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( The story is set in London. Neona is an Indian girl studying in London).
She rushed out of the room, buttoning her shirt. Dishevelled hair, tears rolling down her weary eyes, she ran out of the Motel. She waved for a taxi. The driver seeing her condition inquired, " Is everything ok mam?", "Yes, everything is fine. Just move from here..''
She went to her room. Thankfully her roommate was not there. She had already left for college. She rushed to the toilet, didn't bother to undress herself, sat under the shower, and cried her heart out. What has she done? How could she do it? She was here for her studies. What would she do if her parents come to know? They will never accept her. She wanted to erase the entire thing that happened the previous night. How could she? She kept on cursing herself. She has broken the promises made to her mother and to herself. She can't possibly ever tell any of this to her parents. This would be her deep dark secret. The whole day she didn't go out, didn't bother to eat, didn't bother to do anything. Hid herself in the duvet cover. All she did was curse herself. She was not that type of girl. She was an Indian, who had values, who believed in the sanctity of marriage, sex after marriage. Then how could she? How could she have a one night stand. There it was, One night stand. The thing she hated from her guts. She had often argued with her roommate on this topic. Kathy never had been in a serious relationship. She had been in and out of many relationship. And even though, she was Neona's soul sister, Neona could never accept her lifestyle. And today she was in Kathy's place. She was feeling miserable.
Kathy entered the room, and started talking about the guy she has just gone out with, and how handsome he was, and how they would meet again in the night. She was expecting one of those lectures from her roomie. But was shocked to see Neona crying under the sheets. Neona couldn't resist the urge to tell her roomie about her misshappening, she had to let her pain out. Kathy listened to her conversation and asked her whether that was consensual. Yes, it was. The guy didn't drug her or force her. They met in a restaurant, started talking to each other, liked each other, shared almost the same thoughts on every topic, kept on talking without realising it was late evening. The guy wanted to drop her, but she hesitated, so they went to a nearby coffee shop, had coffee. Before saying good bye, the guy kissed her and Neona kissed him back. They couldn't keep their hands off each other. And ended up in a nearby motel.
Kathy may have been with many guys, but she knew Neona very well. Neona was different. She was hurt. Kathy insisted that Neona should meet that guy again. But Neona didn't want to. She wanted to erase that night from her life. And that they would never talk about it again. With time the guilt started fading. She never met Steve again. Steve may have been the man of her dreams, but they started off with the wrong note. She prayed and prayed that they would never meet again. But destiny had already made its own plans for Neona.
Neona suddenly realised that she has missed her periods for two consecutive months. She almost fainted at the thought. Is she?? No, god...you can't do that to me...please god please...no no..this cannot be happening to me. Yes, she was. And no, god didn't help her at all. She was 2months pregnant. She wanted to kill herself. What will she do now? Her parents are going to kill her. Should she think about abortion? Should she commit suicide? Endless thoughts crippled her mind, She couldn't sleep, she couldn't eat, she couldn't think. It was Kathy who stood by her side like a wall. They decided that under any circumstance, she will not let her parents know about this. Once the baby is born they will give her up for adoption. But, thats the future. What about now?? How will she attend college? What would everybody think about her? How will she face everyone? Within a month or two people will notice the bulge. How was she going to answer them? How will she face her professors? How could she explain others that it was just a mistake?
She was just 22. Her whole life lay ahead of her. She was a brilliant student. Was studying on scholarship. London School of Economics, was her dream. The day she entered the premises of the college, she knew that this was the place for her. Her dream was a career in investment banking, earn money, enjoy life and then get settled with a good guy( probably an arranged marriage). But, her whole life has come to a standstill. She didn't know what to do? She couldn't kill her unborn child. She was not so inhuman, so cruel. She laughed at the dilemma of fate. Her maasi had tried for years for a baby, but couldn't have one. And she had sex, just for once and there it was inside her unaware of the fact, how unwanted she was.
