The Grandmother

Siya gave birth to a fair-skinned chubby girl with well-defined features. After a brief usual infant cry, the little girl rolled her eyes like a curious person surprising the doctors and nurses. Everyone in the hospital was awed by her beauty and expressions. But Sia was lost in her own thoughts; she was upset after all this was her second daughter and she knew that her mother-in-law had been expecting a baby boy.

True to her thoughts, the moment Siya entered her cubicle, she heard her mother-in-law talking to her husband with acerbity, “With two daughters, you will have to be careful in your expenses. You must stop pampering Gia now.”

In the afternoon, when everyone had gone for lunch and Siya was feeding the newborn, a narrow-eyed lady from the other side of the cubicle slid the curtain and said, “Hi!” she was holding her bed and trying to make herself sit, “I am Emily! Sorry, I just heard your mother-in-law getting upset because of your second daughter while my mother is upset because of our third son.”

Sia looked in surprised.

“I am a Khasi which is a matrilineal society. For us, girls are important just as boys are important in your family. Would you mind swapping? Believe me, your girl will live like a princess and I would be happy that my son will have a good fortune too.”

“What?” Sia grimaced. Though she was disheartened, because of her mother-in-law, but swapping? “No! Not possible!”

“ Hmmm! I can understand. Anyways, would you like to try it for a day? Please! In case your mind changes,” Emily requested folding her hands and Siya acquiesced reluctantly.

“Wow! She is an angel,” Emily said the moment she picked the little girl.

Emily’s son was one day old, yet tinier as compared to Siya’s charming daughter. He held no charm except that he was a boy, for Siya but she got an idea.

“Where’s the baby?” screamed the mother-in-law when she saw a petite dusky boy sleeping in the cradle.

“Oh! This? This is your grandson!” Sia replied calmly lying on her bed.

“But how? He is definitely not our child. Look at his eyes, they are narrow and he is not as chubby and cute as my granddaughter was born,” said the mother-in-law with a frown.

“But you never wanted that granddaughter so I arranged for this grandson,” replied Sia coolly lying on her bed.

“But…but…”

“But what mummy? He is your grandson, you had been waiting for. Please pick him and embrace,” said Sia with a sneer.

“Stop it now! Where’s my sweetheart? Where? ”

“The lady in the adjacent cubicle gave birth to a boy while she was expecting a girl. She heard that you wanted a boy. So while you went for lunch, we decided to swap.”

“How can you do this? What type of mother are you? Have some spine,” shouted the mother-in-law and rushed towards Emily to get her granddaughter back.
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Ritu Gulabani

Author of “From Caterpillar to Butterfly” and a mother of two young boys, when Ritu is not busy with her kids, kitchen or daily chores, she is writing, reading or concentrating on self-improvement through yoga, meditation and healthy children recipes.

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