Longing to meet his bundles of joy for close to two months, Salt lake resident Abhishek Paul, in his late 30s, managed to fly to Delhi from Kolkata on his fourth attempt on Friday morning, a day after domestic flights resumed from the city. And when, a few hours later, he held them in his arms (after he thoroughly sanitised himself, of course), he could not stop the tears from flowing.
“It was the best feeling in the world,” Paul says. “I had waited for just that moment all this while. But when I was finally there with the babies, I asked the nurse for a moment to sanitise myself. I sanitised my hands again and again and when I finally held them, I started to cry.”
“It was such a painful wait. As I held them, the babies were not crying. One of them just stared at the new strange face, while the other one closed his eyes in comfort. I will never forget this moment,” Paul says over the phone, his voice choking with emotion.
Paul, who manages a family publishing business, had opted for surrogacy last year at an IVF clinic in Delhi. His wife had passed away in 2013 while she had been six months pregnant. “I was all set to become a father when my wife died. I haven’t remarried but I always wanted to become a father,” he says.
The surrogate mother gave birth to twin baby boys on April 2, but the single father — 1,600km away — had no option to rush to the hospital to see them because of the lockdown. As a result, the babies had to extend their stay at the hospital’s baby care centre.
Paul had to rely on daily video calls and occasional “activity videos” sent by doctors and nurses. “Since the day they were born, I have been spending my days checking out each video sent by the doctors and nurses, all the while wondering when I could pick them up in my arms,” he says.
Paul had first booked his air tickets to Delhi for April 15, when the first lockdown was scheduled to end. But, with the lockdown extended, his ticket got cancelled. Next, he booked tickets on May 25, a day after domestic flights were scheduled to resume nationally. But because of Amphan, flight resumption was deferred in Kolkata, and his ticket got cancelled again. Then he booked a ticket for May 28, the day flights started from Kolkata, but much to his misery, the flight got cancelled. Finally, he bought tickets for Friday and reached Delhi on Friday afternoon with his mother, a cousin and a friend.
The twins — Adhyayan and Abahan — were finally handed over to Paul around 6pm, four hours after they had first met. Paul has return tickets booked for the six of them on Sunday morning. “We need to be extra cautious while returning to ensure the babies and us don’t catch any infection, and we will take all precautions,” said Paul.