The Receptionist at the Clinic waved the form and smiled at her.
O. Specifications. Yes, of course. She wrote sex: F.
She was ordering DNA material for a female child.
She glanced at the form she held in her hand. It had blanks asking for “height-build-eye color-complexion-disposition-…” etc So she put “tall” in the height space and “brown” and “black” in the blanks for eyes and hair.
What else do you need?
“We need plenty Ma’am, for now I want you to complete this form for me” She looked down at the form as the woman at the counter thrust a fifteen page document in her hands. The Claims Clearance Forms. There were half a dozen of claims. She sat down. Wrote “NO” for all but one: the visitation and meeting with biological parent rights claim.
We begin this Friday night at 7 o clock?
Yes, that would be fine.
- -- -- -- --
Seven years later she is sprawled on the floor checking exam papers. A five year old also sprawled near her, drawing, little feet folded at the knees and up in the air, pastel colors strewn all around her.
“Mommy do we know what he eats?”
She looked at the scrap book where it said “My Family”. There were bubbles around the male figure with labels that said “My father likes to eat--”, “My father likes to wear--”. “His name is –“
She frowned and then smiled. The Dossier – she had never returned to the clinic to collect the Dossier.
“We would find out. Chalo beta, let’s go”
About an hour later they are walking out of the Clinic with a big fat dossier, headed for Shaloma’s Home Made Lunch. The two sat with both their arms on the table and with the dossier between them looking at the pictures. It was full of papers neatly clipped together. Med reports. One page had the bio. “You want me to call him?”
The little girl beamed. She shrugged."Ok".
She called the Clinic. Ten days later the phone at home rang and the first meeting was fixed up – Man and Child met up at school. The Child was a bit awkward at first but in under thirty minutes they were all over the place, pointing at boards, turning pages, chatting away. After a while Meera pulled out the scrap book she had been working on.
Sandip Acharya watched as Meera filled in the blanks in her book.
The little girl pointed at a picture she had made in her scrap book – he looked and it looked like an elephant.
“Have you ever seen elephants?"
The trip to the zoo that weekend was followed by other such visits at regular intervals. Often his girl friend came with him.
Five years later on a lovely bright December day she scrambled up the pak-dandi *in Nilgiri hills on all fours huffing and puffing with the weight of her sack bearing down heavily upon her shoulders. After she had pulled herself on the flat top of the hill, she turned, leaned over the edge and held out her hand for her daughter. “Look up at me Meera – don’t look down. C’mon give me your hand”.
A minute later mother daughter lay on their back gazing at the lovely azure blue overhead. Meera pointed at a cluster of cloud directly overhead, “Look an English Castle in the air”.
She lifted her left arm lazily and pointed to the cluster on their right “And that is your grandma with her rolling pin threatening us”. The child turned her head to look if her mother was serious and then she laughed.
Her cell rang.
“Raaaaajaah! It is absolutely gorgeous up here! What? O. Ok… we would be down in another two hours. What’s for lunch?” She heard him lob “Me” in the tone she had come to love cherish admire and desired to live for. She smiled.
She had met and fallen in love with Rajah ten years after she had had Meera.
The sound of his voice told her that she would have to ask tonight.
Down below, the river looked like a silver ribbon and the world, peaceful and perfect.
Pak-dandi : Hindi/Bengali word for very narrow steep hilly goat trails locals and animals use to climb up and down to get water from a lower level.