Neena woke up with a jolt. She intuitively turned towards the alarm clock by the bedside and was relieved that she had not overslept. With a sigh of relief she glanced at her sleeping baby with the corner of her eye. The little one was blissfully asleep. Neena made an earnest attempt to bring out the superfluous maternal love from within her but somehow she could not at that point of time. She just felt exhausted. She lay gaping at the fan doing a run through of her daily routine. It did not seem to excite her at all.
Another look at the clock and she grew tense. Quickly she stood up and languidly walked towards the kitchen to get milk for the baby who could wake up at any moment wailing away to glory. While Neena warmed the milk for her little girl, she mentally decided as to what she would make for her husband’s tiffin. As she was doing so, she heard a loud cry. She sprinted as fast as she could to find the baby on the floor. Damn! She had forgotten to put a pillow by her side. What a horrible mom I am, thought Neena cursing herself. As she soothed the baby, Neena became low, really low.
Neena and Ravi had been married for three years. Theirs was a love marriage and they had known each other for quite some time before tying the knot. Ravi worked for an IT company and Neena too had worked in the same company. But after the birth of their daughter Anushka, Neena stayed back to look after her. Now, little Anushka was one year old. She was a lovely child but kept Neena on her toes. The day went on in a jiffy for Neena and at the end of the day fatigue overtook her. Ravi was a caring husband, but he had a nine to five job. Moreover owing to the long distance of his workplace to home, he had to spend a lot of time travelling.
When Neena left her job, for the initial few months she relished the time spent with Anushka. Also she liked to be away from deadlines and snooty bosses for a change. But soon she started missing her old life. Now, every day was mundane and involved the same set of activities. After her husband went off to work, she would feed Anushka (who was a fussy eater to the core), thereafter she would massage her, bathe her. All through the day she kept a quick vigilance over Anushka as she was a naughty child. And ever since she started crawling, Neena found it difficult to move her eyes off her even for a minute.
Ravi had suggested they hired a full time maid, but Neena felt that as she was home, not doing anything, she should take care of everything. Also, she wasn’t bringing any money home. So it seemed quite an expense.
Today, as Neena, took her daughter to the park, which was an evening ritual, she sat on the bench which stood at the forlorn corner of the park. She was watching Anushka crawl in the park near the flower beds, but her mind was distracted. Too many thoughts loomed large in her mind, all of them desolate. Neena had everything she had wanted, a loving husband, an adorable baby and the basic luxuries of life. But still she felt wretched. Of late she had come to a realization that motherhood had taken a toll on her. Many a times she felt she should just disappear in thin air. But one look at her daughter and she would hold herself together.
“Hello, you must be the little girl’s mommy”. Neena rose from her reverie. There in front of her stood a tall and stout woman who was brimming with exuberance. “Yes, I am , I am Neena, I stay in that house, over there.” Neena said pointing towards her house which was next to the park. The lady introduced herself as Ayesha. “I have seen you many times in the evenings when I come to the park with my son, “said Ayesha. Surprisingly Neena had never noticed her before. May be she was engrossed in her own thoughts. “Where is your son today and how old is he”, Neena asked. “Oh, he is over there at the swings, he is a lovely boy, I love him so much”, Ayesha proclaimed, simultaneously pointing towards her son with a sense of pride. Neena looked towards the swing and there she saw a boy sitting on one of the swings.
Oh, she had seen him before, he was the same boy who was mentally challenged. He had difficulty walking and seemed frail. “Oh”, Neena uttered. “I have seen him before, he is a sweet boy”, Neena managed to say. “He has cerebral palsy and he has been like this since birth. Initially he could not walk as he has issues with muscle coordination but I tried medication, therapy and everything under the sun. And he can walk now”, exclaimed Ayesha with a happy beam. And suddenly her undivided attention was zeroed on to her son, who came towards her limping but with a broad smile on his face.
“I will get going now, Neena. It was nice to meet you. See you around. I stay in house number 21, do drop by anytime. We will have a ball. And do bring your bundle of joy”.
At this, Neena, looked at her daughter who was crawling around the park, uninhibited. “Yes, I will”, was all she could say. And suddenly, the feeling of emptiness that was eating her soul vanished. She picked up Anushka and pranced towards her wonderful abode with a newfound vigour.