She gazed out of the window panes through the water droplets that were trickling down as if in slow motion. The traffic was moving at a snail’s pace. There was blaring horns and irritated glances everywhere. But the downpour seemed to outdo all the commotion outside. Somehow the downpour seemed to soothe her disturbed mind. Her mother’s stern voice rung through her mind, just like the church bell that was struck louder and louder. “What are you going to do in a new place far away from us? How are you both going to manage such a small kid alone? There won’t be even one person there to help you. You will be all alone. Don’t even expect me to come there and help you. I won’t come!” 

She had looked back straight at her mother and replied in a soft yet determined voice; We need to go amma. His job is not going as expected. He is going through a lot of stress. This job change is a necessity for him at the moment. If I don’t understand him, then who will? Her mother darted an irritated glance at her and replied insolently, “Do as you wish! Now, you only seem to care about your husband. We are no longer important for you!” Exasperated, she left the room without bothering to reply. Amma is never going to understand me! It is not that I don’t care about you, Amma. I know you are upset that I’m leaving. But I need to be with my husband at the moment. He needs my support. I can’t make you understand that. So, it is better that I leave your question unanswered. I’m tired. I’m tired making people understand why I behave like this, why I think like this. I’m tired of explaining myself. If you can understand me, understand. If not, don’t understand. Think as you wish! 

The rain seemed to slow down a bit. The rain drops were still trickling down the window panes. She gazed outside and sighed. How I wish I can be that raindrop. Trickling down, into the sand, down the mud, without bothering to explain to others why it is trickling down and not up. She gazed back at her little girl sleeping on her lap. Her little black hair was all over her perfectly round face. She slowly run her fingers through her girl’s hair and planted a kiss on her cheek. New place, new people, new home! Wonder how it will be! 

Soon, the car steered ahead and reached her new abode. She stepped out and stared outside. The towering buildings painted in multiple hues seemed to bend down and smile at her. Her flat was the orange one. The tangerine hues seemed to welcome her home with a warm smile. She felt an instant connection to the place and knew her decision was right after all. I love this place! She murmured to herself. 

Getting adjusted to the new place was not a mammoth task as she had anticipated. She settled down real fast and even got a few friends in the neighbourhood. Her husband’s new job was going good as he finally got the job that he was comfortable doing. Everything was slowly falling in place. Finally! Life seemed to smile at her with warmth and love. Her mother’s taunts about her leaving her parents and choosing to stay in a new place were also getting reduced as finally her mother also seemed to accept the fact that this was what she and her husband needed at the moment. 

One day as she stood there contemplating what to wear for the dinner outing with her family, her little girl made a dramatic entry with a glum face. Now, what is that my little princess is angry about? She asked with an amused expression. Her girl was in no mood for her mom’s little talks. She tucked away her silky jet of hair that seemed to obstruct her vision and glared at her mom. I need someone to play with! She declared with an adamant expression! Well! What about that pretty pink doll we bought last day? No Amma! This time her daughter sounded exasperated as if she is fed up of that fact that her mother does not even understand her woes. Okay baby, tell me, what do you want? She knelt in front of her girl and cupped her face in her hands. I want a little brother or sister! Her daughter was quick to make the declaration. Oh! Why? She asked. Because I want, that is it. Her daughter was in no mood for discussions. Okay. Let us think about it. She replied with a smile.

That night she discussed their daughter’s new demand with her hubby, and together they decided maybe it is time. They anyways had always wanted a second baby. But, they were not sure how their daughter would react. Now that she herself was also asking for it, it seemed to be the perfect time.

Two or three months went by, with no possible signs of the “good news” Maybe it is not time yet. She thought. That is when they decided to visit a nearby church. It was believed that if you go and pray for something that you really wished for, it will be granted. So, they decided to visit the church though she had no particular idea what to wish for. 

As she kneeled down and prayed with closed eyes and folded hands, suddenly she could envision a little baby hand. Yes! She knew exactly what to wish for! If you believe I can be a good mother, please bless me with a little one! She prayed with folded hands. As she walked outside, somewhere something inside seemed to tell her that a little joy is just a hand’s reach away! 

Weeks passed by, and soon the much-awaited news knocked announced its arrival in the form of 2 cherry red lines on the pregnancy test kit. The lines that told her she was a mother, a life was growing inside her! 

The joy of knowing that a life is blossoming in you can never be described in words. It was unbelievable to know that another life is there inside you. Even though she was already a mother of a pretty girl, still the joy of life was an unbelievable blessing. Something too good to be true. The days went by with moments of joy, anticipation and of course, the apprehension whether everything will be fine. Wishes and good luck poured in through friends, relatives and even strangers.

