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When he stormed out of the room dragging Manyata behind him, I didn't know what I felt. Relief? Pain? Anger? Perhaps all of it rolled up into one? It hurts seeing him, loving Uday was never easy, so I shouldn't be so surprised. But I am. Every time I see my son, I see him. Papaji always says that Aditiya is more my son than he ever will be Uday's. He has my eyes, and my name. But everything else is Uday's. All of it. I walk across the plush room and sit on the edge of the bed. Gazing at Aditiya as he sleeps. His stuffed alligator tucked within his arms and his hair ruffled from the tossing and turning. Cheeks flushed a rosy pink all I can see in his face is peace. I give into the urge and run my fingers through his soft hair and let out a deep breath I seemed to have been holding in for so long. My son. My Aditya. My everything. I feel so guilty looking at him, as if I don't deserve to have him around me. He isn't a secret per say- people around me know I have a son, but the general public doesn't know, nor do I publicize it. I seldom go out with him, and when we do, it's very low key and I avoid anyone with a camera. He's been sheltered and has spent most of his four years going out with his Nanny; regardless of these provisions, he still loves me. And it surprises me every time. Each hug, each smile and laugh. I can't believe that he loves me so much. It makes my knees weak, and my heart stop, and I don't want to share him. Does that make me a terrible person? Perhaps it does. But I don't care. Feeling exhausted, and lay down with him, pulling him close, and breathing in his shampoo. Sleep comes easy, and the dreams are as always, only of him.
Four Years Ago
There was something about getting your heart crushed that made you feel vulnerable. It wasn't just that the relationship was over. That, a person could deal with. It was the moment in between. Where that individual's essence was everywhere. On your bed, in your house, on your body and in your heart. It was impossible to simply wash yourself with soap, fabreeze the space around you and move on. Perhaps if the person leaving you was anyone else- maybe you could. But not if the heartbreaker was Yuvraj Udayveer Singh. Not if the person was your first lover- the one you had thought would be your last.
The week had not been kind to Mina. She hadn't left her
house, eaten, or slept. She lay in her bed looking at the dark ceiling and
wondering where she had gone wrong. She was both annoyed and disappointed in
herself that she felt this much pain over him being gone. Disgusted that she
still longed for his warmth. Irritated that she still smelled his scent.
Exhausted that she still wanted him with her. Even if he dreamed of someone
else. Letting out a deep breath, she finally stepped out. She couldn't stay
here forever, she had to pick up her phones, go to school- pretend, at least
for now- and act like she could manage without him: She didn't need him.
Walking inside the rest room she looked at the mirror and couldn't recognize
the woman she faced. Hollowed out eyes, blue irises rimmed red with tears. Make
up streaked across her face from moisture that wouldn't go away. Hair matted
and oily in a tangled mess. Turning away, she walked into the shower and turned
the knobs to the hottest temperature: She would burn him off of her flesh. She
could feel her milk white skin turning hot and irritated, but she continued to
stand under the steady jet of water beat against her body. Taking the bar of
soap she scrubbed herself raw, the scent of citrus and lime still couldn't
erase him. The sobs came then. The uncontrollable sobs. She couldn't believe
herself. How had she become so weak? So pathetic? So needy? She was Mina
–goddamn- Randhawa. She could have her pick, or anyone anywhere. But the
problem was that her pick had left her. With nothing. Shampooing her hair took
long, as she attempted to comb out the tangles and knots. It seemed impossible
to wash him away. His hands, his scent, his essence. But she tried. She rubbed
her scalp till it was raw, her hands were pruning away under the hot water, and
finally when her legs couldn't hold her up any longer she stepped out,
shivering from the drop in temperature she wrapped herself in her terry cloth
robe and fell into bed.
Only to realize his scent still lingered.
