It had been so romantic at first. Rahul was handsome, charming, and loved big gestures. And everyone loved him. “Love is friendship” he would say, and he was the friendliest guy on campus.
He had a philosophy, simple, perfect: “We live once, we die once, we get married once and love, love also only occurs once.”
Of course! That made sense. How could you love more than once? How could you commit to one person and then commit to another?
And he was her friend. And then he loved her. Tina was thrilled, swept up. It all made sense. Even if Rahul had many friends and many opportunities for love, he loved her.
But then Anjali left. Anjali, a friend. A friend to Tina, a best friend to Rahul. Tina realized what Rahul could not: love does not occur only once. Love occurs every day, blossoms, grows, wilts, over and over.
She tried, once or twice, as she courted Rahul, to contact Tina. Even as wedding planning began, Tina thought about her: Anjali’s life interrupted, not just love but her education, too. Tina was angry at herself for coming between Anjali and Rahul, for loving Rahul, for staying. But a small part of her was angry, too, at Rahul, at his philosophy. Such a romantic sentence, but another kind of sentence, too.
Tina sat numbly in the doctor’s office. Dr. Patel explained the seriousness of her condition, that she might lose the baby, that if she delivered the baby, she might lose her life. Her life had only begun!
“So, those are your options. What do you want to do, Mrs. Khanna?” Dr. Patel asked.
“My husband and I, we both want this baby,” Tina said softly.
Dr. Patel pursed her lips. “It really is quite risky. Perhaps you should take some time to think about it. Talk to your husband.”
Tina nodded. But what would Rahul say? He wanted this baby so much. “We live once, we die once. . . .”
Living meant having this baby, even if that meant dying.
Tina made lists, and carefully checked them off: 1. Spend time with Rahul. 2. Spend time her father. 3. Eat her favorite foods. 4. Watch her favorite movies, read her favorite books. 5. Go through the mementos her own mother left her.
Her mother had loved her, too, and even if she was gone, Tina knew and felt that love. What had her mother left her that she loved, what hadn’t her mother left her that she wished she had?
Tina would stand before her closet, before her jewelry box, thinking about how her child would remember her.
Tina wrote. She wrote letters to leave to her baby, her daughter. It would be hard to grow up without a mother, but this child would be loved. Tina paused in her writing, smiling. See, Rahul, more than one love. And she knew that even though Rahul love Anjali, he loved her too; had never doubted that love.
One life, but so much love.
After she’d set her pen down for the day, after dinner had been eaten and the dishes put away, Tina would lie on her side and stare at the ceiling. Faint light filtered in from outside. Rahul would lay an around her, possessive, protective. One life could never be enough anyway.