The Real Mother
All the three daughters were sitting around their mother, The elder one asked her
“Are you feeling okay ? Is it painful, how do you feel now ?”
Their mother was quiet, but apparently was having a pain. All of them were visibly excited and happy, for, they all knew that a new member would soon join the family. The Dhaima, the local mid-wife, was slowly rubbing the forehead of their mother, and, said “You all should keep quiet and let me do my job, and why not you all go to the next room?”
She then told to their father “ I think the time is nearing, why don’t you go and fetch a taxi. You have already made the hospital card”. He rushed out towards the taxi stand. Those were the days when you never had taxis plying around the roads nearby, and you simply had to wait a few moments just to locate one. The taxi stand is about quarter kilometer away near the Punjabi Dhaba (roadside eatery) and you had 4-5 taxis waiting there, mostly driven by Punjabi sardarjis.
By the time the taxi reached home, the Dhaima has already accomplished her mission. She told “ I could not wait, and, had to do it myself, and, congratulation mister, it is a son” ! The sardarji too was visibly happy and expressed good wishes and explained that he does not have to be paid anything.
Soon the glad tidings were spread around the neighbourhood, and several elder women were the first group of visitors. It is here they told the matter in plain and simple terms
“You see this is a boy-child born after three girl-children. A special ritual has to be performed. This is to save the life of the child.”
“Now, what is that, tell me ?” the father was now looked worried.
“You will have to sell the child to a low caste woman. She would touch him, and, his life would be saved. Well, don’t get nervous this is for a short period that she will remain as the mother, and, once he is a bit grown up you buy him back!!”
Our man had a little choice or time to decide otherwise, and, before he could call a few friends to consult about all these, an enthusiastic neighbour rushed in to the sweeper colony, and soon he came back with a woman – our lead “Real Mother”. She bought the baby for four Annas.
Deep is quite grown up….. now 6 years old. All through his life, at least the last few years about which he can remember, his three sisters always bullied him “ Your Real Mother will come some day and take you away to her house. The one here, in this house, is our Mom…. And not your mom. You should be prepared always to walk out with your Real Mother !!” Deep was told her name is “Thekua”.
One day his father announced that he met Thekua in the market, and, she will come down soon. Now Deep was very nervous ! What if he refused to go…. He felt like crying aloud.
Finally Thekua, the Real Mothe arrived. Deep was holding Mom’s hand very hard and Mom said “ Come Deep, get ready to go with her.” Deep was peeping . The Real Mother was dark complexioned, and had a very beautiful face… wearing large round vermillion spot on forehead, had large gold nose-ring and she was smiling when she placed her hands on Deep’s head, apparently showing a lot of affection.
Now to complete the ritual, they were to buy back, Deep’s father offered a few currency to Thekua. She laughed loudly and said I paid only four Annas. That’s my gift to my son.
Then she told to Deep “ Okay son, you live here in this house, may be some other year I will come. Thereafter some sweets shared among all, and, Thekua had some tea before she left the house. Deep was relieved of all worries !
It was first day of a new school. Deep was admitted in fourth standard in this Missionary School, quite far. His mom was accompanying him. It was a double-decker bus and after getting down mom held his hand tightly and crossed the busy road. After a bit walking they reached at the large iron gate of the school, and mom said – “From here on you are on your own. As soon as the school is over, walk the same way and get the bus and get down at the correct bus stand and walk to our home !” Deep was never prepared for this ! This was purely an adventure for which Deep was absolutely nervous. But his mother was unmoved. Her face just exuded of confidence. She smiled without any sign of emotion. Deep had no choice.
I now always cite this example before all the young parents, especially the ones who anxiously accompany their grown up children to and fro their school. I now understand why I was not raised as “an ice-cream kid”. In life I could bear every challenge because my mother wanted me to grow up as a strong individual. She neither had hesitation of giving me away to an unknown woman – even if symbolically, she neither loaded me or herself with emotion as she let me handle my journey in my school days. Thank you mom.