She went out, ate when people asked why she wasn't eating, and smiled…or at least attempted to. It was difficult though. She couldn't go to any of the clubs and stayed away from any mutual friends they had once shared. All the men found her to be a topic of great discussion- how the high and mighty Mina Randhawa had been cut down to size. Women were relieved. That she was just another conquest, and at least in their oblivious minds, they stood a chance. They were wrong. She had been nave enough to think that she stood a chance, that the short few months he had stayed with her meant something. They meant nothing. She didn't need to know what words were being spoken to understand the jest of it all: No one could replace his fiance. No one. She ignored the comments and whispers and did her best to act normal, but her best was not enough. Weeks passed by, and people noticed the shadows under her eyes, the hollowed look her face had, and her curvaceous body looking sullen. She wasn't the great beauty she once had been. She knew what she looked like. After all, lack of food could do that to anyone. But she would rather starve than eat something and have it come right back up again. She couldn't hold down any food, the nausea was unbearable, and just the scent of food made her cringe. Then there were his pictures. It didn't matter. She could listen to the radio, turn on the TV, or read a paper. He was everywhere. In the society pages, a new girl every night. People loved him. The press loved him. She loved him. It seemed just seeing him so…put together? Made her feel worse. The emptiness was never ending. Ongoing and forever clawing at her.
She lay in her bed for the fourth week, staring at her wrists. The scars were faint, and healing. Everytime she told herself she would stop…she didn't. Instead, the abuse went on. This pain knew no end, and it seemed the only satisfaction or appeasement came when she was hurting just as much on the outside as she was on the inside. She had started to cut her wrists two weeks ago. At first she had taken a shower, the water blistering hot, with the soap doing its job to clean away the nonexistent dirt on her body. Giving up, she stepped out of the shower once more, patted herself dry, and changed into her nightwear. The house was quite, even with her father being home but she couldn't face him. Not now, not while she looked like a mess. Instead she attempted to cut up some fruits…at least eat something. She didn't know how she had gone from slicing up apples to suddenly looking at the knife as a method of release. Without second guessing, the cool wet blade rest at her wrist, and the smooth shallow cut was made. She had gasped in pain and in surprise, and watched the blood trickle seamlessly down her pale wrist, and fall into neat droplets on the white tile. It was a punishment, and a reminder. Shame came, and she half hazzardly cleaned up the mess before a maid could see. Soon, it because a ritual. Shower, cleanse, bleed: all in the privacy of her room; where the maid was not to enter. The moments of tranquility post the break up were gone. She didn't make any attempt to rejoin society anymore: it wasn't worth the mockery. Instead, four weeks since the incident, she lay on her bed staring above at the ceiling, waiting for the clock to strike 8:00/
Mina: time for a shower.
Her idea was interrupted by a knock, her father was here. She cast her gaze away, and fidgeted with the sleeves of her shirt. If he saw the marks, he'd question her, he'd worry. She didn't want him to worry. Her father looked older in this moment then he had ever before: his eyes tired, worried and scared. But he still smiled at her, as he sat down she noticed the tray of food he held, without his asking, she shook her head as if to say no.
Aman: Mina Puthar, please eat. Please? Apne Papaji Lay.
Mina: No papaju, I can't. Please leave me alone.
His brow creased as he reached to whip away the fresh tears coming out of her eyes. Anger came at not her, but the cause of those tears.
Aman: Why are you crying over him puthar! He's not worth it! Let him Rot!
She looked at him, startled, and gently shook her head as she patted his hand
Mina: I can't cry for him anymore papaji. But I can cry for myself, and shame I've caused.
He wanted to scream at her, tell her to shut up! He wasn't angry! He wasn't disappointed in her! He never could be! How could he be mad at his only child when her heart was breaking? He didn't care if she'd had sex before marriage. He'd lived outside of India for so long, he didn't give a rats ass about out dated tradition: he just wanted her happy. He shook his head, and left the food on her bedside table, kissing his child's forehead he left her for the night.
