MOM – VII

Sapna was desperately waiting on the platform for Naina’s train to come. Palash Dada made it a point that he will bring Naina along with him to visit her mom this winter vacation. The train came but Sapna could not find them in the coach they were supposed to be in. She searched for them frantically looking inside the train…

Mumma” She heard the sweet voice and turned back but she could not see anything as she felt her eyes were clasped with tiny soft fingers… That brought a delightful glee on her face as she touched those small fingers with hers. The fingers were soon uncovered and Sapna looked at Naina, a 15 year old beautiful girl standing in front of her. Tears rolled down through her cheeks and she wrapped her arms around Naina and kept her head on Naina’s chest with contentment. Palash Dada was standing there and enjoyed witnessing the love exchange between a mother and her daughter because Sapna met her daughter after three years. Sapna had to leave their town for her project work in Mumbai three years ago and Naina wasn’t allowed then by the Orphanage superintendent to go out of the campus till her tenth. Sapna saved every penny that she earned from the project so that she could spend them all on her daughter Naina’s future.

Ok my dear ladies… I am feeling extremely hungry… Hope we will finally leave this platform and go home…” Palash Dada tapped on their shoulders with his both hands and joked with a grin on his face.

I am so sorry Dada…. I was so engrossed feeling the heartbeat of my daughter that I forgot about you. Let’s go home.” Sapna came back to her senses and giggled as they all went out of the railway station.

After a day or so when Palash Dada returned back to his place leaving Sapna and Naina all alone, they both found each other sitting in the balcony, engrossed sharing and pouring out all their heartfelt love and care for each other. Naina was explaining how she spent last three years… how she missed her mom yet she didn’t forget her responsibility to study hard. But Sapna’s mind took her 10 years back when Mrs. Parmar threatened to take Naina away from her.

Mumma? Where are you lost?” Naina asked shaking Sapna’s hands.

No baby… I just went back to think how we struggled when you were just 5 years old.” Sapna said placing her right hand palm on Naina’s cheek, caressing.

Oh yeah… I faintly remember that old auntie… what’s her name… Yeah, Mrs. Parmar. She troubled you a lot…right Mumma?” Naina asked looking at her Mom’s face, keeping her head on Sapna’s lap. And they both recalled the events that had taken place 10 years back…

That day when Sapna offered Mrs. Parmar about being a surrogate mother to the child of her son she felt extremely restless and disturbed. She called up Palash Dada that evening to get some respite, some consolation, and some advice for the offer she had made getting scared of that scheming old lady and her threatening. Palash Dada heard her patiently and made her realised that the offer is not as easy as Sapna thinks it is. He made her understand that surrogacy can cause pain, heartache and confusion for her as she might later find it extremely painful giving away the child because of the bond that will form between her and the child she will be carrying.

Tears never stopped flowing from her eyes as she felt in a deep pit of desperation and helplessness. “Where are you God? Are you really even there? If you really exist why don’t you intervene in our matters? Can’t you see what all are happening to me and my daughter?” She screamed at the top of her voice, weeping relentlessly. She had never ever wept like that before and Naina was in deep slumber and she woke up when she heard her beloved Mumma weeping and screaming in utter desperation. She came running to her and hugged her tight… asking innocently what’s happening to her… why she is crying… But Sapna had no idea how to make a 5 year understand her plight.

She caressed Naina’s silky hairs with her fingers, kissed her forehead and clutched Naina tight to her bosom and said softly, “There are people who are trying to take you away from me and I don’t want to leave you a bit. That’s why Mumma is bitter about God and asking Him if He can really help us or not…” Sapna didn’t want Naina to have a bad image of Mrs. Parmar who’s so respected in her eyes so she didn’t mention her name to Naina.

Naina heard everything that her mother had to explain. Then she looked at Sapna and held her face in her tiny little hands and whispered gently, “Mumma, God knows everything… If you believe that then why to worry when you know that He knows our pain and problems? Don’t cry Mumma… I think God won’t ask me to go away from you…

Sapna smiled hearing her innocent explanation and her faith on God. She was startled by her understanding of God and His character. She felt a peace and assurance in her heart. They both had their dinner and slept peacefully that day… Everyday Sapna waited for Mrs. Parmar’s call but there was no call from her.

