Of filter kaappi and maakkolams, of pookalams and kaineettams, of madisar and settumundu, of mangaacurry and mysorepak, of books and words, of pens and colours, of steps and rhythm...
To the good at heart, I offer a feast ;
Mess with me, and I'll be a beast :-D
Mahita had said that just now. She was Saarthak’s mother. So, what was the missing link ?
I didn’t want to draw conclusions anymore. Mahita had just proven me wrong in every guess of mine. Somehow, the law of the obvious seemed to elude her.
“Siddhanth?”, I asked, “Did he fall in love with you, then ? But he was married, wasn’t he? ”
She looked at me with mischief glinting in her eyes.
“ So are you, Vinod. But that doesn’t stop you from claiming that you love me, does it?”, she asked, chuckling, enjoying the dig.
I bit my tongue. She was right, again. I shook my head, lowering it in embarrassment.
“It’s fine, Vinod. Just kidding. And no, it wasn’t his love or anything,” she said.
“ Then ? What surprise do you have for me, now?”, I asked, relieved to be back on the story.
She poured herself a cup of coffee.
“ I was doing good at my job in the bank, and I had specialized in five programming languages, from my evening classes. I took up teaching there, so that I could spend my time fruitfully. Life was coming back to normal, though I found my loneliness taking a toll on my peace, at times. My mother-in-law had adjusted well with Mohan’s death, and she thought I ought to be secluded, but I couldn’t just be that. As I said earlier, I wanted to live. Getting married again wasn’t a choice for me. The first marriage that had happenedhad been no choice of mine, and just as I was about to discover love in it, it had broken just like a bubble. I felt fate had wronged me. I was absolutely alone. My father had gone to live with Sanjana, and my visits to them would often be laced with questions about what I planned to do with my future.None offered any emotional help .Fortunately finances weren’t a problem, because Mohan’s death benefits from the Army had been handed over to Ma, and that helped a lot”, she paused for a sip of coffee.
“ I still can’t imagine the situation you were in, Mahita”, I said in all honesty.
“ Sanjana wasn’t working, she wanted to start a family. They had been trying for a baby ever since their wedding , but luck never favoured them.Ma got worried, so they were asked to have a detailed medical check-up to find out what exactly the problem was. Sanjana was found to have a weak uterus, that couldn’t actually hold a feotus. That was what was happening with her. Even if a fusion took place, the embryo couldn’t hold on to the walls of the uterus, the doctors said. And they ruled out a possibility that she would ever conceive a baby,” she stopped and looked at me.
“ And ?,” I asked.
“ She was crestfallen. She had wanted a baby of her own and she loved Siddhanth. She fell into depression, saying that she couldn’t give him an offspring. That was the first time she spoke to me as a woman to a woman,” she paused again, took a sip and sat deep in thought.
“ Then, what happened then?”, I prodded again.
She looked at me.
“ Sanjana was a sharp woman. It was not for nothing that she’d learnt Biotechnology,” she said with a smirk.
“So ?”, I couldn’t understand.
“ All that she wanted was to have an offspring of hers with Siddhanth. And I was easily available,” she said.
“ What ? What if you were available?”, I was clueless.
Mahita’sanswer was a question.
“ Ever heard of Gestational Surrogacy ? IVF ?”, she asked, looking at me with some flame in her eyes.
I felt words choke and die within me. Surrogate Mother. In vitro Fertilisation.
She closed her eyes, as if unable to meet mine, as she spoke.
“ Only her uterus was gone. I was still there. Fresh. Untouched. In perfect health. And without a husband.She had great convincing power. She spoke to Siddhanth, she spoke to my father. And at last, she spoke to my mother-in-law. Told them, that the possibility of IVF was very much there. That they could still have their child through me. That it would make my life at their home worth it. That I must happily do it for them. That since I had no life of my own now, I could easily do this for them.”
I looked at her. Tears were streaming down her eyesrapidly.
“ And my father, spoke to me. Told me everything. Told me how I could bring a ray of happiness into this world.He told me, my widowhood was with a purpose. He asked me to think that Mohan himself was a foster son. So I was more of a foster daughter-in-law. And then my mother-in-law tried to convince me that my bringing the child to this world,would bring happiness to two families, and Mohan’s soul would be happy."
I couldn’t absorb it easily. Family ? IVF ? How could anyone speak like this to her ?
“ I thought and thought a lot about this. I spent sleepless nights, thinking about what was happening and why it was happening. Why did I have to endure all this ? But at the end, I decided to do it. Because I loved everyone around me, and if a sacrifice from my side could bring them happiness, I felt it right to do it for them,” she said.
“I can’t believe it, Mahita. I can’t imagine any woman doing that,” I said.
“ Truth is strange, Vinod. I wouldn’t have believed it either , had I been in a different scenario. I’m able to look back and believe it only because I did it,” she said.“ Three months after Sanjana initiated the talks, I got pregnant with their embryo. At Mumbai."
I looked at her , astonished at the way she treated the subject.
“ All of 24,virgin, pregnant with her sister's offspring , without having ever known even the taste of physical relationship in marriage,” she added, her voice doing nothing to mask her pain.
I kept quiet, looking at her eyes, overflowing with the tears she was fighting hard to control.
“ But fate was not done with me; not yet,anyway,” she added.
I looked at her again. A faint smile had come to play over the tears.