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Devaki, the maid servant, while sweeping, picked up a piece of paper lying on the floor and gave it to Vasudevan. He realised it was a prescription from a doctor from a fertility centre. “My goodness! Who requires assistance-, my son or my daughter in law! He wondered. Since it was a highly personal topic for open discussion, he decided to meet the doctor and find out. He had his own fears of some unknown bitter curses raining on his family. Some years ago, he had a neighbour who came to reside in the next portion. They had a peculiar problem. The neighbour’s family consisted of just three members --- mother, daughter and son-in-law. The daughter was so weak that she could not conceive a baby or carry one in the womb. The mother was gracious enough to offer herself as a surrogate mother. That became a matter of laughing stock. Vasudevan, jokingly said, “in case of ‘Seemandam’ (a ritual performed seeking blessing on the baby-to-be-born, …. a sort of native style of European “Baby Shower”) who will sit with whom and perform the ritual --- the pregnant woman and her son-in-law, or the daughter who is not pregnant and her husband? If the ritual is centred on baby, then the mother of daughter gains importance. Will she sit with her son-in-law and complete the ritual, which is against prevalent practices? Will it not be very awkward --- because the ceremony is done by the husband-wife as a couple. If the daughter sits with her husband, then the question arises, why at all the ceremony, when she is not pregnant and where is the baby?” Somehow his loose-talk had its round and reached them who got wounded and got terribly disturbed, so much so, that they vacated the house and went away.

He was reminded of that incidence and he strongly believed that it was their bitter curse which affected his family now. His crude joke and mockery descended heavily now on his own family and that was why his son and daughter-in-law had to consult an expert for a baby. That apart, he also feared about their depth of infertility and level of treatment-- like a simple D&C, or follicles cysts removal, increased semen-count, donor’s semen, Artificial Insemination, IUF/Invitro culture/IVF, etc… Whatever the doctor was likely to decide for the couple, that decision only would prevail. But he, on his part, wanted that his family heritage should be protected. Vasudevan’s family was an orthodox rigid brahmin family with no compromise so far. The lineage had been maintained till date. He was particular that same strains and genes be carried forward to the next generation.

In fact, he wanted to stall any effort by his son or doctor to infuse any Tom Dick & Harry’s genes into the family fold. The Gangajal has to flow as Gangajal only, without any gutter water getting into it. Semen of third rate individuals like robbers, convicts should not be injected. He wanted to meet Dr. Jamuna and talk about it, before she takes any steps. On the day he met her, at the very outset, Dr. Jamuna dispensed all his queries and requests with a single reply, saying details of each and every patient were kept in strict confidence and would not be divulged to anyone, without the very patient’s concurrence. Family problems had to be sorted out in the family itself and not in the doctor’s cubicle. So, Vasudevan could not find out what sort of treatment would be given to his son Daamu and daughter-in-law, Raani. When he insisted on protecting the genes and maintaining the family honour and prestige, the doctor laughed aloud. She said, “Given that, inherent qualities are in the genes, but do not underestimate the power of Nature. Doctors are mere tools in carrying out His orders. Actual case history is written by Divine Destiny, The Almighty.

For all of us, ‘Life is an exam where the syllabus is unknown and question papers are not set.’ There are number of cases where the doctors do not get any answers and stay puzzled by the results. For example, let me tell you, a famous classical singer married an equally talented classical singer with a clear understanding that the children they beget in due course, would get the best of both the parents, leaving no room for Bernard Shaw’s ‘my beauty and your brain’ combination. Both the parents being good reputed singers, they expected the children would excel the very parents in future. But Nature had its own share of answers to their prayers. A beautiful baby was surely born to them. But alas, it was born deaf and dumb. How sad!

We all know Rabindranath Tagore was a great poet and a Nobel Prize winner. Can you explain why neither his father, forefathers nor his descendants could excel? Till date we do not have another Rabindranath from his family. Same is the case with other artists of high esteem. Again, have you not wondered how a lotus is blooming without any blemishes, even if it is stemming out from a dirty soil underneath? Don’t you agree now, the syllabus with which we are born, is not known to us, nor the question papers are handed out to us in advance. So, all I can tell you is, genes apart, good upbringing, and the conducive environment we provide, all put together fine tunes the baby and shape up his personality. Of course, I do understand your concern for your family. But, your suggested action for that, seems a bit intriguing, even though it is workable”.

