummy is going to have a baby!’ I announced in stentorian tones. Sangeeta continued to pat and rub her tummy as if this action would convey to Ruchi more than anything she could possibly say. Maybe she guessed I wanted her to say something because she soon told Ruchi, ‘you’re going to have a baby sister!’
‘Oh!’ Ruchi said in a voice which could have been chirpier.
‘It could be a baby brother,’ I warned her. ‘We’ll know in a couple of months if it’s going to be a baby brother or a baby sister. But it doesn’t matter, does it honey?’
Ruchi shrugged her shoulders. ‘Aren’t you happy? I asked her, quickly glancing at Sangeeta who looked a trifle disappointed. I wished Ruchi would jump into Sangeeta’s arms and hug her, but Ruchi stayed where she was.
‘I’m happy,’ Ruchi said, speaking slowly in a way which meant she was thinking. I could almost hear the wheels turning in her small head.
‘The baby … It’ll be my half-sister, won’t it?’ Ruchi asked.
Sangeeta and I were silent. ‘Yes, it’ll be your half-sister,’ I conceded after a second.
‘Or my half-brother,’ Ruchi said, giving us both a reassuring smile as she went back to her PlayStation.