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“My dear, I don’t mean to discourage you but our society is biased against single mothers but not single fathers. It’s an unfair world out there and fighting the taboo will not be easy.”
Our Muse of the Month series this year focus on stories that pass the Bechdel test, and are written on inspiration from a new prompt every month. This month, the prompt was “With A Leap Of Faith”, and the story should pass the Bechdel Test, that is, it should have at least two well crafted, named women characters (we differ here slightly from the classic Bechdel test, in that we require these characters to be named),
The fifth winner of our May 2018 Muse of the Month contest is Nandita Sharma.
An early morning call from the hospital jolted Naina from her deep slumber. She struggled to get ready, still not having recovered from the previous day’s equally exhausting schedule. Dr. Naina, the only gynecologist in that small government hospital could not avoid it at any cost.
She managed to be there just in time.
“Doctor, hope you remember we have a meeting with the CMO today” informed one of her junior as Naina hastily wore her white coat, adorning her neck with the customary stethoscope, all set for the imminent procedure of the day.
“Ohh! Yes, but I am heading to the OT. The patient is in acute labor pain. I need you to inform Dr. Alka that I will be late for the meeting. I tried contacting but her number was out of reach.” instructed Naina, gliding towards the corridor leading to her destination. But little did Naina know that this case would add a lasting piece of memory to her life.
It was indeed, Naina’s date with destiny. The operation theatre was buzzing with the usual commotion amid the mounting apprehensions owing to the complications that the mother to be had developed.
“Doctor is aurat ke judwa bache hue hain. Ye yahan behosh haalat mein aai thi aur iske saath iska pehla bacha bhi tha. Bata rahi thi ke khud hi ghar pe janam dia par doosra nhi kar pai. Pata nhi kaun ise yahan le aaya? Lekin ab iske saath koi bhi nhi”, the assistant nurse revealed the appalling case of Naina’s patient with an astounding ease since this was just another run-of-the-mill situation as the hospital was flooded with such cases.
“This is a complicated one. Let’s just get on to this immediately”, darted Naina adjusting her surgical gloves, not wanting to lose the unborn twin and also relieve the woman in distress.
“Nurse did you give her analgesic?”
“Alright then, her blood pressure levels are fluctuating. We need to hurry”, Naina was worried about her patient.
No sooner the OT turned into a battle field of sorts with several hands exchanging forceps, speculum, scissors and laparoscopic sponges to eventually ease the passage of the cervix; simultaneously monitoring blood pressure and administering drugs to the frail and completely frazzled mother.
It took a little less than an hour before the residual amniotic fluid separated and paved the way for the newborn’s first cry and probably with a near perfect Apgar score. The crucial part was now over and the babies had been transferred to the newly added small neonatal intensive care of the hospital, being born more than a month premature. Naina’s expressions wore a gratifying look as the mother child duo was out of danger now.
The rest of the day was consumed attending to other female patients in the outpatient department. Nonetheless, it was not far from over yet. Naina was attending to an old lady and a voice disrupted her conversation. The supervising nurse of the female ward stood there with a disconcerting piece of news.
Snuggled in a dark, warm, comforting place and then suddenly relocated into a strange, cold, bright world, the newborns, however, did not receive the expected cordial welcome. The mother of the day old twins had refused to feed her girls and displayed profound reluctance to take them back home.
Naina was visibly upset as she swiftly abandoned her composed posture to go and face the women in question. She signed prescription to the lady, grabbed her phone from the side table, hastily dropped it into her bag, settled the bag on her right shoulder and rushed towards the general ward. Naina entered the ward and before she could even attempt to convince the seemingly distraught postpartum mother, the woman reiterated her stance saying, “Mujhe rakhna hi nahi hai”.
“Par ye tumhara apna khoon hain, tumhari betian. Inhe tumhari zaroorat hai. Tum inhe aise kaise chor sakti ho?” Naina tried to intervene.
“Main saath nahi le jaa sakti. Main widhwa hun doctor aur mere paas itne paise bhi nhi. Ghar pe do bache aur hain. Main inhe khila nhi sakti. Mujhe nhi rakhna inhe”, she divulged justifying her resolve further.
Everyone in the ward was shell shocked with the woman’s deliberate decision to disown her own newborns but Naina perhaps, wasn’t ready to let the tiny souls suffer in apathy that too, at the hands of their own mother.
The long eventful day had left Naina strained. The little girls were all over her mind.
It was evening and the sun had come down. She unlocked the door of her rented two room apartment, and the first thing on her mind was Ananya. She often found recourse in Ananya, her colleague at the hospital, her pal and her wall of strength.
“Hey Ananya, I had been thinking of calling you, you missed the whole action today. Are you coming tomorrow?
“Yeah dear, but what happened? You sound low”.
“It was a very taxing day. I delivered a baby girl in the morning who is actually twins. One of them was birthed by the mother herself at home but the woman has simply refused to keep them”, Naina said in a hoarse tone.
“She is a poor widow with two elder daughters and she was blatantly vocal to part with her infants. Ananya, I pity the babies. What’s their fault and what about their future?” exploded Naina.
