Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Boy Who Turned Three

4:30am 27 December, 2008
She has just finished sketching the clue cards for the treasure hunt the Boy will do when he gets up. There's some finger paints hidden behind a photograph of him and a friend. A painting in his tent. A few books below the Christmas tree. Lego construction blocks below the table. A cardboard kitchen, handcrafted by dadda and two favourite uncles, in the kitchen. And out in the balcony, nestled in between the pigeons and the plants, a slightly crooked alphabet formed by wheat grass grown with love by Nani and Nana.

5:00am 27 December, 2005
She's feeling drugged today, drugged, but not sleepy. The baby too is uneasy, poking its knees and elbows out of her taut, and tired belly. There's no sleep to be had: her belly is so big she's afraid her skin will snap. And then there's the urge to pee, again and again, again and again, one more time. Dadda sleeps less than a foot away, his hands propped on a pillow, having spent half the night stroking her hair so she could sleep. It's awfully quiet - and the silence seems deafening that morning.

5:30am 27 December, 2008
She and He look at the sleeping Boy, marvelling at how he slumbers through jumbled limbs and three blankets. The Boy's smiling now, dreaming perhaps of diggers and dumpers, and the two of them hold hands, an unspoken need to reach out amid the torrential wave of love that has begun to rise. The love tinged with disbelief at having helped create a living, breathing, and opinionated little person. He is ours, truly? Truly.

6:00am 27 December, 2005
She's just managed to lose herself and sleep when she wakes up frantically, ashamed at her inability to control her bladder, she's wet the bed. She leaps out, as much as she can, tears streaming down, wondering how pregnancy has robbed her of the last dignity - the ability to hold her pee. But the pee just won't stop. It's cascading now, tinged with blood, gushing around her bare ankles, seeping under the bed. She doesn't know it yet, but her water's broken.

6:30pm 27 December, 2008
There's a cacophony of sounds around her, children talking, screaming, adults chatting, music blaring from loudspeakers, and yet, strangely, it's like being on a hovercraft: you're buoyed through it all. She marvels at the many friends the Boy has made, the ease with which he joins and adds to different groups of little people, different ages, different genders. He's been so grown up today, saying his thank-yous, carrying the gifts and leaving them on the table, inviting them to paint with him. He looks bigger today in his white shirt, sleeves rolled up to this elbows, smiling to the camera, saying cheese.

6:39pm 27 December, 2005
They're finally wheeling her into surgery, loading her body into the stretcher, dumping it before it has gotten time to get accustomed to the feel of the cold steel. It has refused to listen, that body of hers, to drips, to medicines, to prayers, to hope. It will not open up. Frightened, it has decided to hold in tight the little being it tried so hard to reject once. It cannot let go, not yet.
She's muttering a name now, calling out to the one man she wants to hold hands with. She refuses to let the doctor inject her, she wants her Da. A doctor rushes out, unable to see the Man sobbing quietly in the corner, his tears and fear drowning the announcement of his name. They cannot wait anymore, she must go through this alone.
There's a spurt of blood now, she can see a them slice her belly open, and she gasps. And then the man with the cold hands and white mask, looks at her and his eyes are smiling. It's a big baby, he says, really big baby. She wants to know who it is, it's gender becoming its first identity, but her lips are not moving. It's a boy, he says, and then finally, the sleep she's been missing for months, comes calling.

10:30pm 27 December, 2008
She's still in her party clothes, diamond earrings all jumbled up in a hastily tied ponytail, the Boy snuggled close to her on the bed. She's ready to put him to sleep, and then get on with the cleaning, perhaps take a drink, let the blur of the last three years sink in, so she can make a permanent memory of it, one that time and new milestones cannot dent. The Boy is not ready to sleep yet. Can we chat, he asks. And then the questions come tumbling out. Am I three now? he asks. When she nods yes, too moved to mouth a yes, he looks down at his body, and asks simply, Where? Where am I three, mama? Where am I two? He wants to hear the names of all his friends who came, wants to know how he spent the day. Tell me, mama, he says, how did we find all the gifts in the morning? They talk for an hour, words helping both of them assimilate the meaning of that date. Happy Birthday baby, she tells him, just as he's nodding off to bed. Happy Birthday mama, he says.


Anonymous said...

Wow! What a lovely post, absolutely heartwarming, brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for sharing the lovely pics and what a beautiful way to remember his 3rd birthday.
Hmm..thats a busy painter at work :) *hugs*

maidinmalaysia said...

so you put your lil hurricane in a bucket? -- musta been a stormy li'l bath that day:)
very special post, nino's mum.
thank you.

Nino's Mum said...

preeti - :) oh yes, a busy painter, and an eccentric one at that. just after he'd made the plate colourful, he asked for some black and coloured it all in!

MIM - LOL! Thank you so much. And I must tell you how absolutely delightful your blog is - you just about have the best sense of humour ever!

OrangeJammies said...

Like the world doesn't give me enough to sniffle about, you go and add to the emotional melee. Sob!

Suki said...

Awwww.... soooo sweet.

momstir said...

This is the most darling birthday post EVER.

Nino's Mum said...

OJ - can I just say I love you? hug.

suki - thank you!

momstir - you think?! thanks!

Sujatha said...

Gosh! We go through this every year, twice now. But what a lovely way of articulating it!

Nino's Mum said...

sujatha - thank you and how do you survive through it twice?!

Sujatha said...

You mean the labor or the bringing up or is it a rhetorical question?

vijaya said...

came across your blog, this post is so wonderfully written!!

sole said...

NM, you know, i just recently came upon your blog. When I enjoy reading a person I usually have this habit of going through their archives, so I know this person well and truly :-) This post was just truly awesome, gave me a lump in my throat as I was reading it! You are so talented and there is something so genuine, sincere and honest that makes me come back and look for more..brilliant NM :-)

Henri said...

Motherhood is so special to you no? I don't know if you know this, but being a mother is a party of your identity now. I know this may be the case for a lot of women, especially in our mothers' generation, but in ours, we're still struggling to find ourselves, find who we are. And you have found it. You are Nino's Mum. It's a good thing. You look at the world with a mother's eyes, full of compassion, understanding and infinite patience - Protective when another needs it, and only half-angry when required. The wonder in your eyes when you see another person's child can come only when you've looked into your own child's eyes - not just looked - peered deep inside of them to know the treasures lying in there. You're blessed. And that's why so are we - your friends.