Meera put the pen down on the dark brown circular table, after signing the papers. She had given her consent to be a surrogate. Though she could not understand a word written on the papers, she had been explained the terms and conditions.

She had made up her mind the previous night as she alternated between tossing and turning in her bed and staring at the ceiling in the darkness. How she longed that some divine power would lift her up from the ruthless world!

Radha came to her rescue and guided her out of the room. The procedures would begin in four days time.

You don’t know how noble a deed you are doing, dear. Yes, we do this for money. And, we are not supposed to have any emotional connection with the life that would be developing in our wombs. But, you know Meera, that is easier said than done. Motherhood itself is a perennial source of emotions. Whatever you feel in the next nine months is going to cast an imprint on the life in your womb”, said Radha sitting across Meera in the grassy field basking in the morning sun.

I have carried my Sia. But, she was mine”, quipped Meera with a wistful sigh.

Radha shifted to sit beside Meera. “You have to make yourself happy, Meera. Only then you can deliver a healthy happy baby as a gift to the couple. Many surrogates take themselves to be mere baby-creating agents – a task in exchange for money. But if I am to give you a word of counsel, I would say that always do whatever you do, with all your heart.”

Their conversation was interrupted by the sound of footsteps on the dry leaves closer to them.

It was Mrs. Mehta. “Meera, I need to speak with you”, she said with a soft but firm expression on her face.

I’ll catch up with you later, Meera”, Radha mumbled and left.

I have no words to thank you for what you are doing for us. You are a blessed woman because you can carry a life within you. I, on the other hand, have been at the receiving end of family and society for being barren. I have spent teary days and nights with my agony known to me alone. It’s a curse, not to be able to carry a child in a country like ours”. So saying, Mrs. Mehta began to sob.

It was my husband’s idea to go for surrogacy”, she continued. “We read up a lot on surrogacy, practices in other countries and in ours. Our country is not open to commercial surrogacy. So, this place is in a way illegal. The recent laws enable only close relatives to be surrogates. But, I don’t care! I came here to assure you that in case of any legal complication, I and my husband will stand by you. In exchange, you will have to promise that you will not terminate your pregnancy under any circumstances”, Mrs. Mehta caught hold of Meera’s hands and literally pleaded with her.

Meera’s head reeled and her stomach churned within her. She was yet to process the information that she had just been given. From being a satisfied maid in a loving household to landing up at her sister-in-law’s place, having to part with Sia whom she didn’t know when she would see next and then landing up in this weird place – ooohhhh so much in so few days!! It was more than she could handle.

Cutting across the whirlpool of thoughts within her, came Mrs. Mehta’s voice of apprehensive anticipation, “You would do it. Would you not?

I will not back off. Rest assured”, said Meera and got up to leave. She didn’t care that Mrs. Mehta was still sitting on the ground. All she needed now was a calmness to get a grip of all that was going on. And, she needed to prepare for the coming nine months.

Meera didn’t come out of the small rectangular space that she had been given to stay. If the new laws render this whole thing illegal, what if I land in prison! Fear gripped her. She shuddered at the thought that she would never be able to meet her doll. As of today, she didn’t even have any trace or information about her daughter and where she will be. All she knew was that she had run for her life that dark night till she sees lights and hears soothing music and a strange feeling that her Sia would be safe in this place.

She didn’t have much understanding of any world affairs. She had been just a maid. But, she had ample of warm emotions.

‘Mr. Mehta has promised me to look for my daughter. I will make the couple promise me to not only find Sia but also take care of her should anything happen to me’, Meera decided firmly.