Saturday, May 21, 2016

The reason

Nadeem looked into her eyes.

"Are you sure?", he asked with a glint in his eye.  "Or are you trying to trick me?"

"No, I am not kidding.  Look at this strip." Banu offered the smudged test strip to her husband.

Nadeem did not even have to strain his eyes to look at the two lines on the strip.  The two dark blue lines were clearly visible.  More than shock, he was utterly confused.

"How can it happen?", he asked her.  "We were super careful, isn't it?"

"I don't know", her voice quivered.

Five years ago, when Nadeem and Banu were getting married in a rather unconventional way at the marriage registration bureau, he had clearly told her that he did not want to have kids.  He had warned her.  Repeatedly.  In no uncertain terms.  He had explained his position as clearly as he could.
And during every single intimate moment, they never forgot.

"It was lucky you found me", Banu would say.  "Even I am not particular about kids.  Else you would never have found a woman for life."

Nadeem would break into a grin.  "I don't care."

Nadeem had seen the unwavering selfless commitment required by parents to raise kids.  He knew it was no easy task.  He felt there was no way that he could do any justice as a parent.  He had always thought of himself as a selfish person.  To show selfless, unconditional love towards anyone was not his way of life.  He had seen how his mother had raised him, his three brothers and two sisters.  He didn't even want to relive how much she had to endure to put her family in a comfortable situation.

In fact, Nadeem and Banu were asked the question many a time at family gatherings.

"Are you guys still not planning to have a child?", Nadeem's mother would ask.

"No, mom.  You can ask me repeatedly.  But, the answer is still no.  Nothing's changed."

"Why are you so adamant?", his uncle would pop the question.

The questioning from friends and family was relentless.

Fast forward to today, Nadeem couldn't still believe what he was hearing.

"What do you want to do? I want to have this child", Banu said.  She feared the worst.

"Don't worry.  We are going to have this child", said Nadeem.

Banu looked surprised.  But, she didn't ask any further questions lest her husband changes his mind.  She left it at that.

At the next family gathering, Nadeem and Banu conveyed the news to the family members.  All of them were pleasantly surprised, and of course, totally confused.  Nadeem's mother was truly baffled.  She knew her son very well.  Once he decided on something, nothing in the world would bring him to change his decision.  It was a quality he had imbibed from her.

"So, what made you change your mind?", she asked her son.

"It's true that we never wanted to have kids.  We were careful at every step.  But, in spite of all our efforts, if this child had the will to beat all the odds, then I think we should respect the strength and the will of the child to stay alive.  So, he or she deserves to live.  I can't fight destiny."

Everyone remained silent for a few seconds after Nadeem provided the explanation.  His mother was lost for words.  Tears were rolling down her cheek.

"Mom, why are you getting so emotional?", Nadeem asked.

"You have not changed at all.  Even as a kid you were like this", she said.

"Back in those days, in Iran, the ants used to hunt down the honey and help themselves to oodles of it.  The honey bottles would be filled with ants.  In order to beat the ants, we used to store the honey in bottles suspended in water in a large tank.  That way the ants wouldn't be able to walk across the water to get to the honey.  One morning, when we removed the bottle from the tank and opened it, we found a solitary ant inside the bottle.  One solitary ant.  I was about to take the ant out and crush it.  But then, you stopped me and said.  "Mom, if this ant could risk its life, cross the water and get into an air-tight bottle to get to the honey, it means it really needs the honey.  Let it go.  Let it have the honey." I still remember the day.  I don't know if you do."

"You used the same logic today with your child."

[Based on a lunch conversation with a colleague]