Kamya and Samar were all smiles as their eyes went over the crowd of kids in all ages and sizes. Two boys were scuffling over a toy truck, a small girl was learning how to play the harmonica from a boy her age a, and a tiny baby girl was crawling between the beds. Kamya picked up the crawling baby girl and held her while the baby touched her cheek with his small hands. Kamya closed her eyes and pressed the baby to her bosom, ‘Oh! What joy it is to hold a baby.’ She thought while Samar beamed at her and nodded.
He ran a hand on the baby’s head, and she cooed, making babbling noises, and the couple couldn’t help but laugh. Mr. and Mrs. Shaw were watching this from the sides; this was not a rare scenario for them. Every couple who comes to take a baby home for adoption was the same, full of love, hope, and faith. How many have left happily with a baby, innumerable! Wasn’t it such injustice that their parents abandoned these kids while someone else comes to take them home. The Shaws had seen both sides of parentage without being a parent themselves.
While Kamya played with the baby girl, Samar gave her some space. A woman needs to be sure she has chosen the right baby to be a mother too. Samar was himself a psychotherapist and knew about feelings and emotions better than other people. Samar let his wife take her time while he strolled between the kids, observing them, smiling at their antics. And his eyes fell on Sia who was busy with her colouring book. He went on his haunches to see what she was drawing.
Sia stopped colouring when she saw the strange man kneel next to her and looked up, then eyed the Kamya and the baby girl with longing in her eyes. Samar didn’t fail to notice that.
“Hello, Princess! May I see what Her Highness is painting?”, Samar asked in a courteous, grown-up manner.
Sia smiled, her mother too called her ‘Princess’. She extended her drawing book towards him, and he took it with a ‘Thank you My Majesty’.
He flipped the pages; each page was a tale in itself. A tale of a family, of death, of estrangement. He looked at Sia with pain in his eyes. The colourful pages had a castle and a family and an even a funeral pyre. Samar gave her back her book.
“You too were playing hide and seek with your baby girl?” Sia asked with her eyes on Kamya. Samar turned her head in his wife’s direction who was busy getting accustomed to the baby.
He nodded, and Sia went on, “Would you keep one secret if I tell you?”, there was wonderment in Sia’s brown eyes.
Samar nodded, “My Mom too will come to take me. We too are playing hide and seek. I have to wait…” She counted the days on her fingers and added, “Eighty more days.” Sia told a stunned Samar.
Samar wanted to know more and probed with utmost care. He whispered to let Sia feel it was confidential. “Yes, she will come back. What’s her name?”
“I am Princess Sia, and my mother is Meera,” Sia told Samar.
Samar ruffled her hair, and she went back to her drawing. He was in the main office with The Shaws and was signing the legal contract for the baby girls adoption. Besides him Kamya sat with tears of happiness in her eyes, she was a mother now, officially. They named the baby ‘Muskaan‘ as she came in their lives like a smile.
When all the formalities were over, he broached Sia’s topic to Mr Arijit Shaw. “Mr Shaw, I have a rare, rather unusual request,” Samar said.
Arijit exchanged a worried look with Renuka, they both had made sure the couple’s background was good, practically and theoretically, and they had the baby, what could they need now.
Arijit cleared his throat and crossed his fingers on the table between the two couple and asked, “I am all ears.”
“That little girl…Sia, it’s about her.” Samar said and had made his wife look at him curiously along with The Shaws.
“She claims her mother will come to take her back in some three months time. And I want to take her with us till her return.” Samar said with confidence in his voice.
Arijit Shaw gulped and sighed, “Mr Verma I understand your concern for Sia, but kids spin all kind of tales to escape from harsh realities of life. Who knows if her mother is real or just her imagination? The child had a vivid imagination and already talks about castles and witches, so it is not unusual for her to spin a tale of Hide and Seek as a coping mechanism to deal with abandonment.”
Samar smiled, “Yes, exactly. I believe that too. You know I am a psychotherapist and know about these tendencies. I can bet my money that no one is coming back to take that kid back, but I have my hope pinned on her story, that her mother will indeed come back. Meanwhile, if you let us take her with us, we would be glad. She is waiting for her mother desperately and…” He paused rubbing his temple, “and I don’t want her to go to pieces when her mother doesn’t return to take her back. Who knows the woman is real or alive like you said.”
Renuka didn’t like the conversation at all. She fancied the opportunity to adopt Sia, and she doesn’t really want to lose that opportunity at any cost provided that her mother doesn’t come back to retake her ever. She quickly interrupted, “And what if she does come back? For that reason, we can’t afford to allow Sia for adoption at any cost Mr Verma… I am really sorry.”
“You can call me anytime in regards to Sia; I would come to take her with myself… but if we can…” Samar could not complete his sentence as Mr Shaw again interrupted as he felt the emotions of his own wife.
“Alright Mr Verma, we will discuss that later… As for Muskaan, give us one day to think. Tomorrow you can come and take her with you, we need to tie the loose ends of the paperwork.” Arijit Shaw said, and Samar shook his hand.
While driving back to his home, he looked at Kamya who had tears in her eyes. He knew why she was so quiet. She too once was promised that her father would take her back, but he never did. He left her with a friend and never returned. She went mad waiting for him, and when she got a handful to tackle, her caretakers had handed her over to an orphanage. As she grew up, she was repeatedly raped by the men of the orphanage until she ran killed her rapist and was jailed. She was put under psychiatric care by the court, and he was her treating Dr He fell in love with her and cured her with his care and respect. But the men who exploited her innocence had rendered her infertile. And five years after their marriage he had convinced her to adopt a child.
He loved Kamya and didn’t want another girl to end up like Kamya.