In the middle of the night Mina heaved herself up, her petite body not looking as luxurious as it once had, but she managed anyway. Her dark hair was too heavy for her neck, and got in her way, but she washed herself anyway. Washing him away- or atleast trying to. This time, she could eat. She didn't want to. Instead she drive heaved up whatever she could, the nausea taking over once again. She should have gone to the doctor…but she didn't want to leave. Couldn't leave. She knew. Deep down she knew what was going on with in her body. Two weeks late. She was two weeks late, and there was only one reason for it. There could only be one reason for it. Resting her head on the rim of the toilet she had been bent over, she cried. Deep wrenching sobs. Shame, she felt so much shame. Every effort she had made to make her father proud of her. How she had saved herself for the one. Dreams aspirations and expectations of being the perfect Indian Daughter in a in a Non-Indian Country. She had desperately tried and failed on the first attempt. Failed miserably. Leaning back, and tucking her knees against her chest, she thought about everything. She couldn't get an abortion. People would find out...she couldn't have the child because people would still find out. She was damned either way. She was turning 22. This wasn't supposed to happen to her. She was supposed to get married, with the perfect man- who she had thought would be Uday- have the wedding her father dreamed about then have kids. Not like this. Never like this. Never in shame. Getting up on her wobbly knees she ventured onward before she changed her mind. She had to be fast. She picked up her phone and called the one person she would hurt the most by doing this, but it needed to be done. He didn't pick up. Pondering this, she decided on voicemail- at least he'd hear her voice for the last time.
Mina: Papaji. I love you. I love you so much. I'm sorry. So sorry.
Holding back the sob, she sat down on her clean sheets, wrapped in her white terry cloth robe and picked up the stainless steel blade. The metal on her skin didn't make a single sound, but it the roar of the blood pouring out of her skin silently made her want to scream. They'd think she ended it because of Uday. Which was partly true. He was why she was here. Pregnant. She couldn't do this. She couldn't bring this shame to her father. She loved him so much. So let me go, she thought. I'll go to mom. I'll tell her I'm sorry. She cut in deeper. More blood spewed. Taking in a breath, she repeated the deep gash onto her other wrist, finally exhaling she dropped the blade and laid back onto the sheets. The white seeping into red, and the pain slowly making its way out of her body. Tears streaming down her face, and soon her vision clouded. It would be over soon. Sleep came, clouding her mind and her body…and dreams of a little boy staring at her with somber blue eyes haunted her last thoughts.
Mina: I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry.
Amandeep Singh Randhawa was a proud man. He had only fallen
in love once, and that was with his bride, Amrita. She had given him one child-
Mina. He wished he could have had more time with his beloved young wife, wish
their daughter could have gotten to know her. But alas, god had been cruel, and
had taken her moments after she had seen her infants face. Bitterness had eaten
him since that day. The love of his life was gone, but not forgotten, in Amrita's
place, he was given his pari. His Mina. He had loved her with every ounce
possible. His only child, his heir, his legacy. Never had he cared for a son,
never had he wished for one. His Mina, was his everything.
He sat in his study, his black hair peppered with grey, and looked at his child's photographs on the web. They were saying nasty things about her. These bloggers and gossips, mocking her, scrutinizing her every look, analyzing and speculating. bas***ds. All of them.
He clicked further down and noticed the new pictures of the Prince Yuvraj Udayveer Singh. The Scum of the Earth. Hell was too good for him. Angry, Aman shut the laptop and turned away, staring at the portrait of his Amrita. She had given him his Mina, and for the first time as a father, he didn't know how to heal his child, how to sooth her wounds, how to make her better.
Glancing at the clock he say the time. It was already 5? A few hours of sleep were needed but he couldn't feel it coming, so he starred at his wife's portrait and willed himself to sleep.
Aman: Tomorrow will be better, it has to be.
The screams woke him with a start. The clock said 8, but he didn't have time to look at it, instead he rushed towards the sound. Mina's room. The screaming was coming from Mina's room. His heart beat fast, rushing towards the sound, wondering what she had seen, what had happened. He had been worried, but he hadn't been prepared for this. Never for this.
Their maid, Sheryl stood in front of the door, hands covering her face looking into Mina's room, sobs wracking her body, without regard or courtesy, he pushed her aside and fell to his knees at the site. Blood. Its smell lingered in the room, but even more, it's colour was everywhere. The sheets ran crimson, dried rivers of it on the mattress, her terry cloth robe soaking at the sleeves, her once rosy face, gray…the tear stains dried on her face. He didn't know who called 911. He didn't care. He crawled towards his daughter and held her weak hand, hoping for a miracle.
