But why! Why can’t I be a mother? Am I not good enough to embrace motherhood?
Why is God only mean to me? Doesn’t he know how badly I want to have a child?
The despair on her angelic face was evident. Her bluish grey eyes full of tears were looking like that of an innocent child craving for something real bad. Her husband sat with her helpless, holding an envelope that had brought yet another doom in their lives. Even her millionaire father could not buy this one happiness for his little princess.
Jiah, we had visited tenth gynaecologist in last three years and each one of them has same result.
What do you know about results huh? No piece of paper can define my destiny. We live in the era where science has progressed like a speed of light. I am sure there is a way out.
The desperation to bear a child had overpowered Jiah. She could not think of anything else. Her husband Vihaan tried to put some sense into her but in vain. Sometimes he too gets scared of her demeanour.
Jiah listen to me, let’s adopt, said Vihaan as he cupped her face in his hands.
We already had a discussion about it Vihaan. I don’t want someone else’s genes to carry our family line. Who knows, the thing we are adopting is from which background? taunted Jiah as she shrugged Vihaan’s hands from her face.
The thing? Seriously? This is what your thinking is! You know what, sometimes I feel, it is really good that God hadn’t bestowed parenthood on us as yet considering your thinking.
Jiah, every child, no matter what background they belong to, deserved to be loved. And I am leaving from this hospital right now. You can follow if you wish.
And Vihaan stormed out of the place. He was clearly disgusted with Jiah’s thinking. Jiah sat there staring at couples with wives having baby bump and gleam in their eyes. The very sight of them envied Jiah.
What had I done to not deserve this happiness? Look at these couples, clearly they can’t even afford a lavish life for their babies and still are blessed with the greatest joy.
I too will have my own baby, thinking this Jiah too left the place.
Vihaan what was that huh? You left me there. Why can’t you just understand my temperament? I long for a child god dammit! Jiah was trying to prove her point.
Yes and that’s why I thought of adoption but remember if you are not capable of loving any child then you are not capable to handle motherhood altogether.
The words from Vihaan pierced Jiah’s heart.
I am going to my dad’s place. You clearly don’t seem to understand my emotions. From the beginning you were the one who wanted to wait to have a child. And now look, what mess are we in.
It’s clearly your fault.
Oh Yeah! And what reports say that doesn’t matter huh? It’s evident that you suffer from infertility, but I never blamed you. I know you are hurt and I chose to stand by you but now you are being impossible. You have to get this thing in your mind that you cannot conceive naturally and we have to think of other ways if we wish to embrace parenthood.
Without listening to Vihaan any further, Jiah left the house.
The vibes in the room were as cold as the breakfast that lay cold on the table. The environment was as quite as a nest of monasteries. It seemed like no one lived there. The lady of the house sat there blankly staring at the photo frame that was smiling back to her.
What’s this Pooja? Your breakfast got cold again. Please stop torturing yourself. We have to move on. Please, please, for us, for our beloved, Khushi.
Ajay was again requesting his wife, Pooja who was not even paying attention to him.
Pooja, Pooja. Ajay tried to bring her back to reality.
Huh…hmm. Oh A…j…a…y, sorry, I mean I am hungry. I will finish my breakfast. And quietly she started eating like an innocent child who has been caught in his own guilt.
Pancakes and scrambled eggs. Smile floated on Pooja’s face.
Yes, that too made with imperial love for my one and only, Ajay tried to be romantic oblivious to the tears that fell from his wife’s hazel eyes.
Yes and Khushi’s favourite too, Pooja tried her best to hide the storm of tears but unable to compose herself, she cried like an abandoned puppy that seemed to be lost without any interest in the world.
Why is the destiny so cruel? Why, I ask why God had to take away my most precious thing? She was crying inconsolably on Ajay’s shoulder.
It had already been three years to that fateful day Pooja. Our Khushi, wherever she is, in a happy and safe place where there is no pain and only happiness. We had to let her go to free her from suffering.
