Story uptil now……..
“You think a call-girl has no right to look after her own child? That she cannot take on the responsibility of motherhood? That I’m only to be used as a plaything and then discarded? Remember, I was pushed into the trade. But I’m no more in the business. I’m free and I lead a clean life.”
“I’m sorry,” Rohit apologized, “That was thoughtless of me. I’ll see what I can do.”
He took down whatever details she could give.
“I’ll get in touch when I have some news,” he said, “But don’t place your hopes too high.”
Latha waited hopefully but there was no news from Rohit for nearly six months. He knew this was a delicate case and would take time. He had to tread carefully. Perhaps the child was really dead, and she had imagined that it had been given away to someone else.
“No breath of scandal must touch these rich folk. Besides, the Nursing Home is run by a politician’s wife and has a good reputation in the city,” Rohit thought.
Through friends, he was introduced to a nurse who worked there. She was pleasantly surprised and flattered by the attention of this handsome lawyer.
‘Patience, patience, don’t rush it,’ he cautioned himself.
It took almost four months to win her confidence. One day, he broached the subject.
“My cousin delivered at your nursing home four years ago. She says she has lost her child’s birth certificate and wants to apply for a new one. Will it be possible to get this information from your registers? Or should she go directly to the Registrar of Births and Deaths?”
The nurse phoned Rohit the next day.
“I can’t find the name of your cousin in the register. Are you sure she delivered in this nursing home? There was just one delivery that day and the mother’s name was Mandira Alva. She delivered a baby boy.”
“Are there any other registers you can look through? You see, she was an unwed mother. So they may have kept her file very confidential.”
“If it is confidential then it must be in Madam’s office. It will be difficult to lay hands on.”
“Can’t you do this for my sake? The poor girl is trying to get maintenance for her child from the father. Do you have Mandira’s address? If they were at the nursing home at the same time she would probably remember.”
The file retrieved from Madam’s office showed details of Latha’s delivery. Rohit had it photocopied. Apart from proof that she had delivered a normal baby boy, he made two other important discoveries – Mandira Alva’s name was on the doctor’s note sheet against which was marked Rs.1.5 lakhs.
The doctor had made a note that Mandira’s child was stillborn, and she had no knowledge that the child she now had was not her own. On the husband’s insistence, this matter had not been disclosed to her.
Attached to the file was also a letter of abandonment signed by Latha’s aunt, as she was still a minor.
Rohit traced down Mandira and confirmed that she had a son who was four years old. The family was very rich and the child looked well cared for.
‘Latha will never be able to give him such a life,’ Rohit thought, ‘It will break this mother’s heart if the child was taken away. I will speak to Latha and convince her that in the interests of the child, she must let go.’
Then he remembered her words, “You think a call-girl has no right to be a mother?”
Rohit was very troubled. With the information he had, Latha could surely win her child back. But how would it affect Mandira? He had learnt that she was middle-aged and had lost four babies previously.
‘I need the wisdom of Solomon,’ he thought, ‘Here are two women and one boy between them. One of them will certainly end up with heartache. Mandira has loved the child like her own all these four years. It would be heartless to take the child away. She would sink into depression or even ruin her married life. I must convince Latha that she should not pursue the case, but be magnanimous and give him up. Perhaps a photo of the family will convince her that the boy will be better off where he is.’
The family was always in the park on a Sunday evening. Rohit had watched them for several weeks. They seemed such a happy family and one could tell that the boy was the apple of their eyes. Rohit persuaded a photographer friend to take some pictures of the boy and his family. Then hoping for the best, he went toBangalorewith the pictures.
“Where have you been all this time?” she asked anxiously, “Have you found my son?”
Rohit had a good mind to take her in his arms and drive out all her anxieties. He had missed her so much during the last six months even though he had refrained from contacting her.
“I have found your son,” Rohit said, “He has a nice family and the parents are devoted to him. In fact, the woman doesn’t know that he was not born to her.”
She snatched the photos from his hand, eager to see the boy.
“He’s beautiful. When can I claim him for my own?”
‘Such happiness in her eyes,’ Rohit noticed. She couldn’t stop looking at the boy’s photo, examining every little thing about him. Then she picked up the family photograph and a sudden change came over her. Her face blanched, and for a while she couldn’t speak at all. She began to tremble all over.
Rohit took her by the shoulders and shook her gently.
“What’s the matter? Are you ill or something? You were so happy a minute ago.”
“No, no, this can’t be true. Oh my God! Oh my God!”
It was a kind of wailing which touched Rohit’s heart. He took her hand in his and let her sob her heart out. Then he said in a voice full of concern, “Tell me, why are you crying? “
“The man………” she spluttered, pointing at the man’s photograph, “That’s the same vile creature who impregnated me. He is a heartless man. He will never give me my boy.”
Rohit was afraid to put pressure on her. If he was not careful, the trust she had placed in him could short circuit midstream. He had to convince her that he had her best interests at heart.
“You’re so young. Someday you’ll fall in love and get married. You can have many more children. But I hear that Mandira who is already middle-aged can never have a live child. Besides, now that you’ve identified the father….. that child will never let you forget how he was conceived. Let go Latha…. It’s time to move on.”
He realised that he hadn’t let go of her hand, neither did she pull hers away. Now he turned her face towards him. Those dark limpid eyes were full of misery. Someday he hoped that someone would be able to put the sparkle back into her eyes and illuminate every dark corner of her heart.
‘I wish I could be that man,’ he thought.
But he had to be sure of his feelings both for her sake and for his own.
“Make your decision and let me know if you want to proceed with the case. I have given you the best advice I can think of. But you talk it over with someone you can trust, then let me know. Now I must run along.”
“I haven’t paid you for all the work you have done,” she said, as he rose to go.
“I’ll be back to collect,” he said, and his spirits lifted as she smiled at him through her tears.