Father for a Day!
I had this strange feeling that he knows what is happening. Isaac is just two days old. Does he know that he has to leave me soon? Does he know that I was his father for a day or two? Does he know that I would be missing him, even though he was never born to me? I kissed his forehead, closed my eyes and brought his tiny frame to my cheeks. Isaac’s parents were coming that very day. There were summoned the previous day. They had never seen Isaac. I could sense the commotion of anxiety, fear, excitement, all mingled in to one single package of love. They came that evening. They looked much younger than I had imagined. They were waiting for longer than ten years to see Isaac. Finally, there were tears, there was gratitude, there was a sense of longing, fulfilled. Isaac’s mother wrapped up the little boy. She seemed to already know what she was doing. How could she not know? She was his mother: just that she never gave birth to him. Isaac’s father wept and thanked us a thousand times, until I had to constrain him.
Two days prior to the whole event, we were enjoying a sumptuous meal at the home of a friend of ours. I was along with my wife and two other colleagues. Bindiya then received a call from Tara. In the midst of the jollity, I saw a sense of fear which brought a pale smile on her face. When she got hold of my hand, I knew she was up to some request that required my attention, permission and action. She placed her cell phone down on the table, and narrated the scenario. A few months back, a lady found herself pregnant with her thirteenth child. She was about to abort the baby at a very late term, when she spoke to Tara’s mother. Tara’s mother advised her not to abort the baby. Time passed by, until the labour pain began. She made a point by calling Tara’s mother, asking her to come soon. She was incapable of taking care of the child, and so she was pleading to take away the child. Naturally the call was now diverted to us, and it was now burden to act. I called my friends to seek help, knowing how it would be to take a baby without any prior notice. I had to act fast. But all doors were closed, and I got no help from anyone. My colleagues and my wife were looking anxiously at me. I guess they already knew what course of action I should take. I however did not have the gut courage to act. In the meanwhile we received the news that a boy was born. Inside me, anxiousness grew until I placidly blurted: “let’s go get our child.”
We took a long ride to the village where Isaac was born. The lights were dim, and the inroads were rough. We stopped at a dead end where the road was no more. The heath before me was plain with tall dry blades fluttering with the uneven breeze. Tara’s parents, who were guiding us, took us for a small stride across the heath to reach some place, where we suddenly realized it was some accommodation. There were no walls, but a thatched roof, supported on bamboo beams leaning over a mud parapet. A tiny woman sat up on the woven jute cot. There were other cots where the twelve siblings lie. Only the eldest girl spurted up, to receive the invaders. The man shook hands with us, and apologized in troubling us. I couldn’t. Somewhere anger has rung a chord in me, questioning his credibility. Yet, I was glad enough to forgive him, that they did not abort the baby.
The man’s next request definitely put me into a rage.
The man then requested whether we could wait a few days more. He explained that he would receive a piteous sum Rupees 1200 for the baby, since the baby was born at home. This is part of the government’s provision for poor children born at home. He said, once he receives the money, we could take the baby. I chided him, and offered to take baby now, but never later. There was remorse on his face. He desperately wanted the baby out; but Rupees 1200 is worth a try. The lady looked at us anxiously, pleading us to take the baby without any delay. There was blood spluttered on the floor. The baby was wrapped in a rag, quite warm from the strong breeze that was blowing. He was an adorable child just like Moses! He hadn’t been cleaned up properly, that were dry stains of the fluid, with dust sprayed unevenly all over him. He had majesty in countenance, when so calm he slept within the warmth of a horrendously filthy cloth. The baby was placed in my arms by my wife, and I knew that we were parents to Isaac until he found his parents. But until then, he will grow up as my son.
We came home, with a train of our colleagues who assisted us. One was getting the formula, one was cleaning, one was heating and many others in many other errands. it was a home, where a newborn was welcome. Little Isaac would have enjoyed the attention he received that night. I know he did. He simply did not know how to thank us. He continued that attention for the next two nights and two days, until he found his parents.
Life is a journey, isn’t it?