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In this intriguing account, a mother has to make a difficult decision, when it comes to one of her children. Read on to learn more!
Something very odd happened that day, something beyond logic.
What would you do if a passer-by suddenly stopped you on your way and said something about your past? You would be baffled by a riot of thoughts, starting with, “How did he come to know?”
What if he did not allow you to think much and started anticipating your future, what would you do? Especially if you were a completely logical person, who thought there couldn’t be anything beyond logic, beyond experience?
It was a time when we had left no stone unturned while trying for our second baby. I made up my mind very late, whether to have a second child. The day I discovered red spots on my dress, I realized something was wrong. Yes, it was an ectopic pregnancy, the fetus had set in my tube rather than the ovary. It could be a threat to my life there but I somehow survived it. A miracle? Perhaps. However, that’s a different story, though still related to the one I am trying to write today.
It took two years of continuous and intolerable treatment, and then the doctor declared, “Now your body is ready for the second issue, again.” We decided to go for the ‘test-tube baby’ and went to a famous doctor in a reputed IVF and fertility hospital in Delhi. My doctor gave me some tests and advised us to go for an IUI instead of IVF. My ectopic pregnancy had left me with a hormonal deficiency. She prescribed a hormonal treatment and scheduled a date for the IUI.
After a couple of months, being mentally exhausted, my husband and I decided to forget about the second child and try for an educational scholarship abroad. We were all set to process our documents. After finishing all the documentation, we decided to visit a part of South India.
We booked a car from Bangalore before a day or two. It was supposed to be with us for the whole journey. Driver bhaiya was a polite, intelligent, and friendly person. He welcomed us at the Bangalore Airport and drove us to our hotel. We started our journey from Bangalore the next morning, enjoyed a leisurely stay at Coorg, Coonoor, Munnar, and then reached Ooty. It was the day before my birthday. We were yet to experience the toy train ride which was at 2 pm on that day.
It was almost 1 o’clock in the afternoon. We had our lunch in a hotel near the Botanical Garden. We needed to cross the road to reach the parking area. Driver bhaiya was holding my then six year old daughter and told us, “Be careful! So many astrologers are here on the road, don’t get caught, they are all just frauds.”
The road was a little busy, so my husband held my hand to help me cross the road (something he never did before). Just then, we met that person. His lower body was wrapped in a discolored, geruaa dhoti. On his upper body, wrapped around his neck was a cloth of the same colour. He wore a Rudraksha mala (necklace) and tilak, carried a walking stick in one hand, and in the other, a kamandalu.
“Don’t leave this hand ever in your life,” his stick touched my husband’s hand lightly. “Your life has been changed the day you have touched her hand. If you leave the hand, you will be back to your old shape.”
We both looked at each other, then continued to cross the road. That person followed us, “You needed to cross the border to bring her here, don’t forget it ever.”
This one line stopped us both, as we knew what he meant. That person smiled a bit, “I want to tell you something. Show me your hand,” he asked my husband. My husband denied saying, “Why don’t you look at her hand?” I gave him a skeptical look. I am one of those who have never believed in astrology, palm reading, etc. I have never believed in anything which I have not seen, felt, or experienced. I never believed in either God or ghosts. Yet, maybe out of curiosity, I opened my palm to that stranger.
He anticipated my future for the next ten minutes or so. Then said, “You have traveled a long way to come to him (my husband). This might ruin your career. But you may need to cross another border to reach the peak of your career. My dear daughter, you need to decide wisely between crossing the border and your child. Listen to yourself only while stepping forward. You’re the only one who can decide wisely for yourself.”
I was listening to him half-heartedly. I never believed in all these predictions. My husband asked him, “How many children does she have?” The stranger answered, “Four.” This answer perplexed me; I was trying my best not to laugh out loud. He might have not realized it and continued, “The first one is a girl, then a boy, again a boy, then a girl. But only two will survive.”
I asked him, “Which two?” He answered, “I won’t tell you that. But remember only two. The rest, either they will go, or you need to sacrifice. Your third child is going to come to you very soon.” My husband couldn’t resist him anymore, “Okay, as you know everything, tell me how many wives do I have? Is it written on her hand?”
The stranger burst out in anger, saying, “You are not believing me, I won’t tell you anything. But I came to you to tell you many things. Forget it! Give me 25 rupees, as I am not allowed to tell you anything free.” He went away with that 25 rupees only. We got inside our car. Both my husband and Driver bhaiya started laughing aloud.
I could not enjoy the toy train ride. Only one thought was irritating me, only 25 rupees? Why only 25 rupees? He couldn’t even have a plate of rice with that 25 rupees!
