Little Sweetie was a frail girl. She was born with a congenital disease that left her weak and stunted her growth.. so she looked small and weak, and spoke like it’s taking all her might to utter a couple of words.
Sweetie would always go frolicking in the garden at the backyard of her big bungalow. Her ma and pa were big-time socialites who always gave heavy parties among the elite in London. They hadn’t time for her, having left her in the care of her Nanna.. her nanny who she affectionately called Nanna. Sweetie is actually 6 years old, but she looks 3. Nanna loves to take care of her, and many a times, is seen running behind her, pretending not to see her, playing hide and seek and making Sweetie win each time.
“There you are!! Nanna… I caught you, I caught youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!!! Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!” Sweetie would scream at the top of her frail voice, as much as she could, before stopping breathless.
Seeing her happy had become Nanna’s sole purpose of living here. Sweetie. Having herself diagnosed with a condition that left her barren and unable to conceive, Nanna then got this job by a stroke of luck – at just the right time. It’s been six years since her husband left her for another ‘child-bearing’ woman, and six years since she joined this household as a nanny to the sweetest girl in the whole wide world. It saddened her to see the medical condition of Sweetie. She was briefed about it on the day she came to get interviewed for the vacancy, and she promised them that Sweetie’s medical needs would also be taken care of – so she had agreed to be nanny and nurse to Sweetie that day. What she did not realise in the bargain was how she would “mother” Sweetie and begin developing feelings towards her.
It happened slowly – gradually, as she took the baby in her hands – Sweetie was adorable as it is.. but her condition wrenched every bit of strength from Nanna’s heart too. As she began caring for her as she would never have cared for any normal baby, Nanna began seeing how Sweetie required special care – she was a different child. She couldn’t gulp milk like any other baby – she would get breathless.. she needed to be fed spoon by spoon, with great patience and lot of love.
Her medications were a big story in their own right. Five times a day, in controlled measures, Nanna had a tough time getting used to this. So she bought herself an alarm, and set it up at regular intervals so she would not miss a dose. As she saw Sweetie grow, millimeter by millimeter, in her hands, Nanna began feeling that Sweetie is her baby – her own.
When Sweetie had fever, Nanna did not sleep all night – Sweetie was in her lap. Nanna could not bear a small scratch on Sweetie, and became very possessive. Why not? Where were her parents? Out partying all day and all night? The big shots, the rich and the famous were often seen in their house. At any point of time, there would be posh expensive cars lined up on the front porch of the mansion – that’s how much visiting and entertaining happened in the household.
Nanna was never star-struck. The lights of London never impressed her. Once upon a time, they were her dreams, she had such lovely memories of the Eye, the Thames, the Dungeon – and every where she had gone with her husband, those were the days when they were a happy couple. Every weekend would be spent painting the town red. She had married for love. She thought love conquers everything. But she was wrong. The need in a man to further his clan was far greater than any true love that the world would have ever witnessed. Then the anxiety each month, gave way to cold weeks before the onset of period. This later culminated into arguments and fights – and then, the diagnosis came – that Nanna had polycystic ovaries and would not be able to conceive. That was the day she had needed him the most – that was the day he left her. “I am sorry, Anahita. I can’t wait any more. I need my blood – my child to carry my name further. You can leave.” Anahita was shell shocked. In an age where IVF has now made the dreams of many a couple a reality, here he was, her husband who she had given the world – asking her to leave because she could not give him a child.
She had been shattered. Dealing with infertility is one thing – dealing with the rejection of her person because of it was another. She left the same day. And Sweetie came into her life. She has proved in every way that she is as much a mother as Sweetie’s own party-hopping mother. Perhaps more. Much much more. Sweetie was thriving in her hands. Anahita’s hands. Anahita meaning fertile. Her parents had named her so, because her birth was followed by her father’s promotion. She was revered for being the harbinger of abundance. She – today labelled infertile, Anahita.
Is carrying a foetus in the womb for 9 months the only measure of a woman’s motherliness?