They were a family of 3. Two of them and their son.
Years passed, and there were signs that there would be another member joining the family. One fine day a baby appeared on the scene. All was well. At least all appeared well. But it was not to be. And within two months, they were back to being a family of 3 again, immeasurably impoverished in a world where children and joy are synonymous.
Years passed, and the older child waited. Ignorant of the limitations of physiology.
And so they decided to adopt. A little girl. Except, now that the son was about 11, she needed to be at least three, so that you didn't run the risk of suddenly having 3 adults and one child in the house within a few years.
She came in like a cheerful ray of sunshine. They had not heard her speak. She would just nod and smile and hum to herself. There was no apprehension, just a childlike confidence, stemming from listening to the caretakers (at the orphanage she was from), telling all, that she would be going to her Mom and Dad ; and here she was.
Turns out, that children who have had to "grow up" by themselves, without anyone talking to them as babies, playing with them, throwing them up in the air, and then catching them back with a whoop, often withdraw into themselves. You see, food, clothing and shelter, are never the only requirements. She was three, and chances are she had had her share of isolation in her time. And she had dealt with it, in her own childlike way.
The day she became part of the family , was the day they heard her point to a lady on TV, (who was reading the news, whose hairstyle vaguely resembled Mom's ), and say "Aai !" in a ringing confident voice.
And she hasn't stopped talking ever since.
An active little girl, she got enthused by little things , such as bringing out her new frocks and storybooks and toys from her closets to show everyone. When she started school, she wanted a schoolbag exactly like her brother's, and it didnt matter if he was in 10th grade and needed to carry a lot more stuff.
By and by she got into sports, in particular swimming. She swam because she loved to swim. You could get her to do all kinds of homework etc, under the threat of grounding the swimming. She was a bit on the darker side, and when children unwittingly teased her about being a dark sister of a fair brother, she turned up her nose at them, saying , maybe they themselves were green. (They probably were , green, with envy).
There came a time when studies started taking up more time. And the swimming started taking a back seat.
And one day they found out, that she was not doing as well they thought in school. Maths and Science was a problem. She rebelled against what she thought was totally pointless learning. Geometry was a bummer. But give her a book on Origami. At eight years of age, she looked at such a book, and a single perusal of folding patterns was enough to motivate her to memorise the various steps to coming up with a peacock with dancing steps, or a bird with moving wings.
The girl took up Open Schooling. You could choose your subjects, some vocational, but rules were rules and were to be followed strictly. You just took your own time appearing for the tests. There were NO grades in class.
But something else had happened while in her old school.Some of her friends had started commenting, unable to counter her popularity as a sportsperson. Unwise comments about her origin, sowed some seeds of doubt. But the girl was so confident of her family, that she let the thoughts slip away. Teenage beckoned, and the ensuing personality transformations. Some rebellion, some anger. She would clam shut when angry about her studies. her eyes would almost send out laser beams of anger as she endeavoured to deal with , what she considered , folks ganging up against her. Her friends, by whispering rumours, her teachers, by implying hat she was no good in the prescribed level of studies , and her parents, by looking troubled, every time her schoolwork came up .
And one day, her father started a story around the dinner table. The story about a little girl who came to the house, and did all these wonderful things, that lit up the house with a sense of childhood fun and wonder. She came because Mom had a problem. About having a baby. A medical reason. And she was the answer to all the prayers to God. The story continued over two days, and she looked forward to it, although her father was sure she knew what this was all about. She learnt she was the high point for the three of them, a favourite child and favourite sister of an indulgent brother. And she absorbed all these strengths. She belonged here.
This was her introduction to the concept of adoption. She thought the whole idea rocked. That year and subsequently every Divali, she went with the family with Divali sweets and gifts for the children at the orphanage; and the caretaker ladies there were absolutely thrilled to bits about her. They had held her as a baby, and here she was; a confident young teenager, very comfortable with who she was, reassured by her place in the family, surrounded by indulgent father, mother,brother and grandparents.
Today, this little girl has almost finished college. She has discovered boys.. She worries about her weight, spends hours agonising about some minor eruption on the skin on her face, and her favourite peoples' list, family wise, currently has in descending order of popularity, her brother, her father,and lastly, her mother .....
Her folks were once invited for the inauguration of some new thing at the college library. The librarian is a very perceptive wonderful lady. The girl swam for her college in her first year, and got medals. So everyone knows her; she stood next to her Mom and Dad , sort of itching to get away to the refreshments , but still restrained by something the Librarian lady was saying.
The librarian, turned to her Mom, then turned to her , and said, "You know, you even smile like your Mom !"
Her face lit up. She has a wonderful smile , much nicer than her Mom's. Her eyes crinkled, her smile couldn't get any wider, and the Librarian lady indulgently waved her away in the direction of her friends, where a pizza was in the process of being devoured.
And her mother looked on. And silently remembered something she had told her daughter when they talked about babies and stuff as puberty loomed on the horizon.
Some children came from the womb.
And some children, special ones, came from the heart....