|Picture courtesy: artlung.com|
Babies had always been my weakness. In the school I taught, I would often wander off to the primary section just to feast my eyes on those cherubic angels. Ah...I could spend hours just tweaking those cheeks. Perhaps sensing the longing in my eyes, I was once sent for substitution in one of the junior classes. Within minutes I had three kids approach me with imploring eyes- they wanted to go to the loo. Soon I had a procession of “thirsty” kids, kids with legs crossed almost buckling over....”Ma’am please?” Of course sweetheart and pretty soon I was sitting in an almost empty class. The kids were soon herded back by their harried supervisor....Purba, how can you be so gullible, the kids just need an excuse to be out! The 40 odd minutes that followed were perhaps the most harrowing of my life. 35 hyperactive kids with a multitude of complaints, requests, tugging at you, demanding your attention - when the bell rang I almost I ran out with relief. Kids are adorable but only from a distance.
Now it was my turn to have my very own bundle of joy. On D day, I waddled into the hospital with an armful of Tintins, the husband and Mum in tow. A few hours later, my pile of Tintin comics lay untouched and my labour pains had me screaming so loud that I had managed to terrify every single Mum-to-be in the vicinity. Damn, it’s such a lot of hard work, no wonder they call it labour. Twelve hours of extreme agony and what- the- hell- was- I- thinking introspection later I lay sweat-soaked on the bed. The Doctor approached me with the miracle I had managed to create. But did I act like a filmy Mum, hugging her close, shedding tears of joy and wailing ‘’meri betiiii’’? Naah... I just managed one long look at her and flopped back in exhaustion. Why does the happiest day of my life have to be so agonizingly painful?
When I finally held her I felt more fear than joy. She looked so tiny, so fragile, fists clenched so tight, a mop of jet-black hair framing her pink face....Isn’t she pretty I managed to murmur to the beaming husband.
And then the bubble burst, just the way it did a year back in that classroom. The first night was just a trailer of the things to come. She cried non-stop and so loud that the nurses from the nearby nurses-station would often rush into my room giving me sympathetic looks. How could a baby so tiny create havoc so great? The joys of motherhood were soon revealed to me – my bundle of joy needed to be fed 24 times a day, peed 48 times a day and pooped copious amount of icky stuff that I was supposed to clean up. And it didn’t stop here. Her cry could make buildings tremble and no force on Earth could make her stop, making her burp had now become the most important thing in my life. I couldn’t recollect the last time I had a good night’s sleep. I looked like a cow, felt like a cow, smelt of curdled milk, would spend most of my day in a sloppy gown and barely had time to run even a comb through my hair. But unlike a calf that goes gambolling the moment it’s born, my baby needed to be nurtured, soothed and cared for constantly with no tolerance for error.
When the husband would return home in the evening, I would burst into tears. He was the reminder of our carefree days, when we would whiz around the city without a care in the world. It was much later I found out from an article in a magazine that I was suffering from a condition called motherhood blues.
But if motherhood makes you blue, it also makes you realize how boundless love can be, what selflessness means. You toil, you crib, your life is not yours anymore, your favourite haunt is the paediatrician’s clinic and your preferred piece of literature is Dr Spock’s guide on childcare. But when your baby looks at you with those trusting eyes, so full of love, your heart gives a lurch, one dimpled smile and you wonder if it is meant for you. You clutch her tiny hands, hold them close to your heart and fall into a deep sleep, dreaming of nappies, poop and pee.