I had cried all through the night. My pillow was soaking wet. As I opened my eyes I found mom still sitting by my side. As I stirred she immediately turned to me “Just listen to me Jaya” she was coaxing me. How can this woman be my mother ? She  had done the crime of taking away a child from her real mother.
I had considered myself the luckiest child so far.Overwhelmed in the love and care of my parents. Just one cruel stroke of luck changed it all. Just one ugly secret destroyed my world.
Uma aunty had come to visit us with family. I had always looked forward to their company. We had quite a few fun filled days together laughing and talking, playing cards and watching movies.
I was feeling sad when they were going back. Just as they crossed the threshold to go to the bus stand,our maid told me slyly, “You know why does your aunty love you so much?”
“Because she is my aunty .”I answered casually.
“No because she is your mother.”
Stunned, I stood agape for a  long time. How was it possible, I had no inkling about this all these years.
 I was burning with anger and grief. Why should this happen to me? I felt jealous of my brothers and sister. How lucky they were living together all the time whereas I wait for them for months.
 I stormed into my parents room and started crying and shouting loudly. For a long time they were unable to know what had happened.
They tried to convince me of  their love when they got an inkling of what was wrong. They looked devastated. I had no pity for them.They deserved to suffer.
I wished I was never born. All my life had been a fake. I had a strong urge to harm myself.
I remembered a concoction that Swamiji had given to mom. He had told her to take one or two drops in case she had any problem. That would give her time to think things over. But how? I decided to try it.
I tip-toed to Pooja Room and found the bottle in a drawer. I quickly swallowed a little bit of it. I felt muddled up for a moment and then felt extremely light.
As I came out, mom seemed to ignore my presence. I looked at myself. My body was not visible .That meant nobody could see me. I didn’t panic .I was not even surprised. There was nothing in my mind except anger and grief that had benumbed my senses.
I decided to go to my aunty’s house immediately. Seen or unseen, I would be with my parents at least.
 As I came out of the room,I knocked down a flower vase in a hurry .Papa looked up from the chair . He looked surprised but didn’t seem to guess my presence.
I took a bus to Uma aunty’s house. It was twilight when I reached her home.
 I rang the bell and a servant opened it . He kept looking around for sometime.
“These children “ he cursed under his breath,”they won’t let me live in peace.”
I sneaked in before he could close the door. How desperate I was to hug my mother and tell my brothers and sisters what I had learnt.
I found aunty and uncle engrossed in a deep discussion as I entered the living area. I was delighted when I heard my name. “They also miss me all the time,”
No, they were not missing me. Uma aunty shouted at uncle “You spoiled everything this time, why did you say that there was no hurry. Varsha was about to write her share of our parents’ property in my name.”
“Don’t worry we will do it next time.They trust us completely.”
“ Both she and her husband are foolish. Remember how I had influenced her to adopt Jaya in stead of getting a child from the orphanage, How eager she was to  provide home to at least one orphan. And that brat would have taken half the property that rightly belongs to us.”
“ Also I have bribed the maid to tell Jaya everything in such a way that she starts hating Varsha.I know that will incense the girl to revolt against her and we will go there as peace makers.”
“You are really smart!” both laughed a wicked laugh.
I stood there unable to move . I had come to live with my parents. Who were they? A pair of strangers whom I had never met before, a pair of greedy hawks out to grab other persons’ share. “Is she the same person who talked of ideals and pretended to love me so much ? I had pictured her as sad, sacrificing mother who had given away her daughter for the happiness of her childless sister.”
 My anger gave way to regret .Regret  that I ever doubted the love of my doting parents. Regret that I shouted at them and made them miserable ,regret that I drank that potion that made me invisible. I might  remain invisible for ever and never be able to tell my parents how much I loved them.
I ran out to be with my parents, trying to guess what I would do to mitigate their sorrow. Somehow or the other, I had  to go back and see them.
Gate was locked .I had to go inside to find the keys. As I turned to go in ,I felt giddy and fell there in a heap.
 As I regained consciousness, I found myself surrounded by the family. Unable to find me at home and in the neighbourhood, mom and papa had rushed to aunty’s house thinking I might be there.
Everyone was wondering how I had managed to enter in while the main gate was locked. But mom had a pleasant surprise when I hugged her saying ,” Mom, let’s go home.”
***
Photo By: Tina Markova

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