My dear Sonshine,
Let me share a secret with you!
I became an unwed mother at the age of twenty-three. It was accidental. I had no intentions of becoming one ‘cos there were no maternal stirrings in me at that age. I thought babies are messy and a waste of time.
That year I had just landed a job in Delhi. What happens when a small-town girl is thrown into the mayhem of a big city?
She gets lost! Lost in the traffic; in the confusion between Dilshad Garden and Dilshad Colony; in the web of relationships; in lies and deceit. And in that chaos, motherhood happened.
The weekdays were mostly spent at work. I dreaded the weekends, for I did not know what to do with them. My search for inner peace led me to an orphanage in South Delhi where I became a volunteer. One Saturday I entered the premises to find utter chaos. Most of the staff hadn’t turned up. A baby had been abandoned. And a list of visitors was scheduled to arrive.
The matron handed a register and instructed me to take care of the visitors. In between, I assisted the young nurse who was tending to the new baby.
As the days passed, I learnt the ropes of baby management. How to hold the baby, feed her, change diapers, burp her, take her around the campus and she also taught me how to fall in love with babies. I was clumsy and scared. But I surprised myself by learning it fast.
Life took on a new meaning. While the weekdays seem to drag, the weekends passed away in a jiffy. By then, the baby had been named Raya. A list of suitors had been prepared for Baby Raya and we all knew she would be gone soon.
After much deliberation, I put in my application. Yes, I wanted to adopt her.
But destiny had other plans. In no clear terms, I was informed that I am unfit and my candidature stands rejected. No one cooperated. Not even my parents, who vehemently opposed the idea. A single, unmarried, young girl adopting a baby! Unheard-of. Totally unacceptable.
That January while I toured Nagaland, a message came in informing me of Raya’s adoption. On my return, I went back to the orphanage the last time. Raya’s crib lay empty, waiting for the next abandonment. The twenty-three-year-old had begged the staff to share the address of the baby for a final farewell. But it was not possible.
Days passed. I grew older, left Delhi and moved to the hills. It was an attempt to forget the emptiness that haunted me.
Today I am a mother to three. Not a day goes that I do not miss Raya. I wonder how it would have been had I been a mother to her? Raya, my beautiful child still manages to hold my heart forever.
Always remember Raya. She was the one who made me a mother!
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