Gone Too Soon

Today I’m writing about something that shook me to the core. I am writing about this after more than a year as I wasn’t ready to spell out those moments yet. I am not sure if I’m ready yet, but recently I read somewhere that we just have to begin it – however hard it may seem. I lost someone and I was grieving, and I’m still grieving over the loss but I have started to accept the loss. There are moments when I wake up at midnight with a cold sweat, hearing her voice in a dream, like she was alive and well and laughing out loudly – my little sister. I prefer to call her my sister and not reduce the hurt in anyway by spelling out ‘cousin’, because we were actually sisters who just happened to be born to different mothers.

My sister was a rebellious soul. She was the cowboy in our group of 4 sisters. She used to be the loudest one and the roughest one when it came down to fights or sports or whatever. The fact that me and her elder sister purposely left her out of our games used to be funny for me, but its not funny anymore. There are things I wish I had told her, when I had the chance. She was loved, pampered and cared for by everyone in her family, and she was her mother’s favourite child I secretly believed. Whatever she wanted, she fought for it and got it. Generally, she was the type of person who speaks out her mind, to whomsoever it may concern. My whole childhood up till the age when I got married, I had spent most of my vacations with my cousins in their home – running around, playing and when we grew up, we had discussed about boys and gossips and what not. I thought we had all of us figured out, we knew each other, we knew our paths, our dreams and aspirations and I believed that till this happened. I learned the hard way that we don’t know what is going on in other people’s minds; however close they are to us.

The last time I saw my sister was on her wedding day. I waved goodbye to her as I left her wedding reception – she was looking beautiful and happy and she was holding hands with her husband. That is the image I want to hold on to. The beautiful bride, the lights and the music and feeling of joy. I want to believe that she slipped and fell from the fifth floor, because it is too painful to think that she did it herself. Its too painful to know that she might have been alone, or battling through something which I couldn’t help her through, or the fact that I haven’t checked on her as much as I should have. My pain is absolutely NOTHING in front of what her parents are going through – they have no escape from the pain, and it hurts more when I see them, the hurt and the frustration of not having any answers. I wish nobody would have to go through this pain ever. Earlier, I wouldn’t have understood this, but now I am a mother and I would literally die rather than living after the loss of a child.

Life goes on. People will start to heal; time will heal the most difficult wounds. But I don’t believe there is a cure for what her parents are going through. There is a voice note in my phone which she sent telling about the tapioca dish she made, and I listen to it often. To hear her voice, to remind myself of the pain, to NOT forget the hurt and the loss. Each day I remember her at least once – I don’t want her to be forgotten – EVER. Whatever happened, I don’t know and maybe I will never know. But I want her answers, so I believe I will meet her when my time comes, and I will give her a whack on the head for leaving us so early without meeting my little girl.

A Mother’s day thought

This is my first mother’s day as a mother. I’m still debating whether motherhood agrees with me. There are some days when I actually wonder whether my baby is so unfortunate to have me as his mother. And some days make me feel like a super-mom. During days of these roller-coaster emotions, what push me forward are those toothy smiles, the cute bums and the knowledge that a human being is entirely dependent on me. So when my instagram feed is filled with people (everybody in bollywood /mollywood /Hollywood) posting selfies with their mothers, I ask myself. Is motherhood so great? Or is it the new fad among people?

I remember dreaming about tiny hands and feet floating in amniotic fluid inside my stomach when I was pregnant. I imagined the baby swimming in his own little swimming pool and I used to be so amused when he did little back flips inside me. I still remember the fine morning when I woke up and found that my labor started. I went to the hospital, the negative thoughts injected into my mind during the last 9 months echoing inside my head. I could hear snide comments by elders like “You won’t have a normal delivery unless you do household chores”, or some old grandmother boasting to me about how she went to work on a farm when she was 9 months pregnant, or some old uncles advising on how reading the puranas while you are pregnant can make your baby a good soul. Now that was enough –No uterus, no opinion uncles! I went to the labor room silently praying that be it normal or C-section, let the baby be healthy and fine.

Despite the fact that I did not do any household chores, nor did I go farming in the ninth month, by God’s grace I delivered our baby boy in a few hours. So I became a mother with a great start. I was super proud of myself and even felt that I am coming out of the labor room holding a trophy. Literally. Little did I know that a good start never gurantees what follows..

Little Sreeram was born 3 weeks early than his due date. As our baby weighed less than the coveted 3 kgs of normal baby weight, the so called elders found the reason of his low birth weight to be the early labour, which was triggered by the stomach problem I had in the preceding week. I had a small bout of food poisoning in the week before, after eating some homemade food. As the experts of our family discussed on and on about the chubbiness that might have been gained had he spent 3 more weeks in his mother’s womb, the new mother in me gazed at my baby and wondered whether my baby was too thin. I felt the winning mother in my mind putting down her trophy seeing that Sreeram had tiny thighs, hands and feet. I felt sad seeing my baby on the very next day, thanks to the birth experts in town.

Moving forward, Sreeram cried and cried and cried. All day and all night. Living in a joint family, I never realized raising a baby will be this difficult. As soon as the baby starts crying, heads poked around my door when I was breast feeding, when I am sleeping, whenever I was doing anything. Thanks to Sreeram, I never slept continuously. I had time only to feed, burp and change his diapers. I wasn’t even allowed to close our bedroom door at night (the baby needs a lot of air circulation apparently).  There were round table discussions and meetings in the family as to discuss why my baby is crying. And the baby experts came up with numerous reasons – mother having not enough milk, mother keeping the fan in a high speed thereby making the baby cold, mother not feeding the baby in fixed intervals, mother using too thick clothes to swaddle him, mother not recognizing whether he is having a stuffed nose..and the list goes on.

The new mother in me hung her head in shame and humiliation, thinking that I never deserved to be a mother, in the first place. And I felt this small bubble of anger grow a tad bigger in size. Everybody in the world had opinions on how I should take care of my baby, how I should not put baby powder or kajal on him, when to start solids, when to feed him etc etc. But the sleepless nights were completely the mother’s responsibility. When the baby falls sick, its always because the mother overfed him, the mother was careless while bathing him or whatever. Again the mother in me felt insulted to the core. The bubble of anger grew in size and it burst when the husband lightly prodded it. He dismissed all the anger and my anxieties in a single word, hormones!

On this mother’s day, I am fighting all these again with one hand and a baby in the other hand. I don’t want anybody to wish me on Mother’s day. I just want to be treated kindly as a mother.  The only things I crave for the most these days are a sound sleep and peace of mind. So on mother’s day, treat any mothers especially the young mothers kindly. Do not judge them, advise them or nag them. Give them privacy, give them freedom with their babies, basically impart confidence in them. Let them decide what is good for their own babies. Keep your baby knowledge to yourselves, we will ask if we need. Just let the mothers enjoy raising their babies.

Happy Mother’s Day!