Meera was in pain – physically, mentally and emotionally. Her condition was critical as her pregnancy was three months running, yet she has no place to hide and no one to depend upon. The pain of carrying a baby was killing her, and the emotional agony was devastating her from within. She had hoped on her old employers as they knew her for a long time, but they also acted as if she was a whore. Tears rolled down from her eyes as she walked on the road thinking what she would do with a baby in her belly on the verge of being delivered while her bundle of joy – Sia was nowhere to be found. The scorching heat of the sun in April was making her sicker as she reached the Kullu Bus Terminus. She took out her wallet and counted her money… ‘seven thousand four hundred thirty-four…’ She murmured. At least she could buy a ticket to Manali as she had no hope left in Kullu.
On reaching Manali, she walked straight to the place where she left Sia, at the church gate but she found no one there. She kept looking around for people whom she could ask about the church and the orphanage, but no one was seen at that time of the day when the sun was shining like a burning fireball. She had no food in her tummy, and she felt sick. She saw some construction work was going near that place. She walked toward it, but she could not reach it. She fainted, and everything looked so dark.
When Meera got back her consciousness, she found herself in a temporary shade of a few females working at the construction site.
“Where do you stay?”, asked one lady and Meera was in tears.
“I have no place to go, and in this condition, I might lose the baby or myself,” she replied with a feeble voice.
“I think she hasn’t eaten anything…” said another lady as she offered her some rice. Meera was grateful to them and ate a bit. Meera requested them to allow her to stay there with them. They showed pity looking at her condition and spoke to the contractor. He could not say NO to them but allowed her to stay with all of them. She was asked to help in cooking work in exchange for the favour she got from all.
Meera made up her mind that she would stay close to that place so that she could wait for someone who could give some information about the church or the orphanage or about her doll. Every day she would get up early and help in the cooking. When she finished all her work, she would walk down to the building where there was a church previously, sit there on the steps till late evening and weep remembering her doll, Sia. She would cry with her heart out cursing herself for leaving her daughter alone… She would pray to God asking Him thousands of questions.
And this routine continued for the next three months.
It was on a day in the monsoon month of August, that Meera collapsed due to lack of care and proper intake of food supplements. It was evening time, and she was incessantly weeping sitting at the same place as usual. She was extremely dehydrated and malnourished. No one usually disturbed her and left her all alone to herself… and that was the reason she was not noticed by others. After 15 minutes or so when one of the females saw her on the ground, she screamed to all and rushed to her. There were few others gathered together around Meera as she was picked up from the ground and carried down to the thatched house. Some passers-by were curious as well to know what had happened. And when they were told, one male out of them kind of showed little more interest to Meera’s matter.
“What? She used to sit here all the time waiting for someone who could tell about her daughter?”
“Yes Sir, she says that she left her daughter at the church door and told her to wait till she comes back after three months to take her back.”
“Can you take me to her… I want to talk to her…”
“Why Sir, do you know about her daughter?”
“I don’t know, but I think I can help her out?”
Mr Samar Verma, the psychotherapist, was taken inside the thatched house where all the women workers were standing around her. They moved away thinking Mr Verma as a doctor. He checked her pulses, and it was rapid. He could make out that Meera needed immediate care.
“She needs to be hospitalised right away… or else she will be in trouble. One of you should come with her in my car to the hospital…,” he instructed and two of Meera’s closest mates went with her in Mr Verma’s car.
Meera was admitted in the gynaecology department with Mr Verma’s reference. He stayed there waiting for the doctor’s remarks and sent the other two women back to their place assuring them that he knew Meera very well. After few minutes when Meera was in a condition to talk, Mr Verma went inside to talk to her and he was pleased to know that his guesses were right though he didn’t tell Meera that he had met Sia thinking she should not be too excited as she was not in the right condition. He assured Meera that everything will be alright.
Meera’s condition was so bad that it was difficult for her to recover quickly. Moreover, the doctors were more worried because of the baby growing inside her. They put their everything to make Meera healthy again for her to deliver a healthy baby at the right time. Mr Verma along with her wife visited her from time to time assuring and consoling her. And within two weeks Meera was alright though she was advised not to travel or do any physical work till she delivered the baby.
Mr Verma brought Meera to his home. Meera was not comfortable with a stranger. She was unable to understand why this man was interested in her so much though she was grateful for him because he bore everything when she desperately needed medical attention. She felt comforted when she found Mrs. Verma welcoming her with such compassion. She was really puzzled by their behaviours. But she could not restrain herself from sobbing when she saw Muskaan, remembering her own daughter.
