If you can call it in a conventional, crude term, my daughter could easily pass off as ‘unlucky’. She was conceived when her Dad had just resigned from a job, without having a job in hand. During my pregnancy term and after her birth I had massive health problems. My grandmother died just a month after she was conceived. So it was pretty natural that she was an ‘unwanted child’ – even by her mother!
And life being a game of see-saw, it was pretty obvious that her birth was totally different than her brother’s. During her brother’s time, my husband was at the peak of his career. So, life was different. I had a grand pre-delivery ceremony – both from my in-law’s house as well as at my mother’s place. I got to gorge on whatever I wanted during my pregnancy period. I got to travel wherever I wanted to, as per my mood swings. I got a single cabin to myself during delivery in a pretty good nursing home. His birth was heralded with the distribution of sweets from one of the best shops in the city. And for a week into his birth, there would be visitors galore. Each of them would bring lovely gifts and bless him in abandon.
It was a diagonally opposite picture when my daughter was born. My pregnancy was punctuated with hunger, anxiety, depression and uncertainty. I would hungrily stare at hot gulab jamuns and wish they were mine. I would drink lots of water, just to wish my hunger away.
Unpredictable as her life was, instead of her due date on Sunday, she chose to be born on a Saturday – the day my cousin sister would have her wedding reception! She began her journey to this world on a wrong note – upsetting the plan of my family to attend the reception! Unlike her brother’s birth, this time it was a small, nook of a nursing home with just two rooms. Just three people – my parents and my husband stood outside. The night was dark and cold. And I was worried about my hungry son back home. As I surrendered to the anesthesia I wondered if I would see my son again.
When I regained consciousness, I heard my mother saying, “It is a girl. She has such thick hair, you won’t believe”. Somehow it didn’t stir me from within. It didn’t feel the way I felt the first time. But I knew my husband would be happy. He always wanted a baby girl.
There were no celebrations. No cheer. And my husband had to leave for his night duty. His was a one week old job and he couldn’t afford to miss a single day. He bought the necessary medicines and rushed back.
I couldn’t sleep that night. The pain from the stitches, the wild shout of fighting dogs outside, the immense November cold. I just shivered the entire night.
I saw her for the first time next morning.
“Here’s she. Feed her”, the nurse smiled.
A small entity wrapped in white sheet stared at me with her small eyes. She blinked at me. A white dot of baby powder adorned her forehead. She smelt of antiseptic. She smelt of baby powder. She smelt of blood – my blood.
She had none of my son’s features – she wasn’t as fair, her eyes were small and her nose was oh-so blunt. Unlike my son she didn’t smile in abandon. The only thing she had was thick, black tufts of hair.
I pushed my finger into her folded palm. Unlike my son, she didn’t curl her fingers around mine. She pulled away hers.
The nurse smiled.
“One independent girl she will be. Strong willed”.
I shared my room with another woman. She had given birth to a baby boy – her first child. The room would be filled with her relatives and friends. Twice a day, during the visiting hours, the room would be filled to the brim. So much so that some of them would even tactfully seat themselves on my bed.
And all this while, I would eagerly wait for ‘my visitors’. One day my in-laws came to visit; an uncle of mine who worked in a college nearby came to see me another day; a friend of my husband came for a short while….I would train my ears for familiar voices, look out for familiar smiles. But no one would come. My mother would manage to send home-cooked food. My husband would sneak in a visit. But there would be no one to talk about my baby.
On the fourth day I returned home. My son ran out to embrace me. His genuine happiness wiped away my hurt.
“We need to give sweets. Don’t we?”, my husband was worried. Being nine months out of job, our resources were limited.
He finally managed – small packets of six sweets each from a local shop. The metanil yellow of the sweets hurt my eyes. Unnecessary drops of tears rushed down my cheeks.
“ I am sorry”, my husband whispered.
“Ah, don’t worry. It is just a bout of my post-pregnancy blues!’, I tried to console him. Within ourselves, however, we knew the truth.
Night after night, I would look at her limited dresses and cry alone. My mother would be unfailing in support. Good food, baby dresses, baby oil – her supply of love would be unlimited. But I would be unforgiving in my thoughts about the ways of the world. I am ashamed that such thoughts crossed my mind. But I am glad it did. I got to re-evaluate life and people. I became mature.
But my optimistic soul wouldn’t give up. I waited patiently for little dots of happiness.
That Christmas my aunt, my Mejo pishi, presented a sweater to my daughter. She knit it herself. I cried that night. My husband brought home a crooked-nosed rubber teddy with his first salary. I cried that night. My son gave a beautiful, hand-painted card for her sister. I cried that night. My father built a special collapsible door for the church as a thanksgiving. I cried that night.
And amidst all these snippets of emotions, my daughter smiled and grew up.
As the nurse had predicted, she is perhaps the most strong-willed person I’ve seen –other than my grandmother. She is headstrong but tremendously independent. She is hardly emotional but would go an extra mile just to help someone.
But to me, she is my Sunshine Girl! My daughter- who has made me a stronger person and a bit more forgiving perhaps. And has tumbled oodles of sunshine.
As she turns yet another year tomorrow, I feel happy that God had chosen ME to be her mother! It is worth all the blood, sweat and tears.