The morning after. . .

It was really tormenting the mother in her now. Like an arrow, it was piercing through her very state of existence. It. The dilemma. The question.

Just the other morning, Mrs. Dutta had told her about the news report of that adopted boy, who ran away from his adopted parents, when he was confronted with the truth that he was an adopted child.

Will the same fate befall them???
Will Renee run away too? If she didn’t run away, then will things be the same as before???
Will she be able to shout “Maa!”, “Baba!” in the same carefree manner that she did, every time she reached home from school, or will her voice lack the sincerity???
Will her “I love you Maa” always sound so sweet???
Will her hugs have the same sense of surrender???
Will she stay???

As the questions appeared before her wide open eyes like flash cards, one after the other, she stared harder at the ceiling. Hoping that the answers were written there. For the umpteenth time that night, Parineeti closed her eyes, hoping that sleep would sweep away her worries, her doubts, and her fears.

Parineeti and Preet were sweethearts since college. Young love had soon found its way into marriage. The alliance was most suitable. They were a happy couple. Years had rolled on and Parineeti had conceived . But two months prior to the slated delivery, she had had a miscarriage. And the Doctors had told them that Parineeti could never conceive again. She had cried like mad that day. Inconsolably. Life had taken a wrong turn. And a cherished experience had ended with a horror run. Ended. Perennially.

Soon after this , Preet had arranged a month-long recourse to Gangtok, to help her get away from the all that was unpleasant and nasty. To help her recover. It was a road trip to Gangtok.

Sometimes God, in His own strange ways, gives back exactly what he had snatched away, albeit, in an unexpected way. Preet was driving his Volkswagen Polo. It was evening. They had just crossed Siliguri. Four/five more hours to Gangtok. Traffic was sparse. And Preet was able to accelerate up to 60/65 Km/hr. Suddenly, the Polo screeched to a halt. Parineeti looked up, and stared at Preet with questioning eyes. Preet pointed towards the road with his index finger.

They both alighted from the car and walked up to the stationary object lying on the metalled road, that Preet had pointed at. It was a baby!

Neatly wrapped in a little blanket, lying in a little basket – the loveliest baby they had ever seen.

Back to the present , that little baby-Renee was now thirteen years old. That evening they had tried hard to look for the parents of the baby. But, they couldn’t. Obviously , someone wouldn’t have left the baby lying on the National Highway, if they really wanted it. It was an unwanted child. For some. But , a heaven-sent blessing . For Preet and Parineeti. They had promised to themselves that they would not keep the child in dark about her identity. Once the child turned thirteen , they would sit down with her , and explain to her everything.

That moment had arrived, But, now, Parineeti was scared to let go of the truth, fearing the backlash of Renee’s teenaged mind. For the fear of losing her. For the fear of losing her child once again. Like the time she had had the miscarriage. She had pleaded with Preet to delay the matter for a couple more years. But Preet had urged her to be brave.

Soon it was morning. Parineeti had not slept the whole night. She got up from her bed with a jerk, realizing that the time had come. She woke Preet up. They held hands, looked at each other, Parineeti trying hard to fight back a tear. Preet gave her a firm nod of the head and resolutely said , “We have to do this Pari.”
There was a light knock at the door, following which, Renee entered the room.
“Good morning Ma, Good morning Baba”.
“Good morning Princess Renee”.
“Come here, honey”.
“Ma and I want to talk to you about something”.

Renee smiled and climbed into the bed and slid inside the blanket, between her Maa and Baba.
Preet cleared his throat and began to speak. . . .

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