Monday, October 31, 2005

Motherhood

Shalu heard her husband moving about. She opened her eyes in the semi-darkness. It was 6:00 AM. She closed her eyes. Ashok shook her awake at 7:00 AM.

"Aren't you going to work today?"

"I don't think so. Can you tell them I am sick?"

"What is the matter with you? It has been more than five months. You need to get hold of yourself and try to move on. You think it is easy for me?"

"It is different. You didn't go through those nine months. I did. I nurtured that tiny life within me, you didn't."

Ashok knew the futility of arguing with her and left for work.

Shalu tried to go back to sleep. Back to oblivion, wanting to forget. She felt like crying, but her tears had dried up along with her milk. Her little son, Sumanth, stillborn, had sundered her heart in two. She had been in therapy for three months before she returned to some sense of normalcy. Yesterday, her cousin had called to announce the birth of his new son. She was happy for them, but it brought back all the heartache and longing. Years of fertility treatment, mental agony and dashed hopes had left her mind quite vulnerable. She was angry against fate for causing her so much pain.

Ashok seemed to be taking it better. He was deeply affected when they lost Sumanth. But while the therapy had been good for him, it was a temporary measure in her case. It was a disease now. She ached to hold a baby in her arms. Sumanth, not any baby. Her Sumanth, whom God had snatched from her, like the sadist He was.

She moved around in her nightgown, unkempt hair and unwashed face, barely eating anything. The TV was on, but her eyes had a faraway look. The phone rang. She let it ring. It stopped and rang again. Then it stopped.

An hour later the doorbell rang. It kept ringing. She finally moved from the sofa and opened the door. Her mom. Always looking poised. Why was she not like that! Mom came in, and hugged her silently, not offering trite words of comfort.

She made her sit, cleaned her face and brushed her hair. She made some food for her. Shalu ate in silence. Just having her mom next to her gave her a lot of comfort. She hugged her and the silent tears flowed in two pairs of eyes.

"Shalu, there is something I need to tell you. I probably should have told this a long time back. May be I could have saved you a lot of trouble."

Shalu looked at her mom, curious to know what she was going to say.

"Your dad was stationed in Delhi then. I was four months pregnant."

"Pregnant with me?"

"No. It was before you. One evening, on our way from a party, some drunk driver rammed into our car, your dad lost control and we hit a tree. I lost the baby."

"Oh, mom. I didn't know. I am so sorry."

"I was in bed for 6 months after that. We tried for another baby for years. Nothing worked. Later, I found out that my uterus had been damaged and I couldn't bear any more babies. I was heartbroken. Just like you."

"Then how...?"

"One of my friends look me to this place for orphaned kids. I started working there. I grew quite attached to the kids. Then your dad got a transfer back to Chennai. I threw a fit, I didn't want to go. Finally, your dad convinced me that we could adopt a child from the place. I agreed to that. You had been left there a month back. You were barely 3 months old then. I had been looking after you for sometime. We decided that you would be better off thinking that you were our own blood."

Shalu sat stunned. All these years, she had had no clue.

"Who were my real parents?"

Mom winced at that. "Does it matter?"

Shalu stared at her for sometime. "No, not really. You are my mother."

Tears of gratitude in her mom's eyes. "I could not see you killing yourself slowly like this. This is not the end of the world."

Shalu wiped her eyes. "Yes, mother." A slight smile appeared like a rainbow.

11 comments:

Vijay Ramamurthi said...

well...to start off.. my Iniya deepavali nalvaazhthukkal :)

amazing story, really moved me..
other aspect...its gonna linger in my mind for quite a while

thennavan said...

Happy Deepavali Munimma :-)

Harish said...

nice story.. Happy Diwali!

IBH said...

rombha nalla ezhudurenga...moving one!

rads said...

hey muni, good one there.
answering your other q, yep, toddling along is what i'd say. bit o a shocker to you eh? ;-)

just started my own blog experiment, have been toying with the idea awhile now, no direction yet, but hoping i should be able to steer this one through all my other juggling acts. neways, we need to start communicating off of this comment box. :-)

Munimma said...

rads, is your phone number the same? I think I still have it. My email and phone are the same.

arun swami said...

Munimma,
Your story had me nearly in tears which, being a guy, is quite a feat(I belong to the proverbial MCP tribe which strongly believes that "Boys Don't Cry"). Anyways, what I'm trying to say is, your story moved me immensely. The fact that the story became a little predictable with a third of it still remaining, took nothing away from the grip that it retains on the reader till the very end. I traced into your blog from Dubukku's and I'm elated to have found you. Will try to visit more often. Keep up the good work!!!
Ippadikku,
Arun "Thotti Jaya" Swami
PS : time kedachha oru mail thatti udunga, blogger profile'la email id irukku.

Munimma said...

Thanks Arun. That was a nice comment indeed. :-)

Thanks to all for your comments and wishes.

Padmasani said...

Its the nature of the story and your art of writing with which you have narrated has touched my heart dear. I might have heard several such happenings in the lives of people known and unknown to me, but this one has touched me deep within. God bless you dear.

Arvind said...

Munims,
Nice story line interspersed with awesome narrative - cool work !

Funtabulous said...

superb one....in my family the girl wasnt adopted but yes the baby was lost and we(no she....the whole family needs to be in it) are going to adopt once she gets over her grief with the help of counselling.but a great post indeed