This story is by Apurva Kandicuppa and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
“Ana, aren’t these adorable?”
The anticipation in Arun’s eyes was unmistakable. Strolling in a mall, we happened to walk past a shop selling baby clothes when he froze in front of a pair of socks. So tiny and pink. They were too pretty to ignore. He held them up in his hands to show me.
“Umm…yes, of course honey. They are beautiful,” was all I could manage.
Walking back home from work that day, my mind was preoccupied, clouded with these memories.
I had left work early. I couldn’t focus, what with umpteen thoughts crowding my hapless mind. A good walk I figured, would give me time to introspect. The cool breeze on my face, the sound of the rustling leaves and the slight drizzle provided the perfect backdrop to ruminate.
It’s not like we hadn’t had discussions about a baby before, but they had always ended with me stubbornly insisting on waiting a little longer. Now at the age of thirty, even time seemed to have given up on me. That day, I let these thoughts overwhelm me, tire my nerves, so I could find a way out.
Of course I would love to have a baby.
But then, not every decision is ours to make. Is it? I remembered the Gynaecologist advising me to start planning for a child when I was just twenty-two. I didn’t even have a boyfriend back then. But she had her own reasons. She saw me as a patient who had survived ovarian cancer and an oophorectomy at the tender age of eleven. She knew my chances of being a mother were slim. But little did she know I suffered from Bipolar disorder as well. The medicines I was on could severely affect the health of the unborn child. How could I risk being pregnant?
I knew Arun was not the type who would force me into motherhood but day by day I could see the disappointment in his eyes when he saw other couples announcing their pregnancies.
“Why don’t we go for surrogacy? Or adoption?”
He was always optimistic. That was what attracted me to him in the first place. The fact that despite all my flaws and misgivings, he could see me as whole. He could still see a future where I could be everything I wanted to. But I was the opposite. I wouldn’t risk something even if there was the slightest chance of it going wrong.
My mind heavy, feet reluctantly trudging along, I was lost in a world of my own when I noticed it.
A bright blue ball of light with flashes of iridescence. It blinded me for a second. But I decided to move closer, intrigued to see more. I was greeted by a pair of large, inquisitive, almond eyes set on a perfectly round face. Its body was erect, standing almost like an adult. It looked like a human baby, no more than six months of age, except that its skin was blue, the colour of a freshly washed sky, and it seemed to radiate light intermittently, as if using it as a signal. The dog-like droopy ears and the coarse, wrinkled texture of its skin looked straight out of a science fiction movie. I just couldn’t look away. As if intimidated by my gaze, it sat down, crouching, staring at the road. It was then that I noticed it was wearing a bean bag as a dress. I wondered who had dressed it like that.
It was a busy road and yet no one else seemed to notice the creature. That unsettled me. It seemed helpless, as if waiting to be rescued. But I had my apprehensions. Also, my home was just a few metres down and I was getting late. So, I gave it one last look and was about to walk away when it cried, “Mama?” That was it. It broke whatever walls my heart had built around itself and I approached it again. Extending my palm, I waited, hoping it would accept this way of greeting as a sign of non-threatening behaviour. It hesitated for a minute and then reciprocated. My heart almost flipped. I had never been able to make contact with babies or animals in any way. I remembered the first time I tried to say hello to my neighbour’s kid, she almost cried. I had no experience of comforting or caring for a tiny being and here I was, making friends with an alien!
Figuring it may be hungry, I offered it some fruit. I watched, surprised, as it nicely gobbled it away. But it had tears in its eyes. I didn’t know if they were of gratitude or if it was missing its parents. But it was heart wrenching. I could feel my insides twist. I wanted to lift the baby, hug it, love it and maybe take it back to its parents. But there were people watching. What if they laughed?
I don’t know what got over me that day. I went ahead, lifted it and hugged it, right there, on the road without a care in the world and it felt great. It was almost like I was hugging my own child. I felt connected to it. And the tears stopped. It seemed happy, resting its head on my shoulders. And then, as magically as it had appeared, it was gone.
I didn’t yet know how, but I knew I was ready to be a mother that day.