The Invincible Moonsheen

Part – 15

(Telugu Original “Venutiragani Vennela” by Dr K.Geeta)

English Translation: V.Vijaya Kumar

(The previous story briefed)

Sameera comes to meet her mother’s friend in America, Udayini, who runs a women’s aid organization called “Sahaya.” Sameera, who is four months pregnant, feels very good about Udayini and tells her that she wants to get a divorce, and the circumstances are conducive to it. Udayini says to her,”In the morning, I will tell you the story of ‘Tanmayi’ and after listening to that story you may make your own decision.”  Tanmayi and Shekhar, who met at a wedding, got married with the permission of their elders. A new camp will be opened in Visakhapatnam. Tanmayi gets pregnant within six months of marriage and comes to her house for delivery.


          Shekhar came the next morning. Tanmayi got up suddenly when she smelled something like petrol. When she opened her eyes, she saw Shekhar, who looked like he hadn’t taken a bath in a long time. He leaned over the sleeping baby next to him and looked at him with great joy in his eyes. “Come on, Nanna, come to your father!” he took the sleeping baby in his arms and lifted him to his shoulder.

          Looking at Shekhar, who was chatting with his son even after half an hour, Tanmayi said curtly, “Have you asked me how I am?”

          “Oh, get lost! Look at how you’ve become round and fat, seemingly eating like a pig for nine months. See! My son, how weak his hands and legs are. It would have been good for my son to get even a tenth of what you ate. That too, a male one!” He laughed ridiculously.

          Jyoti, who was sleeping in the other corner of the room, suddenly woke up to those words. She was shocked at his comments and said, “Why those unpleasant words Babu? She was altogether withered with those delivery pains all day long…”

          “Would you tell your mother to shut up for a while?” He burst out angrily.

          “What? Why should I keep my mouth shut? Are you talking to me in any respectable way?” she retorted.

          “Oh, what a pity, I can’t even talk freely and jovially with my wife. What kind of people are around you? You people never change. I just warn you, you must be in our house in a month. Remember that you aren’t allowed to stay here for months together on any lame accusation,” then he fled.

          Tanmayi, who had no patience to listen to anything, closed her eyes dully. ‘Why he came, why did he leave’ nobody knows. She doesn’t want to think about it.

          She nestled her little one to her bosom lovingly and ran her palm on its scalp, and the baby squealed. “Don’t bother about these things, Nanna. Drink milk and sleep peacefully,” she whispered.

          The baby looked into her eyes as if he understood something. Tanmay felt surprised. “He just came into this world yesterday, but he looks at everything as if he knows!” She said it aloud, unintended. She knew that her mother was crying silently, lying on the other side.

          Tanmay consoled her mother, saying, “Don’t take Shekhar’s words to heart, Amma.” She struggled to lean back on the cot. Jyoti, who was humiliated and angry, suddenly broke, “Hey, stop there! You are also blaming me instead of that guy! I am not so dumb as to keep shutting my mouth. When that guy called you ‘Dog, come here!’ you would have broken his teeth! But you supported that fellow when he said he ‘joked.’ Now that fellow, who made such audacious remarks with you almost half dead, with excruciating pain on the bed, how could I bear and keep quiet?”

          “Yes, why should she bear it?” Tanmay didn’t know the answer. She felt something guilty about it, “Is it because of her love, or marrying him against her parent’s wishes, or because of her imbecile nature?” She thought, “If I say anything positive about it, her mother takes it seriously as if I am protesting him.” She closed her eyes and kept quiet.

          “After all, all these things are trivial when compared to the pain I had undergone yesterday on the delivery table, the grotesque experience that led to the moment of death. These are mere words; they vanish soon. But the baby is everything to me, I must be cheerful and happy for my baby,” she consoled herself.

          She drew the baby to her bosom. As soon as she took the baby near to her bosom, the baby began searching for milk as if he was ravenous with hunger. She couldn’t learn the technique of giving milk to her baby even though she had been trying since yesterday. The baby was also unable to suck milk properly. She whispered to her baby, “Hi Nanna, this is a new experience for me, Nanna. I can’t help it.” She tried her best in a sitting position and lying aside.

