This is the third part of my story,which would have one more part and that would be the conclusion.I thank you all the likes and comments and constructive comments which have come so far.Please do the same for the other parts also.Thank you once again. An Apology, too late (continued) Years passed by, Srini was now in his teens, with interests like any normal teenager. He was a cheerful, sunny personality and cared little about his physical condition. Thin as a reed and breathless at the slightest exertion, he often sat and watched others play longingly, for he knew he could probably never play a sport. He was however good in his studies, despite long periods of absence from school. He gradually finished high school and joined college with fairly remarkable results. Over the years, his health continued to bother him but he not only learnt to live with it but had an air of cheer and sense of humour that made people instantly warm up to him. Ambujam was proud of the way her son was growing; her love for her adopted son knew no bounds. She showered on him all the attention and care that she was capable of. Over the years, she grew fiercely possessive of her son, the only person she believed she had to call her own. At times, the young man felt stifled by the intensity of love that his mother showered on him but took care not to hurt the woman who had given him all she had. Over the years, he also grew to know his ‘own’ family, the one he was born into. He now had four siblings, who in spite of having each other’s company loved their older brother immensely and never wasted opportunities to visit him. His mother, Hema however wasn’t so lucky. In all the years that passed by she never could quite reconcile to her little boy not being her own. She seldom visited him; there was an invisible ‘line of control’ that Ambujam had drawn around him that didn’t allow her to express her emotions freely for her son. But on the rare occasions Srini visited them, her joy knew no limits. She was a great cook, and made sure that she cooked all his favourite dishes. She would hold on to these precious moments with her eldest son for a long time, yearning for his next visit. Srini was in college, when his maternal grandfather Krishnamachari visited them on one weekend, with the news that Dr. Johnson, a famous cardiac surgeon from Boston was visiting India. Krishnamachari was excited and believed that his grandson could be cured by this doctor. An appointment was fixed with the doctor, through his contacts in high places. The consultation with the doctor brought much cheer to all family members. The doctor recommended a surgery which he said would help Srini lead a near normal life, without the health issues that he was currently going through. All arrangements were made for the surgery. Ambujam was financially well to do and could bear a sizeable amount of the costs while Krishnamachari and Srinivasachari contributed the rest. The womenfolk offered their prayers to various gods, particularly the presiding deity in Srirangapatna. It was the day of operation. There was tension in the air. The operation lasted many hours, starting in the morning to early evening. After several hours of tension and anxiety, the doctors met the family with the good news that the operation had been successful. There were of course strict instructions for the future – he was to be kept in the hospital for a few more days followed by a month of bed rest at home. A satisfactory progress over a year meant that he could live his life as a normal young man, pursuing a career, getting married and having a family of his own. But there was an important detail that was lost; as the years went by one would never know if the doctors had failed to inform them or whether the detail was lost in the general air of celebration. Periodical check-ups every five years and perhaps a corrective surgery after 10 -15 years – should have been on the ‘to do’ list but it somehow slipped between the cracks Once things returned to normalcy, the senior members of the family, including the parents and grandparents started looking for an alliance for the young man. It was decided that facts about Srini’s health issues would not be kept hidden from prospective alliances. Srini, on his part remained indifferent to the idea of marriage. Sometimes he wondered if he didn’t already have too many women in his life; he after all had two mothers, not something most people could boast of! He was now employed in a private firm and was enjoying his ‘liberation’ from constant health problems and having people attending to him. He was passionate about cricket, never missing the opportunity to watch any match live. He also loved films and often went out with his friends and brothers after office hours to catch the movies running in the neighbourhood cinema. Srini’s sense of fun and humour won him many friends – men and women. He was now enjoying his life to its fullest.