Sarah felt extremely nauseous, and couldn’t eat even a morsel without gagging. She called up her office and informed her boss that she wouldn’t be able to make it to office today. Her boss excused her, but told her to cover up her meetings on Saturday, as she had yet to finish her monthly sales target. She reluctantly agreed, but there was no choice. Now with the baby coming along, there was no way she could lose this job. She just had to wait three more months and then she would take her maternity leave that she deserved.   

She dragged herself out of bed, went to the bathroom to purge out the half apple she had just eaten. She washed herself and came out. She switched on the TV to distract herself from her nausea but it just wouldn’t go. She browsed through the financial news channels, but there was more bad news. Markets were bearish and it seemed difficult to convince her clients to invest in anything apart from safe haven assets. That would just not be good enough to meet her targets. She switched the channel. There was a movie playing where a husband was sitting with his pregnant wife at the doctor’s. Sarah day dreamed about how it would be to have someone care for her during his time. Someone who would remind her to take her prenatals. Someone to comfort her when she was low. Someone who’d tell her, “Quit your job, I’ll take care of everything!”           But there was no one. She still remember the night she ran away from her abusive husband. After her first night she had called up her parents. Her dad picked up. “Hello?” “Hello abbu…. I have something to tell you,” “Bolo beta, how are you? How was your first day in your new house?” And she burst into tears, “Abbu, this is not my house. I can’t stay here. You don’t know Imran. He is not a nice person. He hurt me,” she sobbed. “Hurt you? Why? He raised his hand on you?? Did you do something?” No abbu, he didn’t raise his hand. He raped me." “What? What do you mean?” She sobbed uncontrollably as she said “He forced himself on me abba, I couldn’t save myself.” He did not say anything, and she could feel the discomfort in his silence. Then he replied, " Beta, he is your husband. He is yours and you are his. A husband cannot rape his wife. He has the right to be close to you whenever he wants. When he comes home from a day of hard work, and wants to spend few hours of relaxation with you, you should not deprive him. He is a man with male desires."      Sarah listened to her father, as tears fell from her eyes one after the other. She could not believe that her kind and caring father, her hero, someone who she looked up to all her life, was no longer there to protect her. It was as if she was distanced from everything she could lean on. Her support system was crushed. Suddenly she felt sorry for her mother. If abba felt no empathy for her, was it possible that he treated her ammi the same way?   

After living for eight months in this abusive marriage, she decided to end it. She was terrified of her husband, but she had to take this step. She felt like a bird clipped of her wings. Now it was time to regrow them, and however painful the process she had to do it. She checked on Imran one last time, and got out of bed. She went out to the hallway, removed her suitcase from the kitchen and gently unlocked the door. Once it clicked open she replaced the key at his bedside. She stepped outside, took a breath of fresh air…. the air felt so cold and free that she vomitted out immediately. Her insides were still paining from the night before and she dreaded the long walk till the taxi stand. However she dragged her back for a good kilometer and she just sat in the taxi when it started raining. She thanked her luck, lifted her hands to make a small prayer and as if rode into a mental vacuum. She finally tasted freedom.  

But freedom was an alien to her and a completely scary proposition. She found a small rented abode to put up. She was an educated girl, and she had finally found herself a job too. A hectic one, but something she needed for survival. However, her struggles never seemed to end. It never occured to her that living alone wasn’t part of her fate. As she sat in the bathroom, looking at the dirty black walls, she tried to imagine how her life would change if she ever mothered a child. She had never held a baby in her arms. She had no experience of even being around a child, let alone bringing one up. Never once did she consider having a child throughout her marriage. When at last she could taste freedom from eight months of bondage, her destiny seemed to pose another dilemma. How would she raise a child in a house like this? She had no help, no money, and definitely no talent with caretaking. It was a laughable proposition that fate found her worthy of becoming a mother. As she sat analyzing her odds she felt better. This was too much of a coincidence. Last two weeks had been extremely tiring with finding an abode, contacting agencies for work, standing in long queues in the bank.. The stress was high and it was quite possible that her monthly period gave her a skip. She had read once in a magazine that stress levels did not help with conception, and considering her eight months of stressful marriage it would be a miracle to be able to conceive. She rose up from the commode with a sigh. As she was about to leave, she saw the tester on the wash basin flaunt a light pink line. It was this line on that tester, and not on her palms, that sealed her fate forever..   

She dragged herself through her third trimester with her mediocre job, her modest home and her solitude. All she had was her faith. Her belief that this was meant to be. And the day that her little one finally arrived into this world, she realised the meaning of her life. She had sacrificed everything for this little girl. And as she held her in her arms, she knew that it was all worth it. She knew exactly what she wanted to do. After being discharged from the hospital, she went home and gave a call to her parents. They were overjoyed to hear from her after more than a year!    

That moment when Sarah held her baby for the first time in her arms, she missed her parents. She realised that the love that one has for their child is unconditional. Her parents may have been strict and unfair to her, but they were still her only well wishers. They were conservative and narrow minded, but their heart would definitely melt seeing her little one. She was now financially independent and she didn’t need anyone’s assistance to raise her child. And hence it was no surprise that her parents showed up at her doorstep two days later and hugged her like there was no tomorrow! She cried like she hadn’t in the last year and a half, and felt like a girl again. Her family was complete and her little baby heard only laughter and giggles from thereon. She was the life and soul of her family, hence they named her Roohi.