Manusha has had her first child while her elder sister in law was still trying. There was no hope left for her husband’s brother and his wife and now they were considering adoption. The elders wanted them to adopt within the family but how could they find someone who would have a heart big enough to give their baby to them. By this time Manusha was pregnant for the third time, she had a son, a daughter and now she was waiting for her third child. They lived under one roof, her mother in law said, maybe Manu can give her third child to Kanika. She was in the adjacent room and heard this. She was shocked, ‘How can they even think that I would be willing to give my child to someone else!’
She was so upset that she came out and expressed how upset this idea had made her. Her brother in law walked up to her. He had always treated Manusha as his own daughter, not even like a sister but as a daughter. He told her that this was just a suggestion and either way her kids are like their own kids and no one is going to force her ever.
She trusted him. He had always supported her. Her sister in law had never shown any bitterness towards her, there was no jealousy that even after years of marriage she could not become a mother. Kanika took care of Manusha and never brought up the topic again. She took care of her kids when Manusha was too heavy to do anything. Waking them up for school, getting them ready, packing their bags, helping them for homework, Kanika took care of everything. But eventually the kids went and slept with Manusha, hugged and kissed her only.
Manusha was in her ninth month when one night she went to the kitchen for some water, she saw that Kanika was already there. She was cleaning the kitchen and had tears in her eyes. Manusha returned without going inside. She knew why Kanika was crying, she was crying for those tiny arms that she so much wanted to wrap around her neck and kiss her like Manusha’s kids did to her. That night she had made a decision.
A few days later she gave birth to a beautiful little girl, the doctor came and asked her if they have already named the baby or if they should simply write baby Manusha on the file. Kanika was holding the baby that time, oblivious to everything happening around her, she was just so engrossed looking at the baby. Manusha looked at the doctor and said, ‘Name her baby Kanika.’
The moment she said that, Kanika held on to the wall, she needed support to actually believe what she had heard. There were a lot of happy tears in the room. Manusha later told her husband, ‘They have always loved our kids like their own but no one called them Mummy papa, no one insisted on sleeping with them only, no one made them stay awake all night. I guess it is Kanika didi’s turn to stay up all night and soothe the baby.’
But it did not end there. The baby girl was growing up fine.
It wasn’t easy for Manusha to stay in the same house and see her own daughter loving someone else. She was still her daughter. Even if Kanika would scold the girl for something, Manusha got upset.
It seemed she had given her baby but she hadn’t let go of it. She doubted Kanika and unknowingly made her feel that the little girl was not completely Kanika’s child. Once she even thought of having her child back.
Kanika on the other hand had become a mother, everything had changed for her after having a baby. She would spend hours making dresses for her little girl, kiss her non stop and scold her when she made mistakes. She had finally started feeling that she was a mother, she was worried all the time for her child, she wanted to give the best to her baby and she was totally unaware of what was going on in Manusha’s mind. That day when she saw Kanika scolding the little girl like any mother, Manusha got so upset that she just went and picked her up and brought her to her room.
That evening, strong fire broke out in the house, all three kids were in the same room and they had to run out of the house, Manusha ran and held her first two kids, too bad but a mom has only two hands. The little girl was left alone and crying, Manusha kept trying to somehow hold her as well and within a second Kanika was there. She picked up her little girl and did not let her go even when her dupatta caught fire, her back was burnt but she did not let anything happen to the little girl.
Manusha fell down on her knees, cried and cried and said, ‘Didi, I am sorry. I did not realise that the day I gave her in your arms, you became a mother. The day you held her, you had your first baby. She is not mine, she is your baby. Just because you haven’t given birth to her, that does not make you any less than a mom. I was wrong that I thought that since you never got pregnant you could not change yourself to be a mom.