She had a pulse.
Tears of fear and hope rushed out of his face silently, but he held on. He stood by her side as they carted her away, as blood was given, and tests were taken. He would never leave his girl alone. She'd never feel so lonely to go through this pain.
Aman had the distinct feeling that he was being watched, and giving into that feeling , he finally lifted his gaze and looked in that direction. Mina averted her eyes. She had been in medically induced coma for 3 days now. Giving the doctors time to heal her scarred body, if not her bleeding soul. Even though she didn't say a word, he knew she was upset. Not that he had seen her like that. But the fact that she had survived. Her voicemail message burned his ears, but he couldn't bring himself to delete it. It was a reminder to him. His daughter was in pain.
Regardless if she didn't want him there, he pushed his chair closer and held her hand. It was so frail, the scars on her wrists marring her beauty, sharing her pain.
Aman: You could have told me puthar, that it was this bad.
She couldn't cry now. She had no more tears left.
Aman: I would have helped.
His grip grew firmer, but she did not meet his gaze.
Aman: I love you Mina. I love you so much. I can't live without you puthar. Don't do this to me.
She exhaled, but looked at pattern on her hospital gown.
Mina: Papaji….I've ruined everything. You'll hate me. You'll hate me so much.
Aman: I could never hate you Mina.
The tenderness in his voice made her break, and she finally looked up. He had aged years in the last few days, but his eyes were sure, confident and loving. The tears found a way into her eyes once again.
Mina: You will. Once you find out about the shame I'll cause you. You will. Mama would be so upset with me.
He knew what she was thinking. The doctors had told him, the testing had showed the pregnancy, and for some reason he was relieved. He now knew what was paining his daughter. What was hurting her, but she assumed he didn't know.
Aman: That's not possible Mina. I'm so proud of you. Honours student, Law school. I couldn't be prouder.
Mina: You'll hate me. 22, unmarried and pregnant.
Her words were filled with venom. He couldn't tell if it was towards herself, the child, the father or the situation. But they were bitter words.
Aman: I know.
She looked up at him and met his steady gaze, as he held her hand he spoke words he knew he agreed with 100%
Aman: It isn't what I had though Mina, but all I want, is for you to be happy and healthy. Will you give me a beautiful granddaughter?
The tears flowed freely, as she shook her head, trying to pull her hand out. Sobs making her words inaudiable, has her father sat beside her and pulled her to his chest.
Aman: We'll be happy. The three of us. I need you Mina. And she needs you. Your baby needs you.
In that moment, she couldn't believe the love she felt for her father, the trust, the utter selflessness she felt from him. But, she was afraid to speak her mind: She felt nothing of the sort of the child in her womb. Nothing.
It hadn't been that difficult keeping Mina out of the public
eye. The few pictures of her post the breakup, where of her looking tired and
un kept. People assumed drugs and thought of her dissapearence as a rehab sort
of scenario. In reality she was in Switzerland. 7 and a half months went by
slowely, but eventually she regained her weight- and then some- the colour returned
back into her cheeks and she looked more and more like the daughter Aman thought
he would never see again. But, she was still nervous. There wasn't any
laughter, and there was always doubt. She had considered adoption, but Aman wouldn't
allow it. He couldn't let his grandchild be raised by someone else- he couldn't
let Mina give up her flesh and blood. She had also considered aborting the
pregnancy in the early months- but Aman had coaxed her out of it. Threatening
the grandchild card.
She never talked about the baby, or planed for names, clothing, or a nursery. It was as if she were willing herself to die or something tragic to happen. But Aman refused to let her think that way. He fed his child, took her for walks around the private property, showed her childhood photos and tried to bring her back to life. It was a good distraction. Trying to keep her alive. It prevented him from going over to the arrogant prince and castrating him. Killing him slowly, leaving him out for the dogs to fest on. His blood boiled. And if he ever forgot, he simply listen to his daughters voice from that night. The recording still there, to feed his anger, to ignight it once again and set it ablaze.
