Dear Little One,
I told you in my earlier letter that it was your first smile that made something melt inside me but to be honest if you think that then onwards I could accept you completely, would neither be true nor a lie. Perhaps what you wrote the other day in one of your posts about Camus applies in my case as well— “To lie is not only to say what isn’t true. It is also and above all, to say more than is true, and, as far as the human heart is concerned, to express more than one feels. This is what we all do, every day; to simplify life.” Dear Little one I didn’t have the exact words to say what I wanted to say but your Camus has made it much easier for me. Perhaps I would be able to put what I felt for you in a much better manner.
I looked intently at you. You looked so pretty. My mother handed you to me and I sat taking you in my lap. You always knew, from the very beginning, how to make your presence felt and you started to cry at the top of your voice. Or was it that, perceptive as you were, you could see the initial expression in my eyes, the expression that must have conveyed to you—Not Welcome! I don’t know why did you cry but this is how I am able to interpret it today. Someone said, “the child is hungry” and everyone became so attentive towards your needs. You were smart enough to attract attention. Smart from the very beginning, I must say! Someone put a container of honey in my hands. As is the custom prevalent in our society, the first thing to be put in the mouth of a child is honey put on a gold spoon. It is believed that the child takes up the uniqueness of the person who writes “Ohm” on the tongue of the child. Everyone waited for me to take the decision. I wanted to do the job myself and this is the reason why all three of you are stubborn like me. I put a little honey on a gold ornament and put that in your mouth and God, how did you suck it clear of honey! You sure were hungry. I gave you more of it and satiated your hunger you went to sleep, blissfully, in my lap. Now I could look at you without facing your eyes that seemed to question my initial reaction towards your birth. Questions that were difficult to answer even to a few hours old daughter.
I was angry with myself for having those thoughts. I wondered how I could have those thoughts in the first place. Was it that somewhere inside me the stigma of being a second daughter to my parents was still present and I had very callously transferred my own failure, being born as a second daughter, to you?
My father, your nana, came to the room. He really could read my feelings and said to me very light-heartedly, “tell me right now, if you don’t want to have this daughter, I’ll throw her out.” Looking benevolently at you he continued, “but it would be difficult for you not to fall in love with her if you don’t decide now.” What did he mean? Even a reference to throwing you away, though he never meant it to be, made me clutch you protectively. He laughed aloud in one of his famous open throated laughter and looked endearingly first at you and then at me, his own second daughter, whom he loved the most. I was suddenly feeling light both physically and mentally—a big burden off me!
You were a demanding child. You knew instinctively that unless you cried, you will not be listened to. So you would cry till we all were at your beck and call. In spite of having accepted you in my life the relationship between me and you was perfunctory, at least from my side, I must confess it.
I don’t understand why I kept blaming myself for having borne a daughter. The self-rejection that my mother must have felt on giving birth to me was at work in me as well and I kept on apologizing to my own self for having failed somehow! Feeling guilty all the while that my baby is not a son!
Perhaps you were three or four days old when your Taya ji and Tayee came to see you or was it to offer their sympathies to us for having borne a daughter? I don’t know but I know one thing that when she said, “He was delivering a lecture but the news made him so upset that he couldn’t continue!” I hold you closer and wondered why they were so upset or in the first place were they really upset? I wanted to comfort you as you would start squirming the moment someone would comment upon you being not-much-welcome. And I had become so protective towards you. Perhaps this is the reason that even today whenever someone tries to inflict pain upon you I cannot tolerate it at all. I wanted to say something harsh to them but my reverence for the relationship withheld me back and I sat quietly watching your little hand that had clutched one of the fingers of my hand tightly, as if to receive some succour! I promised myself that I will not let you down ever. I would never let anyone inflict pain upon you!
One day you were very restless and were crying a lot. I tried feeding you as it would make you stop crying but that day even it would not work. I was worried as I was not able to put my fingers on what troubled you? It was your Nani who saw it. There was some infection in your navel and a little blood was there. I cannot write what happened to me. I started cursing myself for having nurtured some negative thoughts about you that now were resulting in this infection. I called Dr. Abbey who assured me that there was nothing to worry about. But I would be cursing myself for being a cause to your pain. I was not at rest till you recovered fully. You were a fighter from the very beginning and have emerged stronger after every onslaught on your being. And this is what makes me respect you and love you being my daughter. You have, undoubtedly, filled my life with love, laughter and sweetness.
Thereafter, I didn’t have an iota of remorse for having borne a second daughter.
I would write more in my next letter.