He was about to go home, but the hospital said it was too late. The baby had been born dead. The doctor continued to explain that these things happen, but for him, everything just appeared to be blurred background voices as he lets the bad news sink in.
These days Shoba was always gone by the time Shukumar woke up. He would open his eyes and see the long black hairs she shed on her pillow and think of her.
He would spend mornings thinking about how things used to be, like the way he used to hold Shoba in his arms as if they didn't have work to attend to.
Now he pictures his wife, dressed, sipping her third cup of coffee already, in her office downtown, where she searched for typographical errors in textbooks and marked them, in a code she had once explained to him.
He envied her the specificity of her task, so unlike the elusive nature of his. He used to be curious and dedicated, but now he would lie in their bed until he grew bored, gazing at his side of the closet which Shoba always left partly open.
After the baby died, his grad school adviser had arranged things so that he had the spring semester to himself. “That and the summer should give you a good push,” his adviser had said. “You should be able to wrap things up by next September.” But nothing was pushing Shukumar to carry on.