Karuna had been up for hours that night, much before her morning alarm began ringing. The impending engagement of the day and the untold agony it entailed had kept her awake.
Karuna had a good mind to call up the authorities and say she wasn’t coming. Well, that wouldn’t be ethical. After all, she had a reputation to live up to! The IT woman, who had made in spite of all the odds, an inspirational divorcee, who had built up her work single-handedly! No, the role had to be played out!
Sighing deeply, Karuna quickly got ready, left instructions to the nanny and left without saying hello or bye to Ansh, her son.
Karuna had been invited as the chief guest at a medal ceremony of a famous school. She was to give a stirring speech, present the awards to the winning children and congratulate the parents while making adequate appreciative noises. Only she knew, how she hated that task.
Karuna managed to get through her speech with her trademark million-watt smile plastered across, after a warm welcome from the teachers. As the shining students started lining up for their medals and as the announcer waxed eloquent about their achievements, a stab of jealousy and anger shot through Karuna.
She felt like throwing the heavy cups and shields on the breathlessly proud parents who were filming every single rapturous moment. If only she could scream aloud at the unfairness of it all! Hiding her tears, Karuna quickly rushed through the ceremony, almost ran from the venue and hid in a nondescript cafe, quickly ordered a strong coffee and let her mind wander to her painful past.
Why couldn’t her Ansh be like these brilliant children? Intelligent, athletic, super smart or beautiful? Why did she have to be the chosen one for such untold punishment? It was incomprehensible that the breathtakingly beautiful and super smart she and her top grader husband Aman could conceive and birth Ansh.
Ansh was what they called nowadays, a special child. Pretty euphemistic, Karuna spat angrily. Initially, all had been good. Both the partners were earning well, investing in cars, a pad in an upscale part of the town, gold, stocks, in that order. And once into their thirties both decided to have a child. Ansh was conceived after much turmoil and multiple visits to the doctors. As an infant, he was doing ok, more or less keeping with the expected milestones. When Ansh turned two, Karuna began to comprehend something was amiss, something was wrong and Ansh wasn’t like others.
A visit to the doctor confirmed her worst fears. In her anger, she had rejected everything, shut herself away from the prying. But she couldn’t keep away from the loving boy.
Aman took the news very hard. He began to work harder and stayed away from home most of the time as if that would somehow obliterate the harsh truth. Whenever Aman entertained his colleagues, he would insist that Ansh be kept out of sight or put to sleep with the nanny overseeing. Out of sight was out of mind.
The stress, the pretenses began eating into Karuna’s psyche and it was a matter of time that Aman and Karuna separated bitterly. Truth be told, Aman did contribute generously monetary wise, but was that enough?
Karuna quit her job, started a home venture while looking after Ansh. The venture grew so did her knowledge about a special child’s needs. She refused to remarry because she felt if the own father couldn’t wholeheartedly accept his son, why would a stranger do so?
So the periodic bouts anger continued at the unfairness of it all, while she tackled life stoically, earning name and fame across the society.
But the scalding tears were shed in loneliness.
Presently Karuna paid up, confirmed with the nanny that Ansh was ok, roamed around the city, unwilling to go home yet, unwilling to face the home truths yet.
But eventually, she had to. Nanny opened the door and Karuna mechanically walked towards Ansh’s room. Ansh was dabbling with colors making bright pictures while having dinner.
As he saw her his eyes lit up, and he waved to her, beckoning her. As a listless Karuna sat next time, he tapped at his drawing and drawled, “Momma” and then offered a spoonful of his dinner. As the tears threatened to overflow, Karuna managed to gulp the food. Ansh then lay down in her lap.
As she stroked his hair, Karuna was stricken with shame.
How unadulterated was this love, untainted by societal goals or rules? She had this and she was rich. That was enough. What happened to the Karuna in her? Was it just restricted to her moniker?
Ansh was her extension, a part of her being and she would do everything to make sure, he had the best.
Agreed, every day was a struggle and the path ahead utterly lonely, but today was done and today’s lesson had been taught.
Love did heal wounds. For today!
Tomorrow? Who knew!