“My fingers tremble and my eyes get wet,
Every time I am asked to write ‘late’ before your name,
A part of me dies from inside.”
Sitting in the cab I wonder whether I should be happy or tensed. I don’t know whether I took the correct step or risked my professional life. But as far as my instincts are concerned, it is good to take risks. I am finally in Bhopal. The air, the buildings, the shops, everything seems so familiar. I missed this place a lot and I missed Papa too. I used to come here every 2-3 months, but this time it’s been a year. And I blame Vernita, my team lead for this. She has actually fucked up the life of the whole team. I worked with her for 11 months and when I couldn’t stand her anymore, I resigned.
“Ma’am, we’ve reached the destination.” says the cab driver.
“Thank you, Bhaiya,” I say, handing him over the money.
I am very much excited about the gifts I bought for Papa. I bought him a blue-colored formal shirt along with two T-shirts and I am sure he would love these.
I take a deep breath and enter the graveyard. It takes me less than a minute to reach his grave. I smile at his grave, put the flowers and gifts over it, and pray for some time. As I begin talking to him, tears roll down my cheeks. I don’t feel like the 25 years old Urvashi anymore but the same 6 years old Aaliya, Papa had adopted from St. Mary’s orphanage in Uttar Pradesh, 19 years ago. I tell him about my team lead and how much of a bitch she is. I tell him about my fiance Rajeev and how understanding and caring he is. I tell him that I miss him. I tell him that I need him here. I need him to listen to me. I need him to take me in his arms. I cry silently for some time. After wiping my tears, I look at my mother’s grave with rage in my eyes and I tell her that I’ll never forgive her for what she did to us. As usual, I haven’t bought any flowers for her and I will never do that because she doesn’t deserve them.
I pray for Papa again for some time and then prepare to leave for home. After reaching home I unpack my bag and prepare for my dinner.
I do not live in the house where I used to live with my parents anymore. It reminds me of them. I instead live in a 2 BHK, I bought for myself. It doesn’t make me feel less lonely but it is much easier to be here.
At night, my phone rings and as usual it’s a call from Rajeev. He asks me whether I had dinner or not and if I am fine or not. We talk for a few minutes and then I disconnect the call telling him that I am sleepy though I am not. Rajeev is a really nice guy. Like me, he is also a computer science engineer. He proposed to me during the third year of college and now we have completed 4 years of relationship. Although I am not sleepy I try to sleep because I like to wake up early in the morning.
As I close my eyes, Papa’s face comes in front of me. It’s been 2 years since my parents passed away and miss Papa a lot. I hate to admit it but I miss Mumma too.
I’ve no one in my life except Rajeev to whom I feel attached to. I have a few friends but I am not very close to them. I am not very close to my relatives too. They never turned up after my parents passed away. I rarely meet some of them.
As I close my eyes again my thoughts wander off to what my life was like when I was in St. Mary’s orphanage. I was found at the gate of the orphanage wearing old torn clothes and looked 8-9 months old. I wasn’t alone. Besides me was another girl child. She was just a few days old and was kept in a beautiful basket with a bag full of baby’s clothes and toys kept beside it. They named me Aaliya and she was named Preeti. From the moment she was brought inside Preeti had been the center of attraction of the whole orphanage. No one over there had never seen a child as beautiful as her.
After a few years when Sister Thomsina had told us how we were brought here and from that day itself Preeti had started treating me not just like a friend but as a sister.
I do not remember much growing up as an orphan (or probably an abandoned child) because I was adopted when I was 6 years old. There were so many children and very little space. In less than 4 years of age, we had learned to take bath and get dressed because like other children no one else would do it for us. We had very few clothes to wear and they were oversized. We used to eat the same food throughout the day. We used to play and dance a lot. All the children used to long for birthday parties of rich people as we got sweets on that day. “Survival of the fittest” was something we were able to understand in a much better way than other children. We used to take care of each other because we knew we don’t have anyone else and we lived like a family. Sister Thomsina was our favorite nun. All the children were very much drawn towards her. She was one of a kind, way too much selfless and caring and at the same time our best friend too.
The most memorable moments from my orphan life are the moments spent with Preeti. She was a gem of a person. She considered me to be her sister and cared for me way too much even at a very young age. She shared everything she had with me. She used to tie up my hair, tell me stories at night when I was sick. She did everything she could possibly do for me or maybe even more. We had promised each other that if someone adopts one of us we would ask him to take both of us with him/her.
The last thing I remember about my orphan life is breaking the promise we made. I’ve faint memories of the last day. All the children were asked to dress up nicely that day as someone was coming for the purpose of adoption. An incident that took place a few months ago had left me with a fear that Preeti might get adopted and I will be left behind. A few months ago I had an argument with Lakshmi( an 8 years old girl in the orphanage) because we wanted the same doll from the lump of toys that were donated to us. I managed to take the doll which made her angry and she called me selfish and said that I can never be as nice as Preeti. She said that Preeti will get adopted and I will be left behind here alone. Due to this small fight, I took a wrong step on my last day.
Preeti was sick and was fast asleep during that time. When a girl tried to wake her up, I had hushed her and told her not to disturb her. Yes, I wanted to ensure that she takes enough rest but there was another reason behind it too. I never wanted her to go away from me. I could not imagine living here without her. Moreover, I had a strong instinct that something big is going to happen that day.
When instructed, all of us went outside. I was trying to figure out how to cover the hole in my frock when suddenly a man took me up in his arms. He smiled at me and asked me my name. Then he looked at his wife and asked “Isn’t she lovely?”, to which she agreed. It was of course Mumma and Papa.
I took a few minutes to realize that they are going to adopt me. I was more shocked that happy. It was so unexpected. I knew that if they adopted me, Preeti would be left behind.
Should I ask them to take her with us too? I thought
But what if they adopted her instead? I thought again.
I ended up not saying anything at all. And they took me with them.
No matter how many years passed by, I could never forget that girl. Once adopted, I never went to the orphanage out of guilt.
My phone beeps and it is a message from Rajeev: “You sleeping?”. I do not reply in order to make him believe that I am asleep.
It’s 2:45 a.m. While on his night shifts, he always texts me late at night to ensure that I am fine or not. He knows that it has been difficult for me since the day I lost my parents. I know that I wouldn’t have any sleepless nights after I get married to him.
Now it’s 3:20 a.m. and I ask my mind to shut up so that I can sleep.