“I’m fine.” Avantika Ma’am, a senior officer at the firm where I was working, said as a nurse took the sample of her blood for testing. She was still pale and weak after the surgery.
“I know that both of you hadn’t got a wink of sleep yesterday. I can read that from your blood – shot eyes and tired faces. Please take some rest and then report to your respective posts of duty. Now, you don’t have to worry about me.” She said with a faint smile.
“Can you drop me home?” I asked Sanjay, who was a friend and colleague.
“You’ll have to wait a little as I have to meet a friend who is admitted in this hospital.”
“She is suffering from cancer and her condition is pretty serious.”
“Do I know her?” Avantika Ma’am was aghast.
“No Ma’am,” Sanjay shook his head, “her name is Christina Patel.”
“Christina Patel?” I looked quizzically at him.
“Yes,” he was amused, “there is a story behind such a peculiar name - an amazing story of a boy and a girl who belonged to two different communities, but were the followers of the same religion called love. Abhimanyu Patel and Christina Jacob fell in love with each other at the very first sight. The two families were not ready to accept their relationship. So, they decided to tie the knot without their approval. Everything went well till Abhi died in a plane – crash while returning home from a business- meeting. Christy was pregnant at that time. Instead of breaking – down, she bravely faced the challenges of life and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. We all were happy for her and applauded her indomitable courage. But that was not the happy ending. Soon after the first birthday of her baby, she was diagnosed as suffering from cancer. Worse than that, the disease was already out of control at the time of detection.”
“Is there any hope for her?” Avantika Ma’am’s words were hardly audible
“It’s already too late.”
“Then who is going to take care of the baby after her?” I asked anxiously.
“She has no other option but to hand – over her little Ishita to an orphanage.”
“I feel so sorry for the baby.”
As we all were lost in thoughts, the door opened and a lean lady with beautiful waist – length hair entered. She seemed to be in the early forties. She held a small bouquet in her hands.
“How are you, Avantikaka?” She said as she handed the bouquet to her, “Shankar has asked me to convey his regards. He is in Delhi for a conference, will be back by tomorrow.”
“Much better,” Ma’am smiled. “She is Vandana, my best friend. And Vandana, they are Sanjay and Niharika, my friends and subordinates.”
“Ma’am, the doctor has prescribed these medicines for you.” A nurse came in with a prescription – form.
“’I’ll buy the medicines.” Sanjay sprang to his feet.
“No, it’s okay.” Mrs. Mathur said, “Now, I’m here to take care of all her needs.” She took the prescription and left.
“She is such a sweetheart.” Avantika Ma’am said, “You know she is a multi – talented person. She is a gifted painter, the winner of many cookery competitions, and a fashion designer too. But the only agony in her life is that even after 20 long years of marriage she couldn’t conceive. She and her husband Shankar have tried everything they could – medicines, IVF, prayers, but all went in vain. She implored him to leave her and marry someone else. She even tried to commit suicide. But he would never let her drift apart.”
“How terrible!” I felt very sorry for her. But, then I thought of a solution to her problem. “Ma’am, let’s ask her to adopt Christy’s child.”
“Shankar won’t approve. We both had tried many times to convince him for adoption. But he was not even ready to listen. He brushed – off our pleas by saying -‘blood is thicker than water.”
The next evening, Mr. and Mrs. Mathur came to visit Avantikaka Ma’am. She introduced me to MrMathur. Mr. A little later, Sanjay stepped into the room with little Ishita in his arms. Mrs. Mathur’s eyes glinted with joy as she saw the baby.
“Come, dear, let’s play in the garden.” She said and left with the baby.
“Shankar,” Avantika Ma’am said as she turned to him, “That baby is from a respectable family. Her father is already dead and mother is dying of cancer. No one else is there who could take care of her. Why don’t you and Vandana adopt her?”
“That won’t work – out, Avantika. One day she will come to know that we aren’t her real parents. Then everything will get messed – up.”
“No Shankar, trust me, it won’t. She will love you even more for loving and caring for her when she was left all alone in the world.”
“I’m not sure about it. What if she walks – out on us when she grows-up?”
“The bond of love is much stronger than any other bond. Relationships held together by the bond of love never fall apart.”
Mr. Mathur stood silent for some time as he was in a dilemma.
“And before you make any decision, open the curtains and take a look outside.”
Mr. Mathur walked up to the window and looked out. I stood behind him and peeped over his shoulders. Mrs. Mathur was sitting on the swing with the baby on her lap. The baby shrieked out of joy, each time the swing moved to and fro which made her laugh her heart out.
“Have you ever seen her so happy in all these years?” Avantika Ma’am asked.
When Mr. Mathur turned to us, his eyes were filled with tears.
“Relationships are nurtured by love and not by blood, Shankar.”