She lay there on the cot....happily gurgling. A tiny bundle. Arms stretched out towards the sky as if wanting to pull the entire world in her warm embrace. It was only a few days since she had set her eyes upon her surroundings and was already in love with life.
Her two elder siblings lay on the naked floor, holding on desperately to the last remnants of sleep, before the day's struggle for livelihood began. Baba was already at work. He could not afford the leisure of staying in bed after sunrise, considering the number of mouths he had to feed. She was the latest addition.
In the background, she could hear the comforting sound of her mother's voice talking to her Dadi. But wait...Ma didnt sound her usual self. This was not the voice Ma used when she was singing her a lullaby or crooning while she suckled at her breast. This was different. Ma sounded really upset. She could feel the tears in her mother's voice and that turned her little world upside down. Not knowing how to comfort her mother, she began to wail loudly. If only Ma would come running and pick her up in her arms, her world would be secure once again.
She could hear her Dadi's voice raised in agitation. She did not like her Dadi at all. Nor her father for that matter. Her elder sisters were nice and played with her at times, but only when they came home at night. It was only Ma she loved with all her heart and could trust with her life. It was only her Ma who made her world a happy place. Every little wail or toothless gurgle was understood and her every little wish fulfilled - Ma fed her when hungry, patted her to sleep when cranky and even understood when she simply wanted to be held in her arms for that warm, fuzzy feeling of love and protection. So then why didnt she come running to her today when she wanted to comfort her Ma in her own way?
Ma was now sobbing while Dadi was trying to explain something to her. Oh how she wished she understood adult conversation! And where were her sisters going? Her sisters never left home before she had been given her second feed after waking up. It was still too early for them to leave the house wasnt it?
Finally, Ma came to her. She felt a wetness on her cheeks as Ma bent over her to comfort her. The wetness trickled into her tiny mouth. Salty...just like her own tears. She babbled desperately, "Don't worry Ma, it is alright. I am here. Just hug me tight and you will be fine." Her mother only cried harder.
She looked at her mother, her eyes filled with love and trust and reached out with both hands. But she didnt quite understand the look in her mother's eyes. Why were they saying 'sorry'? She was so engrossed in trying to decipher the look in Ma's eyes that she failed to see the pillow descending on her face, cutting off her air supply.
She thrashed her arms and feet in the air, mustering all the strength her little body would allow. It was a painfully short struggle. She was no match against the strong arms that held down the pillow. Life was snuffed out of her within moments......moments that would stretch into eternity for Ma.
"Now stop moping woman! We had to do this. How do you think my son would manage to feed another hungry mouth. Two girls already and you had to give birth to a third! Oh Lord, when will I get to see the face of a grandson who can support the family instead of being a burden? Now will you snap out of your zombie mode and help me bury this thing. It will start stinking soon enough. And why, may I ask, you had to look into her eyes even knowing yourself to be an emotional fool? In fact, why did you even have to be there, I could have handled it alone."
"To uphold that trust Ma," she finally spoke. "I wanted my daughter to die with trust in her eyes and not fear. And I am willing to be haunted by that look for the rest of my life....only for that momentary trust I saw in her eyes."