But, there was just one person to whom she dreaded to speak. Her mother! She knew her mother would never like it. She knew she would be at the receiving end of wraths and fury. But she had to do it. After all, it was her mother. She had to know. She picked up the phone with trembling hands, preparing herself for the worst. Her mother picked the phone and started quizzing her about trying for a job. Now that her daughter was 2 years, she should start looking for a job. She knew she had to say it. I can’t look for a job now amma. She started hesitantly. Why not? Her mother angrily asked her. I’m pregnant! She blurted out. A minute of silence from the other side. She could feel her heart pounding faster and faster. Okay! What are you planning to do with your life? Was this necessary now? How are you going to manage 2 kids at the same time and that too in a place far away? Don’t even expect me to help you or take care of you. I’m not going to take leave to take care of you like last time. You both decide and do what you want. I’m not at all happy with this news. She slammed the phone shut! She sat there clutching the phone in her hands with tears pouring down through her cheeks. She had expected this reaction. But, still, she could feel her heart tear apart. She was shattered! But, I need this baby amma. She whispered under her breath. 

After a few moments of crying, she decided she should leave it behind. She knew inside her heart that her decision was right. And, now there is no point thinking about rights and wrongs. There is a life within her, and she needs to nurture it. Be it good or bad, no matter what her mother thought or said. Maybe amma will be fine after a few days. She consoled herself. Little did she know more challenges were waiting to be unfolded. 

As the days darted away, the difficulties seemed to rush in like an army of angry woes. She started getting morning sickness. Or, the name morning sickness maybe doesn’t suit here! It was 24-hour sickness instead! She was throwing up every single moment. She went on to become weaker and weaker. She was even afraid to drink water. One sip of water will result in continuous vomiting for around 30 minutes. Her eyes no longer sparkled. Her face no longer smiled. Worse, she looked like a starved and skinny bundle of woes. She lost her sleep and laughter. 

The doctors said it is a special condition that comes to only one in 1000 women. Every week she was carried to hospital as she fainted down as a heap of bones unable to withstand the stress and strain. She was drained out of energy and rarely spoke even a word. The complete chatterbox suddenly turned silent. At the hospital, the nurses stared at her skinny hands, unable to get the vein in order to start the IV. Even her veins had collapsed. They will murmur in between themselves how to get the vein of this girl. Then, one of them will gather courage and take up the mission. After 4, 5 trials they will finally get the vein. By that time, all the other spots they had injected will turn black. She sometimes looked at her hands, and all she could see were black patches.

Back home, her daughter was adjusting far better than she had ever imagined. After all, who would imagine a 2-year-old baby to adjust so fast? But, her daughter somehow could understand that her mother was sick, very sick to be exact. She was always bedridden without the energy to even get up and sit. Some days her daughter will come up to the bedroom door and stare at her mother gloomily. Come near amma baby, she will call. Her daughter will climb up the bed and sit near her. I don’t have anyone to play with amma. She could only stare back helplessly at her daughter. She couldn’t play with her kid. She couldn’t take care of her kid. She couldn’t even cook a meal for her kid. She felt absolutely helpless. How worse a mother can I be? A mother who doesn’t take care of her kid. A mother who can only lie in bed and keep throwing up every second. Someone who needs another person’s help even to move.

Her daughter often sat near her on her bed and played with her toys. After some time, the kid will get bored and will fall asleep near her. Sometimes, her kid will look glumly at her and mutter slowly, “I’m hungry amma. There is nothing to eat here.” She could feel a lump in her throat as she looked at her hungry kid who didn’t even have anyone to feed her properly. She couldn’t cry out loud as that would make her daughter even more depressed. She cursed herself lying on the bed. You can’t even feed your child. What kind of mother are you? She questioned herself mercilessly. She was slipping into deep depression without she herself, realizing that she needs help.

At times, she used to message her neighbour, unable to bear the sight of her hungry daughter. Her neighbour, being a kind lady, would always rush to her home and take her and her daughter to their house. There, she used to feed her daughter, and she could finally sleep peacefully, knowing her daughter is in safe hands and not hungry!

As the days passed by, her condition got more and more traumatic. Her husband started to feel helpless as he had to manage a bedridden wife, a 2-year-old daughter, household chores and also had to go to the office. He was an IT professional who already had enough stress and deadlines to meet. They tried to find a maid or home nurse who can manage things. But, nothing seemed to work. Finally, one day he came near her and gazed helplessly at his wife. I was thinking about whether your mother can help us. He blurted out doubtfully. She stared back at him as her mother’s voice rang through her ears like arrows that pierced her heart. “Don’t come asking to me for help! I’m not going to help you!”

She stared at her husband. But, amma had told she wouldn’t help! He shook his head. There is no other way out. Can you try asking her? For our daughter? She looked at her daughter, who had by now turned into a distraught child. Her eyes no longer twinkled with joy; her face no longer had that naughty grin. To see that smile back, she was willing to try anything possible

So, she again picked her phone and called her mother. “Amma, I need help. I’m really sick and cannot even stand up or walk. There is no one to take care of the kid too.” She completed the sentence in one breath and waited for her mother to respond back. You come here with the kid. I will take leave. Her mother replied quietly. She was surprised and overjoyed. She looked back at her husband and smiled. He heaved a sigh of relief and said, I hope everything will be alright now!

Soon, the bags were packed, and they started the journey back to her mother. Her mother didn’t scold or tell anything. She welcomed them with a look of concern and immediately tucked her in bed. Her daughter was also happy as she was now with her grandmother. Grandma will play her, make her the tastiest food, give her ice creams, biscuits, and chocolates! She was on cloud nine!

