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AtoZChallenge2018

AtoZ Challenge 2018Motherhood

Tears of a Childless Mother – #AtoZChallenge

posted by Anupriya April 23, 2018 0 comments

Amrita woke up at her regular time and realized that no one had unlocked the main gate of the house. She frowned as she cocked her head to look out as it was very unusual for her mother-in-law to be late. By this time everyday she would usual leave for the cow shed to collect milk.

Amrita hurried towards her mother-in-laws room to check on her and got her fears confirmed. The old lady was down with fever.

‘Please ask the domestic help to go and get the milk from the shed’ said the old lady in a semi asleep state. Amrita nodded to her and instead of telling her maid to go and get the milk she decided to go herself instead. Morning air would do her some good to awaken her mind.

At the cow shed she saw that the milkman was still milking the cows to give her the daily assured amount of milk for their family. Amrita often thought very irritatingly of her in-laws insistence on getting the milk from the cow shed. ‘This is the only cowshed left in the area. This too shall be shut very soon. Why can’t we switch over to packaged milk’ she had often argued. But to no avail. Nevertheless, as she sat in the waiting area overlooking the cows being milk in the traditional manual way, she kind of cherished the moment. Such antics, our kids will never be able to appreciate. Lost in her thoughts, she was brought back to the moment by a loud mow of a cow.

And there she saw her.

Mrs. Kedia looked nothing like her age. Her supple and clear skin and stiff and lean structure, made it impossible for anyone to believe that she was nearing 50 years of age. Everyday, around the same time in the morning she would come to the cowshed and feed hay to the cows with her own hands. Amrita saw that while she patted the cows one by one to feed on the fodder, she whispered in small sentences in the ears of the cows. It was as if she was having a meaningful conversation with them. If the neighborhood was to be believed, she had been following this routine like a ritual each day since last 15 years.

Amrita had heard Mrs. Kedia ‘s story from her mother-in-law and had wanted to throw up at the grossness of her situation.

Mrs. Kedia’s first born saw the day of light for just a month when he succumbed to chronic fever. The family grieved the demise for a couple of months, but rejoiced the news of her pregnancy only six months later. And this time there was double reason to celebrate, when months later she gave birth to twin boys. The household was bright with lamps and colorful bulb lights to celebrate the arrival of the twins.

Life was bliss for young Mrs. Kedia as she reveled in her fast growing twins. Time flew away in an eye’s blink and when the twins were 5 years old, she realized that she was expecting once again. Mrs. Kedia prayed to god that she be blessed with a girl child this time. Her family would be complete then. She spent her days, praying, working on the home chores and taking care of her twins, who were now going to school.

A couple of months later, Mrs. Kedia frowned for a couple of seconds, but did not really complain when the mid-wife brought a little boy-bundle of joy in her lap. But her heart went out for her husband’s younger brother’s wife, who had three girls and had medical lost all hopes of conceiving again. She looked at the tiny bundle of joy in her hands and then looked up to her sister in law. She tenderly signaled her to come near her and passed on the little boy wrapped in white cloth in sister-in-law’s hands. The mother of three girls looked on in disbelief. Her wide eyes questioned the implication of her elder sister-in-law’s action.

Mrs. Kedia smiled and nodded assuringly, telling her sister-in-law without words that she knew what she was doing. She understood how difficult life was for her younger sister-in-law. In those days society considered a woman incomplete if she failed to bear a boy child for the family. She was only insuring that life would be easy for her sister-in-law. Everyone else looked on appreciatively at her benignity, and the younger Mrs. Kedia fell down at the feet of the woman who had blessed her with a boy child.

The kids began to grow in a joint household, but the young Mrs. Kedia could not keep up her promise of gratitude over the years. She became more and more possessive of ‘HER’ son and did not like it when he addressed his taiji as ‘Badi Ma’. She snapped at him whenever he threw a tantrum that he wanted to eat with the elder boys what his ‘Badi Ma’ had cooked. One day the insecure mother declared  that they wanted to move out of the joint household and live separately.

Mrs. Kedia though hurt did not object and thought it only logical that the boy stayed with her mother without causing her any agony. She smiled sadly at her sister-in-law’s decision and got on with life.

