Naina had always known that she was an adopted child. Early on, her parents had communicated this to her in the most explicit and affable manner. Both Naina’s parents were journalists in a leading newspaper. When Naina was a little girl, all she could make out of the word ‘adopted’ was that, her mummy and daddy were someone else, but since her parents wanted a little girl so badly, they became her mummy and daddy instead.
But, that was a four year old naïve and unassuming Naina. Today’s sixteen year old Naina was’nt unaffected by the fact that she was an adopted child. She would often sit in the quiet of her room and brood. She would wonder how her life would have been, had her journo parents not entered her life. All that Naina knew about her lineage was that she was in an orphanage. She had no clue as to who put her there and why. But, as she grew in to this vivacious and opinionated girl, she understood that it was not an uphill task to know who her real parents were.
Only, hindrance was that, though she was very open with her parents, she felt at a loss of words to even touch upon this subject. She felt afraid that she would be misunderstood. They would feel that something was amiss in her life that she was wanting to know about her real family, after all these years. Love was showered on Naina in abundance and she was never cajoled in to doing anything. She was taught to speak her mind and to never be afraid of anything and anyone. These were the values that were given to her.
And so after tossing and turning and hampering many a night’s sleep, Naina resolved to talk to her parents. They were sitting at the dinning table and the topic of discussion was the pathbreaking decision of women being allowed to enter Shani Shingapur temple. Naina’s father Ashok felt that it was ridiculous that till now women were forbidden to enter the aforesaid temple. Her mother Sheela, too talked about as to how still many other temples too were biased against women. Naina generally had a say in the dinner time discourse but today her mind was haywire with conflicting thoughts pertaining to her own life story.
Finally, she mustered up the courage and said , “Mom, do you know who my real parents are?” The question hit both Ashok and Sheela like lightening. They were dumfounded for a while before Ashok uttered, “ No, dear, like we told you, we met you in the orphanage. One look at you and we knew, you would be our little girl. We never really bothered to know as to who your parents were.” Sheela said, “Do you want to know , who your parents are Naina?”
Naina knew her mom could read her like a book and she had a ‘get to the point’ approach to everything in life. Sheela hated beating around the bush. She knew what she wanted at any given point of time and despised confusion and chaos. Naina was grateful for this persona of her mother. More so, today, when she herself was in a dilemma.
Without further dilly dally, Naina told her parents as to how she had been wondering about her life and how she wanted to know who her biological parents were. Ashok arranged for her to visit the orphanage, the very next day. It was a Sunday so , Naina could begin her ‘expedition’.
The next day, Ashok and Sheela asked her that they would go with her, but Naina declined. And then, they did not insist. She liked the space that they gave her, and that they respected her individuality. The orphanage looked like an old government building. It was not dilapidated but some renovation would not do any harm, Naina reckoned. It flooded with children of all shapes and sizes. Their laughter and noises reverberated the yellow walls of the old building. On reaching the office, Naina realized that her father had already communicated about her. And so, she was stunned when the lady in charge gave her the details of her biological parents on a piece of paper.
As simple as that, Naina thought. She had seen numerous movies, wherein the protagonists had embarked on a difficult journey to find their lineage. Naina wished she was was less of a Romantic. “Madam, madam”, the lady beckoned her from her reverie.
“Yes, thank you so much. I will go to this address and see if I want to meet them”. To this, the lady replied, “If you want, I can come along. I know them. Your mother Kashi works at my neighbour’s house. Her husband is no more. She has five children. She could not go through the upbringing of another child and so she put you here.”
This sudden information overload was too much for Naina. So, her biological mother was a house help and her biological father was dead. Also, she was given up. Willingly. Naina could not take it any more. She suddenly imagined what her life had been, if she had not been brought to this orphanage and thereby in to the lives of Ashok and Sheela, her wonderful parents. Like a celluloid, she saw herself walking around in shabby clothes, clobbering in the alleys of congested houses. She again mentally chided herself for being a Romantic.
“So, madam, should I take you there?” The lady asked her again almost getting up from her chair. “No, thanks for your assistance. I think I will go home.” Yes, ‘home’. Naina knew where she needed to be. And suddenly she knew that she was never so sure of anything in her life. ‘ Fate’ is a strange thing, Naina thought. And it had placed her in the choicest of places with the choicest of people. People who wanted her, who loved her. And she could not be more grateful for that.