Yeah and she was so small, barely seven. Not even seen the world yet. Only if I was more careful.
Oh dear, it wasn’t your fault. It was the nasty disease that strangled her.
Yes and that was because of me. I was too busy to give her medical attention on time. Had it been the other way round, we would have been having scrambled eggs and pancakes together.
Please stop punishing yourself Pooja. We can always try for another child.
And what do you think, that another child can fill the void that had already been created huh?
No Pooja, Khushi’s place is irreplaceable in our hearts. But a child would bring the lost peace for sure. Think about it.
How can I think about it, when I know that option is closed forever, guilt stuck Pooja as the thought of not able to conceive again ran through her mind.
Huh? Did you say something? Ajay asked Pooja as if trying to read her thoughts.
Umm…No. I will be fine. You please leave for office, else you will be late. Pooja changed the topic again.
Okay Love. Remember I am always there for you and we will deal with this together. Ajay left for the day by giving sweet peck on her forehead.
As Ajay left, Pooja reluctantly gulped the breakfast down her throat and again got lost in the good times she got to spend with her beloved daughter Khushi.
Didi, do you want tea or coffee?
A sweet voice brought Pooja back from her reverie.
Hey when did you come? I have again left the door opened, didn’t I?
Ji Didi. I saw you sitting here. I was making tea for myself. My head is spinning as I could not sleep last night. Shall I make one for you too? I will carry out with my chores after that.
Yes please. I really need it.
Ji didi. Just bringing.
This was Nazia. Pooja’s house help. More than her maid, Nazia was her respite, her confidante, her shoulder to cry on when Ajay wasn’t around. Barely 17 years old, she was far more mature than her age.
Or Nazia. You seem unwell? Your face is pale. You should have taken off today. Pooja showed her concern while sipping her hot tea. Every sip of ginger honey tea, was like a tonic to imbibe missing strength in her.
Ji Didi. Since yesterday I was little unwell. I was nauseous most of the time and my head was continuously spinning.
You should probably see a doctor.
No, no doctor isn’t necessary. I will be fine.
No, Nazia. You should take your health as priority. You are young right now, that’s why you are being careless but any carelessness this time can pose a problem in future. Finish your tea and let me take you to a doctor.
No Didi please. I am scared of hospitals.
Oho… I am saying na nothing would happen. Not even injection is needed this time. Just he will give some medicines.
Didi please, not today. I promise if I do not get well by tomorrow, I will surely go.
Pooja sensed something else in Nazia’s desperation, but considering she is unwell, she did not poke Nazia further.
Nazia looked down unable to make an eye contact with Pooja.
Okay Nazia, do not worry. But today you will not do anything. Simply rest.
Pooja was very fond of Nazia. She always feel pity on her and would try to give her best treatment possible till she is at her home.
Okay didi. I will come tomorrow.
The next day was Sunday. Both Ajay and Pooja woke up late. Nazia was expected to come late too. It was a good moment to spend some quality time together. Pooja felt slightly happy today.
Hey why are you doing the utensils? Where’s Nazia? Ajay asked Pooja when he saw her washing utensils.
I think her health must have deteriorated. She was unwell yesterday. It’s in fact good that she had taken an off today. But at least she should have informed, said Pooja.
It’s okay Jaan. Here, let me help.
No, No its fine. I will be done in few minutes. After that, let’s go out.
For sure love. Anything you say, Ajay was elated to see such response from Pooja.
The rest of the Sunday was spent ecstatically.
Ajay, it’s the fifth day since Nazia was absent. I am kind of worried now. She was never absent for this long without informing. Don’t you think we should go to her place to find out, it wasn’t Nazia’s illness that was bothering Pooja but the look she saw in her eyes that day.
Yes we can, but do you know where she lives? Enquired Ajay
Oh yes, she once told me that she lives in purana Mohalla near hanuman mandir. I think she was talking about the slums which were there on the other side of the mandir. Let’s go and find out.
