0

Games Babies Play

Googly woke me up again today…while that has become somewhat a routine almost every day, what’s new is that the baby has learnt to play! Or so, I think! 🙂

 

It’s a definte milestone at this stage for me…for the first time ever, Googly readily punched her / his Dad! I put his hand on my tummy and there came a strong definite punch from within! Not one…but two and then three!!

 

And I know this has nothing to do with the glucose test that Mom’s taking today…the baby is growing…and learning to play! Well, what can Mom say? Dad’s being punched and Mom’s kicked! *all smiles*

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4

The Reactions…A Mixed Bag!

How the world reacts to the news of your pregnancy, says a lot about what they think of you! Well, I can’t say that I’d like this to be good in all cases, but I hope it does hold true at least in some! Without taking a lot many names, here are my favorites!

My Dad: Aniruddha and I decided to tell him first. It was about 11:30 at night when we made the call…the poor man must have been sleeping, but call from the ‘bachcha party’ at that hour was enough to raise the alarm in his head!! I don’t blame the man for reacting as he did…after a brief 5 second pause he exclaimed, “Well done…keep it up!” Considering he said this to Aniruddha…I was worried! :p

My Father-in-Law: The next call was to the other dad…now being a doctor has its own pitfalls…and news such as this at the dead of night jolted him out of his slumber too! So when. Aniruddha reported his bit, his father after what seemed a 10 second pause asked, “Are you sure??” The son who is now graduating to be a father, took great offence and replied, “What do you mean??” This father-son confusion thankfully soon passed!

The Boss: Before I got married, I told my Boss that I am planning to…hoping it would gently push the point that I need a better take home!! This time too, the first person who came to my mind almost immediately as my family was my Boss! I had to tell him…the moment I had gone over the Q & A session in my head, I knew I had to slow down…at least I made a mental note of it, in red bold letters! And the only man who would allow that would be my Boss! So, I carefully selected a day…1st March. A day after the budget, he was in a super mood and I walked into his cubicle (that happens to be bang opposite my desk) and peeped in. “You’ve got something to tell me?” he asked punching on his BB. Half in, half out of his glass cubicle I said, “Just wanted to know when are you back? Wanted 2 minutes of your time.” I always ask for 2 minutes, no matter how important the conversation. “Tell me, we can talk now”, he replied. Okay, that sounded very pleasant…and I blurted out…”I’m expecting a baby boss…just wanted to tell you!” He looked up. He smiled. Went back to his BB, and said, “Congrats Ritu! This is the best place to have a baby! I hope you are taking care of yourself?? Go slow, eat well…rest enough! I’m very happy for you!” I almost fainted…!

Not all reactions warrant a back story…so here are some quick ones…each of them are equally special to me.

Sister-in-law: “I thought you guys would take longer to settle down!”

Colleague 1: “What did Boss say?”

Friend 1: “You’re bluffing…!”

Colleague 2: “Aren’t you scared?”

Friend 2: “Awww! You must speak to my sister-in-law for tips!”

Maid 1: “Is the baby due next month? The bump is huge!”

Friend 1 (again): “Does the Baby fart in the womb?”

(Curious Cat) School Friend on FB: “Is there a good news for which I should congratulate you?”

Colleague 3: “What’ll happen to us?? I’m scared!!”

Ex-Colleague 1: “This will change your life forever!”

Maid 2: “Didi, you’ll have a boy!”

Friend 3: “Do you know X is pregnant too?”

Ex-colleague 2: “Please take it easy…!”

Almost forgotten friend from school: “I hope you are going for your doc check ups every month?”

Junior Colleague: “Please eat chocolates!”

Friend 3: “Don’t eat chocolates and ghee! It’s a pain losing all that weight!”

Friend 4: “Have you thought of names? Please don’t combine your own names to make something funny!”

Friend’s boyfriend: “This is going to be one heck of a good looking kid!”

Friend 2’s sister-in-law to Friend 2: “Ritu will make a great mom!”

