Whenever I saw a random family on the road or on a bike, I started to make comparisons unconsciously – ‘How lucky are they and how unlucky I am’....
one from the heart
When I got married, like most women, I also wanted to have kids. Well, I was not in a hurry so I took my own sweet time to start a family. I tried once, twice, thrice but no luck. Then my husband and I decided to see a gynaecologist. She suggested some tests and according to the reports I was not fertile enough to bear a child. I was devastated but I did not lose heart. My husband and I went to the best fertility centre in town in a bid to conceive. We both went through several tests and treatments. That was the toughest period of my life – though I managed to keep a brave front, I was depressed from inside. Whenever I saw a random family on the road or on a bike, I started to make comparisons unconsciously – ‘How lucky are they and how unlucky I am’.
To be very honest, I wasn’t unlucky; I was just ‘ungrateful’. I had a good life. I never realised how fortunate I was to have a loving husband, understanding in-laws, stable job, and caring friends in my life. My parents-in-law were non-interfering; they never taunted me (as it happens in our society) of being childless. I had no pressure from my family or in-laws. In fact, my husband just wanted to have a good life with me – with or without kids. It was only me who got emotional from time to time.
To cut the story short, I was tired of going through the mental agony of visiting doctors. ‘Why I am going after something which is not in my hands. No matter, how hard I try, if it’s not God’s will then I cannot do anything about it’, I muttered. So, after much deliberation I decided to quit and leave it to God. This decision gave me an inner peace. I diverted my mind towards productive activities and consciously worked on my own self to put my life on track. In fact, I found myself more energetic and passionate about doing things that I like. All this time my husband has been supportive of me.
I must confess, I never had to do house chores like cleaning or cooking. I have always had house help. The house help enabled me to focus on my work. Well, according to popular belief, a wife should cook to win her husband’s heart but in my case I am lucky enough to have a nonconformist hubby; who is not bothered about who cooks. What matters is that your house is clean and meals are ready. And being a good organiser, I make sure that my home is in order and guests are entertained. And the credit goes to my most trusted housekeeper, Nazia, who has been with us for the past 11 years now. When she came to our house she was childless, though she had been married for 10 years. Since she was from an illiterate and orthodox family she had to bear the taunts and sarcasm of her in-laws and was under a lot of pressure to produce children. I used to console her; to me she was not only a caretaker of my house but also my friend and a confidant. So, with Allah’s blessings she was able to conceive. Some seven years ago, she gave birth to a beautiful baby.
She was on maternity leave and when she came back, she had her baby girl with her. “Baji, I cannot work anymore, my in-laws are not happy with me giving birth to a daughter, nobody is there to look after her while I am at work. I can’t leave her alone,” said my maid, with tears in her eyes. I looked at the baby and her innocent smile melted my heart. “Nazia, why don’t you bring the baby along, you can also take care of her while working,” I suggested. And in the spur-of-the moment, my husband and I decided to take care of the baby as our own child. We didn’t plan, it just happened. The arrival of baby in our house brought an unknown happiness which we never felt before. We were ready to bear all her expenses as we wanted to give her a good life. Then it was a done deal. Nazia and her husband Fayyaz (who is a driver) were more than pleased to know about our intentions.
From that day, the little girl named Rabail became our princess. We brought pretty frocks for her; we used to play with her and enjoyed her babbling. Time passed swiftly and Rabail was ready to go to Montessori. We enrolled her in a near-by pre-nursery school and registered ourselves as her guardians. We did not adopt her officially as adoption is not allowed in our religion; but there is a concept of ‘Kafalat’ in Islam - raising a child who is not one’s genetic child is acceptable. It is permissible to take care of another child, which is known in Arabic as kafala, and is translated literally as sponsorship.
When Rabail was two-plus, her little sister Dua came into this world. She was such a tiny, cute bundle of joy, so we embraced her too with open arms. Since it was difficult for Nazia to manage home with two little daughters, I kept another maid to help her in house chores. The arrangement was a little extra on our pockets but a delightful one as we had the pleasure of enjoying not one but two little angels.
Fast forward, Rabail is seven (we just celebrated her 7th birthday) and Dua is five now. They both go to a school near our house. Rabail is in class 1, whereas Dua is in KG II. Our home is filled with laughter all the time. These girls give us so much energy and joy that cannot be described in words. When people ask us how come you guys afford their expenses in these times of inflation? Our simple reply to them is, ‘there are few things in life which cannot be measured in terms of money and the kind of love they give us is priceless’. We take them for rides, we take them to burger joints, we take them to the zoo, we take them to parks, we take them to malls, – we try to do everything that normal parents do for their kids. We make sure to give them quality time. The point is when you take responsibility of a child, then you must try to raise them in a conducive and friendly environment. My husband was known for his anger among his family and friends but since the arrival of the girls in our home, his anger has been subdued. He has stopped shouting and screaming altogether as he knows it will have a negative influence on girls’ mind. The girls have brought so much positivity in our surroundings. For us, our girls are like flowers and we nurture them with much affection and care.
And the best part is that the girls know they have two sets of parents – their real parents and us. They lovingly call us ‘Baba’ and ‘Mamma’ and call their parents ‘Ammi’ and ‘Abbu’. So, there is no confusion. They are not cut off from their roots; they attend all their family functions and are very much aware of their origin. They happily come to our house in the morning with their parents and leave by evening. On weekends, usually on Fridays, they stay with us. Their parents are gracious enough to trust us and give us the liberty in raising the girls as we deem fit.
From day one we have tried to give them a comfortable environment where they can learn and grow without any inhibitions. Like all young girls, they are fascinated with makeup and jewellery and all the glittery stuff. When they come back from school, their afternoons are spent playing with my things. Yes, they gladly wear my shoes and sandals and carry my purses and act like aunties. Their cheerful innocent chats take away all our worries. We treat them like friends, we play with them and they also view us as their pals with whom they can share everything under the sun. However, we also try to teach them good morals and values so that when they grow up, they become responsible citizens in the society.
In all this process, I have learnt one thing: you can be a doting mom without being a biological mother. There is no need to mourn over being childless. Look around, you may find so many underprivileged children who need your attention and love. Take responsibility of them, educate them, love them, and spend time with them. Give them a favourable environment where they can learn and grow in order to become respectable citizens. Believe me, it’s not only about bringing joy in your life but it is also about giving them a better life and future and a step towards building a harmonious society.
Today, when I look back, I smile at my own thoughts. How naïve of me to feel so powerless and vulnerable at that time. You never know what Allah has in store for us. He knows what’s good for us. There is a time for everything. Sometimes when you stop chasing and are happy in Allah’s will, then He rewards you in unimaginable ways. I guess, Allah liked our patience and gave us two beautiful gifts in the form of Rabail and Dua. We can’t thank enough to Allah for His bounties. Now, the depression of being childless is gone forever. I have two adorable daughters whom I proudly call my own.
The writer can be reached at iram29hotmail.com