Life seemed to be taking a smooth course untill tragedy struck Kedia household once again. And this time it came with a double blow. Mrs. Kedia had gone to the neighborhood to attend a ceremony while the boys decided to stay back and spend the evening playing. They went to the terrace to fly a kite. Some time later, a kite got stuck on the branch of the tree that was seemingly just at a hands distance from the concrete fence of the terrace. One of the twins, decide to go bold and smiled daringly at his brother telling him that he was going to get the kite back.As he climbed up on the concrete fencing wall of the terrace to reach out for the kite, he lost balance and fell down. The other twin looked down in shock. After moments of remaining numb, it occurred to him that he must run out to call his mother. Back then mobile phones were not common enough. Their father did have one, but he carried it with him for work purposes. He ran urgently towards the neighbor’s home across the road where he knew their mother had gone.

As he thought of his brother lying in a pool of blood, he ran mindlessly ignoring the speeding bike that was approaching from the end of the street.

The entire neighborhood looked tearfully at the double tragedy at the Kedia household in the form of bodies of two young boys that lay covered with white cloth. Those who heard the news, rushed the Kedia house expecting to hear heart rending wailing of a mother who had lost both her kids in a blink. But no! everyone was disturbed by the composed demeanor with which Mrs. Kedia sat at the corner. Tears refused to give away from her eyes that were set on the lifeless bodies of her sons. Relatives tried to bring her to realize the catastrophe that had hit her life by shaking her vigorously. But to no avail.

Mr. Kedia agonized by the possibility of losing his wife to the tragedy tearfully walked upto her and cried inconsolably while holding her hands. People who had witnessed this felt their blood freeze as they watched the couple who had suddenly turned childless. But Mrs. Kedia did not yield. Instead she held her husband’s hands and rubbed them trying to comfort him. What she said next has become a folklore for everyone present in the house at that time.

‘If this is what God has planned for us, we are nobody to question his will. And if he had planned to inflict pain in my life in this manner, I refuse to give in and shed even a single tear to impart him any satisfaction. Our 15 year old sons will remain alive in my memory forever. You too must not fear anything. We have a life together. Let’s not pain our sons’ souls by crying over them. Their onward journey will only become more difficult.’ She hugged her husband who was crying breathlessly.

Life continued for the Kedia household thereafter. Mrs. Kedia kept herself busy with more religious engagements like the one she practiced by spending time with the cows at the cowshed.  The gwala at the cowshed had once told her mother in law about a dialogue he had had with Mrs. Kedia.

‘Sister, why don’t you ask back for the son you had given to your sister-in-law? She still has her three daughters. You will not remain childless once you have him back.’

With a determined expression, Mrs. Kedia had replied, ‘If it was for me to bring up that kid, impulse would not have caused me to give him to my sister-in-law. He isn’t a property or a donation, that I can ask back for. And who knows, the reason why he is alive today is because he is being brought up by a different mother. I don’t even want to think about his destiny, if he were to grow up with me.’ She looked on at the cows with affection. Her eyes glistened with unshed tears that had become a part of her.

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AtoZ Challenge 2018Kids & Women LifeStyleMotherhoodParenting

The Surrogate Mother – #AtoZChallenge2018

posted by Anupriya April 21, 2018 0 comments

Amrita looked on at the drama unfolding infront of her as she put little Lucky in the high chair and put a bowl of carrot infront of him. She had suffered so much with Niks eating habits that she decided to try out baby led weaning with her younger son. And was she disappointed? Not at all! At 9 months, Lucky ate all the fruits and finger foods on his own. She had to start with use of spoon and bowl with the boy soon. Amrita made a mental note of the same as she looked on at her elder son throwing a tantrum in the lobby.

‘Why do you have to go?’  Nik sobbed as he held on to Sandhya. Sandhya was short enough for little Nik to reach upto her waist and hold her tightly making it difficult for her to move. Sandhya’s toil worn face let out a mild smile as she ruffled 5 year old Nik’s hair,

‘I’ll be back in a day or two, Nik Baba’ she said in an assuring tone in her quaking voice. Her eyes checking out the wall clock repeatedly, fearing she might miss the direct bus to her village.

‘But please don’t go. What if I miss you? And what if Lucky misses you?’ Nik whined his hold still tight across her waist, he looked up pleading at the old lady with smoky grey hair.

