Babying Around

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Babying Around

Oh! If I were to be born again
To feel again the newness
Of being a brand new human

Cradle cap that never heals
Slippery skin that peels and peels
Changing color like a chameleon

Making bitter-sweet faces
Secretly smiling for no reason
And crying loud for every little

Looking around wide-eyed
In huge awe and wonder
At bright undefined hues

Amazed at all odd shapes
Jerking alert at rattle sounds
And at human voices

Sleeping the whole day
Waking the whole night
And keeping others awake

Lie on my back full day
Waiting to be picked up
And taken around

Convey hunger in loudest shrills
Making people run around
My family at my beck and call

Let everyone try to please me
While I amuse everyone around
By sucking my little foot thumb

Try to roll-over on my own
Fall from the bed crying
And get my mommy crying

Skin-to-skin with mommy
Looking at her angelic face
As she feeds me calmly

Cradling secure in dad’s arms
As and when he’s around
Till I grow too old for all this.

~Alka~

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. Now I am too old for all this babying around and fancying doing cute stuff.

But we are still like a brand new baby on the day we are born, aren’t we?
And for me, that’s today…my birthday

Also a great day to be back to my blog…with my new baby poem

These Veterans of Motherhood

motherhood

These Veterans of Motherhood

Young moms are moms. Sure!
Are older moms moms too?
Seen it all. Been there. Done that.
Rotund tummy, birthing nerves, joy at the new-born
Ones, who once changed and washed far more nappies
And soothed their colicky babies
Have now left teethers and rattles behind
Disposed them, barring a few…for sweet memories.

Arriving in an alien land, landing double-shift jobs
No extended families ever, lonely media-less times.
Walked their toddlers to child-care, settled them in a kindy
Initiated their primary schooler’s A, B, Cs and Ds
Exhausted weekends at (selective-school) coaching centres
Helped their prodigies with high-school projects
Made secure their future, saw them soar high
Empty handed moms – from their nest the kids fly
Soft-hearted moms become hardened moms

Young moms, still learning about motherhood?
Older mommies, the walking encyclopaedias
Been there. Done that. Seen it all.
Kind of still young, but growing older
Preparing for another dose of mom-hood
Booster shot, of becoming a grand(er) mom.
Some already are content grand-moms
Older moms, not less of a mom, if not more.
Not exactly passé, definitely not past

©Alka Girdhar 2016

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While writing this poem I had in my mind women friends who once arrived here in Australia as newly weds, or pregnant with their first child, while some had a toddler or two.

Over the years I have seen many of them undergo most of the above experiences as busy mothers, and now some of them are getting their children settled in jobs or marriage, while other moms would probably join them sometime in the coming years.

Recently I joined a mothers club. Many if not most women there are young mothers discussing problems faced by very new moms. There still are too many motherhood problems in this easy era of social media, even when most of them have plenty of helping hands around, that older moms never had.

Hence, I felt a need to remember the evolving role of the older, or should I say more experienced, mothers as well. Because the joys as well as responsibilities that come with motherhood continue for the whole life..

First Journey

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First Journey


Oh! It’s all so scary. Save me God! Please. I can’t bear this ordeal. 
I am happy where I am. Why do they want to take me out?

Now they’re pulling my head with something. It hurts badly. Please let go!

They think they should help me. That I’m stuck inside, drenched in fluids and darkness all around me.

No!! I don’t ever feel sad in here. Never did. That’s my small home. Only mine. My mom’s womb. I feel very safe here. I get food. I feel warm and hugged.   

I again feel like crying. I fear so much. Where are they taking me? Such bright light! Strange sounds I can very faintly hear! What would it be like on the other end? Help me God! Don’t take me away from my mom! I will die. 

©Alka 2016

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Written for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers that is hosted by Priceless Joy, and inspired by this week’s above photo prompt.

It/he/she will not die, as that is what we call ‘life’.
Is this piece a bit exaggerated? Probably 🙂  Who knows what birthing bubs feel! May be some discomfort as their senses are not fully developed yet.

5 Reasons I like Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana

Folks!  During the last few days we all loved watching the pictures of our little princess. Are you amused when I call her our little princess?  Who am I after all?  I am an Australian-Indian. No, I’m an Indian-Australian. See I don’t even know properly who I am. On top of that I am bent upon forming affiliation with the baby girl born in Britain’s royal family. Well, there are many reasons I feel directly connected and indirectly influenced by the baby girl.

1). Firstly, I love babies in all shapes, sizes, colors and backgrounds.