He looked up from the magazine he had been reading and looked at the nurse smiling at him.
Nurse: Congratulations, you have a grandson.
He was a little miffed about it initially. He had wanted a granddaughter, who would look just like his Mina, and bring a smile to her face. Not a grandson, who would burden her with his father's memory. But, for Mina he put on a smile and walked into the room.
She sat at the bed, covered in sweat, and looking away. The child was being held by the nurse, who quietly spoke to him.
Nurse: She doesn't want to hold him sir.
He nodded, and reached out to hold the child. It was odd, that after 22 years he still managed to hold the infant like he had only held his own daughter the night before. The boy had a head full of dark black hair, and pale skin, like his mother. But what brought out joy and tears when he looked at his grandson for the first time, where his eyes. Big and blue, starring right back at him. He kissed his forehead, and walked towards his daughter, who refused to look in his direction, much less the child.
Aman: Won't you look at him.
Mina: I don't want him Papaji. I don't want anything of his.
Uday. She say him as being a part of Uday.
Aman: Don't you want part of Me? Part of your Ma? Part of you Mina? Look at him sweetheart, he's yours. Only yours.
He didn't so much as ask her as he placed the child into her
arms, and instincts made her hold the child.
Motherhood did the rest. The scent, the weight, the warmth of her child seeped into her arms, and as she looked at him, she couldn't feel anger, resentment, shame or bitterness. It was this protective love and urge she couldn't describe. Hers. She couldn't believe she hadn't thought about him. She had only thought about her pain, her loss and suffereing. But what about this little soul? He needed to be loved. As she looked into his eyes, she could honestly say that she felt nothing for Uday. No love. No Hate. Nothing. But, this empty void in her chest filled and swelled with the love of her child. Her child. Holding him close, with her fingers caressing his baby soft hair, she whispered to him.
Mina: I'm so sorry. Forgive me, please forgive me. I'll always love you.
She apologized for the neglect she had showed, the disconnect, and promised herself she would put her son above any want or need of her own. He would be her world, her everything.
Aman watched two generations bond, and smiled at the sight. The flesh of his Flesh. Holding her own. Holding the next generation.
Aman: So, what's his name going to be?
She looked agast, and shook her head.
Mina: I don't know papaji, I didn't think of one. I didn't care enough.
He could see the look of guilt clearly etched on her face, remorse taking over.
Mina: Would…would you name him for me Papaji?
He was surprised. He hadn't expected this honour. This pridledge. He wouldn't lie. He hadn't thought of any boys names. He had only thought of having a granddaughter, and hoped for an Amrita through her.
Aman: God no Mina! Not happening.
Mina: I know, I don't like it either. Something with A papaji. For you and mom.
He pondered for a moment, and thought of all the names he could. And finally he realized one that he had wanted for his own son. But, had long since fogotten
Aman: Yes. Do you like it?
She looked down at her son, and smiled.
Mina: It's perfect. A handsome name for a Handsome boy.
Aditya agreed, he opened his eyes again and cooed at his mother, seeking her attention.
Aman: Aditya Veer Randhawa. Son of Mina Randhawa and grandson of Amandeep Singh Randhawa.
He grinned, not just at the name, but seeing his daughter's face light up. His grandson was a blessing indeed.
Taking Aditya from her arms, he showed him out of the mountain view in the swiss mountians. The sun was rising, greeting the world, and the shadows slipped away in fear from the bright light.
Mina: this is the world Aditya, and it's yours for the taking.
Fresh tears wake me up, and I almost choke on the memories swirling in my head. But I whip them away. I can't think about this now. It's done and over with. Instead I huddle closer to my Aditya. My everything. His warmth comforts me, his unconditional love is my anchor. I kiss his brow and he turns towards me, murmering in his sleep as his head rests against my chest.
Aditya: I love you mamaji.
Me: I love you too baby. I love you too.
I'll do anything to keep and protect my son; Uday needs to understand something: biologically contributing to a child doesn't make you a father. Loving them does. And no one, loves Aditya more than I do. No one.
Here's one update. I should have another up by or on Tuesday.
Excuse any errors, I will do an edit later.
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