One big house, three cars, and countless servants later, I am now the mother of two beautiful daughters. Our family business expanded a great deal over the years and so did our family. My entire life revolves around my girls. It took me six whole years to conceive my first-born. Six terrible years of trying, waiting and getting disappointed. Six years of Maya rubbing the fact that she produced two sons in my face. Six years of Maya showing off her new found wealth and her Dubai this and Dubai that. And six years in which Rajesh and I grew far, far apart.
He wanted a child from the day we got married. I wanted a child too, perhaps more desperately than he did. But the pressure became unbearable once his sister started squeezing out one baby after another. When Rajesh realised that he had married a woman who was incapable of giving him a baby, he tried to over-compensate by showering me with even more presents. While I appreciated the fact that he didn't blame me for anything, I also felt repulsed by his sympathy. Every gift he ever bought me was a reminder that I had failed him. Every kind word translated as his pity for me. I just couldn't bear it. I knew that our baby was coming. It was taking it's own sweet time but it was coming. I wished that he would have a little more faith in me.
I was laughing in labour when Chithra came into this world. I had been in labour for 26 hours already, it was the most exhausting episode of my life, but just when when her head was crowning, the doctor made a joke that this baby was coming out wearing a wig. For one second, I forgot all about the pain and laughed with the realisation that my baby with her perfect head of thick dark hair was going to be snuggling up to my bosom soon. She was perfect. She still is. My first born, my angel.
Just after my darling Chithra's first birthday, I became pregnant again. I was going to have my second child. Life was perfect. I didn't even feel the stress of motherhood because to me, it wasn't stress at all. It was life. I had to sacrifice my marriage for it, but how can you break something that's already broken? My marriage began deteriorating around the time when my husband believed that I wouldn't be able to provide him with an offspring. His pity for me weakened our bonds but his complaints that I no longer had time for him after the birth of my daughters, broke it. We lived under the same roof as parents to our kids, but we were no longer the partners that we used to be. As for my new role as a mother, all the firsts came with Chithra of course. And because there wasn't much of an age difference between my kids, I was fully prepared when I had to do everything the second time around.
My daughters were made to share everything from the time they were young. But Chithra, being older, automatically got a little extra of everything. For example, she started school before her sister so she obviously got school supplies that her sister didn't need at the time. And when it was time for her to start school, I encouraged my younger child to use her sister's old school supplies because it was my duty as a mother to discipline my girls and to teach them the importance of sharing. I encouraged the same with clothes and other material possessions. What are sisters for, after all? Moreover, I didn't want my children to take their family's wealth for granted.
She, however, never understood this and always threw a tantrum. She thought that I favoured Chithra but I never felt the need to give in to her childish claims and demands. I guess every mother has to go through a phase where one child feels more neglected than the other. But that's all there is to it. It's a phase and it'll pass.
The problems began when they both started attending the same school together. Their teachers would often compare the two of them in terms of both academics and appearance. Chithra looks exactly like me. A slightly darker version of me but the child is beautiful, unlike her sister who takes after her father's side of the family - fair skin with no remarkable features. But our entire nation's obsession with fair skin began to seep into both my daughters' psyches in two very contrasting ways. Chithra, who was brighter in academics, began to feel extremely self conscious about her looks while her sister felt no remorse about her deteriorating grades because she was everyone's fair skinned sweet-heart. However, one evening after school, things got out of hand for me as a mother when I heard my 10 year old scream at Chithra that her soul was as dark as her skin. I froze. I couldn't believe my ears! How could any ten year old child spew such venom?
I came back to my senses when I saw Chithra leaving the room in tears. I wasn't slow to act. I stormed into the room, held her 10 year old head by her hair and slapped her right across her face before saying, "Believe me when I tell you that I know many dark souls hidden beneath fair skins. And if you make the mistake of turning into one, or even beginning to remind me of one, I will beat you black and blue till your skin resembles the night sky."
That night, I slept with my Chithra in the guest bedroom. I wiped away her tears and fed her with my own hands. Once she fell asleep, I held her close to my chest and whispered, "You are, and always will be my first born, my angel."