The next week went in planning whether she would break the news to her parents or not. She didn't have the courage, but she needed her mother. But she also knew that once the news is out, her parents would disown her. She knew that if she was keeping the baby then she will have to loose her parents. She stopped attending her classes, stopped eating, stoped going out. It was like a day when the Earth stood still. Kathy tried a lot to bring her out of this crisis, but failed. Finally it was a do or die situation. Kathy had planned a trip over the weekend with her friends, she wanted Neona to join. Neona resisted as much as her feeble body would allow. But finally gave upto Kathy's demand.
They were off to St. Mary's Island. Kathy's boyfriend was going to join them there. The beach, the water, the serenity couldn't provide recluse to Neona's heart. As they headed towards the condo, Neona kept wondering why on earth she was there? Everyone was their with their boyfriend, except her. It was definitely not the place for her. Anyways it was a matter of just two days and she could definitely manage that. At the door was a handsome man. A man who introduced himself, " Hi, I am Steve." Neona's worst fear was standing right in front of her, with Kathy in his arms. Kathy pecked a kiss on his cheeks. He was about to do the same, when his eyes fell on Neona. It was awkward. Very awkward indeed. Both didn't know what to do. Kathy introduced her roomie to her boyfriend. Hesitantly they hugged. The hug that gave both a chill.
Meeting Steve in such a circumstance increased Neona's grief. She directly moved to her room. Avoided Steve as much as possible. But Steve wasn't avoiding her. He wanted to talk to her. But Neona never gave him a chance. After lunch they hurried towards the beach. Neona opted out. Steve unwillingly joined Kathy and team. After a long time Neona could hear footsteps. The much dreaded footsteps. There he was standing in front of Neona. A situation which Neona could not avoid. Before Steve could even start talking, Neona said, " It was a mistake. I don't want any further discussions on this. I want you to stay away from me and my....," Neona stumbled, " I mean my life. Kathy likes you a lot. I don't want her to know anything. Just stay away. Please."
"Fine, if you think it was a mistake, then let be it. But, I will never regret what we shared that night. I searched a lot for you. Stumbled from college to college to search for you. But, now I think it was futile. A mistake!!! I thought you were different, out of the crowd. That you definitely are." Steve left.
Neona felt pukish for the first time. It was not due to her pregnancy, but due to the overwhelming thoughts that Steve brought along with him. She didn't come down for dinner. Late in the night she could hear an argument but couldn't figure out the participants. At the breakfast table, she found Kathy crying. Steve had broken up with her. And she couldn't figure out the reason why. Neona's guilt deepened. They immediately headed home. On the way home, Neona told Kathy that Steve was her one night guy. Kathy was shocked. She never expected this. But, she stayed calm. She knew that it was Neona who needed the sympathy, not her. As a true friend, she stood by her side. She and Steve had been going out for just a a fortnight. But Neona has been a part of her joys and sorrows for long.
Next day while coming back from college, Neona found Steve waiting near the gate. She didn't talk. He didn't bother. This continued for more than a fortnight. Kathy also noticed Steve, initially she was angry but as days passed by she felt bad for Steve. She saw something in Steve's eyes which Neona missed. By now Neona was four months pregnant. She had gained weight and the bulge was quite visible. Steve also noticed it. His heart broke. May be this is the reason why Neona had been avoiding him. He stopped coming to the college. Neona didn't feel his absence. She was too busy explaining her situation to the others. Her head bowed in shame. She felt like a criminal. She has also broken the news to her parents, who from that day onwards have never bothered to call her.
She was all alone. But the loneliness gave her strength, the wrath of her parents made her stubborn. She wanted her daughter to be strong, and adoption was no where in the vicinity of her thoughts. She was going to become a mother, a single mother. God somehow gives immense power to the mothers. She was no longer ashamed of herself.. She was strong and was getting stronger day by day. She now no longer felt guilty, she had overcome her fear. Her pain, anxiety had died amidst the heartbeat of her daughter. If she is going to give birth to her daughter , then she had to be strong, strong enough to face the society, strong enough to face her parents, strong enough to face herself. She was not a coward and she definitely won't raise a coward. Single mother's were not uncommon these days. She was no more scared. She had even planned her future accordingly. She would stay here, look after her daughter, finish her study and find a job. Being a single mother was definitely not by choice, but now she had made her choice. Instead of hiding in the dark, she came out in the light. She thought that if she chose the dark, her daughter would be forced to live in the dark. Her choices would be forced upon her daughter. She wanted her daughter to have a happy life, a guilt free life. And she was ready for that struggle. It was no more her fight, it was her daughter's fight for existence.