Vasudevan cited an earlier case of a mother coming forward for her daughter’s sake and holding her baby in the womb. He questioned, “Similarly, why not a father come to the rescue of his son? In the event of an absolute necessity, why introduce an unknown stranger into our family fold, -- whose nature and integrity are doubtful? With due regards and sincere prayers to that mother who carried her daughter’s baby, I request you to apply the same formula in my case also. Of course, if and only if-- and if at all, it is needed and absolutely necessary”.  Dr. Jamuna accepted his argument and agreed to take action. But she reiterated that doctors were mere tools and the success rate depended purely on the Destiny. She also added, “After all, ‘Life is an exam where the syllabus is unknown and question papers are not set.’ So, be prepared to accept the result as it may come and whatever be it”.

A new case sheet was prepared in his name and a few medicines were prescribed. When he took the prescription, his black Parker pen fell down and stopped at doctor’s feet. She picked up the pen. She found it to be very attractive and liked it very much. She asked him if she could take it. Vasudevan, since he was relieved of his tension, gladly and willingly gave away the pen to her.

As per prior appointment, Daamu and Raani, visited the doctor for further check-ups and tests. Daamu’s curious eyes did not fail to notice the new pen in doctor’s hand, which was so similar to his father’s. ‘By any chance, did his father come here? If so, in what capacity? Then also, why ‘his’ –- father’s pen is with the doctor? Does he also have a similar problem requiring this doctor’s consultation? If so, for whom? Is he having any extra connections? That too at this age? Was it a recent one or going on from a long time? Oh! God! Please descend down and save my mother. Please, please!” So many questions stumped him from all corners. He said to himself, “Why rush to conclusions? Let me ask the doctor. There could be one more similar pen on earth.” But, the doctor confirmed she got the pen from one of her patients, without giving any clue, as to who the patient was. She stuck to her policy of secrecy. She also added that his case history would be written with this pen only- with an extra emphasize on ‘pen’. Daamu remained all the more confused and suspicious. He somehow believed and strongly believed that the pen belonged to his father only. But, why the doctor was having it, was a million-dollar question. Adding more fuel to his suspicion, at home also, he found the pen missing from his father’s usual drawer. The problem, the more he probed, the more it got entangled. He thought of alerting his mother. But, he refrained. “Why disturb her also? Sooner or later, truth will reveal itself. How long can a person be playing hide-and-seek game?” He shrugged his head and tried to get rid of his negative thoughts. He reminded himself of doctor’s advice that more than the medicines, a clear positive and peaceful mind was necessary to get good results, particularly in fertility-treatment cases

Both father and son, attended the doctor by turns as per their appointments, without clashing with each other. While, Vasudevan was least disturbed, Daamu was getting more and more pensive. ‘All, on account of a pen’! He tried hard to maintain his cool. Raani noticed his mental agony and disturbance, but, remained silent. Later, she told him, “I know it is said easily than done. But, whatever problem is disturbing you, leave it aside. Pray to God. He will take care. We are undergoing a very costly treatment, for which it is very-very essential to remain calm and cool headed. Even Bhagawat Geeta says-- ‘do your duty and leave rest to God’. We are just tools in His hands. He writes our destiny. The syllabus of our destiny rests with Him and he sets our question papers. It is testing time for us. Let us pray for proper guidance.’

Daamu, was a bit consoled, but not fully. Later it dawned on him, God forbid! If in case his fears came true, then also, what was his role and how was he going to solve the issue? Was he going to drive out his father away from home, or force him to stay within limits of a civilized society? Did he have the guts to question his father, leave alone throw him out? All he could do, would be to face the consequences, be a little more considerate to his mother and also make her accept the reality. Having come to this conclusion, it was easy for him to digest the ticklish issue which was disturbing him from the day he saw the pen with the doctor. In his inner mind, he thanked Raani. He closed his eyes and raised his hands in prayer for proper guidance.   