Ajay and Pooja found themselves amidst infinite slums, some small, some relatively big. Kids with just underpants on were roaming here and there. The unhygienic living conditions of the place irked both Ajay and Pooja and they wondered how people can live here.
Umm, Excuse me mister. Do you know about Nazia. She is a seventeen years old, medium heighted fair girl and live somewhere here in this area. Pooja stopped a passerby to enquire.
Oh, Nazia, you mean that s***. Yeah, Yeah, she has put everyone in her family to shame. Her family threw her out five days back. This should only happen to the girls like her. I would kill my own daughter if the same thing was done by her.
W-h-a-t! W-h-e-r-e is s-h-h-e? , Pooja was horrified.
How would I know? No one knows. It would be god if she is dead. Getting pregnant out of wedlock, oh man, she committed a sin. Another bomb dropped on Pooja. Ajay too was too stunned to speak.
Pooja looked at Ajay with hope in her eyes.
Pooja let’s go. We need to find her.
Ajay and Pooja searched every nook and corner of the slum for few hours. Exhausted they came back home disappointed and agonised.
Where could she have gone? She is too naïve to deal with all this. Please God please help her. Pooja was really worried.
It was midnight but sleep ditched both Ajay and Pooja. They were hell worried about Nazia.
Suddenly, there was a knock on their door. Sensing something bad, reluctantly they opened the door and were shocked to find Nazia standing, shivering and in a bad state.
Didi please let me in. I will leave by tomorrow.
Dad, Dad. I wanted idli sambhar for breakfast. Why can’t your idiotic servants listen in one go? Jiah was shouting as if the entire world is her enemy.
Her dad had already had enough since last few days she was here. Though he hated her every act, but still he was bearing everything, considering Jiah was going through a lot and he wanted to support her no matter what.
Beta, they will bring whatever you have asked for. Please be little soft on them, Jiah’s dad tried to reason.
Have you talked to Vihaan?
No. Why would I? He should be the one calling me. After all, I have left the home only because of him. Jiah was adamant.
Beta, there’s nothing wrong in adopting.
Dad, please. You are talking like Vihaan now. I want my own blood and not someone else’s. Why would I give someone else the luxuries of life that my own child deserves. No way, adoption is out of the question.
Jiah’s dad was already aware of his daughter’s stubbornness. He himself sometimes wonders, how Vihaan puts up with her.
He thought it is now the right time to tell Jiah something important and valuable for life.
Jiah, come to my study room. Let’s have a talk.
Following her dad’s command, Jiah came to his study room. The study room was massive with racks of books from almost every genre. Jiah’s dad, completely opposite of her nature, was an avid reader. He liked to stay acquainted.
Why are we here dad?
To tell you a story.
Okay but I am not a six year old anymore. Jiah chuckled.
Jiah’s dad made her sit comfortably and began.
There was once a couple in love. They loved each other so dearly that they practically don’t need anything when together. But still there was one thing that they longed for. A child. They were already struggling to make ends meet. Sometimes they even put the thought of having a child aside for a while to gather all the riches to provide luxuries to their unborn child.
By this time, Jiah was completely engrossed in the story. She was seriously listening like a six year old as her father continued.
Days turned into months and months into years. The slogged themselves and finally managed to become rich. And now they can happily fulfil their dreams to embrace parenthood. But God had other plans. No matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t conceive. IVFs and other procedures were not very common during those days and even if they were, it wouldn’t have helped, considering their situation was far grimmer that it seemed to be. The only way out for them was adoption but both were sceptical if they would be able to love someone else’s child like their own.
Jiah was not very keen to listen now but still her dad continued.
Their inhibitions were put to ease when they brought a three month old baby girl home. Poor little girl was abandoned by her parents near the dumpster. The girl gave them the love, they themselves didn’t know was missing from their lives. Everything fell into place and their life became a bliss.
