She lay in anxiety as her destiny levitated on a thin air of hope. Up until now it was the waiting that killed her. Now Charmaine wanted to buy time. The nameless faces, thirty-one in all, stood at the mercy of her detailed scrutiny. Like in a police line-up, she examined each one with caution — although rather than conferring a death sentence — here she was gifting life. It was a dreadful decision because all of them seemed to deserve it and she was left at sea.
Eventually, she indulged in a mental toss and when the odds came out she moved toward the cradle and whispered ‘This one. This is it. Let’s take him home, Mardy.’
Martin was in no hurry. He was sauntering though the room in a much more pensive manner. He was a rock of scarce emotions. A mind which relied on pure reason.
‘Who in this room will care for my humble opinion,’ he remarked.
‘Sorry honey,’ Charmaine apologized. ‘Take your time. But do it quick,’ unaware of her rather contradictory suggestion.
Deep within himself Martin was equally indecisive, but he gave the appearance of a man in control. Having poured over hundreds of images over the internet for three and half months, he thought this would be an easy process. He had even developed an elaborate formula for different rounds of elimination. Moving from aisle to aisle, he moved like a roving detective and had narrowed the list to five. Yet, when confronted with the reality of flesh and blood, the little bundles of joy assaulted even his sense of rationality.
‘I agree. Lets take this prince home,’ he said, and began preparations for a quick departure, hoping Charmaine would not regress to her previous hundred decisions.
As Charmaine was getting ready to leave she looked around one last time. ‘Wait Mardy! Aren’t they all beautiful?’ she exclaimed.
‘Well. We can’t adopt them all,’ Martin replied ushering her away to the adoption office.
‘You were probably right’ she said as she cornered a lonely tear welling at edge of her cheeks. ‘ We should have done what the Lobos did. It would have been much more easier.’
Even amidst the excitement of bringing a third member into the family, Charmaine knew she would carry a self-inflicted guilt for the rest of her life- a guilt of ignoring the cries of those innocent one’s she left behind in the lonely cloisters of ‘Second Chance.’ As she walked away the cries ultimately died down but the smiles and cries never left her heart.
As they came out of the adoption office, in an attempt to lighten her mood Martin raised the question, ‘So? What do we name him??
‘Martin, ‘ Charmaine replied without a blink, as if she had prepared for this situation long before.
‘He is my Prince. Prince Martin,’ she said planting a soft kiss on the four month old. He was already sensing her possessiveness but did not mind it.
‘Well. Don’t you think it is strange that you name the baby with my own name?’ Martin asked as he pointed his buzzer to the car door.
‘So what? Charmaine replied. ‘I can’t think of any better name. We can call him Martin Jr.’ she said as she slid into the back seat with much caution as Martin inserted keys to ignition.
Waiting for the heaters to kick in, Martin remarked ‘Let’s think about it later. Meanwhile, our lives are going to change forever, dear. What’s your plan for celebration?’
‘Yes. This is big. But??’ she hesitated.
‘But what? Martin asked.
‘Celebrations can be on hold for now,’ she said with authority. ‘First thing we do is go home and prepare bed for Martin Jr. With life comes responsibility.’
…Charmaine’s idealism was now taking its toll and was looking for an outlet…
If Charmaine was taking her role as a mother seriously Martin was not surprised. Her current state of mind was a consequence of the circumstances that had shaped their life for the past five years. Ever since their marriage, their attempts to have a baby was all but defeated. What was more disheartening was the verbal jabs they received from their peers and the veiled rebukes from their in-laws.
‘You should have a second honey-moon Charmaine, ‘ his father had once chastised her. ‘Ask Mardy’s mom. She spared me no time and I didn’t disappoint her,’ he had told her with a pinch of sarcasm.
Charmaine didn’t think it was funny. She was attuned to ignore these comments but the questions eventually did take their toll.
‘Did you hear about those Fernandes couple who were married in the same year as you?’ one of the nosy neighbors had remarked. ‘They have two kids and a third one seems to be on the way.’
Charmaine hated these people. Who were they to impede on her personal life? Did they think that having babies was the only reason to be married?
‘Dont take it personally honey,’ Martin had consoled her. ‘There are always insecure people in this world. The only reason they do this is to feel good about themselves.’
‘How can I?’ she fought back. ‘Age is not our best friend anymore. Nor can I go to a single social occasion without being singled out. Sincerely I don’t know where we are heading, ‘she said cupping her face with both her palms.
Martin looked at her delicate hands and inspected her long fingers. Indeed, he could see her veins much more protruded than his memories of her when he first dated her in college. He looked at his own hands and realized that he was aging as well.
‘Maybe we should consider what the Lobos did,’ Martin mentioned with caution.
‘Lobos?’ she raised her eyebrows quizzically as Martin prepared mentally to take a bullet.
‘Yes. Why not do an IVF operation like the Lobos did? They have a beautiful set of twins. Don’t they?’ He said not knowing what her response would be.
There was a long pause. Martin saw an opening and nudged her further ‘So?’
‘Never,’ she shot down vehemently. ‘This is how I feel Mardy. If at all we have children it should be natural. Never go against the grain.’
‘Well. The process may not be natural honey but think about it. At the end of the day it’s as natural as natural can be. It will be our own genes. When will we ever get this chance again?’ Martin tried to convince her.
‘No Mardy. You can’t cheat nature’ she said folding her arms in a clasp that only Martin knew the meaning of. Nobody could hurt her pride and sit next to her at the same time.
He switched off the bed lamp and gradually eased into the bed. She followed suit. But sleep was just a pretense. The cricket sounds filled the night and the full moon refracted through the frosted glass windows. It was a romantic setting that begged not to be wasted. And wasted it would never go as Martin’s hands involuntarily found its way to her waist. She predicted this well before any naughty thoughts had entered his, and it was time to nudge him aside and play hard to please.
‘Well. If you shove me away like this how do you expect me to give you a natural child?’ he remarked. Her lips could not hide the smile as they cradled each other into the night.
But several full moons had bloomed without a blip in the sonogram. Charmaine’s idealism was now taking its toll and was looking for an outlet. She weighed her options and finally caved into the option of adoption. In fact adoption was the only option she was left with. But, at the adoption center today, she realized that it was a tougher decision than she anticipated. The cloister was filled with little angels in white clothes and she wanted them all.
Her train of thoughts was suddenly interrupted when her car bumped over a small pothole which she recognized was very close to her home. On her lap Martin Jr. had woken up with a long baby yawn and she could not buy smile.
After five long years of marriage, she realized that from hereon she would sleep in the magical presence of a little one. A barren time would finally be filled with laughter and excitement. She had not notified any of her family members of this adoption because she wanted to have this private moment all for herself. Opening the door she walked straight to the decorated cradle and gently placed Martin Jr. As she rearranged the bedding she shot into a soft lullaby and gently tapped the little one to sleep. As Martin Jr.’s clenched fingers gradually loosened, she switched the lights off and lit a candle. Then she walked toward the east wall of their bed room and placed the candle on top of the credenza. There, in the dimly lit corner stood a smiling portrait of Martin Sr., who appeared to welcome the third member with ovewhelming approval and with a genuine happiness for his beloved Charmaine.
Author: Newton DSouza- USA