The Fifth Child
It was British colonial time in India when Tani Devi was eight months pregnant with her fifth child. She already had four boys. Her husband Janak and the whole family were small-scale farmers in a small village in West UP. They had a small land and the whole family was dependent on it. The male members of the family worked on the field while the females stayed at home and do the household chores. They were a large joint family including Janak’s father and mother, his four brothers and four sisters in law and their numerous kids. He was the youngest among his siblings.
Being the youngest daughter-in-law of the house, Tani had little or no say in the household matter or to be honest in any matter. The situation had made her a silent and meek cow who would comply with anyone’s demand. From her kids to her in-laws, she kept everyone happy. As if it was all she ever wished for. And why shouldn’t she, after all, throughout her life, this is one thing her mother taught her. Even being eight months pregnant, she would wake up at 4 in the morning, devoting herself to the local temple and then to her family. Even God might have wondered how he created such a selfless soul.
The problem with this world is it takes kindness for granted. Tani was devoted to everyone except for her own self. She forgot what it was like to live for herself. But there was one person who always protected the dignity of his wife. Janak. Every time Tani was taken for granted, he would protect her. There were times when she was harassed on her own. She never stood up for herself. So he had to. He always knew what his wife needed. If serving family was her faith then protecting her was his religion.
Tani’s due date was close so Janak was accompanying his wife to the temple in the morning for the past month. Besides, it was the only time he could spend with her during the harvest season in December. On 7th December, as rigid icy wind cutting through the skin was on the hunt, Tani and Janak visited the local temple and for the first time, Tani prayed for herself. And call it the connection between two or just some desire, both Janak and Tani prayed for the same thing, ‘a baby girl’. And how could God deny his biggest devotee the first wish she asked for herself. Later that day, Tani went into labor. The midwife was called. Janak didn’t leave the house for a minute as if he had sensed how much his wife needed him at the moment. If there was any way he could save both his wife and his child. First time in his life he felt so helpless. Nobody slept that night. After 18 hrs of tough labor, they heard the shrill and ingenuous cry. Janak breathed a deep sigh of relief. It was a mixture of contentment and joy. Midwife announced, ‘It’s a girl.’
Tears of joy ran through his eyes as he gently held the baby in his arms and whispered, ‘ You are my strength, my grace. You fought your way to this world. You are my Akira.’
To be continued…