As the toy train moved slowly through a dark tunnel, some memories left me baffled, “How could I forget that one-room apartment where we moved in after our marriage! Would I ever dare to stay in such a place, if ours was not a love marriage? My husband took only a couple of months to change his economic status, no doubt. Now, after nine long years, we have come a long way! Is it just because he had held my hands? Absurd! The credit goes to him only. He sacrificed our marital life, worked from morning 6 o’clock to 1 a.m. Though I never wanted all this wealth around.”
“The stranger said I have four children. The third one’s coming soon! How come? We have only one daughter. The next one, if any, should be my second child, not the third.” I thought Driver bhaiya was right. All of these people are fake.
After the train ride, we started our journey towards Mysore. I was almost asleep when my husband offered me a cup of tea. While sipping it slowly, I realized, the stranger was right! My daughter is my first child. The ectopic pregnancy was my second, who had gone by itself. So the next one should be our third child!
“Did he mean that I have conceived again?” I asked my husband. “Are you going crazy? The doctor and all those treatments couldn’t do anything! We stopped the treatment more than two months ago! Forget about the second or third child.”
“Could you please stop the car in front of any medical store on the way?” I asked him.
He gave me a strange look. After half an hour or so, he asked our driver to stop the car in front of a medical store, and bought me a test kit. As soon as we checked into the hotel, I rushed to do the test, and to my utter surprise, it came positive!
“It can’t be, maybe the kit was expired, not branded, since we bought it from a roadside store,” my husband was not ready to believe it, “I am going out, let me buy a branded one. Not tonight anymore, check it tomorrow morning.”
The next day, it was my birthday. I checked again and found those two pink lines on the kit. None of us could figure out what to do. My father called to wish me. My husband forbade me from informing him of anything. We had decided to return to Delhi as early as possible. We book the return flight on the same day at 8 pm.
This story could come to an end here. But destiny planned it otherwise. As soon as my doctor confirmed the pregnancy, I got a reply from the university. They had granted me the scholarship. I listened to my heart, and turned the opportunity.
It was to some extent a complicated pregnancy for me, each moment I was scared to lose the baby. It was a boy; the stranger proved himself right again, but the doctor had to go for a C-Section a month before my due date. He was so underweight! So skinny! He had no sucking power. I used to cry my heart out, each time I looked at him. I never could forget the last line, “Four children! but only two survive.”
My son was almost a year old when my doctor declared my fourth pregnancy. My husband was in utter shock, and so was I! I was in my fourth week. My husband told me, “If you want it, it’s okay. But I doubt whether we would be able to parent three kids equally. It’s not only the birth; their education, upbringing, future, are all tough for me to arrange for.”
“I don’t want the baby! Let’s go to the doctor!”
Yes, I had to spend many sleepless nights afterward with guilt until one day a baby voice asked me in my nightmare, “Why mumma? Why me? What was my fault?”
“It was not at all your fault baby, we both were destined to be. Only two of my children were supposed to be alive. It was easier for me to sacrifice you, dear. I had not met you ever. But the pain would be intolerable for me and everybody else if I had to sacrifice any one of my existing children. I couldn’t take a chance with them, baby! Rather it was easier to sacrifice the one, whom I haven’t met yet, who has not come yet. Forgive me, please. Maybe we’ll meet again in any of our next births.”
Image source A and N Photography, via Canva Pro
Munmun is an author by passion who authored five books including one Bengali Novel, Mayasm, and was honored and awarded by the Asian Academy of Arts & International Chamber of Media & Entertainment Industry as one of read more...
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I recommend reading Manjiri Indurkar's Origami Aai alongside her memoir to have a fulfilling and enriching experience of telling one's story with grace.
It’s All In Your Head, M famed author Manjiri Indurkar’s debut poetry collection, Origami Aai, is independent and yet an extension of her memoir in which she speaks with utmost grace about all forms of abuses that she has survived. In this book of intriguing and evocative poems, the poet weaves words to form images of the everyday life of her middle-class family, love found and lost, trauma, and healing.
The collection is divided into four segments, beginning with the family, slowly moving towards the world, and finally colliding them together.
We aren’t in mourning, but we are creatures of habit.
So we talk of each one who died of drowning,
and I listen to her stories with the patience
of a chronicler.
– Funereal Stories
When someone accuses you of "too much feminism", what they are really saying is, "I am uncomfortable with you challenging the status quo and disrupting my privilege".
Time and again, there is one phrase that keeps coming up in the social media discourse on feminism. Any guesses?
Ah, no prizes for guessing the infamous “itni bhi feminist” or “too much feminism” phrase, a classic eye-roller for me, and I am sure for many more of my tribe, in the realm of gender equality discussions.
Pray tell me, how can an ideology, a movement be too ‘much’? It’s not salt or the seasoning of your soup where you can go, “Oops, too much salt, only one spoon was required”. Either you stand for what feminism stands for, or you don’t.
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