Such is this charm, that I am embarrassed to admit that at one stage I used to throng all such places where babies are found in huge numbers. Those days, I had prim office jobs but I hugely admired motherly jobs like that of child care workers. Babies must not be neglected! I never neglected mine. I’ve now got over my regular urge to sneak peek inside every pram that passes me by but little bubs still continue to amaze me. We should bow before them for the world belongs to them. Think of it, they’re going to outlive us and it’s a matter of time before they take over us, the mature aging adults.

And it doesn’t matter to me whether the baby I admire is a royal baby or some random four-month old miraculously found alive during rescue operations after the recent killer earthquake in Nepal. When they are highlighted by the media, all babies make a pleasant sight of a new life, meant to be enjoyed. Moreover a sleeping new-born cradled in her mother’s royal arms doesn’t even know she’s the highest ranking female in line to the British throne or that she is being photographed.  Hence, there is no reason to dislike the cute princess.

2). The second reason for my affinity is that Charlotte’s mother Kate is just a a mother.

In her role of a mother, Kate Middleton is like any other mother. Whenever any woman becomes a mother, I get a warm fuzzy feeling. Not just human female but seeing videos showing cats and dogs giving birth to their kittens and pups, is no less amazing. The way these animal mothers look after their young ones is no different from that of a human mother. Motherhood is a miracle that restores our faith in God. In fact I suspect, God is a woman.
So if Kate became a mother during the Mother’s Day week – she deserves this menial tribute from us, that her baby be well-liked.  Hats off to all mothers on this Mother’s Day!

3). Thirdly, the feminist in me feels good when a baby girl, a daughter, a future woman, is valued so much

Little Charlotte is a girl born when there already exists a boy in her family – brother George. If Kate and William had an existing daughter, the joy felt for this new baby might not have been what it is now for her being the first princess. She gave a general feeling of joy for her being the first female in anyone’s family.

As the first daughter born into the British monarchy in 25 years, she’s a privileged woman in the making, something that most others are not. Let this girl avail her good luck!  Born with power, she might grow up to be a strong woman, a harbinger of great changes in the world. The first change is, her grandmother Diana’s name has been given respect it deserves as it has been included in baby Charlotte’s full name.

4). Fourthly, baby Charlotte is an actual princess for all Australians, including me.

Now that’s something!  Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II continues to be the Australian head of state. That makes baby Charlotte the princess of Australia or is she the future queen – being fourth in the line?

On hearing the news, Australian PM Tony Abbott said gleefully “A great day for all Australians”. The Government also announced the gift of a cot blanket made of Australian merino wool. Obviously, Australians who love Monarchy and those who are neutral, love the birth of royal babies, a feeling of Britain being an extended home.

But the Republicans who believe it’s high time Australia became a republic with its own head of state, play it mute. There are also other social groups who do not like to go over-the-top about royal weddings and royal babies. They argue that there are graver issues like that of children in detention centers, there are Aboriginal Children with no belonging left in their very own native land and here we go crazy for a rich and royal baby.

Personally, I do not disagree with Republicans and other protest groups. I live in Australia, and if I allow my mother (who lives in India) to run my house from where she lives – how feasible and practical would that be? Other than that, although I’m not exactly a Communist, yet I’m not too much in favor of hereditary privilege; inherited name, fame or wealth. Earn it. Go through hard times, bring out your own mettle.That’s what true democracy should be about – unadulterated equal rights to all.

But even with such views, being an Australian I’ve been opportunist enough to fully enjoy watching the playful antics of baby George when he came to Australia last year and now this new girl too gave rise to simple good feelings of liking.

5). Lastly, my Indian identity make me relate to any news about the British Monarchy.

That’s because, there would hardly be any Indian anywhere in the world who can forget that their ancestors were ruled by the British Crown for so long. I felt the wider impact of British Raj, when after migrating to Australia I come across Indians who have never been to India, as their ancestors were transported by the British Rulers to work in Fiji or Kenya but the descendants of these Indians could never find their way back to their roots.

Modern India itself carries all the good and bad gifts of the British Rule. English language, in all its Indian accents and dialects, is officially used all over India. The Indian Constitution, road names, architecture, pretty much everything has English stamp on it. Calling Bombay by the name of Mumbai and calling Bangalore as Bangaluru does not erase the remnants of India’s colonial past. The way we Indians continue to refer to each other as Sir, Madam, Aunty, Uncle, Sahib – holding on to little relics of British legacy. Then there is this gift of ‘tea’. India is the largest consumer and second largest producer of tea in the world, thanks to monarchist rulers who commerialized the production of tea in India.  I too blame as well as thank the Royal Family for my addiction to tea.

Given their historical relation to the British royals, anything British including birth of a royal baby girl, stirs up previous connections within Indians as well as Australians. How did the two countries react to the birth of royal princess?  Australia’s reaction was either over the top or warm to luke warm.  Going by the news coverage in Indian newspapers about this baby’s birht, there is no anger, no ego issues – general warmth and cuteness galore!

