if you haven’t read earlier parts of the story , do read
Chapter 1 : https://beprayukti.wordpress.com/2020/05/26/surrogate-love/
Chapter 2 : https://beprayukti.wordpress.com/2020/05/27/surrogate-love-2/
Chapter 3 : https://beprayukti.wordpress.com/2020/05/28/surrogate-love-3/
Chapter 4 : https://beprayukti.wordpress.com/2020/06/03/surrogate-love-4/
Chapter 5: Welcome to family
“Madam, you wouldn’t believe what happened yesterday!” Kumar narrated the entire incident to her in detail. “Dad came home early. He was crying. I didn’t know he could cry. He told me how much he loves me, how much he loved my mother. Then we both cried. He hugged me. Yesterday I realised that he is not really the cruel monster I thought he is.”
“You never expected that, did you?” Kumari pretended to know nothing about it. “Did you tell him everything that’s on your mind?”
“No madam, not yet. Yesterday we kept talking about Ma. He told me stories of the fun they had together, just like Ma used to tell me.”
“That’s nice. See, every coin has two sides. Now you realise.” Kumari smiled.
“Yes, madam, you were right, as always. He has even accompanied me for the session today!” Kumar said enthusiastically.
Kumari was surprised. She had not expected this, but she was very happy. “So, Kumar, would you like to call him in?” she asked.
Sushant’s nervousness was quite obvious, but his eyes conveyed the gratitude that he felt. Kumari acknowledged the gratitude silently. They talked quite formally about Sushant’s business. After a while, Sushant said “Madam, I have a request.”
“Madam, it is obvious to me that Kumar has become very attached to you. He says you are like his ‘Ma’. Thanks to you, he has shown such great progress in a very short period of time. As you are well aware, he has his entrance exams are coming up in a few months. I know it is bold of me to ask you thus, but would you please allow him to stay over at your home occasionally? It would really cheer him up”, Sushant said awkwardly.
Kumari was surprised. “Sush- Mr. Joshi, I am sure you understand that it would be a major breach of professional ethics”.
“An occasional visit, then?” Kumar was disappointed, but would not give up.
“Kumar, if that is what you want, then maybe we can discontinue the treatment and I can refer you to another psychologist for further treatment. Then you can visit me anytime you please, without me having to compromise on my professionalism”, Kumari said. After all, she herself was much tempted to agree to her son’s request, but it was as if Krushna had given her a warning. “Ethics is nothing but your Dharma. Dharma, as you know, is above all relations and personal affections”. She was also worried about what Prakash would feel about this arrangement. Though he was pretty broad minded, he would not easily accept an intrusion into the family space. “After all, Kumar is a stranger to him”, she thought with sorrow. “Nor can I tell him the truth”.
“No madam, I don’t want to discontinue my treatment with you. You are the only one who got me out of my depression; you are the only one I can trust”. Kumar was very sad. Sushant tried to console his son.
“Maybe you can join me for some snacks on Sunday evenings, here at the clinic. An hour a week. But promise me that you will study hard for your exams” Kumari finally said.
“Yes madam. Thank you so much!!!” Kumar was happy. Sushant and Kumar left.
But Kumari was left to wonder, “What would be the repercussions of this? I should have asked Prakash first. I don’t want him to be upset. Maybe Parth would not appreciate this either. How can I hurt one son to please the other? I should have thought about my decision at least for a day before committing. But Krushna, I couldn’t resist. After all, I am Kumar’s mother, and mother’s love is above all, isn’t it? An hour a week of informal talk, here at the clinic, is not going to breach my professional ethics, is it? Also, I am sure Prakash and Parth are mature enough to understand…” But all her justifications couldn’t bring her peace of mind.
Unknowingly, she was massaging her temples. At that time, Madhura peeped in. “Madam, should I send in the next patient?” she asked. Then she saw that Kumari was not looking well. “Madam, do you need some paracetamol? You don’t look well. Do you want to go home? Should I cancel the appointments? Should I call Prakash sir?”
Kumari smiled at her kind assistant, who as aptly named Madhura. “Madhura, don’t be silly. Its just a minor headache. Just a tablet of paracetamol, along with your ginger tea, would set me right.”
“Bringing it right up!” Kumari just loved Madhura’s ginger tea, and Madhura was always happy to make it for her.