Meanwhile Steve kept wondering about Neona's behaviour. He was clueless. Neona was pregnant, but he had never seen her with another guy. Was it betrayal or was it love, that Neona was trying to hide? He wanted confrontation. He had Kathy's number. He called her. He expected Kathy not to pick up or to shout at him. But, instead, Kathy wanted to meet him. They met and Kathy narrated the whole incident. Steve was speechless. He was happy yet confused. Kathy told him, that Neona has been struggling hard to pick up bits and pieces of her life and put it together. Being an Indian, she was struggling with her values and the choices she had made. She was tired of answering the unnecessary questions. She was tired of fighting alone. She wanted to keep the baby, and had even taken up a part time job. Steve felt bad and responsible for what he had done to Neona. He wanted to meet her.
Neona was waiting outside her OBGYN's office. Steve entered and sat beside her. Before she could tell anything, Steve told, " Believe me, I am not here for you, I am here for my daughther." Neona kept quiet, she felt like strangling Kathy. She knew that she couldn't stop Steve. He was the biological father. He had as much right as she did. Hesitantly she entered the OBGYN's chamber. Steve saw his daughter for the first time. He looked amazingly happy. Neona somehow felt safe for the first time in a long time. She was not in love with Steve, but his presence gave her a sense of security. Once outside the clinic, she spoke to Steve, she wanted to know the real reason why Steve was there.
"Neona, what we did was not a mistake, we both know that. We both liked each other so much, that we ended up doing something , which you regret. We both are grown ups. The day I met you, was the best day of my life. I have no regrets. May be that day I was not in love with you, but still my heart felt something. May be today I am head over heels in love with you, and my heart is overwhelmed with joy for the little one inside you. I know that you don't reciprocate the same feeling, I don't expect you to. But all I want is to be a part of my daughter's life, with your permission. "
Neona's voice was breaking, as she spoke. For the first time in 5months she was feeling happy. "Steve, I don't love you. And I don't quite understand how you can be so much in love with a girl you hardly know. But, for the first time I am feeling secure. Not for myself but for my daughter. I would often wake up in my sleep, unable to answer my daughter's questions about her father. Now at least she will have answers to her questions. I don't know whether I will ever be able to love you back. But I can assure you that you will always be the father of our daughter. You are a great guy Steve. You had the options of doubting me, but you didn't. Any girl would be lucky to have you. But I don't think I am that lucky." Steve hugged her, she hugged him back. Steve dropped her home.
Henceforth he was always there with her. He attended all the pre natal classes, never missed a single OBGYN's appointment, even answered Neona's gastronomical cravings at odd hours. Neona was happy once again. She was on the way to attend her baby shower.
And Steve was on the way to propose Neona. Lets keep our fingers crossed.
(Life is definitely not a bed of roses, its not about pre-planned goals, its all about uncertainties and how well we can handle them. Things hardly go as planned but we still plan. You shouldn't allow one wrong decision to overtake your life. In the path of life, you may stumble over for some time, but then you have to pick up your strength and reach your destination. You may not always find a partner waiting for you. This was a story, so it was different because we all love happy endings. But reality can be harsh, but you have to go on. A single mother's dilemma, her insecurities, her fears are always same, no matter in which place on earth you are. A mother will be a mother and will have the same feeling for her child, and marriage is not the factor deciding that. Finding someone by your side at difficult times is even more difficult. But you have to go on. Our society still does not have the strength to support single mothers. May be someday it will have. Lets keep our fingers crossed).