She looked out the window forlornly, tired of all the struggle, of the emptiness within her. She felt a lone tear make its way down her cheek.
“Divya” she heard her name being called, thus pulling her out of her thoughts.
“Divya, let’s have lunch. I am hungry.” Her husband Mahesh said entering the room.
Divya couldn’t get herself to look at him. She didn’t want to kill his appetite by discussing everything all over again. Little did she know he had already guessed she was feeling low.
“Hey, not again. Everything will be fine.” He assured her, holding her by her arms.
She took an exasperated breath. “When Mahesh? And how much longer? You are telling me it will be fine? Yesterday it was you who was completely dejected. Come on Mahesh. The treatments aren’t working and the doctor advised us against adoption. But honestly, I am losing hope.” She exclaimed, tears beginning to form in her eyes.
“14 long years. Yet, our dream, our wish remains unfulfilled. And I know you want a child even more than I do.” She whispered collapsing on the sofa.
“Listen, please relax. The treatment is still going on right, and after the doctor’s words yesterday I have regained hope. Please don’t give up Divya.” Mahesh held her palms in his and tried to console her.
“And it isn’t about who wants a child more. Both of us love kids and equally are praying for one to fill our life with its laughter and innocence. I am sure God will listen. I know it has been over a year now with the treatment but the harder the test, the sweeter the reward.” He said cupping her cheeks.
She looked at his eyes filled with nothing but love. Kids and he had always had a magnetic attraction toward each other. All their friends and relatives’ kids loved him. They loved her too, but his fondness for children was different. It had been 14 years of their marriage yet after fervent efforts, an expensive ongoing treatment and heartfelt prayers, they still didn’t have a child to call their own.
His heart ached at her tears. Not only did she yearn for a child, but she had to bear with society’s taunts on not being able to conceive. Even though the fault wasn’t hers. He hated this horrible mentality which made it hard for a woman to live in peace. He knew how much she loved children with the way she goofed around with them. How he prayed to his Lord Ayyappa, to grant them the blessing of a child.
“God will have to listen.” She suddenly said, halting his thought process. “I have heard that the Santoshi Maa vrat is extremely powerful. It has to be followed for six Fridays. I am going to do that.” She wiped her tears with a resolve.
“What? No way! That will only affect your health.” Mahesh said shocked.
“No Mahesh it won’t. Just like you have Ayyappa, I have the Mother Goddess. I am sure she won’t let me down. The prayer of a sincere heart won’t fail. Not this time. Please let me do this my way.” Divya pleaded.
“But..” he hesitated and then sighed. “Okay fine. I won’t stop you. Do whatever your heart believes. But just take care of yourself please. The treatment too is going on.” He said softly, pulling her close.
“Don’t worry. I am sure this time our hope will win.” She smiled and let him hug her tight.
“Can we eat now? I am still hungry!” he pouted, pulling away.
“Haha. Sure.” She chuckled.
That Friday as Divya began her fast and prayers with every bit of faith her soul held while Mahesh looked on, hoping they won’t go in vain. 5 weeks passed by. One day as Divya was reading a book, her husband came running into the hall, a wide smile adorning his face.
“Divya!! The doctor just confirmed it positive.” He spoke breathlessly. She immediately put aside her and looked at him in disbelief. “Confirmed what?”
“You are pregnant! Your prayers have been answered.” He practically yelled in delirious happiness and hugged her tight.
“What!” was all that she could manage to speak. Joy, shock and a tumult of other emotions took over her being. Finally! Tears of joy streamed down her cheeks as she shut her eyes tight, trying to soak in the bliss.
“Our dream is coming true.” Mahesh wiped her tears and touched his forehead to hers. She nodded. “Come with me.” She held his hand and took him to the temple in their home.
“Thank You so much Ayyappa. I don’t have any other words left. Thank You.” he prayed, gratitude in every thought of his.
“My faith didn’t fail. You heard our prayers. Thank You Maa.” She thanked her Mother Goddess.
The next 9 months passed by peacefully with Mahesh being a doting and dutiful husband by accompanying her out for walks and toward the end even managing the kitchen while she took rest.
But God wasn’t done testing them yet. Before her delivery date, due to some issues her BP rose drastically which needed a C-section to be conducted immediately.
“God please let them be safe. Please Ayyappa.” A worried sick Mahesh kept praying outside the Operation Theater. He couldn’t understand what to think of anymore. Agony racked his heart and sweat glistened on his forehead even in the cold winter.
The OT door opened and out stepped the doctor. To Mahesh’s relief he was smiling.
“Congratulations Mahesh. Both your wife and daughter are safe.” He smiled and patted the man’s shoulder.
“Daughter.” Mahesh mumbled in evident joy and relief even as the nurse placed his baby girl in his arms. He couldn’t believe his eyes as he held their soft bundle of love in his arms and kissed her forehead, every part of his being thanking the Lord. She was so delicate he was afraid he would hurt her. Yet his heart didn’t want to let her go.
“Can I see Divya?” he asked the doctor.
“Yes, after another 45 minutes she should open her eyes. You can see her then.”
“Thank you so much Doctor. For everything!” said Mahesh, his tone emotional.
“It is our duty Mahesh. And it is your right. She is truly a special child.” The doctor smiled touching the baby’s hand.
After an hour which seemed like an eternity, Mahesh entered the ward to see a tired Divya smiling down at the baby girl beside her. He quickly went to her bedside, helped her sit up and placed their daughter in her hands. Divya hugged her to her bosom and kissed her forehead.
“She is here Mahesh. Our wish, our boon. God’s precious gift to us. We are parents now.” The grateful mother in Divya said softly.
“She completes our world Divya. Our little special daughter.” Mahesh carefully placed his palm on the baby’s tiny body.
“I believe she is the Mother Goddess’s blessing to me. So, can we name her Devi?” Divya asked her husband. He smiled and nodded.
“Devi.” They cuddled the child, the picture of true bliss.