          When she was finally comfortable with the baby in her lap, her eyes suddenly fell on the baby’s eyes. They were looking jaundiced. She ran to her mother and showed them to her hurriedly. Jyoti, looking at the baby’s eyes, said to her daughter, “Nothing to worry about, some babies’ eyes go yellowish the first three days. The doctor came and said nothing about it,” She tried to ease her daughter’s anxiety.

          When the doctor came for rounds the next day, the baby’s eyes turned even more yellowish. Tanmay pleaded with the doctor, “Doctor, please look at the eyes.”

          “Umm…During the pains, the baby was altogether strained a great deal, so he developed jaundice. We have no treatment here; I will refer him to the other hospital on the next street. Your mother-in-law knows it, we will discharge you today anyway,” the doctor said quietly.

          Tanmay was almost shocked, and fear ran down her spine. She started shivering, “Oh my God, Jaundice? Why do you test me like this? No, I know nothing will happen to my son. He is immortal. I will shield my child from any trouble.” She wiped her tears.

          When the doctor left the room, Tanmay jumped off the bed with her baby wrapped up in clothes, dashing down the street. Though Jyoti was shouting and calling behind her, she kept heading forward. She scrambled the two streets, faltered, bearing the pains of the sutures with one and only thought, “The baby should not get any illness due to delay.”

          Her mother followed her, crying. She prayed, “See, your father was away at this critical moment, and your husband… nobody knows where he slipped away. God, please help us!”

          Tanmay started sweating profusely, maybe because of walking under the scorching sun or due to her anxiety. It was a rather big hospital. There was a large desk and lots of patients in the hall, and Tanmay became nervous watching the crowd. Luckily, a nurse who noticed Tanmay with a small baby sent her to the doctor immediately.

          The doctor asked them to admit the baby at once to start ultraviolet light treatment. Jyoti consoled her daughter, saying, “Don’t think of hospital charges. I will pay the advance, and your father will clear the bills.” Tanmay began to sob, hugging her mother.

          Her mother consoled her with soothing words, “Shh… Don’t cry, everything will be alright.”

          When they were giving the injection, Tanmay’s heart sank. The previous day they gave the vaccine, and when the baby was crying, Tanmay couldn’t control herself. They kept the baby on a bright light surface without clothes. The atmosphere in the room was quiet. Tanmay, who was sitting on a bench watching the process opposite, was almost in a distressed mood, waiting for the judgment of the doctors.

          Jyoti made phone calls to everyone. Devi hurriedly dashed into the room and broke, “What is going on here? Won’t you at least inform us about it? How can you come before the discharge from the hospital? Doctor hailed upon me left and right! Let that girl have no sense, at least you must have Vadina!”

          Tanmay was watching her baby, leaving the world around her as if she was in a trance. She thought, “Why can’t everyone stay happy and quiet like these babies?”

          Devi walked to the baby, watching carefully for the yellowness on its body, and said, “It’s okay, you did a good thing. Is Shekhar here at night? He was sleeping all day! I didn’t tell him about it. I will go home and send meals for you with Shekhar. One thing I just want to remind you, you should be on a strict light diet when the baby is jaundiced. I will send rice with milk; better keep on that diet until he recovers.”

          Tanmay nodded. Tanmay had a dislike for milk without a supplement powder. Yet she firmly decided to take milk for her dearest baby. After some time, Shekhar came with a carriage and sat near the baby without talking about anything.

          When Tanmay tried the insipid meal with milk, she felt it would come out if she swallowed it forcefully. But lacking any other option, she gulped it down at once, not caring much about it, and thinking only about her baby.

          Tanmay was reluctant to see anybody’s expressions; she thought it would be good if everyone kept quiet. She became like a saint and obeyed orders from the nurse, feeding her baby when suggested. She was thinking solely about her baby and his safe recovery. Jyoti shared her agony and soothed her frequently, saying, “Everything will be alright, be brave,” as she wiped her tears.

          Shekhar spent all the time without a word and went away in the evening.


          Three days passed, and the baby gradually showed improvement. Shekhar joined his duties, telling that he would come at the time of discharge.

