When girls her age played with pink dolls, and talked about popsicles, Aaliyah was forced to sit still and do homework. She was forced to eat drugs on time. She was forced to visit psychiatrists and therapists for counselling, on a weekly basis. Because… she heard, her mother calling her ‘abnormal’. Heard her father blaming her mother for the birth of her. Aaliyah knew it all.
But she was always wrapped up in her cocoon, which had so many new surprises for her, that she didn’t have time to think about her abnormality. Her mom said she needed to concentrate on school, focus and study, but this world that they live in was boring for this little girl, whose mind was filled with wonders beyond imagination. Her dreams were beyond the reach of Normals.
She needed things that would excite her. She was in-attentive and she often got poor marks. But, simple maths didn’t excite her bones, nor did it require her brains. Two plus nine plus sixty one plus ninety plus seven – She could easily answer this. This was not what made her to concentrate.
Her mind had so many good things inside it. It brought her to a world that had species other than humans and that… that was what interested her. What fed her curiosity.
She knew she was different, but she also knew she was special. She knew she could do things normal humans couldn’t. She was fast and smart and she could fix anything broken. But normal humans called her abnormal, because she was made better and special. She was the improved version of them – and they didn’t understand. Couldn’t.
She was labelled with ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder – just a year before. But she was more than what was labelled on her.
“Why can’t you behave like other children? Why can’t you focus what your teacher says?” That day her mother was angry. It was usual in her household. Aaliyah looked up from the car she reassembled and looked at her mother with her big eyes, fear written in them. Her mother looked like the monster that once ate the alien in Aaliyah’s head. Her mother’s eyes were red, like flame, like a burning ember.
Aaliyah wanted to hide.
“You failed in the test again. You are… a worthless…”
It wasn’t that Aaliyah couldn’t pass the test. She could pass the test, if only her mind could stay in a place. How could she pass, when the Giraffes were dying of thirst and the only way she could save them was fetching them water from the distant mountain?
So she failed…
“I didn’t know what I did wrong. I just want a normal child and all I got was you.” Her mother threw the notebook that had the word ‘FAIL’ on red away and walked out of the room.
Aaliyah’s eyes filled with tears. Was it her fault that she was different? She knew she was different from the very young age. Now she was studying third grade, and she understood one thing better: Her mom hates her.
Nithya closed her eyes and sighed. She had missed her flight. After her recent breakup with her husband, she had been absent-minded and unfocussed, almost all the time. When she booked the ticket for Paris and decided to visit her friend, it was impulsive and spontaneous. But she had needed that new change in the scenario. She needed the distraction. She had to stop thinking about her ex-husband and their failed marriage. She had to forget all the bad things transpired in her life and had to find a way to discard all these miserable memories.
Are you expecting? Do you have any good news? Are you pregnant?
These questions and the same answer she had said for four long years had ended the marriage. It was sad, how love could end just like that.
The marriage had long before became infested with hatred, disappointment and harsh words, and her inability to bear the child hung over their relationship, the knife that would ultimately end the relationship. Even before the end, she had started expecting the arrival of the end. It was torturous, waiting for the end of your love. But she had waited for it — a long wait. When the end came, it was a relief on one side and painful on the other. Aside all those miserable days and painful reminders, she loved him. So, yes, it was painful. But she didn’t want to feel the pain, not anymore. It was the time to feel happiness.
She let out a sigh and opened her laptop. Opening her blog, she started to write. This was the only place where people heard her voice without judgement. In this place, where world revolve around the words, was where she found a place for herself.
Words were her healer. All her wounds would vanish and she would feel like a kite, free from the burdens that tie her down, when she wrote and read.
Even after her life crumbled, words and the hope of a new upcoming tomorrow was what pushed her forward to move on.
She kept existing because of that one word – Hope. Hope – that was the only thing she had in this unstable world. Hoping, the next day comes out without any more mishaps and accidents. Hoping, life will become a better turn, even after these sad sutures. Hope was the crutch she needed to stand straight.
And she had lots of it.
She opened typed the web address- writeupcafe.com and signed in. Write-Up-Café had become her another home away from her blog. She opened it and started to write about her plight and her missing flight. She added funny quotes, and ended a sad story with a happy ending. Within minutes, she had replies pouring in, consoling her, comforting her, giving her words of hope. This was why she loved this world – where strangers became the comforters. Where unknown people became friends.
Yes, it was bad when her marriage had ended. But it was also good that she got her happiness back. She didn’t want to die of suffocation, nor did she want to drown under the painful thrums of the words thrust upon her. So… this and now… it was fine. She was fine and she understood one thing better: God loves her.
Nithya looked at the big building in front of her and spilled a smile. She rubbed her stomach, the one that had been cursed by her ex-mother-in-law a million times. It was good that she’d missed the flight to Paris, because that article she read after the missing flight was the first thing that sowed the seeds of these thoughts in her head, which then grew into a strong oak.
