Anu and Amit had recently shifted to Bangalore from Mumbai. Amit had taken up a new job which required him to shift to Bangalore. Being born and brought up in Mumbai, Anu had dreaded the move ever since she had heard about it. But the new job meant a huge career boost for Amit ,which she knew he was desperately seeking, so she simply kept her discontent to herself.
Amit sensed that Anu was not happy with this move so he went out of the way to ensure that the move was as smooth as possible. He had rented a beautiful apartment in a huge complex which had all possible amenities- a swimming pool, a world class gym, jogging track. Anu loved to workout and he wanted to make sure that she didn’t miss her routine in a strange city.
Over past one year they had been having several issues in their married life. Their’s was a love marriage. They had met in their b-school. Little resistance from parents but they had married and settled down after getting jobs. They had been married for 6 years now but they didn’t have any kids. After a lot of pressure from family, they had consulted a doctor and he had dropped a bomb which changed their life completely. Anu had some issues and she could never be a mother.
This one news changed Anu’s life completely. From a happy and cheerful person she went into depression. She became cranky and irritable. Amit kept assuring her that this news had not changed his love for her, however Anu had built a wall around her which even he couldn’t break. He tried talking to her about adopting but she was dead against it. He was hoping that this move would help Anu come out of her depression. A new place and new surroundings would change her mood.
It was a month now since they had shifted to Bangalore. Their new house was really beautiful but it was not “home” yet. Anu missed Mumbai sorely. Amit kept prodding her to mingle with new people but she kept sulking at home. The only time she stepped out of the house was to buy vegetables from a nearby vegetable vendor. It was there that Anu met Gopal. He was about7-8 years old and though dressed shabbily there was something quite captivating about him. He had cheerful and twinkling eyes and a naughty smile. The first time Anu had gone to get vegetables she was amazed at the speed at which he calculated her change despite of not going to school. “How did you calculated it so fast? she asked him and he just shrugged his shoulders and gave her a cheeky smile.
Slowly Anu learned that Gopal was staying with his maternal uncle- his parents had both passed away when he was 3 year old. His uncle did not make enough money to send him to school but Gopal was quite fond of studying. In fact Anu discovered that he was quite bright. So she started getting books for him to read. She used to look forward to vegetable shopping because she enjoyed her interactions with Gopal. Gopal used to call her “Anu aunty” and everytime she went to the shop his eyes would light up. She would get chocolates and books for him and tell him interesting things.
Amit was seeing a slow and gradual glimpses of old Anu and was happy. He was not sure what was causing the change but he didn’t care as long as he got his old Anu back.
Just like always Anu went to the vegetable vendor that day. Her eyes were searching for Gopal but he was nowhere to be found. So she asked the vendor about his whereabouts. Vendor looked at her nonplussed and said ” Gopal, madam why do you want to know?”. Anu asked him impatiently- ” Do you know where he is?” and he replied-” Madam I have sold him to a man who owns hotels and needs kids to help him”. Anu looked at him in disgust. “How could you do it?”she yelled. The vendor said “I am a poor man madam, I can barely afford to manage my and my family’s expenses. I had to do it for money”. Tears were streaming down Anu’s eyes. She asked the vendor to give her the details of the person but he refused.
Not knowing what to do she went running back home. Amit was home early and was shocked to find her in this state. He asked her ” What happened darling?” and Anu told him the entire story in between her sobs. Amit asked her to calm down and assured her he would track the little boy. He went to the vegetable vendor with a few police men and managed to extract the address of the businessman. When they went to his house the man denied initially but after being threatened he gave the address of the man who had bought Gopal for sex trade. With the help of the police, Amit was able to find Gopal finally. Poor kid was scared and confused. He refused to talk to anyone.
Amit took him home and when he saw Anu there he put his arms around her and started crying. Anu too sobbed and kept hugging him. Next few days Amit saw a completely different Anu. Gone was the gloomy and irritable Anu, in its place was a kind and loving Anu who was looking after Gopal. Gopal was a very sweet and pleasant child, even Amit had started to love him. It was a month since he was with them now when one day police came over to their house to take Gopal. Anu was heartbroken but she as not sure if Amit would accept Gopal in their lives. Their eyes met and Anu had unspoken question in her eyes. Amit didn’t say anything and let the police take Gopal.
It had been a week since Gopal had gone and house seemed lifeless. Anu had once again gone into her shell. She went through motions but her heart was not in anything. Amit was travelling to Mumbai for work, he had asked her to join him but she refused. She was still upset that he had let Gopal go. The door rang and she went to open it. Her eyes could not believe it when she saw Gopal standing there smiling at her. He looked adorable in red shirt and blue jeans. Without any warning Gopal went and hugged Anu and said ” Mummy I am back”. Anu was surprised when she was a happy Amit standing behind him.
He told her that he wanted to make sure that Gopal was officially theirs so that they would not have any issues later. So he had taken a week off to complete all the formalities to legally adopt him. He wanted it to be a surprise for her since today was her birthday. In midst of her misery Anu had completely forgotten that it was her birthday. She hugged Amit and Gopal- her life was finally complete. This was indeed the best birthday of her life.