There are certain times in our lives when we face a situation that puts us in dilemma. More often than not, such a situation is a result of a decision or choice we made quite a long time ago. At the point in time when the decision was made, we believed that it was the correct one, or at least it was the most appropriate one under the circumstances. In actual fact, we are merely pushing the problem to a later date, hoping that somehow a favourable solution would present itself sometime in the future. Sooner or later, we come to the inevitable point of dealing with the matter, whether we like it or not.
A few days ago, my cousin met me to discuss about a problem she is facing. She is making preparations for the wedding of her only daughter in a few month's time. She wants my help to arrange for my mother (being the closest elder family member) to be present when she breaks an important piece of news to the young lady who's getting married. And what is this important bit of news that needs to be told?
The young lady is adopted. My niece is not my cousin's biological daughter. When my cousin got married many years ago, she found out that she couldn't bear any children of her own. An opportunity came by her way when someone gave up a baby girl for adoption. My cousin took up the offer and proceeded to raise the girl as her own. I can still remember the first time I set eyes on my cousin's new daughter. She was so cute and chubby, and everyone adored her.
The baby girl has now grown up to be a pretty young lady. She started work as a graphic designer a few years ago and her hand is now sought in marriage by a handsome young man.
The time has therefore arrived for the mother to reveal to the daughter who she actually is. It is something that cannot be avoided, especially in Muslim marriages. My cousin is now in the unenviable position of finding a way of breaking the news to the young lady. I can picture the heartache and grief that both mother and daughter will face when the news is broken. Expect tears to flow, all around.
Why is my cousin asking me for advice? Because I have first-hand experience of such a situation. My own youngest sister is adopted. The day when my parents told her the real story was one of the saddest days of my life.
I recall the day very well. My mother had called me one day, asking me to come home urgently. Something to do with my sister, she said. I went to my parent's home with my wife. On reaching there, I saw that all my three younger brothers have already arrived. When we were all seated, my father started to speak. The old man is a seasoned speaker and he delivered the story in a most gentle and calm manner as he could. Even so, how are we to know what my sister felt at that time? When my father finished speaking, it was the turn of my mother... and the emotions started to flow as soon as she spoke. When she finished, the time came for the brothers to speak. Being the eldest, I spoke first. I wasn't sure what I said had helped relieve my sister's feeling of grief and possibly disappointment at that time.
I love my sister very much. Before she came into our life, we were four mischievous siblings, all boys. My mother brought her home when I was 13-years old. I helped my mother take care of her until the day I had to enroll into boarding school. Never once did it cross my mind that she and I do not carry the same blood.
I told my cousin our story. How she would approach her own situation now would very much depend on how she expect the reaction would be from her daughter. It would be preferable, I thought, if my cousin was to speak to her daughter on a one-to-one basis. The fewer people around, the better... because it always hurt you more to know that other people know about your background than your own self. But if my cousin feels that she needs our moral support, then we will be there. Whatever it is, I hope she doesn't wait too long. Waiting does not help lighten the sorrow...