Mariam had not voluntarily held the baby in weeks and now she was the only one with it.
A few days had been okay but fourteen days were too long for a child to live without the person who gave him birth and instead with a woman who was scared to touch him sometimes.
But Aasha was stuck. Stuck in a facility where a lot of people could give a disease that might kill her. And there was nothing Mariam could do. She would not even be the first person the government called if Aasha died, it would be her brother. The irony of death bringing families together was not lost upon her.
Well there was nothing to do except feed the baby formula and try to emulate her love's pasta.
"Hey. Can you tell me how you make the pasta?"
"The pasta?" Mariam could almost hear the way her girlfriend's lips quirked up at that. In their early days she used to kiss the quirk each time just because she could, because Aasha said she would stay still.
"Yeah, the one you made when I first came over."
"You know how to make it."
"Yeah, but yours tastes better."
"I'll be back in a short time. Promise I'll make it then."
"Eleven days till you come back."
"I love you. Go eat something after feeding our son." Mariam had already fed the baby. It was asleep in her arms as she sat outside looking at the evening sun.
"He's your son, I just take care of him."
"Well his father—" Aasha spit out the word like it was a slur "—was a dick and only a dick. Do you really want to bring up our fights again?"
"I don't actually. The baby is asleep with me. Do you want to say hi later?"
"I will." There was a sigh as the phone clicked shut. If either of them were asked whose it was they would not have been able to say.
The disease meant isolation, after she came home Aasha would not be able to touch her child or within a meter for another fortnight. And the house would smell of alcohol wipes as Aasha sanitised everything her partner would touch.
But her coming back would mean her face in touching distance if not touchable, and her body in all of it's stretch marked glory once again being with Mariam.
She went inside as the sun set, to put a thankfully still sleeping Sami on his cot which was always in Aasha's side of the room, now that she was not there Mariam slept at Aasha's side of the bed with her hard pillows, less broken in mattress springs and all rather than bring the cot to the other side of the room.
Sometimes she stopped to look at the pictures that hung all over the walls. Mariam hadn't wanted to put them up but Aasha won her over by a strange combination of gifts and denial. She didn't stop that day, and went out to make coffee. Somewhere in New Delhi Aasha would also be making coffee or would have already cajoled it out of the canteen ladies in the quarantine center.
The sun set like it always did, the stars came out like everyday and Mariam drank her coffee with the same expression of fondness and relief that she held when Aasha used to sit beside her and she was okay.
Aasha will come home quickly and the disease will have a vaccine, she will learn to love Sami as her son even if it will take seeing him get punched at school for that.
Things will be okay, sometime in the future.
And Mariam will be with Aasha.