With each passing moment, as they raised their baby girl, the craving to have their biological child diminished. They became happily ever after couple living in their small beautiful world.
Okay dad. That was a nice story. But if you think this story can change my mindset towards adoption, then you…..
That couple was me and your mom and the adopted girl was you.
This wasn’t something Jiah had expected. Silence fell in the room and Jiah was as rigid as a stone. She still could not fathom her dad’s words. The father who treated her no less than a princess wasn’t related to her through blood. But not even for once did her parents made her realize that she wasn’t their blood.
Beta, with my personal experience, I am saying this. While biological child is everyone’s wish, but trust me, adopted child is as special.
Maybe I am cynical, but I really don’t think any of that stuff works for anyone who is truly broken. Serves us better to just keep barrelling forward and hope the demons can’t keep up, so you might as well be who you are, thought Jiah.
Jiah’s dad left Jiah alone for a while.
Jiah on the other hand was finding it very difficult to come to terms with the fact of her being adopted.
After a while, she made a call.
Hello Vihaan, I am sorry for my behaviour. Let’s adopt.
Pooja gave Nazia a glass of water. She was palpitating and crying hysterically.
I did not do anything wrong Didi. In fact I was the victim. It was my uncle’s son. I don’t know how it happened. Last thing I remember was that sometimes at night he used to sleep in my room. I always felt dizzy after that when I wake up in morning. I even tried to tell Ammi. Few days back Ammi found out when I told you I was feeling nauseous. I requested her to hide but she beat me black and blue and threw me out.
The bruises on Nazia’s face and body were enough evidence.
Why didn’t you tell us Nazia? We could have helped.
No body could help me now Didi. I even tried to kill it, said Nazia pointing finger at her tummy.
You what? Pooja and Ajay asked in unison.
Nazia, whatever had happened to you, the child isn’t at fault. There is no point of killing this innocent soul.
Didi I don’t have anywhere to go. I barely am able to make ends meet.I am in no position to take care of baby. It shouldn’t have come in my womb. Nazia was crying inconsolably. Words ditched her as she was trying to speak.
Didi, please get this killed. I don’t want it.
Nazia, the word is abortion. And no you are not aborting it. Pooja’s voice was firm. She herself didn’t know with what right she commanded Nazia and Nazia, she sat like an innocent child trying to get rid of what she thought is a problem.
Pooja looked at Ajay, and Ajay, as if understood what she was trying to say nodded in affirmation.
Nazia, you are going to stay with us. Whatever had happened already happened. Now we are with you. We are in this together.
Pooja calmed Nazia and Nazia felt a sense of security with Pooja and Ajay by her side.
Yes Doctor, we are ready for adoption. But we do not know how to proceed. We wouldn’t want to wait any longer. There is already a lot of waiting in adoption centres. Is there any other way out?
For the first time in months, Jiah and Vihaan felt happy. They could not wait any longer to have a baby.
Well, you both may wish to consider yourself lucky as today only, one woman came who would like to sign up her baby for adoption. But when she visited some adoption centres, she didn’t find them environment friendly, said doctor giving a ray of hope to them.
But why would she want to give her baby up? Is that something related to gender bias or any illness or what? Jiah was sceptical.
See Vihaan, I told you. That was the reason I was never ready for adoption. We are not sure what we are going to get.
Well it’s the baby we are talking about here. Not some random thing that you wish to know what you are getting. Jiah turned to look back after she heard stern voice.
Standing there was a young and amazingly attractive woman, most probably in her late twenties. Her hand placed gently on her little baby bump.
Jiah and Vihaan, meet Disha. She is the one I was talking about. The doctor introduced them.
Due to some unavoidable conditions, Disha wants to sign her baby up for adoption. She only has one condition.
Wait what? A condition? Shouldn’t we be the ones to have conditions? Demanded Jiah.