Reason could be that India became a republic in 1950 where as Australia still finds it difficult to cut the umbilical cord. India’s fight for freedom from British Raj was not at all easy but they finally acquired what they wanted – complete sovereignty. Australia on the other hand has a dilemma, of being a separate country while having another country’s queen as head of the state. Some self-esteem or ego issues do arise that inhibit some people from overtly cheering a royal baby’s birth.

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If modern generations leave the good or bad of colonial past behind, other general positives give us some reasons to enjoy as well as benefit from news coverage about British Monarchy, its births or weddings.

Australia and India along with other countries are a part of The Commonwealth headed by Queen Elizabeth. It unites nations on the basis of language, history, culture, and shared values. In this world full of factions, anything that brings people together is welcome. And that’s what this baby girl’s appearance did this week as the world went pink with joy.

Moreover, middle-class people the world over come together in their fondness for this well-behaved royal family, as they get to see lives of Kings and Queens. It’s like history come alive when a town crier announces the birth of a princess. There is general sense of equality upon seeing that humans in royal families are like ordinary men and women – normal lives with birth, death and weddings.

The royal family too has more or less been a role model for others. With all the riches and abundance they have, they continue to support family values and relationships, maintain respect for older generations and lineage of many generations bonded closely. A perfect father and a doting husband, Prince William is a good exemplar for common men and women. Simple ettiquettes like carrying the baby capsule to the car, his caring attitude towards his wife and the way this new mother Kate is looked after – let every other mother be treated like that on this Mother’s Day – 10th of May and every other day.

As I sit writing this article, Australian media is chirpily reporting on Prince Harry who is on a visit to Australia. Royalty over-dose. No escape. Better like them as they are likable.

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Did you like this article? Please feel free to comment. Thanks for reading!

My previous poem on being a mother: Born Again

© Alka Girdhar

Is it a boy or a girl?

Today is International Women’s Day 2016.  Here’s wishing all the women in the world lots of happinessimages (1) and joy!  Here I share my previous article.

The theme of Woman’s Day 2015 is ‘Make it Happen‘. Indeed it should be so. After all a woman is a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a grand-mother. She’s caring, she’s an epitome of sacrifice, somebody worth worshiping. Even Aristotle had said, “If women didn’t exist, all the money in the world would have no meaning”.  This world is a better place because of women and behind every successful man, there’s a woman. So guys, buy lots of nice gifts for her today, and every other day. The last bit was unnecessary. Oh well! I think I got too carried away.

To be fair, I heartily wish same happiness to all male children of these women, i.e. all boys and men of this world, young and old.

While many similar cliche` thoughts cross my mind today on this day dedicated to us wonder women, I am reminded of one of the previous writing prompts by Word Press’ The Daily Post. “Happy Happy Joy Joy.”  The prompt seems appropriate for my feelings today as I probe my identity of being a woman.

The prompt asks:  “We cry for lots of reasons: sadness, pain, fear . . . and happiness. When was the last time you shed tears of joy?

Yes, we all cry tears of joy occasionally. Often as an outlet of extreme happiness that we feel for our near and dear ones. While there have been many such instances in my life, I remember at least one of them.

It was when my brother called me to inform that his wife had given birth to their second child, this time a baby boy. My father’s family and extended family have always had hordes and hordes of females, something that has traditionally been often considered a worrisome matter in a patriarchal society like India.

We too are four sisters, my dad’s brother had six daughters. Like so. I myself was an unplanned child, probably a result of my parents’ trial to have a son. Maybe the third one will be a son, they must have hoped. At my birth, there was no celebration like it was when my only brother, the youngest of us siblings, was born after four girls. Not that it mattered to me. Didn’t matter when I was born nor when my brother was born, not even now. We were all a happy family and we loved him for being the baby of the house.

That doesn’t mean we girls were not loved. Our father used to argue with anyone who ever pointed out that four little girls, all under the age of seven, are a big lot. He would retort back and ask, “Why are you worried…are you going to look after them?”  My mom used to tell us that she did harbor a secret desire to touch little boys’ (macho) shorts as she was tired of hanging colorful frocks on her washing clothes-line. Later on we were a line young women ready for marriage.

Now, before you start relating this scenario to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, let me narrate my specific context. In those days, that is when I was born well into the 60s, it was embedded in the psyche of most Indian families that girls leave their parents’ home while boys have a greater chance of living with them till their old age. So even if birth of a daughter did not give sorrow and it did give joy, still it was assumed that birth of a son may give a lasting joy, esp. if one already has a daughter or two.

