It has been a long and tiring day. I drag myself up the two floors to my one bedroom room house in Police Quarters. I hate going up and down these narrow stairs, stained with paan. But, I know that I’m lucky to have a roof over my head.
For the first two years after I joined the force, I lived in a dingy chawl. After I got sick of having to stand in line, every single day, just to use the filthy communal toilet, I flushed my principles down that toilet, and paid the asking price, to speed up my house allotment.
As I enter my house, I remember another day, two years ago, when I was feeling just as tired. I sink into the saggy sofa, and let my mind wander into the past.
My maid hadn’t come to work that day. The pile of dishes in the sink, seemed to have doubled. I glared at my husband, lying on the sofa, staring blankly at the TV. That’s all he did, those days. Stared at the TV, or into his glass. He wasn’t even a mean drunk, just a pathetic one.
Sometimes, I used to wish that he’d actually hit me…just so that I could hit him back.
What a waste of a good man! Destroying his life, just because he couldn’t father a child. I wanted to think about adoption, but, Satish couldn’t think beyond the fact that he was sterile. His participation in life ended the day he got his test reports. He just stopped living, and merely existed, at the bottom of his bottle, soaked in daaru.
I remember wondering if I should tell him. Would it even register in his bewda brain?
A week ago, a newborn baby girl had been found abandoned, in a public toilet. My Station had responded to the call, and we had to follow up the case. That day, the baby was being discharged from hospital, but, could not be placed in an ashram for at least a month. My senior officers wanted me to keep the baby, till there was a vacancy in the ashram.
I flatly refused. I felt sorry for the baby and everything. But, I just couldn’t give her the sort of care that she needed. Not by myself.
But, my seniors pulled rank on me. They even bought me a month’s stock of formula milk, bottles and diapers. I had to bring the baby home, and hope for the best.
When I came home with the baby, Satish was passed out. For the first couple of weeks, I struggled with three hourly feeds, and diapers and sleepless nights, and Satish just ignored us.
One morning, after a very bad night, I woke up from a nap, and looked around for the baby. I couldn’t believe my eyes!
Satish was sitting on the bed, next to me, feeding the baby!
He looked up at me, and shrugged.
“She was crying, and I was awake. Go back to sleep, she’s fine.”
It took me three more days to realise that there weren’t any bottles of daaru lying around the house, and that the house and my husband, were both looking cleaner. I often found him sitting near the baby, staring at her.
For me, the unthinkable had happened. I fell in love with the baby, and didn’t want to give her over to the ashram. On an impulse, I asked them if I could adopt the baby.
I spent the whole night worrying about what Satish would say. No matter what he said, I wasn’t giving up my baby.
In the morning, I told him that I had applied for adopting the baby.
He left the house without a word, and returned in the afternoon…with a tiny doll, and the best news that I had heard in years.
Satish had convinced his old boss to give him a job!
“We have a daughter now, and I’m going to take care of my family,” he said, with tears running down his face.
“Naina, when she stared into my eyes, I felt like she was looking into my soul, and judging me. Suddenly, my self pity seemed so immature and unimportant. I wanted to become a better man, just to be able to look her in the eye.”
Our daughter is now two years old. She jumps out of her father’s arms and comes running towards me. I grab her and kiss her sweet little face…my Lakshmi, who brought hope and happiness into my life… my little treasure.
I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words #6
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