Days passed by but there was no sign of Mrs. Parmar. “Was Naina right? Did God really intervene in their matter?” Sapna wondered and kept thinking about it day and night. Almost one month passed away when Sapna decided to request Palash Dada to put Naina in the orphanage as a semi orphan child as she didn’t want the uncertainty of life affect adversely on Naina’s education and childhood. To Sapna’s respite Palash Dada could able to convince the trustees of the orphanage about Naina and she was accepted in and started going to school as well. She did excellent in her studies surprising all. She kept on hitting the top position in the class every year. And that made Sapna proud and she happily went ahead searching for a good job after seeing her daughter in the right place.

Later after few months Sapna came to know that Mr. Parmar had different plans regarding the issue of his son and daughter in law. When he came back from abroad he revealed that he had met a doctor in London who assured him about resolving the issue through artificial insemination.

 

Haven’t I told you Mom God was mindful about us and He has a plan for everything that happens to us whether it gives us joy or sorrow. He always takes care of those who seek Him earnestly.” Naina said as both of them came back from their past to the present.

Yes my dear… You are right… And God also took care of your studies by providing a scholarship which covers almost all your educational expenses. Wow!” Sapna said as she grabbed her teenage daughter in her arms embracing her while they enjoyed each other’s presence.

That day when Naina slept off after her dinner Sapna remembered the statement of Mrs. Parmar which she made 10 years back on Naina, “She is a gem that needs to be polished and I am the one who can do it.” It was a statement of such pride that she had made that day without understanding the fact that it was not she but only God who can make a pauper rich and turn a rich into a pauper. She kissed her daughter’s forehead, looking at her sleeping so peacefully. She is truly a gem whom God polished so well that she shone in her Mom’s darkened life.

MOM – VI

Sapna couldn’t sleep the whole night. She kept on thinking the worst thing that could happen to her. She didn’t care about her own life but dreaded parting with her soul – her daughter. She was confident of her offer, but was skeptical if Mrs. Parmar would agree. “What if she gets angry at the thought of it? What if she comes with goons and takes away my child in front of my eyes?” Numerous thoughts were racing in her mind. Just then, the doorbell rang. Hurriedly, she opened the door.

“Ho, ho, ho!” Said the voice, that was familiar.

“Oh! It’s that time of the year again! Please come inside my Santa”, Sapna said.

It was Palash Dada, one of the caretakers of the orphanage where Sapna used to live. He visited Sapna every year on Christmas and was aware of her ordeal and the worst things that she had faced at a tender age. Naina waited for him every year, because he brought cakes and goodies for her, like a real Santa. But, this time, both mom and daughter had completely forgotten about Christmas due to Naina’s illness.

“What’s wrong with you? You don’t look ok”, demanded Palash Dada.

“Ya, I couldn’t sleep last night”, she told everything about Naina’s hospital days and Mrs. Parmar to her Santa.

Just then Naina came out running, ” Santa is here!”, she exclaimed. She hugged her Santa and he handed a bag of goodies to her.

“I wish I could help you out, but trust me, God is watching and so is your husband. You will get all the happiness in your life.” Palash Dada said to Sapna as they both watched Naina exploring the colours and candies that she just got.

“Ah! God! I don’t know who’s​ He. If He’s there, I am the last one on his Make Them Happy List.”  Sapna snapped.

“Trust me, God will bring back your happiness.” Palash Dada said, as he bid adieu to her.

Just after he left, Sapna’s phone rang. It was Mrs Parmar.

“Yes ma’am, what did you decide to do – kidnap or take the offer?” Sapna asked.

“I am yet to hear the offer Sapna”, Mrs. Palmer said.

Sapna took a deep breath and said, ,”I will just put this straight ma’am. I am offering to be a surrogate mother. I can’t give you my daughter, but I can give you my womb. It will be your family blood. You can help me get settled in any different city, so that no one comes to know about it. I will start a new life with my daughter and you forget us after that…Uh ..mm..Mrs. Palmer, hello…ma’am, are you there?”

“Oh yes!”, Mrs. Palmer​ spoke. She was lost in thoughts. Clueless and confused, she said,” I will get back to you later.” She disconnected the phone. She never expected Sapna to say a thing like this.

Two women, two mothers were engrossed in deep thoughts. Each thinking about her child whom she loved the most in the world. One decision was going to change their lives.

MOM – V

What just happened? Did Mrs. Parmar really say this? How can she ask for my daughter?” Sapna felt she was going to faint. Just when she believed that there is humanity in the world – God decided to show her the reality. There is none, no humanity, no kindness. It is a bad, cruel world. 

Naina is my daughter. She is my life. I am not letting her go away from me at any cost. I am going to fight this with all I have.” 

