Empathy is not for real. There is no way you can really know where and how bad the wearer's shoe is pinching him. But if you've had your share of bites, you might just recognise the pain. And when another's pain drives you to tears, you can be sure, a bite has left a mark somewhere...
I've always been pro-adoption. Supporting 'nurture' over 'nature', I've always believed in the virtue of giving an orphan a home. But I would have to admit that a certain Angelina Jolie-like glamour was part of the fine print. Also, the idea of having a perfect, ready-made, toilet-trained child fit my definition of 'easy'.
Then I hit upon this blog ( I can't believe I didn't save the link)... An impossibly chubby Chinese baby's picture caught my eye and as I read one post after another, I realised how she was the centre of the universe for one American couple. Living in an orphanage in far-off China, this baby already had her parents-to-be wrapped around her little finger. The earnestness of every waiting moment of the 'expectant' mother makes you want to push the clock forth too.
Joanna (the blog's author) is a simple, beautiful and strong woman, who is spending every waking moment of her life counting down to the day her adopted daughter Mackenzie will come home to her.
Mackenzie is a Chinese orphan with a butterball face, a complicated medical condition of the heart and one missing ear.
So much for my perfect, ready-made baby's idea. Why would someone choose a child with problems? I suppose you learn to be magnanimous when you've been through your share of problems and more.
Joanna has been through the agony of not being able to have a child of her own. I have too, albeit for six short (and unimaginably long) months. When my body refused to do its duties, my world and my identity came crumbling down. For all my fancy life and style, I could not overcome my biological purpose. My self-worth plunged at the thought of being 'barren'. What was the point of being a woman? The thought pushed me into the shadow of depression and threatened to swallow every joy I'd ever known. No consolations or distractions helped. Thankfully, medications did, and Jishnu happened.
But Joanna wasn't blessed that way. Through days and months and years of trying to conceive and failing, she must have grappled with the worst kind of pain a woman can feel. A sense of betrayal by destiny, God and her own body may have darkened her days. But the desire to be a mother kept the love in her heart alive. She and her husband decided to adopt a baby who would finally complete their lives.
Joanna's blog paints a pretty picture of her hopes for a new beginning. She's now lovingly laying out each brick of her dream of motherhood. She will make a great mother because she knows what it is worth.
Biological mothers, by that scale, may always fall behind. Yes, I rejoiced and I thanked God for the best gift ever when I conceived; but it became a thing for granted, as all things do. It is difficult to keep counting the blessings when you live in a country of teeming millions, have a huge belly and its discomforts and subsequently spend endless, sleepless nights marching along the feed-pee-poop parade.
But each time you come across a story of someone's naught, you say a silent prayer for being ordinary. You thank God for a child of your own, who is in perfect health and whose place in your life is not subject to others' permissions. After all, it isn't your shoe that's a misfit and it isn't you who is getting bitten.