And I shamefully admit that even though I am a feminist who fights for women’s rights…in my brother’s case, for a moment I felt quite like most others do. A feeling that, with the birth of a son, my brother’s family is complete. Even if it was a temporary fleeting feeling, it was there.

So, does it mean that much as we pretend to be the harbingers of change in the society, we ourselves are victims of the old rudimentary thoughts and beliefs?  Or is it a fact that these old practices had at least some truth in them?

Of course, as I said before, in Indian context (esp. that of the times when we grew up) it was assumed that a daughter will leave her father’s home and eventually she belongs to her husband’s and her in-laws’ house. Nowadays the social dynamics have changed a lot and therefore young women don’t cry after their marriage ceremony and celebrations, but those days there were so many weepy Bollywood songs that depicted dramatic scenes of a bride leaving her parents’ home forever, as if she is dying or something. The sad tune of shehnaai music added to the woeful drama.

So yes, this thought prevailed that girls have to leave her father’s home at some stage while boys are here to stay. A son and his wife will (or may) take care of old parents. Hence, why would parents not wish for a son?

Another reason for this preference for boys is of course rooted in nature itself. Girls are naturally different from boys, therefore women are different from men.  Nowadays they are trying to be like men and are almost there, aren’t they? But even in non-patriarchal societies, that is in the matriarchal societies, a girl has monthly periods and pains since puberty. Come puberty, in fact even before that, a girl becomes a liability, what with fear of rape and molestation in the hands of some barbaric man, as in this rape story. If she escapes all that, soon she faces another physical fact, that a woman has to undergo so much to become a mother. Even the simplest of deliveries are actually a ‘labor’, not to talk of caesarean section or difficult births. After becoming a mother, a woman has a life different to that of men at least for a few years. There is truth in this belief that a good mother is the foundation of good families so a mother often sacrifices her own goals or interests for her children.  In most families, if husband and wife both have full-time jobs, it is woman who ends up going part-time, unless and until there is extended family to look after her children. Thus, where is equality in nature??

Put it in another way. There is no inequality in nature but nature created men and women different. The solution also lies in accepting this fact. Women do not have to keep fighting and claiming that men and women are the same. The point to convey is, they may not be the same but they are still equal within these differences.

For men too it is vital not to continue discriminating but women be accepted as equals despite all these differences, not just accepted but encouraged to live with dignity, encouraged to stand on their own feet within their family circumstances.  Also, if home-bound women do more than their share of child-rearing or house-hold work, then these mundane tedious services be well recognized and respected.

No superiority or inferiority of sexes. No suppressing. No unfair treatment. Pure respect!!

Oh well, I drifted from the topic of ‘tears of joy’.  So I better stop here and discuss feminism some other time.

Coming back to the daily prompt, I did have tears in my eyes as an expression of joy at the birth of a baby boy within my father’s family. Particularly so as my father was not alive to see the baby so it had caused emotions. My brother quiet young when our father passed away, therefore my brothers’ new-born baby boy happened to be the only other man in the family beside my brother. Looking at it that way, there was nothing wrong in feeling happy about the birth of this baby boy.

That brings more varied thoughts on Women’s Day. We, the feminists, say women are important. We want equality – women should get their full rights, women this women that. But men too have a place, esp. if they are strongly needed within some families. Birth of a baby girl and a baby boy, both are to be rejoiced.

To stop thinking about this topic, today I called my mother in India and discussed this boy versus. girl imbalance. She disagreed with me about Indian families wishing only for a boy. It’s all changed, she said.  Parents these days want two kids – a boy and a girl.  If there is already a boy then parents heartily want a girl and secretly do not wish for another boy, my mother argued Int Women's Day 4while enthusiastically citing many such examples from within our family.

And mama can’t be wrong. For she is a woman, and that too with lots of experience about life, a woman worth respecting this Woman’s Day and every other day.

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Header: Silvia Pelissero

Born Again

When a child is born, the mother is also re-born. It is like starting one’s life afresh with a fresh new baby. Most mothers can relate to this…

Born Again

Drowsy after a caesarean I lay
As if I forgot why I was there

The nurse woke me, handed me
A beautiful dimply babe

As if saying, take care
Here it(he) is, now all yours

As I held him, there he was
Frantically sucking his tiny fist

His nervous half-open eyes
As if scared to be in this world

Our eyes locked, well so I thought
And I was changed forever

That moment I was ‘born again’
As I had become a mother

He was my bundle of joy
My onus and my prerogative

With trembling unsure hands
I dressed him up in red

He belongs to me, I thought that day
This little soul is solely mine

But no, from that day till now
It was my life that was no more mine

My life could never be the same
As it became much better, all too fine.

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My son’s first photo, on the day he was born…long ago.   

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I wrote this poem in response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “First!.”
Later posted it for the Photo Challenge Fresh as well.

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