The post was about ‘Children without Homes.’ The post was heart-breaking and it left the burning taste of tears on her tongue when she finished reading it.
It expressed sad news about million children, who were abandoned by their parents and families. It described the quandary of children, who had no one to love or care, no one to hear their sad stories. The post started a new flame in Nithya’s soul. The burn grew intense when she started to search for the news and articles about orphanages and deserted little children. It was depressing, how children were abandoned and abused all in the tender age, when they really needed nurturing and true affection.
She didn’t think more. It only took her a month to decide that she wanted to feed at least one little mouth with her love and affection. The scars they took, Nithya wanted to heal at least one scar. She wanted to save at least one soul. Decision made, the spring in her step was visible in her every day activities and the hope in her words grew stronger that people visiting her blog started to ask for the reason for her happiness.
Yes, she was finally happy. Yes, she finally found a meaning to continue living her, once, empty life.
When she reached the office of the orphanage, a woman with wizened face asked her to come in. There were so many little children, running around, looking care-free and happy, but Nithya could feel the underlying sorrow in their little eyes. She wanted to hug them all and take them under her wings and hide them from the cruel cold.
“We have received your application and checked on your background. We are willing to let you take a daughter or son back home. These girls and boys need a home and if you can help one, you can make his/her life beautiful. Go and look around.” The principal said.
Nithya walked around, searching for the new meaning of her life.
Aaliyah was bored. All the other children were running around, and she had finished her share of running. She wanted something to fix. Her old cars were all broken and repaired and broken and repaired, now she lost interest in that. But here… in this place, she couldn’t ask for anything she wished for. She knew that. She also knew she wouldn’t get anything she asked for.
She missed her home. But she didn’t miss the constant reprimands she had to hear. She didn’t miss the objects hurled at her. She was sad her mother left her here, but she was happy there was no one like her mother in this place.
In this place, she could run and play and no one would blame her for a poor exam result. No one would ask her to stop day-dreaming.
Aaliyah looked up and saw a woman walking around. She was a stranger. Aaliyah had never seen this woman in this place. She knew all the people working in the orphanage and this woman wasn’t one of them.
The woman was looking at a little boy, who was walking around with his chubby legs.
Aaliyah knew what it meant – this woman was here to take a kid back home. Aaliyah had seen people come in and go out, occassionally. When they went back, they brought a kid from the orphanage. They called it adaption. The principal said that the kids who go away from here would have a new mother and a father. A new family and a happy life.
How Aaliyah wished she had one as well – a new mother, who wouldn’t scold her when she failed in the exams. A new mother, who wouldn’t throw things at her when she did something wrong. A new mother, who’d love her and care for her, with all the flaws.
A new mother like this woman.
The woman was tall and her eyes were smiling. She looked kind. She looked beautiful. Aaliyah wanted that woman to look at her, to smile at her.
The feeling of longing was so sudden that Aaliyah wanted to cry to that woman to look at her.
But the woman was looking at the little boy. Yuvan would have a new home tomorrow, a new family with this woman. Aaliyah shrunk back, leaned against the tree and closed her eyes. Pushed her head inside her knees.
She wanted to be alone. She didn’t want anyone.
A crow was what caught Nithya’s attention. It was perched atop the tree and was cawing with all its might. She looked at it and then her eyes fixed on the sight of a girl sitting below the tree, her face pushed inside her knees.
For a moment, Nithya kept staring at the thin, vulnerable looking child and then she smiled. There… it was the new meaning in her life.
She knew. Deep in her heart, she knew.
She walked to the little girl and touched her back. The girl raised her head and when she saw Nithya, her sad eyes were lit with surprise and expectation. Those little eyes were hopeful and expectant as they searched her face. Nithya’s heart went to this little girl at that moment and she knew there was no going back.
It was love at first sight.
“What’s your name? I am Nithya.”
“Aaliyah.” The little girl whispered.
Nithya gave her hand to Aaliyah and with hesitation, she took it. They talked a little before going inside the office.
When the procedure was over, and when she signed the adaption paper, Nithya’s heart became complete. Finally. It was a peaceful and exhilarating feeling.
Nithya learnt that Aaliyah was abandoned by her mother, because she had ADHD and she was different. She also knew the little girl was smart beyond her age. She wanted to protect this little soul and guard her from all the harms. She wanted to feed her with love, affection and everything she desired.
“Do you want to go to a new home with me, Aaliyah?”
“Yes.” The girl nodded. She looked to be contemplating something, and then opened her mouth, “Can I call you mom?” It came out as a murmur.
“Yes, you can. I am a mom. Now, I am a mom. I am your mom.” Nithya wanted to cry and smile and dance, all at the same time. It had been long since she wanted someone to call her like that. That dream, that wish had finally come true. And Nithya knew – it wasn’t she who was going to save Aaliyah, it was Aaliyah who was going to save her.
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