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To this, I said many mean things. Making a business around motherhood cannot possibly be about spreading love and happiness. Several people agreed with my notions. I must be right.
“Giving birth happens to be my day-time job, when will you ever understand that?,” saying this she slammed the door and left as I hung my head in shame. My sister was stubborn like that. I did not intend to question the integrity of her job. But the damage was already done.
Kavya was her name and she was the most unmotherly of all mothers.
At least that’s what they all blamed her for. “Shameless woman”, “slut”, “she has a heart of stone”…on went the never-ending circle of judgments from relatives and neighbors. I thought everything would end some day, when our lives would no longer be at the sympathies of the “unblessed” but privileged few. Every time a call came from the hospital, my heart thumped like the incessant rhythms of a tabla. She was going to be big again. And I was going to be the scapegoat of all vile criticisms while my sister was insulated from the shame game all through the nine months. She had to only stay at home, eat dates and drink juices among many other nicer things. Rich people richer than the price of our cars and maids took care of that, while I had to go out and be the butt of all “whore” jokes.
For the people in the big leagues, she was a “medical marvel”. Except for a few, all her surrogacies were successful. My sister always told me to keep company with the broad-minded ones to escape unnecessary judgments. She used to say, at the end of the day, doctors — educated people who save lives –were okay with her way of life, so why should she pay heed to others who think badly of her. Some ‘broad-minded’ people who were her friends called her a social worker. And she was happy. We had a strong house, a car, mixi, fridge, washing machine and everything. We even had maids sometimes. We were wealthy in that way. Maybe that’s why Grandma endured all in silence though I never had the courage to discuss this topic.
Now she has consented to her sixth one. As a responsible and grown-up sister, I have to relieve her of all these troubles. She no longer needs that kind of money. And now as I am in the big leagues as a doctor, I had my share of says. That’s what I tried to do. Me, Kani, the loving and caring sister. Though my sister’s surrogacies paid for my medical education, I have to discard my doctor ways and think like a mature and responsible sister. We needed to have ‘that’ talk.
“I do not understand what your problem is Kani, you know I have been a surrogate for years and now suddenly you are the promo-child for everything motherly?”,said Kavya.
“I don’t know how you are able to give away all those babies. I don’t want you to go through all that emotional turmoil”, I started my monologue but was soon interrupted:
“There is no emotional turmoil Kani, I have no attachment whatsoever with any of those children. Tell me dear Kani, what is your real problem?”
“I don’t know sister. You are just so different from other women. Didn’t you ever want a family of your own and children of your own too?”
“I would be lying to you if I said I did not want all that. That’s what we have all been allowed to dream about right. Let’s just say in the course of life, things did not come my way. And nobody really wanted to marry a person who was employed in the department of surrogacy anyways”, she chuckled. “But don’t you misunderstand. I might have had those dreams in the past and that’s well in the past. Now I have different dreams. Oh the things financial independence do to women!”, she said with a smug satisfaction.
“Well, it has made you less womanly”, I retorted.
“I don’t know how you are saying all this being a doctor. What is this womanliness and motherliness you are raving about? I really hope you stop being so narrow and get your kanjoos (miserly)head around things”
I went for a last blow and that was the last straw. She slammed the door and left. I felt bad and hung my head in shame. I did not know what was right and wrong anymore.
I knew Gran was listening to all this. At some point, she had left the heated room and went to hers. As I was mulling over the damage I had caused, Gran came back, her steps firm but slow. She had an old withered file in her hands. Inside were yellowed-papers torn mostly at the edges. She took one bundle out and gave it to me. She couldn’t read. I looked at her perplexed.
“I may not know how to read. But I can recognize that paper like the back of my hand. These changed your sister’s life”, she said, her voice not even quivering. Gran talked less and did more.
I felt like an ungrateful and spoilt bastard. I had no inkling that the said papers were going to reveal something similar.
It was my birth certificate among other things.
My parents’ familiar names did not fill the requisite spots. Instead of their names, I found other strange names. The attached letters contained information about a cancellation of a certain surrogacy and a call for abortion. The doctor had denied the abortion because the foetus was already too big. The last letter was written by my sister asking permission to adopt the newly delivered baby owing to “unusual circumstances of the donor couple”. The baby’s name was KANI. In other words, ‘fruit’. I was a fruit. An in vitro fruit. Rightly named, I would say.
Things were dawning fast. My notions about motherhood, family, and whatnot came crashing down within few seconds like a glasshouse built on the foundation of normalcy.
I could not control the tears rolling down my cheeks like racing ants.
I ran to make amends. Not only to my sister but also to my kanjoos mind.
Editor’s note: This story had been shortlisted for the January 2018 Muse of the Month, but not among the top 5 winners.
Image source: pixabay
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