Jiah, please, at least let doctor finish.
Jiah sat down quietly.
So as I was saying, Disha want to have a home filled with love, even if luxuries have to be compromised. The doctor continued.
As if we won’t be giving love to the baby. Jiah taunted.
Ignoring Jiah, Vihaan moved forward.
Hi, this is Vihaan and this is my wife Jiah. We would love to adopt the baby.
Wait Vihaan, at least let’s talk to her first. Jiah was clearly not in any hurry.
I am Disha. I would like to give my precious baby for adoption. Tears filled her heart as she spoke.
But why do you want to do this. Jiah asked straightaway.
Because I don’t want any burden and want to lead a life full of freedom. Disha said sarcastically.
You know what, I kind of gained confidence in you but this girl seem arrogant and rude to me. Disha said to Vihaan pointing at Jiah which angered Jiah even more.
Vihaan gestured Jiah to keep quiet and asked Disha the actual reason for Disha to take such a step.
Because I am dying.
And don’t worry, its brain tumour that I have been dying of and nothing that the baby could inherit.
Can we talk at our place? Asked Vihaan.
Yes of course, but not today. Today I am here for my weekly treatment. Give me your address and I will be there at your place on Sunday, eleven in the morning.
Jiah and Vihaan eagerly waited for Sunday. The bell rang exactly at 11:00 am.
Wow. You are very punctual. Just like defence personnel. Ajay praised Disha’s punctuality.
Disha got a bit emotional but she maintained her composure.
What would you like to have? Tea or coffee? Jiah tried to be calm and polite.
Tea or coffee aren’t good for baby’s health and mine too. Just a glass of water.
Let’s come straight to the point, Disha said as she gulped down the water as if thirsty since ages.
If you two want to adopt my baby, you both have to answer some of my questions.
Oh really? What are we doing? Are you hiring us as nannies or what? This time Jiah couldn’t maintain her composed self. She was not happy with Disha’s overpowering nature.
Listen, we are the ones doing favour to you by adopting your baby and not you. We could have done that from any adoption centre. Anyone would be happy to give us their baby. See how palatial our home is. The luxuries which we can afford for your baby is something you can’t even arrange your entire life. Jiah went way too far this time.
Before Vihaan could control the situation, Disha got up.
Then I think we are wasting each other’s time. I do not want emotionless mother for my child who is nothing but an avaricious personality.
Vihaan pleaded Disha as she was about to leave.
Ladies please, let’s talk in peace. It’s a matter of baby we are talking about.
Disha and Jiah finally sat.
Disha started to speak.
I would like to have the kind of parents for my child whose love is beyond any boundaries of money or luxuries. Luxuries may be important for child but not more than guardians who shower him with love and care.
Secondly, I really want that my baby to know me. By the time he is grown up enough I will be gone but still I want him to know who his parents were. This I am leaving to you both.
Motherhood is a great responsibility. It will have its own challenges. Not every day will be rosy. Some might be gloomy too and some days might be tiring than others. How will I be assured, if you are capable enough to take the onus? Disha asked Jiah.
Well words may not show my longing to have a child but trust me I am more than ready to be a mother. And don’t you worry, your child will definitely know his biological parents. Jiah tried best to assure Disha.
Nazia, here, you have to finish this plate of fruits and this glass of milk. And tomorrow onwards, you will go on a walk daily with us every morning. Pooja was taking a good care of her.
Pooja, I have signed Nazia for delivery in Holy Child Hospital, said Ajay as he beamed with the thought of having a baby around.
But that hospital is way too costly Ajay. We can go for something cheaper.
It will only be the best for Nazia and her baby.
Didi, bhaiyya why are you being so nice to me? My own parents disowned me, and why not, after all I have brought disgrace in the family. Both Pooja and Ajay felt pity for Nazia.
Poor girl has to go through a lot of ordeal in such a tender age. They thought.