          That day was Diwali. The pollution from the crackers and the intolerable noise was very irritating to Tanmay. In her childhood, she used to sit beside the jaggery or tamarind jars to escape from the sounds outside, keeping cotton buds in her ears. Shekhar enjoyed Diwali. Last year he dragged her out from inside and made her involved forcefully. Jyoti went out for a relaxing few minutes.

          Tanmay whispered many things to her baby in that closed AC room. “Hi, Nanna! Scared of those noises? Oh no… I am here, don’t worry, recover quickly so that we can go home. The whole world outside is enjoying it. You and I are lonely here, we can also celebrate. When you start eating, I will cook everything you eat, okay?”

          Now everybody in the home was discussing what name should be given to the boy. Being the first grandchild of the house, there were more proposals to name the boy after their grandfather’s names. “What name do you love, Nanna? I picked plenty of names for babies, but you were born a boy! I want to give you a beautiful name as soft as your milky cheeks. Do you want it? Don’t you?” she said, whispering to her child. The baby smiled as if his mother’s wish was granted.

          “Uh… let’s give a name? Buchibabu, Chalam, Tilak… Uh… no poets, no writers. Names that no one has… like the Agnath? No, it doesn’t sound good! What would be the best name as soft as your milky cheeks? ‘Mrudul’… is it good? And Nickname: Bujji, Kanna, Chinna, Chanty… or Nannaaru? He smiles calmly as if everything is okay with him.”

          “Ammalu, Naannalu, Kannalu, Buzzulu, Bangaralu… everything is You…” She smiled happily.

          “Let’s get back home, grow up quickly and play with me every day…” Jyoti, who had just arrived, looked affectionately at her daughter who was chatting with her kid. “My kid just had his own kid,” she felt proud and walked away silently.

          On the fifteenth day after the baby’s delivery, Tanmay was discharged from the hospital as the boy was healthy. Tanmay felt happy and bright. Delivery is an unforgettable nightmare, and the baby’s ill health doubled her anxiety. Tanmay spent almost all these days in anxiety. She was recently experiencing a sort of reeling in her head whenever she tried to stand up. The doctor said, “Maybe it’s because of her extreme weariness psychologically.” Due to her baby’s ill health, she was nervous all these days, rather than her physical torment.

          She felt that if she could be with Shekhar, she might be somewhat relaxed in his presence. But that one went away without any concern. It’s quite distressing for her to think of her baby’s future with such sort of parenting. When she gets stuck in such thoughts, she feels agonizing and weak. Devi expressed her opinion that first delivery expenses must be borne from the mother-side.

          Jyoti, who was hurt, said, “We are all badly suffering all these days because of this baby. Delivery expenses mean the expenditure spent on delivery. We are already burdened by the expenses related to the baby; how can anyone even meet these additional expenses?”

          Devi retorted sharply, “Babies are prone to get ill health, it’s quite common to bear any hospital bills during the delivery time for mothers and babies, aren’t you people?”

          Tanmay’s heartbeat rose. Shekhar had already gone with displeasure and contempt. If this woman also does the same, it will lead to a breakup. So she started saying helplessly, “Amma, can’t you wait for some time? At least until Daddy’s arrival?”

          Devi walked out seriously saying, “Tell your mother in such a way!”

          The arrival of Bhanumurthy made the scene cool; otherwise, it would have become a battlefield. He pacified the situation, saying, “By the grace of God, my grandson recovered well. I will arrange the hospital bills. Even those people also couldn’t expect such unexpected expenses. Why should we ask them? We know our son-in-law’s trivial attitude already.”

          Tanmay felt relieved, looking at her father with gratitude. Shekhar came in the evening. He offered ₹500 to Tanmay, making her unbelievable about his generosity. Tanmay offered it to her mother as if she had been relieved from great pain. But her mother, reluctant to take the amount, said, “Oh, No! We don’t want it, we can manage somehow and pay everything we have in due.”

          Shekhar almost spent his time sitting near his son silently. When Jyoti went out, he walked to Tanmay and said, “Look, you go tomorrow to your home and come back again in one month. I am troubled with cooking. I vacated the house and shifted the luggage to the newly built shed of our grandfather’s. After you come back, we will take a new house.”

