The international school was nestled in a lush, green valley amidst tall, majestic mountains. The air wafted with the indolent smells and sights of the spectacular hills. 

Sunil, my husband, a successful industrialist and a significant stakeholder in the school, was invited to be the chief guest at the annual sports day. The huge sports field was surrounded by tiered seating arrangements for spectators, filled to capacity today. 

Sitting next to my husband on the grand dais, I felt like a queen. To everyone, I was the epitome of family and motherhood.  

“What wonderful children you have raised, ma’am!”

“Such dignity! So grounded too, despite all the privileges!” 

Nothing but praise for the mother of two beautiful 25-something girls, today themselves pillars in the community. The world was my proverbial oyster, blemishless.

“We call upon Mrs. Sharada Manchanda to give away the prizes to the winners. Calling Mr. Karan Sharma, our sports coach, to help Mrs. Manchanda.” The announcer’s voice resonated through the vast stadium. 

 As the winners were called out, I walked to the front of the dais.

“In the long jump category, the second runner-up is…!” 

I heard nothing more! 

My brown eyes met the glint of amber as a handsome youth walked towards me carrying a tray of medals. My gaze fell on the shiny yellow sapphire solitaire pinned on his white shirt, a piece of jewellery I believed had slipped irretrievably into the deep abyss of a faraway, long-forgotten world.

Old memories that had disappeared into nothingness like air came gushing forth like a tsunami. Two passionate, intertwined bodies, the orgasmic cry emitting from my lips as I stared into Surya’s love-filled amber eyes. 

“Mrs. Manchanda! You’re okay, ma’am?” His voice broke into my reverie. 

I recovered my composure, wore a plastic smile hiding my fluttering heart till all the medals were given away. 

“The broach is beautiful,” I said haltingly as he walked me back to my seat. 

“Thank you, ma’am. It’s my lucky charm. It was pinned on my  dress when I was handed over to an orphanage years ago as a baby, or so the kind warden there told me .”

His gentle acceptance stung my heart. 

“Aren’t you angry at your parents for abandoning you? Which mother deserts her child?”

Alarmed at my unexplained outburst, I fumbled a weak apology which he brushed off disarmingly. 

“It’s okay, ma’am. She must’ve had a reason for doing what she did. I know I was special to her despite everything. Here’s why,” he said, unclipping the broach and turning it over.

I recognised the calligraphic inscription, “To my special firstborn, your unfortunate mother!” It was the one thing I was allowed before giving birth in secrecy and letting him go. 

Surya Sharma, a poor librarian, would never fit into my privileged world, they said. Naivete and fear fueled my adolescent mind. 

Today, as I gazed at my words, they rang hollow and the epitome of motherhood came crashing down! 

 

Photo by Arrul lin on Unsplash

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