She sat there on the beach, her legs sprawled, staring at the horizon. The sun had set long back and she could no longer see the waves being formed but thanks to the 100-watt bulb at a distance, she could still see them touch the shore and retreat gently. It had rained in the afternoon and not many people had thronged the beach that evening. At some distance was a group of teenagers, probably drunk, and beyond them a few couples each busy in their own world. The violent waves and the cloudy night soothed her present state of mind and she did not regret being alone. Now that she thought, there have been many such evenings in the last twenty years, when she had come and sat alone on the beach till the high tide soaked her and shook her of her thoughts. She wondered if that qualifies her as a weirdo. She was not young anymore but then forty-six year olds do not spend their evenings sitting on a beach waiting for the high tide to soak them; they have much more pressing concerns in life. This thought made her feel good and bad at the same time and she could not decide which one to choose.
Twenty years ago, on this day, she had realized her uterus had a very rare problem – it rejected the fertilized ovum every time she tried getting pregnant. Beyond the medical terms, what it meant was that she would never ever be a mother. She still remembered her reaction when she had heard this for the first time. It was not sorrow or denial. It was anger. She was angry at being cheated of her womanhood by the very same organ that was supposed to give it a new meaning someday. She had lost a lot of things since then – her husband left her for another woman, her relatives no longer recognized her, the society, anyways, does not have much for a woman who is single and cannot bear a child – but till date she considered that day as the day she lost her all. There was so much to absorb but she hardly soaked any except for that deep anger that created a wall between her and everything that happened after that day. For very long in her life, she held on to that wall as her only defense. Now that wall had become her life. She had consciously never allowed anything to permeate through it; to reach her; to get soaked into her. Except probably for the waves!
She felt the sand beneath her wet and realized that the tide has reached her. She heard one of the teenagers pass a nasty comment. Not that she was bothered, for having lived as a single woman for more than two decades, she was used to her anatomy being compared to fruits and vegetables and frankly at forty-six she could not care less, but she decided to get up and move towards her scooter. The city, of late, had become very unsafe. Not that it was safe ever!
She reached for her mobile once she got to the scooter. There were a couple of messages from work asking her to report immediately – Rachna would not have her dinner! The messages were sent an hour ago. She started her scooter in haste and rushed towards ‘My Home Residency’.
As she got in, the warden told her how difficult Rachna had been through the evening. Rachna was new to ‘My Home Residency’ and her experience as a counselor told her that this is not going to be easy.
Rachna had locked herself in the store room. She knocked, patiently at first and then a little harder.
“I want my mom,” Rachna shouted back.
She wanted to tell Rachna that her mom was no more but she did not have the heart. Either for the lack of a better answer or because she did not know what else to say to a sobbing child who had just been orphaned, she muttered, “Mom is here!”
The words struck her as she uttered them and she stood frozen. Rachna opened the door slowly, clung on to her and started crying. For a very long time, she stood like that, staring at the wall. As the little girl’s tears soaked into her clothes, making them wet, she suddenly had a very different feeling. Somehow, this time, she did not want to get soaked. She wiped Rachna’s tears and held her tighter. The twenty year old wall had finally shown signs of decay.
There are almost 14 million infertile couples in India. There are around 12.4 million orphan children in India. And yet, we have less than 5000 official adoptions a year. The answer stares at our face but we are too busy soaking our misfortune to realize it. Let’s decide to soak no more!