Mrs. Parmar’s words still ringing in her ears – “You yourself are struggling to make ends meet, how you can meet her demands as she grows up.  She is a gem that needs to be polished and I am the one who can do it.  Don’t let this flower perish in the heat of poverty.

Yes, that’s true. I am struggling to make ends meet but if I let my daughter go away – then what is the meaning of living.” Sapna was bitterly crying now. She was stuck, she was indebted to Mrs. Parmar – but the cost of debt is her life itself. Why couldn’t she ask for something else? 

Sapna took her phone and called Mrs. Parmar immediately. After a few rings the call was received. 

Mrs. Parmar this is Sapna here. Do you have a few minutes to talk?” this time Sapna had a harshness in her voice. How dare this lady thought that she could just take away my daughter?

Yes Sapna, tell me. When can I come and pick up Naina from you?” said Mrs. Parmar in a mocking tone that pierced through Sapna.

Naina is my life, Ma’am. You could have asked for anything else, I would have given it to you. But Naina herself? I am sorry ma’am. I know I am indebted to you. I will work twice thrice as hard and return back all of your money with whatever interest you want. But I am not giving Naina away. This is my final decision. Please let me know how else can I repay you.” Sapna had a determination in her voice that she never knew she even had.

Oh I see! Really Sapna, you are a fool to think this way. What will Naina achieve by studying in a filthy government school? What about her dreams, Sapna? Do you see that this girl might want to become something big – Fighter Pilot, Fashion Designer, Investment Banker or anything else? Do you think you will ever have enough money to support her dreams, to let her have those wings she can fly with?” Mocking tone still continued in her voice.

Ma’am with all due respect, happiness matters to me and Sapna more than the amount of money we earn or the kind of career we make. She will become what she wants to be even in my limited income. Have some humanity, ma’am. You are a mother yourself, can you imagine selling off your 5 year old son for his dreams? We are poor, ma’am but we do have a heart which is not a stone. I am repeating again – please tell me how else can I repay you.” Sapna was shouting now. 

What happened Mumma?” Naina who was sleeping in the bedroom woke up with all the noise. She seemed scared and that’s when Sapna realized that she was shouting out so loud. 

Do you even realize Sapna who you are talking to? You are talking to the owner of the factory where your husband was working in meagre salary. Do you know what all can I do to you? I can crush you completely and even have your daughter kidnapped.” Mrs. Parmar’s voice now had cruelty and harshness.

Ma’am as I said – I already know that you have no heart. Don’t try to threaten me with all this. I can understand how desperate you are for a grandchild. So, I have an offer to make to you. It is again a win-win situation. Tell me if you are ready to listen to my offer. I need to go now to my daughter. Please call me when you are ready.” Said Sapna without thinking. Words just seem to come out of her mouth as if she was possessed by something else.

Sapna disconnected the call. Her heart was racing, she was sweating, her feet and hands were trembling. She couldn’t even imagine where she got the courage from. And what the hell did she mention about offer. She has no offer to make. What will she say when Mrs. Parmar actually calls back? 

Naina came running to her mother and wiped her tears off. That’s when Sapna realized that she was crying too. She hugged her little girl really long – thinking hard about an offer to make to Mrs. Parmar. 

Another thought was running in parallel – what if she runs away with Naina to a place where Parmar’s cannot find them and trouble them? Kidnapping is also an option with them. We need to run. But where and how? They have no money and no place to go to.

MOM – IV

Sapna nodded in affirmation but her eyes still didn’t know what to expect next.  They made their way to Mrs. Parmar’s car where the chauffeur opened the door politely, let the ladies in, closed the doors behind them and steered towards the hospital as guided by Sapna.

Within half an hour they reached the hospital.  As soon as Sapna entered Naina’s ward followed by Mrs.Parmar, Sapna could sense a different air around her.  The staff was more attentive than ever.

All this made Sapna amaze at the fact that how brands adorned by someone makes it count among people around.  Till yesterday nurses were nowhere close to considerate as far as their words were concerned.  Sapna thought may be the nature of their work made them so.  But today their tones softened and everyone seemed to be on toes for little Naina.  Whatever be the reason for this change it did give Sapna a ray of hope.