The reactions are still pouring in…the advice, the experiences and colorful comments are all very special…waiting for some more to come in! I am planning to give away awards soon…so if you have an innovative comment, pitch in!

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5

Bumpy Rides

There’s something reassuring about a baby bump. I mean it’s comforting to see your body generate its own tell tale sign that ‘look there is someone inside’! The reassurance is of course doubly endorsed when that little ‘someone’ kicks up a storm…

Yes, the baby bump is finally visible now…and little Googly has upped the histrionics! Googly, I am convinced has a life of her/his own…moments of intense activity, followed by a lull that tells me it’s sleep time. Googly loves late nights, there have been quite a few nights when the little monster inside has kicked me out of my dreams! Can you imagine that?? Those tiny feet are strong enough to kick me awake! Early mornings too seem to be a regular…so no more lazying in the bed…no more 5 minutes that I so adore…Googly wakes me up almost every day now. There have also been times when Googly has been an active participant in conversations…most definitely are those that has her/him as the subject. It’s like Googly can hear us and wants me to know. But what I cherish the most are moments when there is a soft nudge from inside, when I am undecided about a particular decision, when I am not talking but thinking…times when I am alone…in my car, at my desk in office…in my bed waiting for sleep to overcome me…even when I am reading and my wanders into thought clouds. There is a little someone from inside who softly nudges me, telling me I am not alone in my thoughts.

What can I say…about moments of true connection! Googly knows me, my voice, my moods and I like to fancy, even my thoughts! On days when I am super busy at work or home, there is a calm inside! Those are what I call days when I even forget being pregnant! Perhaps my constant moving, or the sound of my voice tells Googly that Mom is busy…and just when I settle down, comes a touch that tells me she/he has been with me through it all. It’s in moments like these that I believe truly that this is a miracle…my own miracle…!    

Googly, I also believe suffers from serious attention-seeking-syndrome! So, in the middle of the day comes a strong punch that screams for attention…the moment I place my hand on my belly, there is calm again! The moment I take away my hand, comes another punch! Aniruddha has been at the recieving end of all of this…poor Dad has been ‘craving’ to play with Googly, but the little tornado shows no sign of connection! Dad’s been extremely patient…very loving with his words…but Googly has shown no reverance to his father’s love! One day, poor Aniruddha woefully added, “I haven’t spoken to your belly as much in all my life as I do now!!” 

But then we did fool the little one…one afternoon when we were all home and I dozed off while reading, Googly stirred…I waited for 3 definite moves and then mimed to Aniruddha. I placed his hand lightly on my belly and there came 2 knocks from within! 

Years ago, when I was a little kid and enjoyed the uninterrupted company of my parents I was a fussy sleeper! I demanded 2 stories and 2 songs from each parent and until that was over I wouldn’t let either budge from my bedside. So while they toiled each night, I on most nights pretended to fall asleep. So the moment they’d move and finish dinner, I’d slowly crawl down from the bed and tiptoe my way to their elbows at the table! Once again would begin the whole exercise of putting me to bed…!! On one such night, when my parents put me to bed and I played the charade of being in deep sleep, they spoke to each other… “When little kids sleep don’t their toes and fingers move?” And with all the intelligence of a 3 year old, I’d let my fingers and toes dance to their ploy!!

I did the same with Googly that afternoon…being a mother comes with its own lessons!! 

P.S: Didn’t I tell you Googly can read my thoughts…the little one has been punching me all along this post! 🙂  

