My name is Sathya. I live in a town with the population of three hundred families.
I am 27, single and bitter about my ex who got married last month, even though I dumped him. All I ever was to get married and have a child of my own. Okay I will be honest, I want the baby. I am just not sure I am the marrying type. Can anyone ever really say they truly know someone? I cannot take that chance, I refuse to. So after three years of him waiting, I let him go.
I try to erase the pretty wedding photo I saw in the newspaper. This image refuses to even take a coffee break. I cannot seem to focus lately. “Sathya, will there be anything else today?”
I shake out of my misery and say “No thanks Ravi have a good day”. I put my mail in my purse and walk out of the town’s post office.
I kick the snow off my boots and unlock my front door. I chuck the mail on the kitchen table. I have not eaten a single meal at the table since my dad passed away. He died of a heart attack while taking his daily stroll. He has been gone a year yesterday. The thought of both my parents dead and me as an only child does not improve my mood. I toss in a lasagne. I tap my fingers impatiently as I wait for the microwave to beep and let me know my gourmet meal is now ready to consume.
I am cozy and content in my flashy pink flannel cup-cake pyjamas. As weird as it sounds, I believe everyone should collect something. My obsession just happens to be flannel pyjamas. I pull my home made quilt over my head and try to relax. Loneliness creeps up on my body like a blanket of lead. I drift off into a fragmented sleep.
At six in the morning I get up, pour a cup of tea and then a strange noise. It cannot be the door. I mean who could it possibly be? Visitors are rare for me. Knock, knock. I hear the noise again and can no longer deny the fact that someone is at my door. My obsession with flannel pj’s is about to get the better of me. I mean what do I say to the person knocking on the door, “could you please hold on a moment while I change into something less childish?” I walk slowly to the door. My mind is a blur. I am totally caught off guard. I open the door.
“I need help” says the troubled looking female with a protruding belly. She is not dressed very warm for the weather and looks lost. “What do you want help with?” I ask. I try to be polite and not sound annoyed as I actually feel. She shivers and looks like she might collapse. I am speechless. For a moment we both just stand there and stare into each other’s eyes.
“I am freezing. Can I please come in and warm up?” she asks in a low voice. What the hell am I supposed to do? Suppose she collapses on my front door for the whole town to see? This is the negative aspect of being the first house visible when you come into town.
“Ah, I guess, for a bit. Just until you warm up”. I raise my eyebrows as she enters my house.
I cannot help but stare at Mitali. She tells me that is her name, for real. She is huge. She looks like she is due any minute. “Everyone calls me Mitu for short and I have two weeks until the baby is due”. She says softly as she meets my eyes. I cannot help myself. The whole situation is unbelievable. Mitu is twenty three. She has no parents and has walked five miles to my town. She just kept walking and walking until she could not walk anymore. That was when she knocked on my door. I do not want to scare her away. Although I am out of my element, I find that I enjoy her company.
I cannot help myself and ask Mutual what she is running away from. “I am running away from my foster parents. There were nice enough when they were collecting money for me staying with them. Then the money stopped coming. They had another fight and I just could not take it anymore. Both were drunk and throwing things at each other. I barely missed getting knocked out by a glass ashtray. I will not go back, no matter what. I have no place to”. Mitu looks up at me with tears in her eyes.
I fix up the guest bedroom for her. I have no choice. Mitu needs somewhere to stay. The system does not seem concerned with her because she is older than twenty three. I called the foster parents house. They kept hanging up on me. Mitali probably feels as lonely as I do each night. I just cannot send her out in the world alone. I have life experience and struggle with loneliness. I cannot imagine being in her position. It breaks my heart. That is it, I have made up my mind. Mitu will stay with me.
I feel good. I feel like that for once I am doing something in my life. When my father passed away I decided to give up my full time job as a parole officer and take two years off. Two years off to figure out what was going on in my life and how I could change it before it was too late. Up until Mitali, I had felt like life was passing me by. Now I have energy and feel alive. I have not felt this good since, I cannot even remember. This feels right.
I am in my bed. For once, I do not feel lonely. I feel good. I smile and then my heart skips a beat as I hear Mitu calling my name. I get up quickly and run into the guest bedroom. Mitu does not look well at all. She is all curled up in bed and is breathing heavy. I am overwhelmed and not sure what to do. I ask stupidly, “What’s wrong?” She screams “I think I am having the baby!” I stare at her in disbelieve. What am I going to do? I shake my head to try and clear it so something intelligent will come to me. I wait and say nothing. It is Mitali who draws me near to the bed and whispers “you have to drive me to the hospital now”. I nod my head slowly.
It takes Mitali and me a half hour to drive to the hospital. I drive as quickly as I can. I am overwhelmed with emotion. I admire her. I would give anything to be in her place at the moment. She seems so brave, even in pain. She squeezes my hand during labour. I think my hand might be broken. I still admire her and feel alive.
As the baby’s head comes out full or dark matted hair, it is I who squeals with joy. I stare at Mitu. She stares at the baby like she is lost in a dream. The baby is a boy and weighs in at an even six pounds. I ask Mitali what she is going to name him. She holds the baby close to her and looks nothing but comfortable. She whispers “Ashok”. I am dumfounded and cannot believe it. I ask quietly “What is his name?” Mitu smiles at me and says, “Ashok, I have always loved that name”. I am not sure what to say to her at the moment. My father’s name was Ashok but I had never told her. She hardly knew a thing about me. This is my sign, my life and a new beginning.