“Mom, I want to get married to Siddhant!” Riya declared. Her mom, Anjali was thrilled to hear that. She hugged Riya. As they embraced, Anjali felt a lump in her throat. It dawned on her it was finally time to disclose a secret buried in the deepest folds of her heart and mind. She had promised her dying husband that she would tell Riya the day she decided to get married. Riya could sense a change in emotions from her mom’s looks.
They sat. Anjali clasped Riya’s hand. “There’s something you should know, something your father and I never told you”. Riya looked on curiously. Anjali paused before continuing. “We adopted you from a nearby orphanage when you were a new born. You had arrived there a few days before. The owners knew we were childless and they contacted us immediately.”
Riya was speechless. Her face reflected a canvas of feelings as disbelief, pain, sadness, and anger chased each other. She started to speak but her voice choked with emotion. As Anjali caressed her hand, Riya said softly “You waited until now to tell me this? But why?” Anjali had anticipated this question and gone over the answer in her head numerous times.
However, she froze at that moment. All those years of rehearsing silently failed her as reality hit.
She gathered herself with great difficulty and answered “Darling, we have never felt you were not our own. We got you when you were just a week old and the moment we set our eyes on your sweet innocent face we knew you were our baby. You have your father’s eyes, my smile; your mannerisms take after him in so many ways. Even now, the way your nose twitched reminded me of your father. The compulsion of putting things in their right place and keeping the house spic and span is so much like me. And as I always point out, the way you smell your food before every bite is just like your dad! ”
“Your grandparents urged us to let you know the truth when you were a teenager but we didn’t know how you would react. With your father’s terminal illness, I didn’t want to lose you both at the same time. But as your father’s health deteriorated, he made me promise that I will tell you this secret the day you announce your marriage”
Riya’s eyes filled with tears as she saw her mother baring her heart. She could imagine how difficult it was for Anjali to say this just like how it was for her listening to it. Riya had no doubt in her mind her father and Anjali were the only parents she would know in her life. She then asked if her real parents had left anything behind. Anjali nodded. She brought out a letter from her birth mother. The letter said that she was unmarried and couldn’t keep the baby. It asked for forgiveness and prayed the baby would find a good house and loving parents. It was signed by Neelam Arora.
Neelam Arora! Riya turned white reading that name!
Anjali regretted telling her but now could not take back what was done. Anjali continued “I am really sorry and I don’t want you to feel differently. You are and will always be our daughter. We just wanted you to know the truth but that does not change anything else.”
Riya interrupted her “Mom, Neelam Arora is Siddhant’s mother’s name. Could he…could he…be my brother then!” she cringed at the thought. Now it was Anjali’s turn to be shocked. She was very fond of Siddhant and felt he was the perfect match for Riya.
The story concludes in Part 2 that will be published soon.