Understand. And love.
We’re here. And we care.
“Once upon a time, on the streets of Mumbai, lived a lady. She was strong, independent, determined and the city had never seen the likes of her. She dreamed about everything she could never have. She strolled down the streets of her beloved city everyday and one could almost say her every breath made the air a tiny bit cooler.
Her grit brought the whole city down. She rose like the sun in the East and no one could slow her down.
She was a bird.
And then, she got married.
You could say marriage shackled and caged her, yet her tale was never forgotten. To this day, the streets of Mumbai miss her stomping feet. The railways miss her sigh. The city remembered her.
Her spirit never did forget the city. She spoke of Mumbai as if it was only yesterday. Pictures of The Gateway soon turned into tales of despair and longing. She told her daughter.
Her in-laws would not understand. They would roll their eyes. But, she was not to be stopped.
Years passed, and she was pregnant again. The family needed a son. One daughter was all they could handle. Two was unacceptable. The entire family was invited. Mother in law was convinced a male child was on his way. Preparations began.
The dreaded day arrived.
She washed the utensils. The clothes followed soon after. Her swollen belly did not come in between. Eventually, she was ready. Her bundle of joy. Husband was busy. So was her mother in law. Her other child was too young. The relatives did not bother. She went alone.
She wasn’t really scared or worried. The streets of Mumbai had taught her everything. Not one elusive tear escaped. She prayed to her God and left the house. She never looked at anyone. Took a rickshaw and went to the hospital. She smiled all throughout. Her beloved was coming. Nine and a half months. It was a long wait.
The hospital wasn’t renowned. It was all her husband could afford. A bed was given to her. She felt alone. And she cried. She wept out her misery. And then she stopped. The streets of Mumbai had not taught her this. She remembered the time when she was at a railway station, crying her heart out. She remembered how people looked at her. She was better than that.
At a time when she needed someone to be beside her, only one thing arrived, the pain. And it came right on time. It justified her inconsolable weeping and after three long hours, her bundle of happiness was born. A mother for the second time. She was weak, but she wanted nothing more than to hold her baby. It was a girl.
At that point, she could see her daughter’s future. All the taunts and eye rolling. The pressure to deliver another child. She was in a haze. But all was right when she saw two beautiful black eyes staring back at her. Five little fingers trying to grasp hers.
Weak and battered, she somehow reached the hall. She knew what was to follow. The family would come. They wanted a son. She called them. Afraid. Frightened.
Her mother in law picked up and she gave her the news. She hung up. She was afraid, true, but sadness was one emotion that she just could not feel at that moment.
She remembered the time, when the gates of her University had closed, and she had to stand all alone, in the rain. The wet streets of Mumbai had told her then, that even though people could not see her tears, she should not grieve. She was taught the value of tolerance that very day.
At the hospital, she fed herself. Her husband was nowhere to be seen. Somehow the news of a second daughter had spread, and no one came to her rescue.
She came back home and fought.
In the future, when the entire family would make fun of her second daughter’s dark complexion, she would tell her about the streets of Mumbai. When she would fail in Maths, her mother would tell her about the streets of Mumbai. When she would grow up to be a dreamer, she would tell her about the streets of Mumbai.
Later, the second daughter will scribble the anecdote of her birth on a piece of paper and put this story in front of the world:
The Lessons from the Streets of Mumbai.”
– Diksha Tiwari