“This is a depressing reality of girl child in this country. Had they been a set of boys, this woman wouldn’t’ have dared to abandon them. But please don’t be saddened about it.”, Ananya tried to calm her raging emotions.
“Yes I know I shouldn’t but they are such pretty girls. They don’t deserve to be languishing in an orphanage”, she sighed.
Next morning Naina stepped in the hospital before her usual duty time, eager to check on the twins. Their biological mother had eventually left them behind, turning a deaf ear to the incessant persuasion by the hospital staff and doctors.
“They look like little fairies and you seem to be bonding with them”, Ananya remarked as Naina stood beside the incubator, steadily watching their tiny clenched fists and feet move in intervals.
“Hey when did you come?” Naina turned to question.
“Well after you, and while your gaze was fixed at them”, Ananya replied with a grin.
“Yeah, they are adorable”, she paused, staring wistfully at the girls.
“It’s very disheartening though, as they have no one to call their own”.
“Well actually Ananya, that’s what bothering me the most”, Naina’s eyes were still glued to the delicate inhabitants of the incubator.
“I have a surgery to perform, will see you in the latter half”, said Ananya walking out.
“Alright, see you in my room then”.
The day seemed too long. Naina could not help cease a bunch of unsettling questions bobbling inside her restless mind. Her musings were interrupted by an expected knock at the door.
“Ananya, hey come in!” greeted Naina.
“Are the girls still on your mind?” Ananya enquired immediately.
“Yes! Very much”
“Oh! They seem to have seriously seized your senses. What’s churning in there?” Ananya giggled, waiting for a definite answer to douse her inquisitiveness.
Naina’s eyes were afloat with an affirmation. Just that she was bracing for the sudden announcement.
“Well, I am adopting them”, Naina promptly uttered, leaving Ananya stunned for a while.
“Are you kidding me Dr. Naina?”
“You are all of twenty nine and you want to be a single mother and that too, of these abandoned twin girls. Do you think it is going to be a cake walk?” retorted a startled Ananya.
“Their mother has no qualms about offering them to any other caretaker. No one is going to adopt them in this small, sleepy town. And the girls have generated a kind of affinity which I cannot explain.”
“On a second thought, I decided to keep them with me and I plan to legally undertake this. I don’t want them to grow up in any orphanage”.
“Are you really sure about it Naina”?
“Your parents might not agree to it and will your future partner accept you with children who don’t even belong to you? And hope you know that an unmarried woman and that too, a single mother easily becomes the target of gossip and discrimination in this country”.
“Ananya, I don’t fancy marriage at present. And I know they might not and it certainly will be one hell of a daunting task”, answered Naina with a fleck of disquiet, holding back her initial state of ecstasy before pausing.
“Where’s their father”? Breaking the spell of silence, Ananya came up with another grilling question.
“What?” enquired Naina with a puzzled expression.
“Yes! Be ready to confront this extremely common and annoying question, whenever and wherever you take them. Are you ready for all that?”
“I do understand your concern and you are not entirely wrong in contemplating its outcome. But I somehow feel a strong connection with the girls. I wish to give them a respectable life. And no matter who stands by my side, I am not willing to alter my decision. I wish to bring them home as soon as possible” Naina asserted with a dash of optimism in her wide eyes.
“But if that’s your final word, I am with you. All the very best my lioness”!
Ananya held her arms around Naina who she knew, had seldom been part of the crowd but this was going to be a life altering journey.
Although, the subdued motherly instincts had surfaced remarkably but perhaps, Naina had a very coarse- grain approximation of how life would shape up in the coming days.
Her resolve created uproar the very next day. The opposition was distinct and poured in uninvited from all corners. Her fellow staff members advised her not to get involved in the adoption process and her parents too, were dead against it.
“By the way what are you going to name them”? Ananya asked anxiously.
‘Kaju & Kishmish for now!”
“Oh really! Sounds perfect. They are no doubt, as sweet as you have named them”.
“But where’s the twinkle in your eyes? It’s missing today”
“I informed mom & dad about the adoption and tried my best to convince but they out rightly rejected my intent and have threatened to cut off all ties.” she paused a bit only to uphold her bold stand once again.
“Hey…Naina, you are in fact, challenging the conventional, the objections were anyways evident”.
“Anyhow, their dissent doesn’t sadden me beyond a point. It will certainly take some time for them to absorb the reality. But then it does baffle me when an independent working woman like me is discouraged to make a choice. Why do I require the society to stamp my decision?”
“No you don’t! But then not everyone has the courage to walk the road not taken. Take a leap of faith and surge ahead to accomplish your cherished aim. Let’s give your babies a hero’s welcome.” Ananya’s words lifted Naina’s wilted spirits and she was more than determined to sail through rough waters.
A week and a half later, Naina was now the official custodian of Kaju & Kishmish. And as she held them, they almost instantly embosomed in Naina’s arms like the newly hatched unfledged cygnets, which curl up and stick to their mother swan to absorb the much needed warmth. Probably a mother’s touch was all that they had been craving for. Even though many big and small battles lay ahead of her, Naina was all smiles for her prized possessions.
Nandita Sharma wins a Rs 250 Amazon voucher, as well as a chance to be picked one among the top winners at the end of 2018. Congratulations!
Image source: pixabay
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