2

The Father Every Child Should Have…

A long, long time ago there came an evening when I realised that I couldn’t see my father eye-to-eye. We had one of our fiercest fights and I had angrily declared that I was leaving his house for good! My mother tried to stop me but when has any mother in the world been able to soothe a fight between her daughter and husband? My grandmother who was having her evening conversation with her Gods had to say a hasty a quick goodbye thanks to all the ruckus! I didn’t waste time in teary goodbyes…I opened the door and crossed the courtyard. My father, as my mother told me later went back to reading his book!! With no money, no change of clothes, in a simple chappals I walked out without turning back! But as I reached the main gate, something churned inside me. I can’t put my finger on it but there was something that was holding me back. I wasn’t crying…neither was I upset…I was just angry! Perhaps I decided to cool down and think which way to go…and in that momentary slip of indecision I sat down near the gate. But peace of mind was not to be had…my mother, my grandmother, my neighbours…they came alone and then in groups…asking me to give up the fight and return home! I was still very, very angry…the man I fought with was sitting inside, under a fan and reading his book!! I sat there for more than an hour…refusing to budge…refusing to return! It was getting dark and time was running out. I had to make up my mind…to stay or leave my father’s house forever! Just then, as I was fretting over the impending darkness that I heard the door click…I looked up to see Baba walk down the two steps into the courtyard…three long strides later he was standing next to me. My mother moved away. We looked at each other for what must have been ten seconds. “Come on in” he said and I like a little puppy held out my arms…he scooped me up from the cement bench that I was sitting and carried me inside…in ten minutes we’d both forgotten our little fight and chatted up like old friends!

I was barely 5 years old. And this is my first memory of a fight that we ever had!

Today when I sometimes feign a complaint to my husband about his constant travels, pat comes his reply, “You’ll manage…after all you’re my ‘bada beta’ na! There’s nothing that you can’t do!”. I know he is right, but in my heart I know that I’ve been the ‘bada beta’ to someone else first…my father!

People tell us, both he and me that I am more like him. Not in looks, but in nature. We think alike, we agree on a lot of things and yes, we still have our minor fights! But none that have ever made me leave his house. But to hear that we are similar, makes us both swell with pride. Now I am not the ‘only’ daughter in the whole wide world who idolises her father and is attempting a flourishing post on Father’s Day…but as I near the next big phase of my life, I recall my growing up years with a lot of affection. It is my life with my parents that has shaped me…and here, the balance tilts towards my father by a large margin! 😀

He’s the one I could relate to…my mother was always my confidante, but Baba was and remains my soul friend! He taught me to be me…to stand up for what is right…to raise my voice when it’s important…to ‘never’ go down without a fight! I never give up…I don’t let the world discourage me…I don’t let the high tides scare me…I don’t say ‘I can’t’!! Being a girl, a woman, this has been the biggest lesson that he could give me…

My father is a man of few words. He loves to have his family around, but he isn’t what you’d say, an indulgent family man! He’ll ensure we’re all taken care of and then settle into his corner with his book and drink! I’d have to credit my reading skills to the man…his books and bookshelf is one legacy that he’s promised will be all mine! I wouldn’t call him a man without emotions…he has plenty of them…but he isn’t one who would thrust it on you. He’s had his own battles, his own struggles in life. He lost his father when he was all of 17. He had to make a career and quick…a few years later, he became perhaps the youngest CA of his times! His professional life has been a roller coaster of sorts. At the helm of a private limited company as the director of finance, he’s had to run the company for several months without a salary. On somedays as a kid, my mother couldn’t give me 5 bucks for a dosa in school…I knew better than to throw a fit. What held me on is my father’s perseverence. He didn’t give up.

With no money in his pocket, he’s lived like a King! We’ve traveled the length and breadth of the country, stayed in Taj’s of the world…ate the best cuisine…clicked loads of pictures for the family albums…and saw the diversity of the country first hand. My love for traveling comes from the man who gave me the best holidays ever!! A friend in need…my father has been a silent support for a lot many people that I can account for. He’s never refused anyone and has over the years worked in mysterious ways to help anyone who has been in need. He loves his faded shorts…shirts that he struggles to button up because of his expanding belly, cigarrette burnt trousers and over sized t-shirts! He has a taste for expensive scotch…addicted to his smoke…but needs his 2 pieces of mutton for dinner are a must!

