Retrieval (Part II of Dear daughter)

Vidisha dozed off sobbing. She woke a few hours later. Her eyes stared at the ceiling for several minutes as her mind tried to gather back the events of the day.As soon as  her memory came back the comfort of those confused moments and the merciful slumber were lost .The events of the day  flashed again.Then  slowly from the crevices of her mind, crept into her consciousness ,some distant memories .The dizzying excitement of getting married. The thrill of settling abroad with a succesful and well to do guy. Her parents were so proud to have  found such a promising match for her.Those were the days when Vidisha believed  that her life was in  complete harmony with time. As soon as she finished college God had sent her the perfect match. Vidisha’s family was well off but the family she was going to be a part of was even better. After a  series of  happy and extravagant ceremonies  she had landed in London to spend the rest of her life.Everything seemed perfect.

“Perfect!” she sighed at the thought almost speaking it aloud.

The chain of thoughts broke. She slowly got off the bed and picked up the letter  filled with smudged words. It seemed insane as she looked at it .She felt a surge of anger and it almost compelled her to tear it off. But she couldn’t. She felt miserable and slowly sat down again.’It should not be found ‘ she thought silently. She opened the cupboard .As she tried to calculate some place where Dhir ,her husband , wouldn’t find it. She noticed a silver cover diary and decided instantly.The letter was buried in the leaves of that diary which itself would be hidden from everyone else till she found the heart to tear letter off.

It was time to pack again and leave for England. This was the third time she was secretly flown to India and subjected to this inhuman deed. Since sex selective abortion was illegal in England, this was an easy way thought of by Dhir of preventing the birth of a girl in his family. Dhir ,though a highly qualified entrepreneur, had a limited thinking.All he looked for in life was perfection and despite the modern lifestyle he had a very patriarchal mentality.  ‘You are perfect to be my wife ” had made Vidisha the happiest girl in the whole world. But little did she know that slowly her life will be poisoned and propelled by Dhir’s perfectionist attitude . Vidisha saw herself turning more and more compliant. Dhir had a large circle of influential friends and Vidisha had to be the perfect host and companion. Beautiful and well-groomed as she was.It did not seem much of a problem. However slowly she realised that she was smothered in between the modern and the traditional. Her in-laws made no concession on rituals and traditions and she was constantly under scrutiny. The dual role seemed to exhaust her but she was a spirited girl and managed to sail through. Her parents were unaware of her plight. She did not have the heart to stress her parents. She anyways was never a complaining daughter.

       The first time she got pregnant it was an amazing feeling until she was  coaxed to abort the girl child. She had retaliated and refused to comply.

“I hate any form of weakness. I strive for perfection. I have a high status in society and there is no way I would bend or bow in front of anyone. A daughter would make me do that. There is no way I am going through that ordeal. My business is expanding and I want strong sons to carry it on.”

Vidisha’s ‘perfect’ world had shattered when she finally realised her husband’s mindset. She could not believe these words. The intensity and seriousness with which  it was  said made Vidisha’s soul shiver. Then followed a trail  of emotional and heated conversations. Her mother-in-law constantly nagged her in a loving way. The entire family reasoned with her. Slowly Vidisha had understood that she was trapped in a web of demands, emotions and social pressure. She gave in. The secret trip was arranged and they stayed at Dhir’s Delhi home for a week for the entire ritual. The first time she had gone numb for weeks. The second time she endured it with immense patience and optimism that next one will be a boy. But this time her soul burnt and it was a hopeless and helpless situation. She recalled her mother-in-law telling her about women in that elite society who had gone through as many as five abortions. “Puttar ji!! It’s for the good of everyone.” Vidisha could never understand what good is all the wealth when we have to kill our own flesh and blood.

Like every other post abortion periods ,Vidisha moved like a zombie around the house and Dhir gave her looks of disapproval without expressing it. He however was convinced that Vidisha would recover in a few days.He was immensely confident of her compliance. She had even heard  him boast about that to his friends. As she normalized Dhir pampered her again with gifts and lavish trips. This however made her feel even more hollow. Earlier she tried to absorb herself in the luxury but this time it felt different. She just pretended to be someone she used to be. She constantly prayed to God that the next time she be endowed with a son so that another innocent life is not sacrificed.Gradually almost a year passed in this discomforting solitude trapped in a constant pretence of well-being .