Truly, God was great. Be it proper guidance from the Almighty or not, Raani was pregnant and was under constant vigil and guidance from the doctor. Everyone in the family was visibly happy, including Vasudevan. Daamu, overwhelmed with joy of success, almost forgot his father and his extra dealings. Things were moving in order. Vasudevan, with the concurrence of his family members declared that no ‘Seemandam’ would be performed. But as a remedial measure- ‘Prayaschitham’ of an old curse upon the family would be undertaken. He invited a few poor pregnant women and felicitated them, --- in a fashion similar to ‘Suhaasini Pooja’ where married women are felicitated and their blessings are sought for. Even though there was less scope for a normal delivery, everyone wished for the same. The very pregnancy was not a natural one, then how could delivery be a natural one? Vasudevan met the doctor again and requested her to conduct a caesarean delivery on an auspicious day. When chances for a normal delivery were ruled out, why not have the ‘C-section’ as per our arrangement, on an auspicious day. She laughed aloud again. She said, ‘In God’s calendar, all days are good and auspicious only. You better wait and watch. You have given the pen to me— then allow me to write the closing chapter also, in this case history”.

Daamu in his ecstasy of a would-be father, totally forgot his father’s episode. One day, he somehow gathered guts and asked his father about the missing ‘pen’. Vasudevan having realised his son’s curiosity of the doctor having father’s missing pen, laughed aloud and said that he met the doctor with the prescription Devaki gave him, to know about the nature of treatment for which the piece of paper called prescription was issued. When she said it was all few medicines for boosting hormones, he was very happy and gave the pen to her as a complimentary gift in advance. He jokingly added, “You must have noticed that she was writing your case sheet thereafter with my ‘pen’ only. You see, your case would have been incomplete without my pen”. Daamu was terribly relieved. “Oh! What a nasty person I was, to have suspected my father! My father was truly ‘Caesar’s wife’- beyond suspicion. One stupid pen had stirred in too many thoughts that too perverted ones”.

Raani was in advanced stage of pregnancy. Doctor had advised her to get admitted. Vasudevan had come again with a request for Caesarean delivery on an auspicious day, falling in the next week.  Doctor agreed. But, as Doctor Jamuna was used to telling, Destiny penned the baby’s delivery date. Due to some sudden complications, an urgent Caesarean delivery was required to be performed immediately, that too just two days before the so-called auspicious date fixed earlier. Vasudevan proposed a date, but God disposed it! So, what! Everyone in the family was very happy… Raani, her long-last dream came true, now that she was with her own new born baby; Daamu, her husband, doubly happy… he got elevated to fatherhood finally and also that his father was as pure as Gangajal; Vasudevan was also happy… the curse on his family washed out and his family lineage was also maintained. Thanks to the rescue operations undertaken by the doctor; Dr. Jamuna was happy… her long penance of few months was rewarded by adding one more feather to her cap, in treating fertility cases successfully.

Daamu’s mother, Rohini, threw a big surprise to all, by showing a new shining golden chain for the new born baby. The golden chain contained a unique pendant – a PEN. She wanted that the baby should become a writer in future. It was her aspiration to become one, herself, but could not accomplish. She passed on her ambitious legacy to the baby. The pen in the chain was dangling to-and-fro, like a pendulum.

No wonder, the chain with the pendent and the pen in particular was shining and attracting everyone’s attention. The eye-catching pen was as beautiful as the baby himself was. Of course, and why not! The family got it only after a  long-drawn struggle, both physical and emotional!


September 29, 2019 14:56

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Dawn French
14:20 Oct 11, 2019

I was sent this as part of the Critique Circle. Formatting of stories short or long can make or break a story. >>Start a new paragraph every time you change speakers. If the speaker performs actions linked to the dialogue, keep everything in the same paragraph. Why? Readers easily lose track of which character is speaking. A new paragraph helps readers by signalling a change.<< FULL ARTICLE AT: https://firstmanuscript.com/format-dialogue/

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