Vibha was not home at her usual time and I sat with a cup of coffee when the phone rang.
“Hello, Maa! What are you doing? Had your coffee?” Asked Vibha from the other end.
Seeing the number on the caller Id I realized she has not yet left from work. I answered, “Just sat with a cuppa Vibha. Have you not left yet from work?”
“No mama, that’s why I called. There was a last minute decision on an important meeting that to be held and I had to stay back. So, I will be late. Tried to call Ansh too, but could not reach him. I must be home any moment. Will you please tell him as well. Ok, it’s getting late and I need to prepare for the meeting. Ok?”
I smiled into the phone while Vibha was talking and said OK before ending the call. I sat there sipping my coffee, wondering how soon children grow up. It felt like just yesterday when I called my mother in so many numerous occasions like this. Vibha and my son-in-law Ansh got married three years ago and because of his work they had to move to California. Vibha soon found a job in one of the software companies. I and my husband never wanted to have another child so Vibha was our only daughter. Now, I am staying with my daughter for a short while. I looked out into the window thinking about the time of Vibha’s birth.
“Beti huyi hai” announced the midwife when Vibha was born. My family stayed in a small town and the facilities of a hospital were less. Hence we had a woman nurse who visited me at home. Vibha was delivered at home and everyone in the house was sad that I gave birth to a girl child. Even my husband looked unhappy. But he could not stay without loving his own daughter and with all the love he began to accept our daughter.
Days/months passed while Vibha grew out to be the most intelligent child. People admired her wit, laughed at her baby antics and were surprised at her speed in grasping and understanding ability. Soon everyone in the family started to love her.
Now, years passed and she grew up to be a beautiful young woman and the day came when we have to see her married. Vibha and Ansh had been classmates from their Post graduation studies and liked each other and decided to get married once they finish their education and find a job. Both talked about it with us as well as with Ansh’s parents. Ansh is a very well behaved boy and we felt that he will take good care of our daughter and so we had no reason to say no to their marriage. On one such occasion when we visited a relative to invite them for Vibha marriage, my cousin asked me “ Bhabiji! So, Vibha will be married now and will go to her sasural. Isiliye, you should have had a son”
We were shocked to hear my cousin say so, but I was used to such comments numerous times by now, but Vibha did not take it lightly. She immediately jumped to answer “ Uncle, what makes you say that my parents should have had a son?”
“ Of course Vibha, if your parents had a son, he would have stayed with them and would have taken care, isn’t it? A girl has to go to sasural and she cannot take care of her parents”, answered my cousin.
“Uncle, I am sorry if I am rude, but I may be a daughter of my parents, but they do not need a son for support when they are in need” answered Vibha curtly.
Months passed again and soon Vibha was married. Right after a month of her marriage, my husband left me as he had a massive heart attack. Both Ansh and Vibha stayed with me for a couple of months. Ansh’s parents were always supportive and they took care of Vibha as their own daughter. Though there were minor disagreements now and then, Ansh always was careful to deal with the matter.
But one day, Vibha came home sad from work. Told me about Ansh job and they had to move to California. I was always prepared for this day because children need to go build their own lives, isn’t it? I just smiled at her and told her not to worry about me. I have plenty of things to keep me occupied and Vibha’s dad has left me enough savings that I can live without struggling for anything.
Soon, the day arrived and I said my goodbye to my daughter and my son-in-law who had become more than a son to me in just a few months. Returning back from the airport I felt a part of me is gone forever. I came home and cried so much missing Vibha. Days went by, and I started to feel lonely. Vibha called me as often as she could. One day she called me in excitement and told me that she is coming to see me. I don’t remember being this happy in my life ever. Finishing her call, I began to plan all the things I need to prepare before she arrives. Her favorite food, clothes, setting up her room and all the stuff. The day she arrived, nothing on earth made be happier looking at my child, standing at my door all grown up and independent. After a day or two, she informed me that I should get my passport done. We had some arguments as I did not want to move anywhere and not especially out of the country. But she was adamant and before she could go back she made sure all the process of applying for the passport was done for me. Soon within a month, the passport arrived and my flight was booked. I reached California and found both Ansh and Vibha waiting for me in the airport.
I looked at the coffee that was cold in my hands. Thinking about the days in India and since the day I arrived here are so different now. Vibha had never made me feel that I need a son even for a second. She has been a daughter to me that many sons cannot be. Today I feel proud that I gave birth to a daughter. Son or a daughter they are the same. Right then the calling bell sounded and I went to open the door “ Ma, did Vibha come yet” asked Ansh walking in, placing his office bag on the table.
I told him about Vibha’s call that she will be late.
“ Oh is it, no problem and I see, you forgot to drink your coffee hot again” smiled Ansh looking at my coffee cup that I had before when I had drifted to my old thoughts.
“Ok, Ma! I am doing a fresh cup for myself. Let me do it for you too. I have some interesting things to tell you that happened today in the office”
We had a cup of coffee together. Ansh shared his day with me while Vibha walked in too. We altogether had our dinner and went to bed.
I cannot thank God enough for giving me a daughter and a son-in-law who is more than a son to me. There is no comparison between a daughter and a son. Both are equal as long as they are grown with good principles and a sense of responsibility.