CREATIVE FICTION : Hope as an anti-depressant by Kanchana Suresh

Asha clasped her palms together and leaned onto the huge clear glass window. She watched as rain droplets slowly glided on the glass. It was like the droplets were having a race amongst themselves. Though Asha seemed like she was enjoying the rain, her eyes conveyed a different story. They were distant and cold. It was as though her eyes were searching for certain answers for which she had been waiting for many years now. 
“I am so sorry! I hope I didn’t make you wait for a long time. I was on a video call with an overseas client.”
Asha turned around, startled at the sudden interruption of her thought process. 
Dr. Rashmi smiled at Asha and put her hand forward. 
Asha smiled weakly at her and shook the doctor’s outstretched hand. “Please don’t apologize, Dr. Rashmi! You are doing your duty and anyway I have not been waiting for that long.”
Rashmi chuckled and gestured her to take a seat. Asha sat down on the plush leather recliner and tried to relax. 
“What will you have, Asha?”
“The usual!”
Dr. Rashmi dialed the intercom and instructed her staff to bring in two steaming cups of filter coffee. 
“Let’s get down to business then.”
Rashmi gazed around the room once and asked Asha quietly, “Vinay refused to attend the session?”
Asha shook her head in the negative and sighed. 
“I spoke to him yesterday and he told me that the test results were not positive again.”
Asha sniffled a bit and reached for the box of tissues lying in front of her.
“Please, Asha! Don’t lose hope!”
“Eight years! I have been trying for eight long years now and my body is not able to cope anymore. My body is not responding to the medication and the emotional pain is more than the physical pain. You know how much I want this. AND YOU EXPECT ME NOT TO LOSE HOPE?! 
Asha’s whole body trembled and her voice quivered as she spit her agony out. But Dr. Rashmi kept her cool and walked over to her, handing her a glass of water and squeezed her hand tightly to reassure her. 
“Asha! I understand your pain. I truly do and that is why I am here to help you out. Please do not stress yourself too much. I don’t want to increase the dosage of any of the anti-depressants I have already prescribed to you.”
Asha grabbed few tissues, wiped her tears and drank the glass of water that Rashmi was holding for her. 
“I am fine, Doctor”
“Yes, you are!” 
“What do you have in store for me in today’s session?”
“Walk with me, Asha”
The doctor and patient duo walked in silence on the soft blades of wet grass, listening to the chirping of birds and buzzing of bees. The walk helped greatly in calming down Asha’s anxiety and anger. 
“Are you afraid that society will judge you? Taunt you?” 
The question that came out of the blue left Asha perplexed. 
“I don’t understand, Doctor.”
“I want to know why you are doing this. Subjecting your body to this suffering for the past eight years. Just look at you! Your eyes are pale and emotionless. The bones in your body are visible to the naked eye. Are you doing all this to escape the harsh scrutiny of the society we live in? If that is the reason then you are being a fool, Asha.”
“Do you really think I am doing this to stay in the good books of people I barely even know or care about?”
“Then why? Vinay is worried for you. He is scared that he is going to lose you to the continuous IVF process. When you both have each other, do you think a child is that important?”
“There is no rule that a couple can be happy only when they have a child. I am happy and madly in love with my husband. But it is my dream to nurture a life and give that life wings to soar high into the sky. But God doesn’t want to fulfil this dream of mine.”
“Hmm..! Asha, I want you to visit the Rainbow Orphanage for the next one month, starting today. This is your homework. I will meet you after a month. I will speak to the matron of the place and arrange everything for your smooth visit.”
Asha was perplexed with the sudden work that was given to her. But nevertheless, she trusted her psychologist and knew that the doctor would not suggest anything without a reason. 

