Devika, a 98 year-old fragile but fit woman, was watering the garden in the home for the aged.
She has been living there for 10 years now, ever since her daughter passed away at the age of Her two grandchildren, settled in England and Japan each, ask her to stay with them but she decided two decades ago, to stay back in India. She believes she's here for a purpose. Yeah, at 98, she still feels she has something to give back to the society, the society that once grew from her. Literally, from her.
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And today was special. She will be on TV, talking about her life and the cause that is so dear to her. Devika had her only child, Latika, in the pre-independent India, when she was Born into an affluent Brahmin family, Devika was a delightful child of her time. She studied History, Sanskrit, Mathematics and English with tutors coming home to teach her. She was married into another well-to-do Brahmin family that did business overseas.
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They had woolen mills and traded with the European countries. They also had friends in a few foreign families residing in India. Devika had a very active personality, was an independent thinker and always spoke her mind.
She was having a good social life too and already had a connect with a few like-minded girls around her age. Emilie was the daughter of a French doctor who settled in India many years ago. Devika's father-in-law and Emilie's father were friends through thick and thin. When Emilie got married to an aristocratic family, it was celebrated with much pomp and show.
They had to part ways as Emilie moved on to another city with her husband.
It all started when Devika turned 17 that summer. She was still breastfeeding Latika who was a 4-year old girl then.
On a sunny afternoon, as she just finished her lunch, there was a postman at her bungalow. One of Devika's servants rushed to the door to fetch it. As the servant handed the telegraph to her father-in-law, he opened it declaring with surprise, that it came on Devika's name and from Emilie's husband. She succumbed to cholera days after she delivered our baby boy. Her last wish is not to deprive her son of mother's milk. I have the money to buy anything but not mother's milk. I seek your kind heart to agree being our child's wet nurse.
We will soon be at your door. Devika's world came crashing as she heard of her dear friend's sorrowful demise, leaving her infant behind. She looked at her father-in-law for his consent to what was requested in the telegraph.
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Swallowing the hard fact and making up his mind, he nodded his approval to Devika. In two days, she saw a little foreign baby in her lap, sucking her milk.
The feeling of devotion to a beautiful creation called Mother, encompassed her! Never did she imagine that she could give a part of her life to a baby that was not born from her. Never did she dream that she would execute a dying mother's last wish.
Three years later, Emilie's husband came over to seek his son back but looking at the way he bonded with Devika, he did not have the heart to separate them. It was during this time that Devika started to think about what an innocent child loses when it's mother is unavailable to supply it with the nature's gift of mother's milk.
She took her father-in-law's consent and gracefully embraced her new-found profession of a Wet Nurse. The milking process that started for her at the age of 13 with her biological child Latika, came to a beautiful end at the age of She became a mother to 20 children in her 35 years of fertile life.
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She didn't give birth to them but she imbibed them all. Born inDevika saw India getting it's independence. She inculcated the "virtue of giving" to her daughter, Latika. After Latika had two children, she also decided to take her mother's path and became a wet nurse to 25 children, until she could. Latika passed away 10 years ago, doing justice to her mother's legacy.
Her children and grandchildren were soon settled outside of India, following their own dreams. Inthis August morning, Devika finally decided to speak to the world about her past.
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Seeing new mothers' tendency to be okay if their babies are breastfed or not, she was determined to share her real life story and what mother's milk meant in those times. She picked up the phone and dialled to a media house. I used to be a Wet Nurse in the pre and post-independent India. On the other side of the phone Sure ma'am. We're coming to see you in an hour. We will do a full feature on you, as part of World Breastfeeding Week Coverage. Share Article.
The Wet Nurse Short Story. Aug 06, Vishali Naren. Posts Views. Trending Feed.