Team: Wings of Change
Jennifer looked at the red circle marked on the calendar reflected in the mirror. Only five days to go. Nine years had passed and it wasn’t once that she slept free of turmoil of her past. She was a successful woman today and had handled every situation thrown by life with courage. She was strong and independent and was ready for future.
But past six days were more than what she could take. She had never felt so desperate and helpless. It had started after the call from the adoption agency. Jennifer had found herself collapsed when she heard she could meet her child. The new parents were ready. She was shocked. After all these years! She felt minuscule and happy at the same time. ‘Roohi’, she whispered. That’s what the adoption agency said the parents named her. It was a beautiful name. Indeed. ‘Only five days to go’, she whispered again.
Should she tell this to her husband. Kumar was gentleman. She had not kept her past from him. ‘I want to be your present and future. Your past does not worry me', he had said. He was a gem, someone to have more than she deserved. He was her present and she was extremely happy to be with him. She remembered the time she confessed. She almost asked him if the day comes, when she wants to be with her child, would he be ready for her? She had almost but had stayed mum instead. Probably it was too much to ask from him on their first wedding night. Or probably she was afraid of the answer.
The breeze was blowing and was bringing in the fresh salty air from the sea as Shekhar and Tara cuddled in each other’s arms. Mumbai had been lucky for them. Each had found their niche in their career and most importantly they had been gifted Roohi here in Mumbai. How much they love her. Tara knew Shekhar was very emotional about Roohi and he was totally unaware of the circumstances that will follow the meeting. The question remained, how would he tell a child what is adoption. She looked affectionately at him as he talked about Roohi with twinkle in his eyes. It was as if he had found the meaning of life with Roohi. Tara felt a sting of jealousy of the little devil. But Shekhar looked adorable as a father. It was when Shekhar sensed the passion arousing in her and pulled her towards him that they heard Roohi behind the door, banging and crying violently. Shekhar ran to the door and pulled her in embrace.
‘Please don’t leave me, papa’, Roohi was crying. ‘Papa is not leaving you, Roohi. I am here, mama is here’, he assured her but Roohi kept sobbing, occasionally stopping to catch breath. Shekhar looked at Tara and she saw his eyes wide with concern, a question. ‘Probably a nightmare’, she whispered to him. He took the child to the bed and held her close and sang lullaby until slowly she slept off.
He laid Roohi between them on the bed. They had not yet revealed Roohi about her birth. ‘Of all the time, now? How did she sensed? It’s not that we would be leaving her, but how?’, he sighed. ‘She is not ready, Roohi’,he whispered. ‘Probably it’s not a good idea for her to meet her biological mother now. You were right’, he replied.
‘But we are a little late Shekhar. You have already contacted her biological mother. And did you hear the yearning in the woman's voice, to meet the child, after all these years', Tara replied. ‘That doesn’t matter. What if we don’t tell her when we reach Kerela’, Shekhar fought back.
‘You messaged her mom's address, Shekhar. That woman is probably counting days. On the day, she is going to be at our door, be it the end of the world’, Tara answered trying to bring to him the complexity of the situation. He gave an angry look to her, his mind judging, What kind of mother is she. But then she isn’t. Tara had adopted Roohi… He had too. But.. their father-daughter relationship were like blood relation. Why she couldn’t understand. He sighed. ‘Well in that case we are not going to Kerela.’ He retaliated.
Dissapointment creeped in Tara's voice. ‘I would be meeting my mom after years. ‘So what do you want? Do you want to hand over the girl to that woman who abandoned her?’ he yelled at her. ‘What has happened to you, Shekhar? Listen, I am not saying anything like that. It was your decision to meet them up.’ She replied. She had never seen him like this. Just a child’s dream could do this to him?
But then sighed and crossed Roohi towards him. ‘Listen. Nothing’s going to happen to Roohi. She just had a nightmare and would soon forget it. She won’t even remember it when she wakes up tomorrow. Believe me’. She held his head in her arms. ‘We can take help of a counselor if you want. Or if still you don’t want to go ahead, then we have to be honest to the woman. We cannot keep her in dark. We will have to call her and tell her that Roohi is not yet ready. Don’t worry, baby. Everything will be fine. Roohi will be fine… With us.’ He looked in her eyes and she could see he had relaxed a bit but the thin film of tears in his eyes was a warning to her. Roohi was his life. A reason to live. She wiped his tears and hugged him tightly. He felt relaxed. They glanced at the little girl. She looked peaceful in her sleep. Tara pulled him closer and hugged him tightly untill they slept off in each others arms.
Jennifer unable to make peace with sleep, tossed and turned in bed. Then giving up, she sat up. Passing her hand over her stomach, she felt the years coming back to her cursing her for abandoning her child. How cold was she? How could she do it? Was her heart dead? All the rational and circumstances then looked sham now and she just felt drenched in guilt. Does she have the courage to meet the child? Does she have the answer that the child will ask? Thousand Questions! Thousand curses! She might have been stone then but if so the stone was now melting. It was late but not too late. Was it? She has to meet Roohi. She has too. Passing her hand over her womb, thinking of the child she gave away, she closed her eyes and whispered, Just five days to go’.
He was standing by the door for the past fifteen minutes but could not make up his mind. Then he heard footsteps above. If he doesn’t act, one might mistake him for threat. He took a step and rang the bell. As he had expected, the man opened the door. ‘Yes’, he said. ‘Uh?’, Cyrus stammered. ‘Yea..hi.. I am Cyrus. Uh….actually I wanted to talk to you. About…about…uh…’, no matter how much he had prepared he saw himself weakening. His legs were giving up and he thought he might fall down. But thankfully they were still holding up his body, but his mind might fall to pieces anytime now. Then suddenly he heard the voice. ‘Papa, papa’, came running the small girl. In the frill frock. With two pony tales. Roohi….his lips synced the name but ..’Yes, How can I help you?’ the voice brought Cyrus back to reality.
When he looked up, a woman, probably his wife, was beside the man. Both looked puzzled and waiting for an answer. ‘Uh?...I am sorry’, Cyrus mumbled and fled. That night his mind was a whirlwind. Years had passed. But he was still the same chicken. Wary of commitments. And how much he hated himself for it.