Monday, May 14, 2012

No Family

She's rocking her baby, crooning softly, bone tired but too wired to sleep. The cousin called again. Her mother is looking for her. Wants to see the baby. When he told her, she burst into imprecations.

No. Never! I told you. Never!

I think she wants to make up, Lynn, she just wants to know you're alright.

Yes, I'm sure she does. That's why she kicked me out when I was pregnant. What did she think? That I'd get rid of the baby? That I'd come crawling back? That I need her?

And she begins to cry.

Hush, says the cousin. Hush. I won't give her your number. Don't worry. I just thought you should know she was looking for you. She may show up at the hospital.

If she does, I'll know how to deal with her. And she hangs up.

She holds the precious bundle to her chest. This baby, hard won. This baby that she had alone. No father. He's married and he really didn't want to know. No grandmother. No grandfather (he's dead). No uncles and aunts. (They pulled away - sort out your own mess, we're so sick of this)

None of them thought she could do this. None of them.

You see baby, my mother never loved me. Not like she loved the other two. I was third. A spare. My father lost his money when I was born. In Indian families, they link one thing to another. So I was "bad luck". He was too proud to tell anyone, too proud to beg. So we starved. I was three and I still remember being hungry. Crying for food. My mother shutting me up. There was no food.

And then he died. I remember the house being full of people. I was excited. There was food. I ate. And suddenly everyone knew. Everyone knew just how poor we were. They came forward to help. The destitute widow and her three helpless children. They helped but they made us understand that we were supposed to be so grateful. I hated them. I hated her. If someone were to give me something she would stop them. She has enough, my mother would say. Don't spoil her, my mother would say.

My sister loved me. She tried to protect me. She would give me things, buy me food, clothes. But then she got married and disappeared into another family. And then I was alone again.

And baby, when I met your father, I thought he loved me. I was so empty inside. I didn't know what love was. You taught me that. You taught me what love is.

They wanted me to get rid of you. A married man, Lynn what were you thinking. You're a doctor, you don't know what happens when a man and a woman have sex without protection? Not even a condom?

But you see, it wasn't like that. It wasn't clinical. It was passionate and unplanned and I loved him and I thought he loved me. And you, I refused to let you go. I wanted you so much.

They thought you were dispensable.

And I could always have another.

And that's why baby, as far as you're concerned, in fact, as far as we're both concerned, I'm an orphan.

You'll never meet my family.

I have no family.