Aman

When I first found out I was having a baby I didn’t feel very much besides nausea. I had never been overly maternal or felt any ticking from the old body clock. Over the months of gestation, the nausea receded but though various worries kept manifesting themselves, I didn’t feel any special bond with the baby. I worried about that too.

After my son was born, since I was woozy and passed out from the sedation, everyone else in the immediate family saw him before I did. And even when I saw him I didn’t feel what I expected – a gush of love so strong and powerful that nothing else would compare. My husband seemed to have bonded much faster than I did. Through the first couple of months of endless feeding and cleaning I guess my son and I took our first tentative steps (obviously metaphoric in his case) towards understanding each other and maybe liking.

My son is six months old now. And today as I watch him, I am touched by myriad emotions. At times his air of fragility and vulnerability annoy me, make me angry. Nobody should be so weak, so defenceless. How will I protect him, not just from the rest of the world but even from me and my moods?

I watch him reach for a toy and fail to grab it – it is beyond his reach. He struggles, screwing up his forehead in concentration, wriggling his little body this way and that. His tiny rump sticks up in the air – he has just taught himself to start crawling backwards. Sometimes his forehead bangs down on the mat in weariness or frustration. Finally he figures out a short cut – he pulls at the mat till it folds up, bringing the toy within his grasp. I am amazed at his ingenuity.

As I massage his body, I feel the softness of his skin - softer than cream or butter or down, smoother than silk or satin. I can’t help myself - I kiss his tiny dimples at the elbow, the almost invisible one on his left cheek. I kiss the deep lines in his thighs and the little indentations in his feet. His curling eyelashes almost touching his eyebrows. His chubby fists. His rosebud mouth, down the pale nipples to plant a raspberry into his belly. His rounded rump. His wispy hair, flying in the breeze. I try and imprint a visceral memory of his body as it is right now since none of his photographs or videos seem to capture him the way my eyes see him. And my eyes will not be able to recall this moment of his life like my body can.

His smiles light up not just his face but my day. He laughs with his whole body and I can feel the knots in mine loosen up. I love the confidence he has that if he cries in a particular way or makes a certain noise, someone will not only hear but interpret the sounds and be there instantly to supply his needs and wants. I wish he could always have that certainty. I marvel that his perfect body came from my imperfect one, that half of his intelligence and his genes came from me.

He is like the long vertical stroke of the letter ‘I’, which joins up the two short parallel lines. Before he came along, my husband and I were the two parallel lines going in the same direction but still independent. Now he has taken a part of me, a part of my husband and his own particular magic. And joined the three of us into an interdependent unit. He has made us a family.

Comments

Sujatha said…
Loved it, loved it, loved it. Beautifully expressed.
Anonymous said…
beautiful, beautiful post
-kk
dipti said…
The teenager who towers over me today made such a mark as a helpless baby, I still can't seem to see him any other way!! The ups and downs of my relationship with my son through these difficult adolescent years have been easier to bear because of those imperishable memories. Thankyou for helping me re-live that precious time.
bird's eye view said…
Sujatha, kk,

Thank you.

Dipti,

You know, perhaps that changes over time. Now my son is 4 and a half, and even when I see his baby photos I find it hard to remember him like that. I can only picture him the way he is right now - chatty, hyperactive and opinionated! That's one of the reasons I wrote that when I did - being really bad at maintaining baby books, I wanted something that would remind me of how I felt about him as a baby.
Anonymous said…
wow !!! this is so beutifully written. I'm touched.
Subbu said…
Beautiful post... Just forwarded the link to a whole-lotta-people :)
bird's eye view said…
Thanks anonymous and subbu
Ravi said…
Amazing Post.... Well... I am soon to be a father myself and trust me when I say this....there is not a single day that passes when I don't ask myself the questions..."Am I ready for this and will I make a good dad".... My answer to that ... "I have a good father, I had a good childhood and so will my child"
Anonymous said…
I don't know how I came upon your post, but I'm glad I did. I have been married for 8 years and am yet to take that daunting step into motherhood.
Thank you for writing a realisitic post and pointing out that you didn't feel the wondrous 'gush of love' that so many women I know feel pressured to feel.
You make motherhood feel more natural and less 'glorified (if you know what I mean) - and somehow your version makes it more appealing to me.
Priya
Malavika said…
Just came across this - the second half describes perfectly the way I feel about my 4 month old - it almost scares me that I can't seem to remember what he was like just a couple of months ago.
Incidentally, when did you live at Pandara Road? I'm a sarkari bachcha too - spent several happy years in the 110003 pincode area! Luckily, the parents are back in town and in that area..somehow just going there makes me feel good.
Mala
bird's eye view said…
Hey Malavika,

I lived in the Pandara Road area from 1977 - 1982, and then in Pandara Park from 1993 to 2000. Whenever I go back there, I feel like 'yeh mera ilaaka hai'! And Khan market is still one of my favourite markets, though I get to go there less and less.

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