Mrs.Parmar met the doctor in charge of Naina’s case.  She spoke to him at length while Sapna was with Naina at a distance.  Following their discussion was Naina’s treatment which the doctor confirmed personally and bills aren’t a hindrance anymore, thanks to this kind lady, Mrs.Parmar.  She met Naina, spoke to her affectionately, caressed her hair, held her hands warmly.  Sapna just stood beside Naina, seeing all this with a soft smile and pearly tear drops in her eyes which were nothing but her gratitude towards this elderly woman and God.

Soon Naina – Mrs.Parmar’s conversation was interrupted by a nurse who came there with medicine.  As nurse got busy with Naina, Mrs.Parmar took Sapna aside and assured her of Naina’s treatment.

With one hand she held Sapna’s hand while the other she kept at her shoulder and said ” young lady, keep your worries at bay, your daughter is in safe hands.  She will be fine in no time, you shall see” and handed over her a card with her contact details in it and continued “give me a call in case of any need and definitely do let me know when you are home.  I want to meet you both at your place, in a space merrier and beautiful, free from this staunch of medicines”.

And after giving some signing off notes to doctor she left.  Sapna kept staring at the petty card in her hand before Naina called her.

Almost after two weeks Naina was discharged.  She was free from her illness and Sapna from her grief.  They reached home which was more or less deserted after Naina fell ill as she was in hospital and Sapna kept wandering for help.

Sapna made Naina comfortable and she fell asleep.  Sapna started to wind up the scattered house and amidst of her chores she remembered that she was supposed to call Mrs.Parmar to inform her about Naina’s discharge from hospital.

She grabbed her phone and searched for the card that Mrs.Parmar gave her.  She dialled the number “Hello, can I talk to Mrs.Parmar please?”

Mrs.Parmar – Yes speaking”

Sapna –  Hello mam, this is Sapna, Naina’s mother ( her new-found identity), how are you mam?”

Mrs.Parmar – Oh yes Sapna! Well I am doing good, tell me how’s your princess doing ( for a person of her stature it was unlikely to remember someone like these two but she did).

Sapna – All thanks to you mam, she is absolutely fine and has been discharged from hospital.  We are at home now.  If you are free tomorrow, we would like to meet you.  Naina would love to thank you personally.  We owe it to you.  I don’t know if I ever shall be able to repay you for what have you done to us.

Mrs.Parmar – No young lady, thank God.  Being born as human it’s the least I could do.  And don’t hassle the little girl, she is just been out of the hospital.  I will come to your place to see her. Can you give me your address please?

Sapna was at loss of words.  She never imagined that this world still hosts people like this lady.  Delighted she gave her address.

And the next day itself Mrs.Parmar paid a visit to their humble nest.  She brought goodies for Naina, spent some quality time with her before Naina was tired and slipped into deep slumber.

All that Sapna could do was to watch her daughter and Mrs.Parmar with amusement, gratitude and to a certain extent disbelief that how things took a turn for good.

“So” Mrs.parmar begin and brought Sapna back to her senses “what next?”.

With a smile Sapna replied “both of us have to resume our school.  It’s been really long that we are on leave.  To take care of her I have to join back”.

Mrs.Parmar countered her saying ” for how long you think you can continue like this?”.  There was a change in her tone.  Was it concern or sarcasm?  Sapna was confused.

And Mrs.Parmar continued “Sapna let me get straight to the point.  I have chosen to help you because I need a favour from you.  Remember you said you would do anything in exchange of this help?  I want Naina.  I have everything in life, you know it well but God has deprived me of the happiness of having grandchildren for my daughter-in-law can never conceive.  Naina gave me a hope and I could give her a bright future which she deserves and you can only dream of but never materialize it.  You yourself are struggling to make ends meet, how can you meet her demands as she grows up.  She is a gem that needs to be polished and I am the one who can do it.  Don’t let this flower perish in the heat of poverty.  Don’t get me wrong, at this point I might be sounding as a harsh hot-headed businesswoman but think as a mother.  A mother always wants her child to be happy and successful.  And oppressing desires in the name of “Learning to Be Content” is a hogwash.  Who else would know that better than you.  In return I would recommend you for a better job for a better living.  It’s a win-win situation for you.  All that you have to do is give me Naina.  Just think of it, it’s for Naina, Your Naina”.

