Every time, I stopped my car at the signal, she was there. She held out her shivering hand for alms with such a mesmerizing smile that compelled me to reach out for my purse. And even more charming was the smile of the baby, held in her arms. Her eyes twinkled with joy as I handed a few coins to her mother. The innocence of her face and the magic of her smile used to hold my gaze for a long time even after her mother had moved on to the vehicles ahead of me, to extend her hands for alms. On some days, the baby used to turn around and flash a naughty smile at me and I become overwhelmed. I considered that day as a bonus day.
"Who would not crave to have such a pretty baby?" The woman inside me craved.
But owing to the tyranny of fate, widowhood came my way even before motherhood can. But somehow, I managed to satisfy my desire of being a mother by merely looking at the child of the beggar woman, who roamed around the traffic signal near my house.
One day, as I halted at the signal hoping to catch yet another glimpse of my beloved baby, I saw a crowd gathered by the side of the road. I parked my car by the side and rushed towards the spot. I made my way through the crowd and was shocked to see the beggar woman, lying dead there. The baby was crying by her side turning her gaze from person to person gathered around her, asking for a little help and sympathy through the silent words of her tears. But all had turned a blind eye to her sorrow. Then, she spotted me among the crowd. As soon as she recognized me, her eyes twinkled, just as they used to do every morning at the traffic signal.
I could see the pain of hunger and helplessness in her eyes and it tore at my heart. I sat down on the road beside her. She raised her tiny arms and held them out to me. That was the moment, I had been waiting for all my life. I picked her up in my arms and held her close to my heart.
"I am your mother from now," I whispered into her ears while patting her back.
Instantly, she stopped crying as if she had understood the meaning of my words and also that I meant it. But tears started flowing torrentially down my eyes as I took her to my car and drove back home.