It constantly lingers in the back of my head- the thought about not updating this space regularly. But quietly ignoring it was easy..until..I received this nice virtual whack on the head from a dear little friend recently. The dialogues were strong and effective. Sample these –
“You don’t want Paapu to grow up without documenting any of her toddlerhood, do you?”
“You’re being so mean”
So, here is a sincere effort to fill in on what went by, with special focus on ..who else? Paapu ofcourse 🙂 Now, dozing off while reading is bad ( manners! ), so have a few pictures for you to keep going, okay?
So, the flight from Amreeka to Apna Desh is quite a lo..ong one and the first time in air for Paapu. I was terrified of the thought- “Will my Paapu be one among those shrieking non-stop on the flight? What will I do?!”.The in-laws were travelling with me and so I tried to breathe easy. However, this little girl on the plane was one of the best babies around * insert a big big proud grin here * She not only was her cheerful self, but made a number of friends up there. Here is one proof of Paapu entertaining herself using a few oranges and a Korean guy 😀
Such was the love of a Sardarji uncle on another flight that he just said “It’s okay beta, bachi hai”, when Paapu toppled and spill an entire glass of water on his crisp suit ! He was only worried if the little one was hurt in the process. Sigh! 🙂
India welcomed her with open arms, literally. With so much happening and so many to entertain, Paapu never showed a single sign of jet lag. Took off on day one like a puppy to the puddle ( yes, I coined that phrase). My quiet little town, my home and garden is where I spent the first part of the trip and honestly, cherish the most now. Pure unadulterated joy! Laughing, eating, playing, talking – generally being happy while watching my baby soak in the warmth that love brought in.
I also noticed that there are just so many little things, that we take for granted, while at home there – which remain elusive while in the US of A.
For example, who would dare leave a naughty baby walking around ‘free’ and naked like this without a diaper in the carpet land here?
Or, how many times would your baby’s curious eyes follow a row of busy ants right inside the balcony with such amusement?
One other scene that may not have a picture proof, but will forever remain in me is – My Appa, who recently turned 60, holding on to my Paapu, all of 11 months, and plucking flowers for the pooja. He plucks a flower and delicately slides it between her fingers and she holds it tight ( almost squishing the petals) and gingerly drops it into the flower basket. Every morning, every flower plucked and dropped into the basket was a source of such delight to all – the Grandpa, the little girl and of course the mom of the little girl watching them inconspicuously.
The in-laws place houses many kids – of cousins, relatives and neighbors. Paapu was the youngest of the lot and mostly loved the attention from all other kids around. One little fellow became so protective of Paapu, he would follow her like a shadow( literally) to every corner of the house. So much so that a sudden stop or turn and she would bump into him, loose balance and go * plop* on the floor, giggling 😀
Then, there was the big occasion – of turning ONE! ( not by the calendar date but the one according to her star sign, as per traditional norm)
There were invitations printed, hall booked, special pooja arranged, food menu picked – Thanks to the in-laws and their efforts – we ( me and H) did not move a muscle until the D day. The gathering had hundreds of people, everyone wanting to hold Paapu, everyone wanting to pinch her cheeks. She relented for quite a long time, then gave up after a point.I noticed that look -” Who are all these people? I want to run with those kids there..leave me!”. I tried hard to rescue her, I really did. 😦
After all the pooja ceremonies, came the dreaded moment of the day – the ear piercing! The in-laws, in spite of my pleading against it, arranged for the ear piercing right on the same day, same hall, as part of the ongoing event. Tradition – bah!! I rather take her to a mall on a calm day and get a gun-shot-no-pain ear piercing on her tender ears. Boo hoo. And yes, that’s exactly what I did – Boo hoo-ed all the way. When that bulky man with the sharp thing drew blood from my paapus earlobes, she screamed in pain and I sobbed uncontrollably…holding onto my parents. After a few minutes, when all was done, Paapu went about grinning and I continued my sobbing. Yes, am an emotional fool like that and yes, there were many jokes about a mommy crying as if the baby was being married off and sent to nowhereland 😛
There were only a few days, before tradition took over again. They said – soon after the baby turns one the head needs to be shaved. Not only does it help lustrous thick growth of new hair , but is also part of…( no surprise here)…tradition! I sulked until the last minute, but let them have their way. After all, H supported their views and I respected them enough to not create a fuss.
Off we went to the place known for tonsure – the one and only Tirupati. The drive was beautiful and I kept kissing Paapu’s soft baby curls every other minute. They were too dear to let go..couldn’t anyone understand? Argh!
Anyways, she was a champ when it came to shaving the head with a blade-knife. A little whimper and few tears, then smiles as always 🙂 Me? I did not let a single teardrop trickle. Just held them tight inside. But, hurriedly grabbed a few of her shaved off baby curls before I left the venue.Paapu will be shown her baby scrapbook one fine day and I’ll watch her as she gets a glimpse of her own baby curls right there ..and scream with utter delight..or..with sheer disgust 😀
The day to bid good bye and fly back soon arrived and while my gut twisted and tossed at the thought of missing ‘home’, I also felt quiet charged up. My days as a “working mom” were about to begin without any help and I was eager to take up the challenge! Oh, who am I kidding? I just had enough of the rules/traditions and wanted to run away to my place and make my own rules 🙂
It was hell the first few days after we returned – the jet lag, the tiredness, the cranky baby, the house work with no-help, above all the biting silence…..The Silenceeeeee…
Paapu seemed to be looking for the people and the noise and then constantly running to me when she found none. It was heart breaking, but I held up pretty strong, I think. At least, I did not cry along with her, see!
Time does heal every pain. The silence passed soon and life started rolling at a familiar pace.
When I took Paapu to her day care for the first time, I prepared for the worst, just in case. But, she took one look at the toys and those other little toddlers and went in with a “Aye!”. Not even a second glance at poor Amma. Oh, how happy that made me..and a tiny bit sad 🙂
There have been colds, there have been coughs, fevers and sleepless nights, there have been infections, doctor visits and sleepless nights, there have been antibiotics and much crying. And oh, sleepless nights.
But, minus those bad days, life has been sane.
I am/have been working really hard at it and am proud it has been alright so far. Hubby, who was a terrific example of a lazy bum when parents were here, now is seen doing unbelievable stuff like – vacuuming, heating food, readying-up Paapu ..even giving her a bath at times – no, really! I knew I would make my money’s worth from him some day 😉
Paapu is no more the chubby baby I went to India with – she is a toddler sprouting 1.5 teeth, 1.5 millimeter of newly growing hair on the head and a naughtiness 1.5 times notched up. Don’t believe me with the last one?
Sample these –
– If not allowed to play with something ( ex: remote control), wait until Appa-Amma are not looking and then pick it up fast, run even faster in the opposite direction! Doesn’t matter if you trip and fall on the way.
– Amma is all sorry and pouts worriedly while she rubs on your ”boo boo’ ( hurt) lovingly. You imitate the pout and add a pair of puppy eyes to it for extra drama.
– The grandparents repeat the “Hello” and “Namaste” a 100 times for you to pick up and finally you say “Hey!” in true American style.
– The crying is not just crying when you don’t get your thing done in a given 3.8 seconds. The voice graduates to a customized scream almost sounding like an order, that cannot be ignored.
– To get a point across, you talk matter-of-factly with your right hand raised up and the index finger pointing to the sky. Always! The daycare provider claims you are a leader in the making, just because of this.
Okay, enough for now 😀
Leaving you with this favorite pic.
Send in much of your loves, alright? 🙂