“Is Sia exactly of her age, Meera?” Mr Verma asked gently keeping his hand on her shoulder.
“Do you know my Sia, Babu?” Meera’s eyes glittered as she looked back at him in hope.
“Yeah, I had spoken to her, played with her as well.”
“Is it Babu? Where is she now?”
He sat down with Meera on his couch asking Kamya to take Muskaan inside.
“That I don’t know now… That was a few months ago when we went to adopt Muskaan. We also wanted to adopt Sia, but the orphanage caretakers didn’t allow us saying that her mother might come back.”
“Where are they now Babu… Can I find them? Where did they all go?”
“I have been trying to find their new address since I met you, Meera. But do you have any proof that Sia is your daughter?”
“She is mine… Yeah, I do have her birth certificate… I have all her documents, my IDs, my husband’s ID…” Meera started to get hyper, getting excited.
“Calm down, calm down… No one can take Sia from you then… So don’t worry we will find them soon. You don’t take much stress on yourself as you are not well… Trust me, I will definitely find Sia.”
Meera could feel the man was genuine and not a fraud or selfish as all others that she had met previously. She nodded and calmed down with hope.
During Meera’s stay at Vermas, Samar could observe that she never cared about her health or the baby growing within her like all other pregnant women. All she was worried about her daughter, Sia. Being a psychotherapist, he could understand the mental statuses of Meera and all the characters connected to Sia. He could assess all the emotional events that were waiting once the process of claiming Sia starts. And he will have to play the most significant role in all these matters.
Days passed by, and it was on 9th October that year, a baby boy was born. But Meera had no joy.
“Meera, you got a baby boy Congratulations!” both Samar and Kamya wished her.
“Wish me congratulations when I get back my doll, my Sia, Babu… It was my fault that I tried to play games with my baby girl… I hate myself…” Her reply was telling the condition of her heart and how bitter she had been towards herself.
“Don’t be so harsh on yourself, Meera.” Kamya caressed her forehead and comforted as Mr Verma smiled looking at her and said, “And if I congratulate you for the reason you just asked for, Meera?”
“What do you mean, Babu? Please don’t make fun of me… I am not in a condition to play any more games…” She said bitterly.
“It is not a game, Meera… Someone has come to meet you today.” He said and went outside to bring Mr & Mrs Shaw in with a baby girl walking inside with them.
Meera looked at them and the girl. Her eyes were wide opened. She tried to get up amazed.
Sia looked at her Mom and then looked up at Mrs Shaw’s face. Mrs Shaw was not looking pleased as her heart was breaking away and Meera’s heart was racing. She called out her name again…
“Sia… I am Momma… Your Momma… The game we were playing is over now… You remember?” Her heart stopped when Sia was puzzled looking at her as if she could not recognise her. It was difficult for a three years child staying away from her mother for nine months to recall everything about her past.
It seemed like the time paused for a few minutes… the clock stopped ticking… the hearts stopped beating… the eyelids stopped blinking… the people and other creatures stopped moving around in the world…
After two minutes of utter silence… the tapping sound of a baby girl’s feet was heard… Sia ran towards the bed and clutched her mother’s neck tightly with her tiny arms.
Meera could not stop sobbing as she held her baby doll tight to herself, kissing all over her face. There were three women in that room in tears along with the two men whose eyes were wet as well.
In the evening, when Meera was discharged from the hospital and was taken back to Verma’s, all were gathered around the newborn baby celebrating joys; Meera and Sia could get back to each other, Mr and Mrs Shaw got a newborn baby boy and Muskaan got Sia, her old friend but a new sister to play and study together, Mr. & Mrs Verma found someone faithful like Meera to look after Muskaan, and Mr Verma is happy to have Sia as her daughter as well at the end.
That night over the dinner everyone was applauding and thanking Mr Samar Verma for his keen interest in the whole matter concerning Sia especially Meera; it was all because of him all these could be possible. It was he who spoke to Mr Shaw as soon as he could find the new number of TOH. He visited him secretly and showed the copies of Sia’s birth certificate and all the documents necessary. He assured Mrs Shaw that it will always be better for her to mother a newborn baby. And in the end, he made Meera gift her newborn baby to the couple who took care of her Sia for such a long time.
That December was a joyous one unlike the previous one. That December Meera had to jump around collecting snowflakes with not only Sia but Muskaan as well. Last December the snowflakes were chilling and piercing but this December they were like falling blessings from heaven over all bringing agony to a full stop.