Amrita observed Sandhya di’s face and realized that her eyes had become red suddenly. Probably due to the burning of tears that did not come out. Her heart went out for both her son and the old lady. She decided to put the old lady out of her agony lest she might miss her bus. Amrita moved towards her son and pulled him apart from Sandhya and held him tightly in her arms.

‘Nik baby, do you like to go to your Nani’s home in your vacations?’ Amrita continued when Nik nodded in affirmative, ‘Sandhya di also needs to go to her Nani ghar once in awhile. We must let her go.’

‘But I will miss her too much.’ Nik complained.

Amrita hugged her son and patted his back. Pulling him apart she smiled into his eyes, ‘She will miss you too dear.’ She turned towards Sandhya who stood looking at them with a torn expression, ‘Sandhya di, please be back soon. Nik will really miss you too much. Promise him that you will be back soon?’

Sandhya to overwhelmed to say anything, nodded quickly and put her hand on Nik’s head before quickly turning around to pick up her bags and leave the house.

Amrita let out a deep sigh and smiled at her elder son and distracted him with his favorite Cartoon show on the television. She settled back on the couch with a quick glance on the road outside watching Sandhya hurry away with tiny but hastened steps. Her thoughts automatically drifted towards the time she had met her for the first time.

Sandhya had started working in her mother-in-law’s household when she had been a young girl herself and Amrita’s husband Raghav had been as old as Nik. She had since been a permanent member of the same household. Even though Sandhya routed all her earnings for her ailing parents’ treatment, brother’s study and younger sisters’ marriage, she never married herself.

‘If I marry, I may not be able to work and earn as much.’ Sandhya gave a simple reply with a lopsided smile whenever asked the reason for not getting married in her hay days.

When Amrita became pregnant with Nik and was put on bed rest due to certain complications, Sandhya took it upon herself to make sure that she ate the right things at the right time. Amrita almost felt exasperated at the feel of having another mother-in-law hovering over her all the time, and a stricter one at that. When Nik was born, Sandhya volunteered to take care of the boy, while Amrita recovered from her C-section surgery. Even in the midst of the night, when Nik started wailing, Sandhya would pick him up to comfort him even before Amrita got up to check on him.

As Nik began to grow, Sandhya took over the responsibility of his nanny. She would massage him, give him a bath, feed him and play with him whenever she was not busy with other household chores. At that time Amrita had been really relieved, because she planned to join work in a couple of months. The very fact that Nik bonded well with Sandhya and spent a considerable amount of his awake time with her, came in as a major point in her favor, when she put her case to join back work infront of her mother-in-law.

A couple of months back in work, Amrita’s gratitude turned into jealousy when she would come back home and Nik would remain busy with Sandhya completely ignoring her presence. Amrita wished to spend all her time at home with Nik, only if Sandhya would allow that. A tiny squeal from the little one, and Sandhya would rush to sway him into his embrace and comfort him until he was playful again. Amrita today let out a smile of disbelief when she recalled how she had been extremely frustrated at that time. She had even contemplated leaving her job, lest she might lose any significance in her son’s life. She remembered how she had been on the threshold of snapping at Sandhya and asking her to mind her own business while staying away from her child. But better sense had prevailed, and she decided to slowly wean her son away from the old lady.

But during a week long break at home due to an ailment, Amrita observed that the dedication and affection that Sandhya showed towards her son was at a different level.  During those days of forced rest, Amrita realized that the old lady with blood flecked eyes actually did not have a family to call her own. They were her family. She did go back to her brother’s family time and again like this one instance, but that was not because she cared much about them. It was more because she still felt a sense of responsibility towards them and wanted to check on their well-being.

After the leave ended, Amrita felt a new sense of gratitude towards the old lady for loving her son as her own and made it a point to thank god everyday for having Sandhya in her life.  She knew that if for some reason, her mother-in-law or she herself were busy or tied up with an emergency, there was Sandhya di to take care of her son as good as like a mother.  Or maybe even better, Amrita contemplated. These days, when Amrita looks at the aging Sandhya who has slowed down a bit physically, she shudders at the thought when this surrogate mother to her kids, might not be fit anymore to take care of her kids. How then would she manage the household? Or more importantly, how would she ever be able to fill the gap of her absence in her kids’ life? With a little prayer for Sandhya’s long life – her kids’ happiness Amrita gets up and gets on with her work.

Read my other AtoZ Challenge posts here