It was raining heavily since morning with no sign of abatement though at mid noon the sky was dark.Lalitha was playing with her two boys aged five and three in the living room when she heard the voice of a woman pacifying a crying child.She opened the door to find a young woman around 20 fully drenched huddled against the wall in the portico.A shivering small child of a year was crying in her arms evidently in hunger.She ran inside fetched a couple of towels, an old sari and a bedsheet.She asked her to come in and change her clothes.Meanwhile she rushed into the kitchen to get some milk for the child and something to eat for the woman.When she came out in a few minutes with the food, she found the crying child laid out on the folded bedsheet with no trace of the young woman.The boys were watching the baby which had a large and round black mole on his chin with wonder and the elder could not tell where the woman had gone.The cute looking baby started giggling once it had the milk.Lalitha was looking out for the woman hoping she would come.
When her husband Laxman came they telephoned the police who advised them to send the baby to a particular foster home..Since the couple were attracted towards the young baby, they were allowed to retain it till the actual mother came to claim.The baby boy named Naren grew to be a very smart child.Years flew by and they had become legal guardians.Naren excelled in school while his brothers were dullards and were at the bottom of the class.Lakshman openly praised the boy and beat his two sons.Invidious comparisons were always made much to the chagrin of Lalitha.She gradually started disliking Naren and treating him unfairly.Naren would be bullied by his brothers and Lalitha would turn a Nelson eye or always support her boys.Naren became bitter and was drawn inward.He became reticent and his eyes always had a hurt look.There were frequent quarrels between the couple over her cruel treatment of the young lad who was made to work household chores like a domestic help.
Unable to bear the insults the boy ran away from the house when he was just 15.He became an angry boy unhappy with society.He soon fell into bad company and was trained to pick pockets.Caught and beaten a few times, he was sent to correctional home for young boys Once out he resumed his wrongful activities.like chain snatching, robbing people at knife point in desolate places and even teasing young girls with bad intent.He was in and out of trouble till one day when he was 19 he waylaid a couple in a lonely road in late evening.He stabbed the man when he resisted handing over the money and attempted to violate the modesty of the woman till some passersby rescued her.The man succumbed to injuries.Naren was sentenced to a long imprisonment
He took the punishment quietly.He knew that good behaviour would fetch him reprieve in sentence and would be released much earlier than his ten years sentence.He gave no trouble to jail authorities and was very well behaved helping the warden and others.The jailer took a liking for him and sent him to work in his home.Jailer’s wife was very kind to him ,fed him well as if he were a family member.They had no children of their own. There was not much work to do and he spent time in helping her in cleaning the house and odd jobs.She took a great liking for him and treated him as one of their family and insisted on his addressing her as mom.When at the end of each year his case came up for appraisal, she would strangely plead with her husband not to give him reprieve as she could retain him longer with her.The jailer obliged her by adverse remarks on the young man though he felt bad denying the lad his rightful due.
When at the end of ten years he was released and he came to jailer’s wife who was alone to take her leave, she cried as if she was parting from her own son.
“Why mom, why do you cry so much? I will come to meet you frequently.I am a changed man now and I promise you I would not relapse into old ways.”
“Forgive me, Naren. I have done you great harm for my own comfort.You should have been released long back by virtue of your good behaviour but I made my husband deny you the facility.I am a wretch in having stooped to such low length for my comfort and wish to be near you always.”
“I do not understand.Why did you have to retain me, an utter stranger to you, no way related to you/”
“Noooo…you are no stranger.You are my own son.I recognised you on the day you came first.Your mole on the chin gave you away.I could not confide in my husband as you were born out of wedlock when I was hardly 19. I suffered in silence all these years ever since I abandoned you on a rainy day years back at someone’s house. Please forgive me.My heart will break if you go away.”
“Mom, don’t you think it would have been better had you adopted me after my early release instead of prolonging my detention? Not that I am hurt..I am actually happy that you have bestowed all your affection on me.Only I would have been a free man living in your house without the stigma of a prisoner.It does not matter now Please be assured that .I will be your son always”he said as he wiped the tears from her eyes.