Home-coming in a Box
“Darling, this is for your own good that we are sending you there. By staying in the hostel, you will be able to study nicely”- Dorothy was trying to convince their youngest daughter Paulina.
Dorothy and Charles had 4 daughters, no son. Their eldest daughter, Marina completed her primary and secondary education at the home town as a day scholar. Being the first child, Dorothy and Charles did their best to provide Marina all the comforts a child of a middle income parents could expect. For eight years, they thought they were not lucky enough to have another child.
Very unexpectedly, few days after celebrating Marina’s 8th birthday, Dorothy found out that she was pregnant. Both Dorothy and Charles were excited and happy.
When the nurse announced the arrival of their second daughter, Charles was overjoyed, rewarded the nurse heavily.
4 months after the delivery of the 2nd daughter, Dorothy still looked shapeless. Charles did not care much about her figure but was concerned about her health. He suggested her to go and see the doctor.
The doctor gave them the shocking news that a third baby was coming to attend the 1st birthday party of their second daughter. As forecasted by the doctor, Sabrina was 45 days old on the first birthday of Nabina. She tested the birthday cake.
Nabina and Sabrina grew up as twins born 10 and half months apart. When they combined their naughty forces together, they could turn the house upside down. They drained their mother’s tolerance. They defeated Marina in every sense. They disturbed her in her studies. Charles returned home only after the children have gone to sleep.
While some sanity was still left, Charles and Dorothy decided to send Nabina and Sabrina to a boarding school, to give them some discipline.
After 6 and half years, some tranquility prevailed in the house. With Marina attending secondary school, Dorothy and Charles had more free time to indulge in side income generating enterprises.
During the confusional period of menopause onset, Dorothy forgot that she had missed her menstrual cycles of more than 4 months. They had accepted and welcomed Dorothy’s ageing transformation from child bearing age to senior citizen status. Dorothy decided to go and attend the clinic organized by doctors to screen cervical cancer.
One of the attending doctors found her situation questionable, but Dorothy was adamant, -she was menopausal more than 4 months.
After few tests and ultrasound scanning, the doctor tried to amuse Dorothy saying that she was still young, she was carrying a beautiful baby girl, 4 months old, inside her belly.
Dorothy argued bitterly, challenging the creditability of the tests and machines. She phoned Charles to come immediately and collect her. He tried to console her thinking that she had been diagnosed to have the dreadful disease.
She screamed on the phone “It’s worse than the cancer, it’s a baby. I am pregnant. And it’s a girl.”
Charles also protested that it was impossible. Given a choice she would have preferred to have a swollen uterus with fibroids.
5 months after that little Paulina was born. She was totally different from the other siblings. May be she heard too many discussions while she was still inside her mother. She knew the world where she was coming, had little to offer her.
Marina was 19 years old when Paulina was born, preparing to go to the university. Had no time to baby sit.
Nabina and Sabrina had added elements of evil in their naughtiness. They showed no sympathy towards the small sister- they swung her, wrung her, and pinched her –all in the name of love.
Dorothy and Charles were ageing fast. They had lost the interest of playing with a young child. If it was a baby boy, it would have been a different experience. They provided all the material needs of the child. The girl grew up knowing her nanny to be the kindest person in the world and she loved her most. When her parents and older siblings were out and about, she was fondled and fed, bathed and dressed, sang lullaby and tugged her sheets by her nanny.
When the twin like sisters came home during their holidays, she listened quietly to their stories and plans of frightening their hostel mates. It made the little girl shudder often. She swore never to live in a hostel.
Her parents discussed to send her to a boarding school when she started schooling.
Paulina protested that she did not need to go to a school, she did not like to study. She wanted to play and sing with her nanny-but all in vain.
Charles and her Nanny escorted her to the town where she was enrolled to be a boarding pupil of standard I. She made her nanny promise to come and see her everyday.
Days and months passed, her nanny never came. She waited eagerly for her school holidays.
One night she was awoken from her sleep by a choking sensation. She opened her eyes, could not see anybody, anything. Breathing was becoming difficult. She heard noises of people crying, yelling amidst the cracking and breaking sounds mixed with loud, blowing
hot winds. She was terrified. She slid from her bed, crawled towards the cupboard, closed the door and hid inside.
The hostel caught fire. Rescuers were trying to look for any child left on their beds, in their rooms. The fire fighters came, extinguished the fire. The next day morning, they were looking for the clue to the cause of the fire. They inspected thoroughly, from room to room, moving each suspected items turning upside down, scavenging ashes and dusts. In one of the half burnt cupboards, they found, a charred small body, not recognizable.
Teachers, nurses and doctors were trying to count the survivors and identify them. Most of the children who were alive, were in shock They could not even remember their own names. Parents and guardians rushed to the spot to rescue and identify their children. Dorothy and Charles did not see Paulina.
After an extensive combined effort, the identity of the small charred body was identified.
Little Paulina was brought to her home in a coffin - the first home coming from her boarding school.
(The aruthor is a Manipuri Thiyam Ningol from Uripok but settled at Africa for the past about 35 years working as a doctor. -- firstname.lastname@example.org)
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