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Jennifer splashed water on Tara’s face and shook her. “Wake up! You can’t be unconscious NOW!” Jennifer yelled at her face. Cyrus untied her hands and they made her lie on the couch. Tara started coming around and finally opened her eyes. “You want to know, don’t you? Want to know what I did? I did everything in my past to make the best of my situation. I had nothing and no one. You have to understand that.” Jennifer did not say a word but stared impassively at her. Tara closed her eyes and recounted her past.
“Tara beta why aren't you opening the door?” her mother asked for the umpteenth time. Tara was in shock, sitting on the bathroom floor with a pregnancy test in one hand. This was the second one taken in two days. She just could not believe that one drunken night could lead to such a big disaster. She knew of people who had been trying for years with no luck and here she was with a positive test in her hands but sans the happiness. ‘I will have to tell my parents’. Her stomach clenched at the thought of the reactions she will receive. Aloud she said, “Nothing mom, I have an upset stomach. I will come out soon”. Her mother said ‘okay’ and Tara heard her walking off. After a few minutes of thinking about particularly nothing, Tara came out and went to the kitchen. She stood at the doorway and saw her mother. Beautiful and still young, she was in charge of the household. She was wearing a saree and Tara knew she had not even met her husband even once before she had gotten married at the age of 19; a year later Tara was born. Tara was aware of the marriage proposals and the pressure she was under herself just at the age of 18. She knew for sure she had no say in the man she was to end up with and that her family would wed her off with all the pomp and show thanks to their wealth. She sighed and stood next to her mother. ‘What did you think of the boy you met two days back?’ her mother’s voice came as if from a great distance. Tara didnt answer. Her mother was growing impatient with her erratic behavior since yesterday. “Mom I have to tell you something”, said Tara with a lot of effort. Her mother replied, “I don’t know what is wrong with you since the past two days. We will talk later. I’m busy” Tara took it as a sign and hurried out of the kitchen.
Later in the night, feeling bad for having rebuked her, her mother came to her room to ask what was bothering her. Tara didn't know what to say because she had shamed her parents and she knew that nothing will save her from their wrath. Gathering courage from absolutely nowhere, she said, “Mom, I, I have made a big mistake.” Her mother, concerned, asked, “What’s the matter? Nothing can be that bad that cannot be resolved. What is it?” Tara ploughed on and plunged before she lost her strength, “I am pregnant”. Her mother asked her to repeat what Tara had just said because surely, her dutiful, straight- A daughter could not be pregnant nor does she have any male friends. Obviously she didn't hear her daughter correctly and this must be some big joke. “I’m pregnant” Tara repeated. The resounding slap came from nowhere and Tara made no move to defend herself. She just sat there, staring numbly into space. Her mother got up and started beating her all the while yelling and screaming at her. Her father came running in to see what the commotion was all about. Her mother told him what Tara had said and she then became the victim of her father’s blows as well. Finally, her father took out a bag, put her clothes in it whatever he could find and dragged her towards the main door. Her mother knowing what was happening begged him to not do it but he was relentless.
He dragged her by her arm, not listening to the mother’s crying or paying attention to Tara and her pleas and threw her out of the main door with the bag landing in front of her. With a last look of disgust, he shut the door and Tara could hear the bolts. She could hear her mother pleading with him to let her in. He yelled at her and dragged her to their room. Tara stood there for a couple of hours willing for the door to open, for her mother to come out and take her inside. But nothing happened. Fearing the worst, she picked up her bag and trudged along the road towards her friend, Reema’s house which she knew was about half an hour away. She reached her place and rang the doorbell. Her friend opened the door and took one look at Tara and the bag and took her inside. Tara wasn't willing to talk and Reema didn't ask. She had a spare room and made Tara sleep. In the morning, Tara woke up and for a minute she wasn't aware where she was and she panicked. Then it all came back to her; the positive test, the sinking feeling, the slaps, her father’s look of disgust and reaching her friend’s place. She got up and saw Reema sitting in the living room with a smoke in her hand. She went and sat next to her and just sobbed. Reema was shocked with this way of morning greeting but comforted her nonetheless. Tara finally told her the story and how she was thrown out of her house and she had nowhere else to go. Reema made her tea and told her to abort the kid. Tara refused saying that she wasn't going to murder an innocent child because of her wrong doings. Reema was well aware of her friend’s slight orthodox thinking and she had known suggesting abortion was a long shot.
