Chapter 18: Heroine


Dear readers who are not aware of ‘Indian’ meanings: Unlike what most of you might think, here in our country heroine isn’t commonly used to refer to someone who did something heroic—an act of courage, for instance. Here the word usually denotes ‘looking stunning’.

It’s derived from our usage of ‘heroine’ as an alternate of ‘actress’—in common parlance we refer to our female movie stars as ‘heroines’. So, effectively, when someone calls you a ‘heroine’, what they are saying is that you look as gorgeous as their favourite celluloid goddess.

Flattering, I know.

September 7, 2012

6:30 pm

Like I said earlier, this is my first outing after the birth of my son, and it’s no big deal since it’s just a routine visit to a gynaecologist. But it is a big deal for me because I can wear something nice after 6 months of breathable loose fitting attire, and 7 days of feeding gowns.

Yes, yes, I know, I do hijab—I wear an abaya, which you can call a modern burqa. But I wear all kinds of nice dresses underneath it –and at home where obviously I’m not in hijab. Yes, I know, nobody gets to see them except my husband and me, but that’s a whole philosophy I’m not going to delve in right now. Suffice it to say that I dress up for myself. Chiefly for myself, because it makes me happy to look in the mirror, and like what I see.

There’s this new dress my mom brought for me, it’s a body hugging pink and white lycra-esque kurta with pink leggings that I couldn’t wear during pregnancy because it wouldn’t fit over my belly. This is what I’m going to wear now, underneath my favorite maroon abaya. I slip the kurta over my head.  Et voila! It’s a great feeling to be able to get back in the clothes you like. And the best part is: I don’t look like a stick-insect anymore. The curves are all in the right places…ahem!

And then Sajjad barges into the room because it’s always his job to ensure that we’re not late for our appointments. Whatever he’s about to say dies out on his lips.

And this bursts out instead:

“Meri Heroine!”

A sparkle in his eye and a real, broad, wondrous smile.

I always complain to my husband that he doesn’t compliment me often enough. (Well, he’s a man of few words, generally…so…) But this spontaneous fountain-burst beats all of it!

Life suddenly feels ‘reassuringly normal’. Again.

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Chapter 17: Seeing is believing


We never see the air. Never see the stars or the moon when the sun shines bright.

Never see our own brain. Nor the heart that beats inside.

Seeing’s believing… or is believing seeing?

There’s so much more to see if only you’d believe…

September 4, 2012

I have just fed my baby and he lies peacefully in my arms, quiet yet wide awake, gazing at me intently. I love these moments when he is so calm and almost looking into my eyes.

And then. Suddenly. He amazes me beyond words by stretching his tiny lips in a one-second smile ! I do a double take and peer closely into his face to check if he has fallen asleep, by any chance. Nope, he’s wide awake.

I slowly count the days. 1,2,3,4.

4-day-olds don’t smile! No way! But there’s no mistaking what I saw. That was a smile. I know it was.

My 4-day-old just smiled at me…! True, it was a one-second thing… but it was there!

I stare at him in a state of disbelief…but also one of elation.

And then I rush out to my mother in the other room.

“Mummy! Hasan just smiled at me. He did!”

My mother looks at me for a moment. And then smiles. But it’s a different sort of smile. The oh-no-you must-be mistaken kind.

“Honey, that’s not possible. He must be sleeping.”

“But he wasn’t. I double checked that.”

“Then you must be mistaken. The ‘social smile’ doesn’t appear until at least a month.”

“Oh.”

I must really be mistaken… I guess.

September 7, 2012

Sajjad and I are off to see the gynae for a routine visit. It’s my first outing from home after the delivery. (More on this later.) Since we’d be back within two hours, we’re not taking Hasan with us. Mummy will be keeping him company.

Two hours later

As we enter the house, we are greeted by an ecstatic voice.

It’s my mom.

“Baby! You were right! He smiled! He smiled at me today! It’s unbelievable! Well… it was really a split-second thing but he did smile.”

She can’t contain her excitement. The maid that she has brought with her all the way from Aligarh beams almost as much; she was actually the one whom Hasan had really smiled at.

“Didn’t I tell you?” I’m grinning from ear to ear.

“Yes… I didn’t believe you then… but now I’ve seen it for myself.”

There’s so much more to see if only you’d believe…

(You probably won’t believe this, of course. Since I’m not trying to pose my son as a superbaby or something of that sort, and since those are the only two occasions when he smiled…before the real ‘social smile’ thing kicked in, this is just one of those little things in life that pass by like strangely-shaped clouds… memorable, but you don’t know what to make of them. So… do you believe?)

Chapter 8: A Kick and A Nose


April 20, 2012

I’m sitting in the waiting lounge of Sitaram Bhartia Institute of Science and Research for my routine check-up. Just like that, out of the blue, there’s something like a pulse inside my tummy. I’m jolted to attention… what’s happening? There—there it is, again! Realisation dawns. I just felt my baby’s very first movements.

Wow.

And this is not the ecstatic, overjoyed kind of “Wow!”  It’s the silent, awed and over-whelmed, eyes-wide-with-astonished-delight kind of WOW… whispered to yourself at the sheer magnificence and un-believability of it all….

Wow. I just felt my baby move.

I can feel myself slowly smiling and wondering.

This is the exact duplication of my reaction when I got the report of my first trimester ultrasound on Feb 18. That’s when I actually saw the shape of a slowly-forming human being… a rounded head, a tiny forehead and—cutest, amazing , most wonderful of all … the NOSE!

The black images show me a teeny, tiny nose; and here’s what the report says:
Nasal bone, measuring 3.1mm.

A 3.1 mm  nose. Wow.

It’s the same wow again. The same smile….

I can see you, baby. I can see your nose.

And now, I can feel you move.

 

So, what was your experience of feeling your baby move for the first time? Feel  free to share !

Chapter 4: Knock-Knock… @ 144 beats per minute


Jan 14, 2012

9:30 a.m.

I’m at the hospital for my first ultrasound—the TVS, or Total Vaginal Scan, to be more precise.  It’s one of those countless, hugely embarrassing exercises that you are subjected to during the course of your pregnancy. But the reason this TVS merits a mention is here is not because of it embarrassing nature.

It’s on this page because this is when I say “Hello…” to my baby for the first time.

It’s when I hear that sound.

Knock-knock-knock-knock-knock………..

Now, this isn’t like the twin bump-bump, bump-bump of your heart (that your palm feels across your chest) or your spouse’s (that you love to hear across his chest). It’s a steady, thumping knock-knock-knock-knock-knock…. Like a super-fast engine rushing ahead…. in fact, the super-fast little baby in a huge rush to reach its destination.

The sound fills my ears, it fills the room, and I am wonderstruck.

This, this precious moment, is my first pleasant contact with my baby. After days and days of whining, moping, crying and cursing (the world, not the baby!) this knocking gives me one little moment of simple, wondrous pleasure.

“Hello, little one…”   I feel happy.

My first thought, of course, is that Sajjad isn’t here to share this with me. He’s waiting outside and I wish and wish and wish that I’d called him in. I make a mental note to ask him to come inside with me the next time. He’s gonna love it.

Here’s what the report says:

Early live intrauterine pregnancy of approximately 7 weeks.  Heartbeat : 144 beats per minute.

That’s one helluva speed for that teeny-tiny heart, little one!  I can see you’re in a great hurry to be here….