Vidisha had almost accepted things as they were until one day her friend Kanak called . She was so thrilled  to hear Kanak’s melodious voice that she almost failed to notice that Kanak  was complaining “Oh Ishaa ! wow so you still  recognize me!!!…. Crazy female where have you been? I had a hard time finding you out. I am very very angry ….” Her words just tickled  Vidisha’s ears and for a silly while she felt her old self again. Lively, optimistic and happy.

Kanak was Vidisha’s neighbour and school friend. She was a brilliant student and chose to be a doctor. Vidisha on the other hand was fond of literature and pursued the same. Though their streams diversified their hearts never did. Vidisha’s wedding was the last time they spent together. They remained in contact on phone and through mails for sometime. Kanak got busier with studies and Vidisha got deeper into her shell of sorrow. She thought of sharing her plight with Kanak so many times but failed to do so. Vidisha learnt that Kanak had specialized in maternal and fetal medicine. She was about to congratulate Kanak when she was interrupted ..

“Well guess what? I have saved the best for the last … I will be there in London for a conference next week….. I am so excited to meet you .. missed you  a lot Isha!!”

I missed you too!” Vidisha had smiled.

They exchanged addresses and  phone numbers before the conversation ended.

Dhir could see the excitement and happiness when Vidisha  told him about Kanak’s visit. “Vidisha she is your close friend . I understand you are excited to meet her. But make sure that she doesn’t probe too much in our lives.” Dhir did not forget to make a point because he knew how idealistic Kanak was. This was enough to sober down Vidisha.She however felt the rush of excitement and joy when Kanak finally arrived.

“Ishaaaaaaaaaa!!!” Kanak had embraced her dearest friend. Vidisha responded to her warm greeting and they became little girls again. Totally engrossed in a never-ending conversation. As inevitable  as it was, Kanak expressed her concern about Vidisha’s miscarriages . Vidisha had a sudden urge  tell Kanak that those weren’t miscarriages (though that was what she told her parents) . But that very instant Dhir’s words resonated in her mind and she curbed the desire . She however failed to conceal her sadness. Kanak gave her a warm smile and suggested that she should consult a specialist and get investigated as it was important to find the cause of her pregnancy losses . Vidisha got alarmed when Kanak  tried to determine the cause by asking her details about the miscarriages. She tried to evade the queries but failed to hold her emotions anymore and broke down…

Kanak …….. I am pregnant again…… I do not want to lose this one …. I am so scared… I do not want to lose this one………”

Kanak could understand her fear and consoled her lovingly promising that she would get her to the right specialist this time so that she gets the proper treatment. Vidisha miserably sobbed wondering how to tell that her babies were killed in her womb just because they were girls.

Kanak had a busy schedule for the next day at the conference. She had asked Vidisha to keep her papers and  diary in a safe place . Due to their long conversation they slept late and Kanak was in a rush now. Vidisha had morning sickness and was stuck in the washroom. Kanak found her papers and diary at the place Vidisha told . She literally ran out to catch a cab. She was trying to catch a breath after settling inside the cab when she realised that her diary was not silver-colored! She got confused by the ultrasound dangling out of the diary.

Kanak realised that she was almost midway .” Crap!!” she  jerked the dangling ultrasound film and there came along with it an ink smudged letter. Still readable but stained with tears of pain. Kanak recognized that beautiful cursive writing with a typical slant. As she read those words she gasped in shock and Vidisha’s sobbing ” I don’t want to lose this one ” began to make true sense. She could not believe that Kanak was suffering such a hell silently. She felt a rage and her muscles tensed . She lost track of where she was going and  was overtaken by an urge to take some drastic measures.  A sudden brake by the cab driver broke the train of thoughts and Kanak though still in shock tried to calm down.She took a long while to gather her thoughts but she had decided to rescue her friend from this misery and pain. She dialled Vidisha’s number after contemplating enough..

 “Isha , I need to talk to you when I come back in the evening.”

Vidisha who had found Kanak’s diary by now had figured out the error and was already very alarmed.

” I am sending someone to get my diary .” Kanak continued ” Listen have you told Dhir that you are pregnant again?”

“No not yet ” Vidisha replied..

“Do not tell him anything till I talk to you. See you soon Isha.”

(to be continued ..)

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