Days turned into weeks and Tara started growing bigger. She had tried contacting the guy who is the father, but he had refused to have done anything and had insulted her in front of all his friends. Reema had helped Tara get a job through some contacts in the media world and she was working for a TV channel as an assistant receptionist. Reema was a travel writer and used to be away for most of the times and Tara used to be alone. On an off day, there was a knock on her door. She was wondering if Reema was to be back that day and she went and opened the door. She was shocked to see her mother standing in front of her, looking unsure about herself. For six months, Tara had gone everyday to her parent’s house, begged and pleaded to be taken back, threatened them with suicide, called them everyday till her father had changed the numbers. She was aware of the whispering and the glances which people shared every time she walked towards her father’s house, bigger than the previous day. Her mother just stared at Tara and to her astonishment just hugged and cried. Tara got her inside and both of them wept and sat in silence. Her mother broke it and told her bluntly that it was too late for abortion and it was too late for her to say anything to her daughter about it. She announced she was going to be with Tara till the day she gave birth but she was not sure what will she do after as her father was not at all happy with this decision. Tara was glad of having her mother around for the next three months. Reema and her mother got along well so there was no problem of the three of them staying together. With her mother’s support, Tara started doing well at work and was slowly taking on more responsibility and was trying to get into PR.
In the meanwhile she had received a job opportunity for the new company Lucky One Media as the PR Manager and a wedding invite with a return ticket to Delhi from her close friend Roopa, who was getting married soon. Tara had told her that her mother was unwell and that’s why she was so out of touch. Her friend had been relentless and had convinced her to come for the wedding. Luckily the wedding was a couple of months after the due date. Finally her water broke when she was at home and Reema and her mother rushed her to the hospital. She had a healthy baby girl after the grueling 16 hour of labour.
She knew her father would not come to meet her but she had really wanted him to. She knew she was dead to him and she was completely cut off from her family and the possessions. A week after getting discharged she sat in those rare moments when her baby daughter was asleep thinking about what she was going to do. Her mother was going back to her house in a couple of days and Tara knew she had to choose between her career, as that was the only thing that had helped her cope in the past nine months, and her daughter.
Being an unmarried single mother was going to prove a challenge and Tara was not sure about her capabilities. After days of pondering, with a heavy heart she decided on giving up the baby in an orphanage for an adoption. She researched and came across a good one called ‘Aashakiran Anathalay’ which was on the outskirts of the city. She went and met the main lady Mrs. Nayyar and took the papers from her to fill them up and get the process rolling. Then one day, when she was travelling back from work in a particularly crowded local train compartment, she overheard two women talking about one of their friends who had given up her baby to this group from Kolkatta and she had received a lot of money which she had desperately needed. They weren't sure what the group was into but it could not have been good. This piqued Tara’s interest and to her delight she found that one of them was getting off at her stop. She followed the woman and finally caught up to her. “Hi. I am sorry I couldn't help over hearing but I wanted to know the details of the Kolkatta group”. The woman looked at Tara suspiciously and asked her whether Tara was a cop. Tara said no but she was looking for a friend who wanted to give up a baby because of an unwanted pregnancy and she was thrown out of her house. After a couple of minutes the woman relented and helped Tara with a phone number after speaking to someone. She informed Tara that they went by no name and she should not think about giving the number to anybody because the group will disappear without a trace and it was anyway a onetime use number and she better call them tonight. Tara took the number and hurried home. She relieved the baby sitter and contemplated. She called the number and a male voice with a thick Bengali accent greeted her. With his broken Hindi she got to know that they will come and pick up her baby for their orphanage and give her INR 5 lacs. If she agreed to it then the deal could be done and dusted by the next day but she had only 24 hours to confirm and he gave her another phone number to speak to when she made up her mind.
Tara had spent nearly a year in the media industry to know the dirty picture. It was either money or sex that could propel her to the top. Thanks to her pregnancy she had been at the receiving end of quite a few lewd jokes but she had become stronger and there was no way was she going to sleep with any of those men. She needed the money and because she had built a wall around herself she wanted a growth in her career as soon as possible. The idea of having a family no longer appealed to her though she did have her vulnerable moments. She had decided. She needed the money rather than a daughter who reminded her of the tough times. The next day she called up the number and just said a ‘Yes’. She agreed to meet them at a hotel. She met a woman whose name she doesn't know and… and….
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