Pia looked at the test kit with hopeful eyes. How she longed for those two elusive lines to appear. Her wait was punctuated by the ticking of the clock and the thumping of her heart.
“It didn’t work this time as well,” she sobbed, laying her head on her husband Manav’s chest.
Tests. More tests. Multiple rounds of IVF. The torture would have been worth it if there had been a baby at the end of it all.
Nothing. Nada. Zilch.
Her uterus remained stubborn.
“Pia, honey. Can’t we just adopt?”
“I can’t accept someone else’s child,” she insisted.
They remained silent for the rest of the evening.
Manav was determined to make the most of the weekend.
“Pia! Let’s do something fun. Let’s go to the zoo!”
Pia glanced at Manav’s crestfallen face.
“OK. I’ll come!”
The zoo would be full of excited children, a reminder of the one thing she couldn’t have. However, for Manav’s sake, she would go.
Pia had to admit that she was enjoying the zoo-visit. Manav and her, laughed at the monkeys’ antics. They noticed a crowd gathered up ahead.
“That’s Rikki, the gorilla.”
They queued up to see a majestic gorilla in her enclosure. In front of her, a tiny kitten played fearlessly. The zookeeper was just leaving the enclosure.
“What’s that kitten doing there?” Pia inquired.
“That’s Rikki’s baby, Gonzo.”
“Rikki had a miscarriage, months ago. She was depressed. We found an abandoned kitten that needed taking care of. She is his mommy now.”
“A gorilla-mommy for a cat-baby?” Pia’s eyes grew wide. “Is she a good mother to the kitten?”
“The best. Watch.”
She saw Rikki nuzzle the little fur-ball, making sure she didn’t crush him. Gonzo rubbed his head against his adoptive mother’s chest and purred.
“Gonzo was weak and sick. Rikki was shattered after losing her baby. They saved each other.”
Pia’s eyes met Rikki’s for a second. Rikki put down Gonzo and sauntered over to where she stood. Pia held her hand against the glass of the enclosure and whispered.
“Mama, tell me. How do you do it?”
Rikki grunted and lifted her hand, placing it on Pia’s, the glass in between them. They held each other’s stare; one resolute, the other teary-eyed.
Pia put her forehead on the glass and rested it for a second. When she lifted it, Rikki had returned to her baby.
“Pia, you have been quiet since the zoo.”
“Manav, I’ve been thinking. I’m ready to adopt. Can we?”
“Honey, was it Rikki?”
“Yes. For the first time, I realized nature doesn’t matter; nurture does. I know if we adopt a baby, he or she isn’t going to be someone else’s. They will be OURS.”
“If we are adopting a girl, will you name her Rikki?”
“And tell her we named her after a gorilla? No chance!” Pia giggled.
Manav grinned. Pia’s sparkle was back. She would make the best mother ever.
Sometimes, fact is stranger than fiction.
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