“Iss mod se jaate hain
Kuchh sust-kadm raste, kuchh tez-kadam raahen
..Patthar ki haveli ko, sheeshon ke gharondon mein, tinkon ke nasheman tak
Iss mod se jaate hain” – Sampooran Singh “Gulzar”
[Passing by this turn/juncture, egress
Some leisurely-paced paths, a few fast-moving routes
..To the stone mansion, (through) nests of glass, (until those) abodes of straw
Pass by this turn]
Our house is abuzz, preparing to welcome our third grandchild in the next few weeks. Our son and daughter-in-law are very ably managing everything, with their mothers also pitching in. Whether providing general advice or helping to arrange and host the baby shower, there is no topic too trivial for immediate attention and prompt action. There are also two granddaughters who excitedly await the arrival of “our cousin” and want to help. Our fridge is covered with our older granddaughter’s sketches of the baby seen through her eyes, doing different “baby things”, like being in a stroller holding his mummy and daddy’s hands or enjoying the swing in the park on a “sunny, cloudy day”. Our granddaughter attentively listens to the weather forecast on her ride to school and always asks, “Why do they say everyday, sunny with a chance of clouds, daddy?” When the family is together, she likes to come up with possible names for her cousin, before collapsing in giggles at the absurdness of some that she is suggesting. The younger one then joins in, gleefully screaming that her “sis” is “being silly”.
And then there is another mum who is honoring us. A robin has deemed the ledge to our bedroom window safe and private enough to build her nest. Perched in a corner, carefully constructed with dried twigs, small lengths of discarded wool and other assorted materials this abode has stubbornly resisted the strong gusts of wind and thunderstorms that recently brought down branches of our backyard tree! A few days ago, my wife excitedly pointed out the two bright blue eggs that adorned the nest. Two more were added a couple of days ago. So as not to disturb the incubating mother, we dare not slide open or shut the windowpane and even the drapes are adjusted ever so gently. My wife is very careful in diligently recording the progress pictorially on her mobile. At school, the 3 – 5 years old kids in my wife’s class jostle to be the first to see the latest pictures of the four blue eggs or a puffed-up “mommy robin” sitting on them. They are eager to see the babies and each day are reminded that it will take a few more days. On making my own inquiries, I was informed by Auntie Google that the expectant mum could have a 12 – 14 days wait before the young ones appear. My wife and the new mum will then both have to contend with four hungry kids screaming for food!
Some three decades ago it was still a novel experience for an expectant dad to be allowed to accompany his wife into the “delivery room”. I was fortunate to be with my wife as she gave birth to our child. It was a profoundly moving experience for me in more ways than one. It was the first time that my wife shouted at me to shut up and mind my own business while digging her nails into my wrist even as I gently reminded her to “concentrate now… breathe in, breathe out”! Seriously though, that moment of a new soul physically coming into our lives served to remind me of the enduring power of women and motherhood. It was epiphanous to witness raw physical and mental effort instantly metamorphose into the most gentle, protective and nurturing embrace of the being that until moments before was forcefully being ejected from the very body that helped shape it.
Maternal instinct. Who can define this? Why even bother?
“Chandaa hai tu mera suraj hai tu, o’ meri Aankhon ka taaraa hai tu
Jiitii hun mein bas tujhe dekh kar, iss toote dil kaa sahaaraa hai tu
..Jo bhi Tujhe dekhe who yeh kahe, kis maan kaa aisaa dulaaraa hai tu” – Anand Bakshi
[You are the moon and my sun, (and) you are my star
I live just (by) looking at you, you provide comfort to this (mother’s) heart
..Anyone who observes you inquires what mother’s darling are you]