Many years ago I was working as an Executive Magistrate in a district town of West Bengal. I had never taken any dying declaration of any woman within 7 years of her marriage and was therefore thrilled when the SDM ordered me to conduct one such dying declaration.
I left immediately for the district hospital. I reached the hospital, contacted the doctor who identified the patient, asked her what her name and address were, certified in writing about her being physically fit and mentally alert. I was watching the lady. She was badly burnt and was replying to the doctor's queries haltingly as she was gasping for breath. I was wondering how I should begin but she stunned me by saying "Don't you recognize me? I am Sadhana. I dust and clean your section every day."
I was taken aback. I asked her the reason for her present plight and she said that she had gone to sleep in a nylon mosquito net dimming a lantern in the vicinity. The mosquito net had caught fire while she was fast asleep and her infant son had been rescued by her husband. All of a sudden she broke down and told me of how her son had been brought to the hospital by his father and she tried to hug her child in her arms but her son panicked and fled from the female surgical ward. He had shouted out that the burnt lady was not his mother. This had caused her immense hurt.
I mumbled some words of consolation, completed the formalities and left wondering what unforeseen circumstances life could subject a human being to.
Sadhana died after a few days. Her eyes must have been awash with visions of her infant son running to find succor in her warm bosom for that is what motherhood is all about.