The narrator tells the tale of a particular mother who had to end the life of her baby and how that particular episode ruined a large part of her, post the killing of the baby.
She was on a bus, on her way back home, for good. She was just 20 years old, fresh out of college after having completed her Bachelors’ in History. It had been 3 full years of having lived all by herself in the big city, away from the comfort of her parents and everyone whom she considered “her people”. Mumbai and living all by herself, intimidated her in every possible way. But she wanted to do this, for herself. She graduated from being someone who was wholly dependent on the people whom she loved, to someone who was independent, in the truest sense of the word. But she believed that she still had a lot more to experience and a lot more to achieve. She wanted to see the larger world out there and have all those new experiences. She wanted to grow as an individual.
Suddenly in the middle of this future she was envisioning, her eyes fell on the slightly bloated belly. She gently moved the palm of her hand on her belly. Her heart began to beat faster. Tears began to run down her cheeks, wiping away her smile and the glow on her face. The utopian future which she was envisioning just a few seconds ago, faded away, just like that. She watched the world pass by, as she sat by the window seat. The roads were sprinkled with people and vehicles. Suddenly fear seeped into every bone of her body. What was she going to do? The fact that she had already become a mother to another human being out of wedlock, is something her parents were never going to accept. They would be disappointed. For the first time in her life, she felt like she was all alone.
The bus was slowing down to halt at the next stop. She was almost about to get up from her seat and step out of the bus, but she chose to do otherwise. She sat still. She looked at her watch and then out of the window. She would have to get a job. Do a correspondence course. She didn’t like the idea of it because that wasn’t part of her plan. That wasn’t how she wanted everything to turn out in her life. The baby was supposed to happen. Not now, but when she was well settled, with a good job.
She was supposed to have the baby with someone she actually loved. The baby wasn’t supposed to be the consequence of a drunken night with someone who she barely knew.
She shut her eyes tight, with all her might and in an instant opened them again. She tried to convince herself that maybe, just maybe, all of this was just a dream.
One year later, she was well settled back home. She was living with her parents, preparing for her last exam of the second semester of her master’s programme in history. She suddenly stopped writing and put her pen and glasses down. She stared hard at the page of her notebook. She blanked out. Suddenly she felt a hand on her shoulder and she trembled. She turned her face and saw her mother standing behind her. Her eyes were filled with tears. She hugged her mother by the waist and cried her eyes out. She couldn’t stop herself. Only a few months had passed since she killed the being growing inside of her, without questioning her motives. She never ever imagined succumbing to this. She loves children and she always pictured a life in which she would have her own. Ironically, when she already found something she’d always wanted, she killed it.
Four years later, she was standing in the balcony outside her living room. The sun was just emerging, after being in hiding for a long period of time. She closed her eyes and breathed in the fresh air. Her husband hugged her tightly from behind and planted a gentle kiss on her right cheek. Her lips broke into a smile and she gently opened her eyes. She turned toward him and planted a kiss on his lips and erased the impression of the kiss with her thumb, like she always did.
Good morning, love.
Good morning, love.
They walked toward the cane bench placed in the balcony, sitting there in silence for a few minutes. He put his arm around her and she placed her head on his shoulder.
I think I should go check on the baby.
Wait for a few more minutes, please.
Love, I’ll just go and be back.
She picked herself up and walked back into the house. She walked into their bedroom, toward the crib placed near her side of the bed and stared at the tiny being only three months into this world and 14 days into their lives, sleeping. A tear rolled down her cheek. It was 14 days ago she and her husband brought their baby boy home from the orphanage. It already seems like an eternity since they’ve had him. Suddenly she felt someone’s palm slowly finding its way inside her lose hand. She looked down and discovered her son of five standing next to her. She went down on her knees so that they could be at the same level.
Hey, what are you doing up so early?
I had a bad dream mama.
Oh, it’s alright honey. It was just a dream.
He looked awfully scared. She kissed him gently on his forehead; it was a way of telling him that everything was going to be okay.
Come let’s go have breakfast. Did you brush your teeth?
No, not yet. But isn’t my brother going to join us?!
No, I’m afraid not. He’s been up all night crying, he needs to sleep.
But, I wanted to play with him.
You will, once he’s gotten his sleep. Okay?
They exchanged big wide smiles. She lifted herself up. Holding his tiny palm in hers, as the couple of them walked out of the room, her eyes went on the calendar hanging on the wall adjacent to the door. She paused there for a few seconds to check whether she wasn’t wrong. She wasn’t.
She quietly went and sat beside her husband. He was sitting in the same place and in the same position as the time when she left him.
What’s wrong, Cecilia?
Today’s the day.
Today’s what day?
Today was the day, a few years ago, when I killed the baby.
They looked deep into each other’s eyes. He pulled her closer and kissed her on the side of her head.
Will you be going?
Do you want me to come with you?
No, I need to do this on my own.
She walked inside the graveyard with flowers in her hand. This was her yearly tradition, on the day of the baby’s death. She’d walk toward the grave, standing there, fixed to the ground and just looking at it for a few seconds. She’d place the flowers on it and silently weep, every detail of that day coming back to her. She’d never be able to forgive herself. She still hated that part of her which encouraged this murder. And every year, she’d ask for forgiveness from the being who once lived inside her. But she always remained unanswered. She came back every year with the hope that she’d be forgiven. Maybe the baby had decided to disown her, in the same manner as she disowned the baby.