Nazia, forget about everything else and just focus on your and your baby’s health.
Pooja, please come inside. Ajay called her.
Nazia, finish your food and I will be back.
Pooja, when do you think we can ask Nazia?
Not now Ajay. We need to wait for the right time. Poor girl is right now trying to pick up the broken pieces of her life.
Hmmm….I think you are right.
Nazia felt safe and secure under the care of Pooja and Ajay. She thanked her stars for them every day. I wish there is something I could do for Didi and Bhaiyya, show would think.
But still Nazia did not feel any connection with her unborn child. She never did. How I wished you’ve died. She would say touching her baby bump.
Pooja and Ajay did their utmost when it came to Nazia and her baby. They tend to her like Nazia is their own daughter expecting a baby. They put their best of efforts to make her feel at home. With all the love and care, Nazia too started to embrace life once again and even tried to let go of her hateful past.
Didi, can I ask you something? Nazia carefully sat behind Pooja.
Yes Nazia, anything.
How did Khushi…..
Died? Pooja completed what Nazia couldn’t say.
Ji Didi. But if you don’t want to tell me, I can understand.
Pooja held her hand as she was about to leave.
It was about to be Khushi’s birthday in few weeks. I and Ajay were busy with the preparations. Juggling between office and birthday preps were a tedious task. We wanted to make it best birthday possible for our little girl. From planning a cake to decoration theme, birthday accessories to games, everything had to be special. But little did we know that, that day was indeed going to be day we would remember for the worst.
Just a few days before her birthday, Khushi caught fever. What we thought of as a normal viral slowly started taking dangerous form. Numerous tests were done, one diagnosis suspected typhoid, then other dengue. We took her to best of hospitals but in vain. The fever won’t come down and so did our worries. Just a day before her birthday, Khushi’s fever reached her brain and she, she slipped into coma. I can never forget the sight of my daughter laying on the hospital bed almost lifeless just a few hours before her birthday.
Pooja felt the lump in her throat as she spoke.
And then, she left. All the pain and anguish she was in was gone with her. But the void that she had left in our lives can’t be filled.
Nazia was extremely grief stricken. She didn’t even want to think about the pain Pooja and Ajay had gone through. She didn’t even have the words to console Pooja.
I am really sorry Didi. I really wish I could do something to minimise the pain you go through daily.
Well Nazia, there’s something you can.
Please tell Didi. I will really be happy to help.
Ajay and I would like to adopt your baby. We would like her to address us as Mom Dad. Only if you wish.
Nazia smiled which left Pooja perplexed.
Disha, Jiah and Vihaan have now become best of friends. Disha used to visit them often. They were investing their time well in learning about each other’s hobbies, likes, dislikes, lifestyles etc.
Disha if you don’t mind, can we ask you something really personal? Vihaan raised the topic.
Yes sure Vihaan, anything.
Umm, we would like to know about the father of the baby. Only if you are okay.
Disha took a deep sigh and after a pause she spoke.
Of course, yes, and it’s your right.
My husband was an army officer. After one month of marriage, he was posted in a village in Kashmir. Initially, there were continuous letters and calls from him but gradually they lessened. Then, One day, I found out I was pregnant. I was so ecstatic to share this news with him.
I can’t forget the day my phone rang after days of waiting only to get the worst news of my life. I got the news of my husband being martyred in skirmish that happened between army and some local group. I lost all hopes but the thought having his baby inside me kept me going but life had other plans. I was diagnosed with grade three brain tumour and to survive I had to get it operated and for that I need to get an abortion. This baby is dear to me more than my life and I would go to any extent to save him.
Disha could not speak any further. Vihaan and Jiah could understand her pain.
You are staying with us till you, you….
Till I die. And yes I would love to and all three of them hugged tightly.
That day, in the Holy child Hospital, while the two helpless but strong mothers bore the extremities of labour pains, for the other two mothers, their baby girls were born through their hearts.
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