          “Why do you vacate all of a sudden now?” She saw the buffeling scene before her eyes …hundreds of things loaded in sacks, the newly bought dismembered cot, dusty mattresses, and plenty of other things! Enough things to invite me to clean up the house again if we go next month! she thought.

          “Earlier, my brother and I used to stay at home. Now he also has a job in Orissa with our company. So a house in Vizag is indeed a waste of money while we live at the workplace twenty days a month!” He clarified.

          “And how do we get posts?” She inquired anxiously.

          “No one writes to me, and I don’t know if you have any,” he said sarcastically.

          She was afraid to talk about the university. However, as she gave it as their permanent address, perhaps the result may be sent here. Anyway, it’s better to make a call to the STD booth boy on the corner of the street to inform Lakshmi once for a call. I’ll speak once after going home. When the thought of the university came to her, all of her thoughts revolved around it, and everything Shekhar said had gone unattended.

          “Mother and child came home safely. We will name him after you, God of Seven Hills!” said Jyoti, after she came home the next day. The surrounding people kept coming to greet her one by one until the evening. Jyoti put black smudges on the child’s legs, nose, and chin so that the child wouldn’t get caught in bad eyes.

          “I told you earlier that I will name my son after Anjaneya Swami.” Shekhar’s words rang in her ears. “Would any of them allow me to give his name?” She thought.

          On the morning of the twenty-first day, the eldest among the relatives was called to bathe the mother and child. The boy who did not know about the massage process started crying when she was rubbing him hard. The crying brought tears to Tanmayi’s eyes. Everyone around her started laughing, saying, “Oh, God, what a smart and delicate girl she is!”

          “I’ll give a bath to my child from tomorrow onwards,” she said with her mother wiping her tears. In the morning, when Tanmayi took a head bath with turmeric and shikakai, she felt greatly relaxed though the weakness was still there.

          The house was filled with the smell of sambrani and with relatives and friends in the afternoon. Devi came alone, and she took her grandson in her lap and said, “My grandson looks like my son. Hey nanna! Your father looked like you at this age.”

          “On this day next month, we will celebrate a name-giving function at our house. You must send her 4 days before it on an auspicious day. At the end of the third month, they would go to Vizag. My son needs help with cooking. By the way, now Shekhar did not come as he had urgent work,” said Devi. Tanmay, who already knew that Shekhar wouldn’t come, did not expect him.

          Jyoti twisted her mouth sarcastically. 

          When everyone dispersed by evening, Jyoti again performed drishti on mother and baby. She categorically stated, “What kind of people are these, how can they take away a critically ill and hospitalized baby all these days, just in a month, in the name of the Namakarana function? Can’t they wait at least 3 months until the mother and baby totally recover? How can they send them to Vizag without any paraphernalia? How can they expect to prepare everything in such a short period of time? Haven’t I wished to spend a few days with my grandson? Haven’t I loved the baby as they have?”

          Tanmayi closed her eyes after taking her sleeping son close to her. “How good it would be if there were no hurtful words in the world! If only people could always speak pleasant words!!” Suddenly, the unknown friend remembered. “Desert and darkness everywhere in the life she imagined. Luckily, a moon-like baby is now with me. Enough, my friend! Enough of this life!!” Why do you still need any anonymous friend, when I have this little friend with me? She laughed at her thought.

          She doesn’t understand why she should feel sorry to see the sadness on her mother’s face and get irritated by their quarrels. She has learned to focus her mind above everything else since her marriage. The electricity went out, and a kerosene lamp lit Jyoti. The kid kept staring at the lit lamp next to the bed. From the window, the stars are seen twinkling here and there.

          As if a star had fallen from the sky and reached her side, Tanmayi fondly brought the baby close to her and rubbed her palm on his cheek, lovingly kissing his cheeks smelling of milk.

          This baby is the most incredible gift she has ever received in the world. What love it when you take this baby close! What a great motherly feeling that cannot be described in words!!

          A feeling that she had never experienced previously when she touched any child earlier. This is the bond between mother and child. Remember Kanna, “You and I are parts of one single soul,” she whispered in his ear lovingly.


(Continued next month)

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