As I was growing up he never checked on the books that I read, but kept a close watch on the tv I saw. So Banegi Apni Baat was a strict no-no…Friends was always allowed! My father let me have my childhood crushes and while I gushed about being in love, he said ‘time will tell’! He never took my love affair seriously but didn’t disregard it either. As I stepped out of school and took up college in the big city, he kept a check on my expenses. Scolded me whenever overspent, but never took back the Amex he gave me! Later when I decided to take up a flat and live on my own, he trusted me with his heart. He helped me move and sent my mother to help me set up a house…saying, “Make sure she has everything she needs!” Mom and I took his money, went out shopping and conveniently forgot that it was his 53rd birthday! Today, he has allowed his 24 year old son to chase his dream…that to play Golf. No talk of earning a salary, no sermons about making a career…my father is bravest man I have ever seen!

Baba didn’t give me lessons in parenthood. He lived them. There aren’t enough words in my vocabulary that can describe him. All I can say that I wish every father is like him…

On June 11th, he turned 60. He spent it alone…that’s because he’s expecting his first grandchild later this year! He wanted his daughter to have her mother take care of her…settling with 2 pieces of cold bread and mutton for dinner; while his son was playing another tournament in another city!

I wish my child grows up to her / his grandpa…to understand the greatness of the man I call Baba…

(This post originally appeared on my other blog: http://rituparnaghosh.wordpress.com/

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2

The 5-Year Plan

One of the most popular posts so far in the journal is the Q &A, the very second post when I started off. And it isn't a surprise that starting from Aniruddha to all the future moms with whom I have shared this journal, readers loved every word of it! It's normal to be scared of the 'B' word…and the questions in my case are truly universal. Picking up from a chat with a friend this morning, really, it isn't a surprise that having a baby for most is synonymous with leaving one's life behind…it's the end of all adventures. The baby becomes the epicenter of the mother's life and she is lost in the sea of motherhood for the rest of her living years…!

I won't lie here, because I have promised to be brutally honest in this journal. I nursed the same fear. And I would be a blatant lie if I were to say that I have overcome it by now! Yes…as the bulge grows, with every tiny kick I am reminded of a responsibility that I am about to embark upon. I am reminded that indeed my time table would shift. I am reminded that no matter how urgent I have to answer Googly's demands before anyone else's. I am reminded and gently nudged into the realization that there would be several things that Googly will want me for…things that I cannot share…that I cannot complain of…that I cannot refuse! Yes, my life will be forever attached to Googly… 

This isn't a case of false bravado…I am not questioning all the positive answers I gave in my previous  Q & A session, so I am listing out a few promises that I am making to myself today. 10 things that I always wanted to do…that which I won't abandon and that which I will complete before Googly turns 5! 

10. Learn to play an instrument. I have always fancied the violin. I am told it is tough…let's see! 

9. Learn to cook at least 1 exotic cuisine. Is Greek food any good? 

8. Pick up a sport. I have always fancied tennis. Is 30 too old? 

7. Have a special rack on Classic Victorian Literature on the book shelf. 

6. Learn Bengali – to read and write! 

5. Buy myself a DSLR and make at least one photography trip out of town! 

4. Educate a needy child.

3. Sustain my writing. I love to…I hope to find a wider readership. 

2. Be a published writer. 

1. Be self-employed. 

When I started taking home a salary, I had a 5 year plan all set in place. A list of 'to-do' things before I reach 30. Some of them have come true…having a baby was 10th on the list!

I will be happy to make a longer list this time around. Looking for ideas…and some kind words of encouragement! So feel free to pitch in…
0

From a mother to her first born…

Nearly 30 years back, when my mother was rather full, with me inside her that is, the only thing that she prayed for…was a boy! Now, before you cringe and take a stand on this one, you must hear the story why.