The days went by with her getting even more sicker. But, she felt better as at least now her daughter was well taken care of. She didn’t have to see her daughter sitting hungrily without food. But, her daughter was getting fed up of her mother being bedridden for months. She was missing her mother near her, and she started throwing tantrums. She began insisting that her mother herself should bath her, change her dress and feed her. She could only lie there looking at her daughter fighting back the tears. She didn’t know how to console her daughter. She was just a 2-year-old, and the poor one had adjusted all these 3, 4 months. Now, she has reached her saturation point and wanted her mother back. How can one say no to her? She would drag herself up, and the same moment will fall back as her head will start spinning the moment she lifts her head. Her mother will always keep a bowl of sugar near the bed so that she can just dip her fingers and take some sugar before lifting her head. That used to help her to stand without fainting and falling. With her mother’s help, she bathed her kid and tried to hug her and make her feel better. She wanted to tell her daughter how much she loved her and how much she wished she could bath her, dress her, feed her, play with her and hug her to sleep. But, she didn’t know how to say that. She felt utterly helpless.

As days passed by, she became even sicker. She was not able to eat anything and lost around 15 kg. She was just bones and skin. The vomiting increased to such an extent that her throat started to get bruises due to continuous vomiting. So, now whenever she vomited, blood began to come as her throat could not handle the torment any more. Every night she will lie on her bed worrying whether she will wake up alive the next day. She feared she would die and kept on lying awake whole night worrying who will take care of her kid if she dies. Her husband used to visit her during weekends, and even he couldn’t stand the sight of her state. One day he broke down into tears and said, I never knew this would end like this. We could have decided one child was enough. She could only cry along with him. By now, even she didn’t know whether this was the right decision. 

Her mother, who had been taking care of her and her kid till now started getting tired now. Well, it is a difficult task, and anyone will get tired. One day her mother lost it and shouted at her, see, I can’t take care of someone who is permanently ill. The child is missing her mother and has started losing her childish banter and naughtiness. She sits silently in a corner, and no matter how I try to cheer her up, she is not becoming her usual self. If you cannot take care of the kid you already have, how do you think you can take care of another kid who is yet to be born? This is why I told you not to think of a second kid. But you never listen to me! She hung her head, unable to look at her mother. Maybe she was right. But, I want this kid. But, I can’t hurt my girl. She didn’t know what to do. She was dropping again and again into deep despair and depression.

As days and weeks passed by, she lived on drips losing weight again and again. People who come to see her will gape at her horrible state and tell her that she just looks like a poverty-stricken girl and doesn’t look even 1 percent pregnant. She would look at her tummy and see that there is nothing much visible. She was 5 months pregnant, but still, her tummy looked the same. Sometimes, she gets a panic attack thinking whether the child inside is getting anything to eat and grow. But, every time she worried about her baby’s safety, the baby used to give her a reassuring kick as if telling her, “Hold on amma! I’m here. I’m fine!”

As the 6th month began, she finally started feeling better. Her vomiting saga reduced and finally bid goodbye or should we say good riddance? Finally, she could eat food! That was something she was unable to do for a long 5 months! Now the tummy started growing, and she began to look more of a human. She was still thin. But at least that malnourished look was gone. She used all the time she got to make it up with her little girl. She cuddled her, bathed her, played with her and kissed her whenever she could. And, finally, her daughter also started to be that naughty little girl who used to run around with a wide grin. Things were falling in place again.

As the 9th month announced its arrival, one day, she started feeling sudden contractions. The contractions kept on increasing. She tried to ignore it as her date was nowhere near. But, when she told it to her husband, he said we would better leave to hospital and not take any more risks. She had to leave her daughter at her husband’s home with her grandparents. She called her daughter near and promised her amma would be back soon with a little brother or sister for her. For one last time, she bathed her daughter just before leaving to hospital. Her husband looked at her with a puzzled expression. Was it necessary for you to bath her with all these contractions? It is okay. I wanted to do it! She said with tears welled up in her eyes. 

The travel to the hospital was not an easy one. The contractions seemed to increase, and they had to travel for around one and a half hours to reach her hospital as she had come to her husband’s home, which was a bit far away. They kept on looking for the next hospital nearby so that if there is an emergency, they can go to the first hospital they see. But, finally, they reached the hospital without any mishap.

By then, the pain had started. But, yet the doctors said they would have to operate as her first pregnancy was a surgery. So, with the pain and the additional pain of surgery which gifted her again 8-10 days of severe pain, more and more injection marks, tears, taunts and heaps of comments by so-called well-wishers who do not have even the faintest idea of what she is going through, her little boy was born! Was she overjoyed? Yes! Did she feel relieved? Yes! But how was the journey? Bittersweet!

To my little one
I love you to the moon and back
The journey to you was shattering
But, the journey from you was revitalizing
I was shattered, broken, crumbled and crippled
But, today your love made it blissful, cheerful and fruitful
And, today I repent none
And, today I hate none
For, the gift of my shattered soul was the most precious one
For, the gift of my blissful womb was a miracle

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