Rainbow Orphanage

Asha stood in front of the gates of the orphanage and contemplated opening them or going back home. She decided to try once and opened the gates. 
As soon as she opened the gates, the surroundings enthralled her. On seeing the colourful buildings, the lush greenery and the gleeful children hopping around, her preconceived notion about gloomy orphanages was broken. She walked straight towards the office and informed the matron about Dr. Rashmi and the purpose of her visit. 
Asha was escorted to a room by the matron’s assistant. When she stepped inside the room, 20 innocent little hearts welcomed her with a placard that read “Welcome home, Asha aunty!”
All the 20 children ran and engulfed her in a bear hug. Asha fell back at the intensity of so many kids falling on her at once. Oddly, she felt at peace and for the first time in 8 years she was genuinely happy. 
Asha had not smiled so much in a long time. She spent close to three hours with the kids, playing, narrating stories, eating lunch and teaching them new things. Her maternal instincts gushed out like water from an open reservoir. She loved every minute of the time spent knowing the children up, close and personal. 
When she was about to leave, Asha noticed a young girl sitting in the verandah in deep thought. Asha realised she hadn’t interacted with the child and wondered how she missed her out. Since she was running late, Asha decided to meet her the next time she visited. 
The visit to the orphanage continued and Asha could not have been happier any more than she was right now. Every day she looked forward to the trip to orphanage. Whenever she was in the place, Asha noticed the young girl sitting in the verandah looking lost and sad. But she never got the opportunity to interact with her. She decided to learn more about her before talking with her.  
Asha came to know from the matron that the girl was brought in here by a good samaritan after she was rescued from a sewage drain when she was just 5 days old. The matron also said that she survived after a long stay in ICU. 
Asha felt bad for the poor child. She abhorred the parents who left a day- old-baby to die just like that. She sighed at the irony. While she had been trying desperately for a child, God bestowed the gift to another woman only for the child to be abandoned. 
She decided to talk to the little one and try to cheer her up.  
The little girl with her innocent eyes looked up to meet Asha’s gleeful eyes. 
Without an answer she turned her face and started gazing at the garden again. 
Asha realised this was going to be hard. But she didn’t want to give up.  
She sat down quietly beside the girl and started looking around. 
“I am Asha. I visit this place everyday. What is your name?”
The little girl looked at her again with her innocent eyes but didn’t speak much. 
“You can talk to me. All your friends over here are my friends too. We can be friends too. Don’t be afraid, child.”
“I am Pyaari.” 
The timid voice made Asha chuckle. 
“Pyaari!  What a beautiful name! How old are you, child?”
“Everybody say I am three years old.”
“Wow! You are a big girl.”
There was nothing else to talk and silence prevailed. But Asha liked this calm environment. Suddenly Pyaari got up and ran towards the garden, started watering the plants. Asha watched her keenly and decided not to interrupt her. When she came back, Asha saw a different glow on her face. 
“Do you water the plants everyday?”
“Yes, aunty”
“Do you like gardening?”
“I am nurturing them. It is not necessary only the gardener has to nurture them. Even I can do it.”
Asha was awestruck at her maturity at such a young age. 
“Aunty! Can I ask you a question?”
“I learnt in my school that a mother nurtures her babies. I am the mother of these plants because I nurture them. Why don’t I have a mother who can nurture me? Every child must have a mother, right?”
Asha was taken aback by the question and fumbled for the right answer. But that day something struck in her. A single question changed her outlook. It made her think about the mistake she had been committing all these years. 
As days passed, she bonded more and more with Pyaari. Both became the best of friends and Asha became fiercely protective of her while Pyaari saw a mother figure in Asha. 
As the month got over, Asha made up her mind and decided to talk to Vinay about the same. She was very happy and couldn’t wait to share the news with her darling husband. She also had to thank Dr. Rashmi for sending her to the orphanage. 
“Good morning, Dr. Rashmi!”
Asha had a spring in her step and was excited like a school girl in a candy shop. 
“Well! Well! Somebody seems to be in a very happy mood. I also heard that you haven’t been consuming anti-depressants for the past one month. There have been no anxiety attacks also.”
“Well, I have some big news to share with you...”
“Congratulations, Asha! Finally, you are going to be a mother.”
“How do you know?”
Asha was surprised that the doctor knew when she didn’t even share the news with her husband yet. 
“Vinay always wanted to adopt a baby because he didn’t want you to undergo all the trauma. But he was worried about your reaction. So, we chalked out a plan and sent you to the orphanage in the hope that you will understand where you have been going wrong. And look at you now. You are happy, healthy and a mother like you always wanted.”
Asha was shocked at the revelation but she was grateful for what her husband and doctor had done. 
She hugged Rashmi tightly and sobbed quietly. 
“Thank you, Rashmi! You are my angel in disguise. I didn’t understand all these years that a child is a child and I need not give birth to be a mother. Pyaari has changed my life.” 
“I know Asha. Now it is not the time to cry. We should celebrate this new mother. You are going to be a great mom for Pyaari. Have a great life, dear. And like I said, do not lose hope. The best anti-depressant ever available is hope.” 
“Yes! And I promise I am never going to lose hope. Good things will eventually happen.”
“That’s the spirit. Now let’s celebrate. Vinay will be joining us soon.”
Asha’s family was finally complete.

About the writer: 
Kanchana Suresh is a blogger, book reviewer, aspiring writer and primary school teacher. She is also a new mother who strives to write while running behind her baby. She wants her readers to know that she can survive on cakes for all eternity.