She was the second of the three children that my grandparents had; the elder being a boy, then her and then another girl. My mother was the prettiest one, brilliant in academics (she got double promotion twice while in school, unheard of in our times), docile and obedient. She never threw a fit for anything that she wanted. When her younger sister was born, 6 years after her, her mother told her ‘You are big enough, do everything yourself’…by and by in her little sister gave her the first lessons of motherhood! While my grandmother was seeped in running the household of a gigantic joint family, her own maternal instincts were never revealed. My mother was a fashionable kid, at least going by the short skirts that she wore and those which I happily inherited as a teen were nothing less than a badge for me! She was pretty…and still is…but was not the one to flaunt it! She was a traditional beauty of the 70’s…long cascading hair, beautifully drawn eyes with a distant vacant look in them! She was always told she’s pretty, when all she wanted to hear is that she was a good student…being the conservatives that her family was, she was never allowed to step out of the house alone. A car would drop her to college, 5 bus stops away and that would pick her up again. She loved sports, cricket was her elixir! But she was different…brought up differently…with a separate set of rules. Rules that were specifically made for her, diktats that were completed subverted for my aunt and uncle! They were the rebels in the family…gave up studies when they wanted to, hung around with friends with no ambitions in their lives. I don’t blame them…both in their early 20’s led spectacularly mirror-image lives. Both, except my mother. She was married off. She had barely stepped into the 2nd year of college that my father was sought and she was bundled into matrimony. No one asked her whether she was ready for it! 

 

 My parents for the first two years of their marriage stayed away. My father, 7 years older to my mother let her study…complete the Bengali Honours course that she was pursuing in Lady Brabourne. My mother always wanted to study…marriage was a hurdle that she knew would be coming…but didn’t know how to surpass it! Perhaps, she never told my father that she wanted to study further. Knowing the man, I know he would have never refused her.  She idolised her husband. She was even scared of him for most of her lifetime. She revered him, because he was the kind of human being she has never met in her entire life. She was happy with her marriage…but could never forgive her parents for not giving her the choice to choose.

 

My mother’s story is not incredible in any sense of the word. She was taught that a woman does not have the right to make choices. A woman has to be married off when her parents think it right. A woman is rightfully dependent on her husband. A woman cannot complain. A woman cannot bargain for a better life than what has been chosen for her. A woman must accept everything that comes her way. A woman is not allowed to make plans for herself. When we watched DDLJ more than 15 years back in a darkened theatre…that scene between Kajol and Farida Jalal where the mother says that a mother is not allowed to make promises, I could hear my mother gulp. My mother when she conceived her first child in the winter of 1980, she was scared. That if she had a daughter she would have to give up the right to lead her life the way she wanted. She was afraid that her daughter would have to follow the rules and accept the choices that her parents would make for her. She was afraid that she wouldn’t be able to change anything for her daughter.

 

She was wrong…because there was a father like mine in the family picture. My dad gave me the wings to fly. Even when I was a little girl, he let me make the choices that I wanted to. Together with my mother, they let me falter and scramble to safety by myself…they let me flunk in school and shed copious tears, work harder, get the higher scores to only tell me that scores never mattered to them! They let me fall in love when I was too young, scrape out of it and get my life back on track again. They let me choose disciplines that I was interested in. They agreed to let me stay by myself in the big city even while they knew how unsafe it was then! They let me pick up media studies, when everyone around them was talking of MBA. They let me do the sundry part time jobs to know how tough it is to earn a living. They let me live the way I wanted…choose a partner I wanted to have babies with…settle down with him when I felt I was ready. Never did they push, pinch or close the door on me. I am what I am because my parents gave me the choice to lead my life like it belongs to me. 

 

When my mother was pregnant for the second time, she prayed for a girl this time. And this time, as she tells me, she prayed harder. She knew her daughter was growing up with a life very different from hers, she knew her first born, even at the age of 5 had a life of her own. God didn’t hear her again… she had a baby boy! 

 

It hurts to see parents make the wrong kind of choices. I have seen people sulk at the birth of a girl child. I have seen people not spread the news when a girl is a born. I have seen people hopelessly trying for a boy for all their lives…all of this doesn’t hurt me actually, it angers me! I don’t want to know the sex of the child. Because I know I won’t let the sex of the child determine the way she / he leads the life ahead. But all I can say that Googly will have the choice to lead a life that rightfully belongs to her / him. I wouldn’t dare dictate it…neither will I let anyone judge the way Googly leads it. Every woman has her own secret conversations with her unborn. I do too. What I tell Googly is another chapter in itself…someday you’ll find them here.