Eighteen years ago, a new road opened before me, when I became a mother. Having always been free-spirited, I felt grounded. Of course, I was overjoyed--every new baby is a wonder of nature; and the ultimate in creativity. And this was my baby, and I was going to do my best for her and cherish the experience of bringing her up.
Ah, but it was not easy being a mother. Contrary to all the romantic notions of motherhood, I found that one (at least me) had to learn to be a mother. It was hard work, and didn’t come naturally to me.
As I saw my baby next to me, many thoughts ran inside my head, and I wondered how this little person was going to change my life. Being a sportsperson, I exclaimed that I would play table tennis with her! Someone said, the baby is tall…she might play basketball. Hearing her cry melodiously, I declared that she would sing “like Parveen Sultana”! And looking at her long fingers, I said, “She will be an artist”. And as time went by, I realized that a baby could be fun after all.
So, did I play table tennis with her?
Was she part of her school’s basket ball team?
Did she sing?
Is she an artist?
I was most disappointed that Ragini showed very little interest in sports. However, I did get a chance to play a little table tennis with her. She isn’t too interested, but has learnt the basics. She did play basket ball in school, but not too much.
But she does sing and is passionate about the kind of music Parveen Sultana et al. sing, and yes, she is an artist, and is now going to study design. So I was not too wrong there!
As my daughter prepares to leave home to join college in a a neighbouring State, many thoughts once again run through my head. As in movies, images from the last 18 years flash in my mind…suddenly there is great happiness, and suddenly anxiety. Then a sense of disbelief that I had held her hand through pre-school to primary, middle to high school and beyond; there I was, rushing through packing her school lunch, dropping her off in music class, teaching her to cross the road, shedding quiet tears at her first concert. And here I am now, teaching her to drive the scooter and car, and all set to drop her off at a hostel to begin a new journey.
Life moves in slow motion when you are changing nappies, but once children are past 10, life zips past, and suddenly there is another road…only this time, it is before the child.
Along with the zillion thoughts in my overcrowded head, are these words from a Hindi song:
Abhi na jaayo chhodh kar / ke dil abhi bhara nahi
abhi abhi to aayi ho / bahaar ban ke chaayi ho…
It is a beautiful, romantic number that Ragini sings melodiously, but in this context it is sad, and I am pushing the song away from my head. For I do know that just as I have never really ‘left’ my parents, my children will always be with me.
When Ragini was born, I remember telling my boss, Sue Hainsworth, about how relieved I was that my baby was physically ‘out of my system’. And then she had said, “Oh, don’t you worry…she will not go out of your system for the next 50 years!”
At that time I did not realize how right Sue was!