When Kumari went home, she decided to talk to Prakash and Parth. But she sad when both of them reacted negatively; she had been hoping against hope that they would enthusiastically agree to her wishes.
“Honey, that boy Kumar is just your patient”, Prakash said. “I understand he is a boy in need but that doesn’t mean you compromise on your professionalism. You shouldn’t have made this commitment. I don’t know what is so special about this boy that you have gotten so attached to him. You have treated more complicated cases than this one, haven’t you? Treat him like a patient, dear. Don’t get attached.”
Parth said, “Ma, didn’t you always say that Sundays are only for the family? You never allowed me to miss out on even one family dinner. Why are you breaking the rule? Why should we spend our Sunday evenings with this Kumar?”. He was displeased with her.
Kumari’s heart was weeping. How could she tell them that she was getting attached because he was indeed family? That night, she cried herself to sleep.
The next morning, at breakfast, Prakash said to her, “Honey, please don’t be sad. I just want you to know that we both are not happy with your decision. Maybe we can make some compromises on both sides”. Parth also came over. His tone was also kinder now. “Ma, I am sorry that I lashed out yesterday. But our family time is too precious to be shared with anyone else”.
Kumari said quietly, still sorrowful, “So what do you think I should do?”
Prakash said, “Why don’t you ask him to come over to the clinic on Saturday evenings? That way, we will have the Sunday to ourselves and you will also be able to keep your promise”.
Kumari just nodded in agreement and left for the clinic. She texted Kumar, “Why don’t we meet on Saturdays, instead of Sundays?”
“Cool with me, madam!” he texted back immediately.
“Why are you on your phone? Focus on your studies!” she couldn’t resist replying. He just replied with a smiley and a photo of his notes, indicating that he was studying. Kumari smiled a tiny smile.
Then she bowed to Krushna, still sorrowful, “Madhav, I don’t understand what is happening in my life. I know I chose to be a surrogate, but I never expected these consequences. At that time, I thought I was being very practical and doing it just for the money. I thought, “It’s not my own child. I wouldn’t be so attached”. I thought of it like playing with a kid in a park. I thought that I would calmly hand over the child to its mother as soon as it was over. The day I actually had to hand him over to Sunidhi, I was shattered. Today even after all these years I cannot let go of my attachment to him. It is becoming impossible for me to maintain professional detachment. My son also knows, subconsciously, that I am his mother. See how he is drawn to me. He feels safe and happy with me. But Prakash and Parth are not happy. I cannot hold my elder son to my bosom and shower him with my unconditional love. I feel like Queen Kunti, who knew the truth about Karna but couldn’t breathe a word of it. I feel so suffocated, Keshav. Help me please!”.
The first Saturday they met, Kumari took a review of his studies. “You’re weak at Maths”, she noted. “Yes, madam, I don’t like the subject.”
“Don’t worry, Prakash can help you out” she said out of habit, then bit her tongue. “I mean… my husband… he likes maths. That was his favourite subject in college.” She tried to avoid further discussion.
“Oh nice!” Kumar said.
That day, Kumari had ordered some sandwiches and coffee. They talked about their favourite movies and trivia like that. Both of them noted down each other’s likings in their mind.
That night, Kumari was happy to have talked to Kumar, but sad that Prakash and Parth didn’t enquire how her day was. They still seemed to be upset about her decision. She tried to put it out of her mind.
The next day, she thought, “Maybe once they meet Kumar then the relations will thaw out a bit”. But she decided not to hurry about it. The next Saturday, she insisted that Prakash come over to pick her up. She didn’t mention Kumar. She just said, “Come over after your office. Let’s go for a dinner date. I’ll make the reservations”. Prakash agreed happily. He left his office at 5 pm and reached the clinic by 6 pm. Still in the car, he honked. “Come on Kumari” he shouted. “I am not done yet. Come up” she said. Grumping about unnecessary delays on date nights, he parked the car and entered the clinic. Kumari handed him a cup of coffee. Madhura had not left yet. They all chatted for a while, when Kumar came in. Prakash pursed his lips but didn’t say anything.
“Hello, Sir. I am Kumar Joshi”, Kumar smiled and approached for a handshake.
“Hi, Kumar” Prakash reciprocated reluctantly.
“Kumar, come over. Sit down” Kumari invited him in the reception area.