She left leaving Sapna battered to pieces…

THE HEART OF THE MATTER

An ancient proverb says, “Guard the heart with all diligence for out of it proceed the issues of life”, meaning, the things you say and do reflect deeper, important life issues. A wise teacher from the Middle East once reiterated this in a different way, “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.  A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.  But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.  For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” This same teacher said later concerning food and activities that people considered ‘unclean’, “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then is eliminated? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean’. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean’ but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean'”. This means that whatever we say reflects the uncleanness of our hearts and these ‘harmless’ words are ultimately what make us (or reveal us as) ‘clean’ or ‘unclean.’ Teachings like these sober me up very quickly. What this means, ultimately, is that I only have myself to blame for the condition of my heart and that I must own my actions and words and blame them on no one else but myself. This is what was meant by “give an account”. Stephen R. Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People wrote similarly, “If you start to think that the problem is ‘out there,’ stop yourself. That thought is the problem” [emphasis mine]. He also states that until we realize that our lives’ are a product of our own decisions (and no one else’s), we will be unable to choose otherwise for ourselves. If we are reaping negative consequences in our life, it is best to consult the soil of our behavior (our heart) and not blame the sun, thorns, or water around us (our conditions).

What is even more shocking to me is a quote that talks about how our heart is constantly deceiving us. In a pivotal time that preceded seventy years of slavery in the foreign land, Babylon, a leader and teacher of the people of Israel, very wisely warned his people concerning their hearts and the trouble they were being led into,”The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” ‘To deceive’ means ‘to deliberately cause (someone) to believe something that is not true, especially for personal gain.’ This means that not only is your heart convincing you of something that isn’t true, it is doing it for personal gain (fame, self-honor, impure pleasures, etc.) This frightens me because the problem with this kind of self-deception is that the source is YOU (or rather, your heart), which makes the deception nearly inescapable. Not to mention, if even *I* don’t understand my own heart…then who does?? Ultimately, if what we are believing isn’t true, then we are living in a fantasy world. We are like the fanatic that dresses up in a superhero costume and jumps off a high-rise while echoing the popular song, “I believe I can fly!” It doesn’t matter how firmly our hearts have deceived us into believing something if it isn’t true. If I stand out in the middle of a busy lane, blind-folded and yell defiantly, “I don’t believe in traffic!” What’s going to happen? Can you visualize it? It would be an ugly and tragic sight. I’d like to think that I’d have some loved ones around me to shake me from my delusion.

This brings me to my next point. If we are the source of our own self-deception, how can we possibly escape it? I’d like to propose 4 solutions: One, surround yourself with friends who will tell you the truth even when it smarts a bit. Another favorite proverb of mine is “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” If the people around you are constantly numbing you and themselves to life’s difficult questions and trials with meaningless activities and praises, then I recommend you find a group of friends who will challenge you to grow as a person both in character and deed (as the two are inseparable). Two, find a way to process out the things that you are dealing with. Whether that is journaling, praying, or counseling with a trusted friend, sometimes you just need a “sounding board” to figure out what’s real and concrete in your life (But…a word of warning, be mindful, your friends are susceptible as well). The pause-inducing fact of universal self-deception brings me to my third tip, whole-heartedly search for the truth of a matter, no matter what it is. If you dedicate your life to pursuing truth no matter where it leads you, then your path will be sure and your feet will not slip. Do not assume that you already have the truth because you may only have part or have been unwittingly convinced of an untruth somewhere in your past.  I primarily cultivate this by being a continual open-minded learner and listener (but not so open-minded that my brain falls out). If I maintain a teachable heart and ask myself, “Is there truth here? Is there something new that I can learn from this person/idea?” then I believe I’m well on my way to escaping the deceit of my own heart. After all, it is only revealed input from the outside that will help me align my heart with the truth in the innermost part of my being. [While I’m on the subject, a warning to those of you who have everything “figured out” (although if you’re reading this I suspect that may not be the case): if you are not “teachable” you will never grow and will remain the same person your entire life; unable to be corrected, you will be unable to be encouraged; unable to be a learner, you will never have anything of substance to offer anyone else. In short, be teachable or stay where you are until your sojourn here expires. I say this harshly that I might “wound” some of you into life and healing].

In summary, in order to fight the natural self-deception of our hearts you must:

  1. Surround yourself with loved ones who will challenge you to grow (even if it hurts a little)
  2. Live a life of self-reflection and “analysis” through things like prayer, journaling, and wise counsel
  3. Don’t let truth escape you. Bind it around your neck and write it on your heart. Search for it like you would hidden treasure. If you don’t find it as you search, it will more than likely find you.

I sincerely hope that whatever wisdom I have to offer has shone through and helps guide you along your path and that whatever is not true would fall on deaf ears and blind eyes. Thanks for reading and I pray you found something to carry with you and that if it helped, you’ll share it with a friend.