“Prakash, would you like to eat something?” Kumari asked. “A sandwich maybe?”
Prakash looked at his watch meaningfully. “Sandwich, now? Dinner will be due shortly”.
“Dinner reservation is at 9” Kumari said calmly.
“Oooh, date night…!” Madhura teased them. Kumari blushed. Prakash also smiled a little. “What to do? Your madam is so busy these days!”
“Next time, Madhura, please make me some ginger tea!” Prakash said, as Madhura packed up. “Whenever you come next, Sir” she smiled and left.
Prakash said, “I am tired. I’ll just rest in your office”. “Sure” smiled Kumari. But she noticed that he didn’t close the door fully. Apparently, he was curious.
“Water?” she handed Kumar a glass of water.
“Thanks!” he said and gulped the water down.
“What does sir do?” he was curious.
“God knows” Kumari giggled involuntarily. “Ask him later” she said. Kumar also laughed.
“So, did you read the book I gave you?” Kumari had given him her copy of a famous self-help book by Robin Sharma, ‘The monk who sold his Ferrari’.
“Yes! It’s amazing!” Kumar was very excited. “It has so many techniques that I can start using immediately!”
“Absolutely, that’s the beauty of that book” Kumari agreed. They discussed the techniques in detail and how Kumar could start incorporating some of those in his daily schedule.
An hour later, Kumari knocked on the office door. “Prakash, shall we make a move?” she asked. Prakash had dozed off, as the book discussions were boring for him. He came out of the office, expecting that Kumar would have left. He was a little surprised to see that Kumar was still waiting. “He wants to know about your work” Kumari justified his presence.
Prakash explained in brief the kind of work he did. Kumar smiled, “Thank you so much Sir. See you later, madam” he said and left. Sushant had come to pick him up.
Kumari didn’t say a word about Kumar that night. She just enjoyed the date with Prakash, discussing his dream of a start-up.
Two sessions later, Kumari gave some errand to Parth so that he would have to come to the clinic at the time when Kumar was present. She introduced them both, “Kumar, this is my son Parth. Parth, this is Kumar Joshi.”
“Hello Kumar Da” Parth greeted him warmly. They shook hands like grown up men, which made Kumari smile. They discussed the entrance exam scenarios and some common hobbies. They found out that they both liked to play badminton.
“Why don’t you sign up for a game together?” Kumari suggested. “Parth is getting lazy anyway” she smiled mischievously. “Kumar, it’ll cheer you up a bit”.
“Sure, madam, why not?” Kumar was enthusiastic. Kumari could sense that Parth was not really keen, but he was too polite to reject her suggestion in front of others. Parth had sensed that his mother really did care for this Kumar Desai, though he didn’t know why. He was slightly jealous, but mostly curious. He also regretted his initial outburst, so he decided to cooperate with his mother.
“Next Saturday evening, then, Kumar Da? 6 pm?” Parth asked.
“Yes sure, Parth. I’ll book the court for an hour” Kumar replied.
That Saturday evening, Prakash and Kumari enjoyed a short date at home. Prakash was very happy. Unknowingly, his animosity towards Kumar began to lessen.
When Parth came back home, he was tired but happy. “Kumar Da is really good at the game! We had a good time together” he said.
In some sessions, Kumari discussed certain important shlokas from Bhagwad Geeta with Kumar. They both were staunch devotees of Lord Krushna. It seemed as with Lord Krushna Himself had placed His healing hand on them as Kumar’s grief was transformed into wisdom. Sure, his eyes still teared up when he talked about Sunidhi, but now he also had an occasional smile on his face. He did not know why Sunidhi suffered the way she did, but he now felt that she was safe with Lord Krushna, beyond pain and sorrow. That belief gave him fortitude to bear his grief.
On his last session, Kumari prepared the special kheer taught to her by Sunidhi. But she could not reveal that secret. As Kumar tasted the first spoonful of that kheer, his eyes were filled with tears. He touched Kumari’s feet and said, “I was often angry at Lord Krushna for taking my mother away from me. But now he has brought me to you, who is just like my Ma- loving, generous and kind. Even the kheer that you prepared today is exactly like hers”.
Kumari wiped his tears and said to him softly, “When motherly love is the secret ingredient, all food tastes divine. Even I am grateful to Lord Krushna for bringing you to me. Now I have two sons- Parth and Kumar”.