"Why?", I asked my mother flashing her the best puppy-eyed look I could muster "Why, me?" Sitting across from me, my mother averted her glance just as the waiter walked up to the table with our drinks - a strong filter coffee for my mother, and a bottle of juice for me. She said nothing in reply to my question, as she took a sip of the drink.
Even though I was only fifteen years old, I knew the reason for her silence. I had just completed my 10th CBSE board exams, which I had passed with flying colours. Yes, the results had surprised me too. But nevertheless, I was riding high on the success. And then my father had dropped a bombshell.
Walking into the living room one day, while I was inconspicuously trying to watch an episode of FRIENDS, he had nonchalantly announced, "Sidharth, you're going to a new school." Now, my father is often known for his good sense of humour, so I just dismissed it as a prank that he was trying to pull off. I barely looked up and just let out a guffaw. But then he came over and sat down on the opposite sofa and placed his hand on my shoulder. "You're going to a prestigious residential school in Kerala. There will be many kids similar to you, ones who have been born and brought up abroad in the UAE and elsewhere. So you won't feel out-of-place either. "
Of course, the news hit me quite hard. I am an only child. So as expected, my parents have always gone out of their way to make sure that I've had every level of comfort that they could afford to give me. That is not to say that I was spoiled for choice. No, they offered me a rein, long enough for me to be able to make my small choices, while looking out for me. So perhaps, the last thing I had thought I would ever hear was the fact that I was being 'banished' to the depths of a windowless, soul-less dungeon where I would have no friends, no family and was be all alone. Or at least that's what my fifteen year old brain convinced me would happen.
What followed next were a few weeks of utter torture. Not of the mental kind, but emotionally heart wrenching. I bade a heavy-hearted good-bye to all my friends and my neighbours and was soon on my journey to this new 'gated hell' that awaited me. Since the summer vacations in the Middle East and in India are during different times, my father was unable to accompany us. So a couple of days before the start of the new academic year, my mother and I, made the long and arduous journey to this enormous residential school in Nilambur, thousands of miles away from home.
Now, up until that point, I had never asked my mother the reason behind my father's actions. I mean, I did not even ask my father the reason. I just complained and tried to resist the change. But that day, sitting at this quaint little cafe, merely minutes away from walking through the gigantic wooden gates that would lead me to my new 'home' for the next couple of years, I was overwhelmed. Mixed emotions surged through me like roller coaster ride with no stop in sight. But somehow I gathered my wits and asked my mother why they did what they had done.
As I sat there waiting for my mother to give me an explanation, tears started to well up and for the first time I could remember, since I had entered my teenage years, I cried. No, it wasn't a wail like how babies or little kids do when they're hurt or throwing a tantrum. It was more of a continuous stream of pearl-shaped droplets chasing each other down the contours of my chubby cheeks, while my brain struggled to process the potential reasons behind my parents' actions and how I would face the next two years in a strange place. I felt like I was in a dark tunnel and there was absolutely no light at the end.
Suddenly my mother spoke. I wiped my tears and looked at her. Her eyes had started to well up too and the tip of her nose had turned a shade of light pink. As she gently called out my name, it struck me. This transition and change was going to be a lot difficult for her than it was for me. Yes, in due course, I would make friends and settle down. But my mother, whose life revolved around her little family, that included my father and me, would be missing a whole part when I had gone. The fact that she was a teacher who would be teaching kids around the same group as I was, would not help either. For in every pair of eyes that looked back at her while she was reading aloud that poem or story, would remind her of me.
As these thoughts rushed through my head, she pulled up her chair towards me and embraced me in a tight hug. Suddenly, I felt like a little kid again. I did not want to go anywhere, but just stay like that forever. But she cut short the embrace and looked into my eyes.
"Listen," she said, her soothing voice offered me as much comfort as a gentle babbling brook, "We're in this together. Even though your father might not acknowledge this, it is as difficult for the both of us to be away from you, as much as it is for you to be away from us. But we won't be there with you forever. There will be a time in your life when you need to be able to adjust to newer surroundings, make new friends and be optimistic about the future. And that time is now! Look back fondly on the memories of all the time you've had with us and your friends and at your old school. They will be your light during the darkest days. And they will guide and help you to make more memories with new friends here too."
As I quietly nodded along to everything she said, she added, "And remember son, we love you. We are doing this because we love you and want you to be independent. You can't live in our shadows forever or live with the decisions we make for you. This is the first step to your new life. So embrace it. And for everything else, we're always there to guide you. Together, we can do this."
Looking back, that was perhaps the best decision that my parents had made for me. And also the last. They gave me the support that I needed to be independent, and of course have always been together with me during my low points and high ones. Today, I stand proud and tall with my head held high because of the fact that I've known they have always supported me. In retrospect, I might even say that was perhaps one of the most memorable moments in my life. The time that I spent with my mother in the cafe that day and listening to her telling me the reasons behind their decisions, helped me look up and be optimistic about my future. No, it wasn't easy, but as she said, #together, we did it.
Thank you Housing.com for giving me the opportunity to relive this valuable memory that has made me the person that I am today
Image courtesy : www.shutterstock.com
I will always remember that day.Some say that it’s unreasonable to expect a five year old to remember everything in the right sequence of events. I’m inclined to agree. But deep down, I also know everything I saw and heard that night. No matter how much people trivialise what I say, they cannot take away what I saw. And when such memories are imprinted in your brain, with the same intensity that the colonial slave-traders branded their slaves, you hardly forget. And the nightmares liven them. Every single day.
I will always remember that day.
It was a few days before Christmas. I remember, because I was upset about having bitten Tony Gonzales on his arm. No, the biting did not bother me. He deserved it. What upset me was what my mother had said. She looked into my eyes and said that I had been a bad boy and so Santa wouldn’t be bringing me any presents that year. And she had told me off in front of that over-sized buffoon. Just for that, I wanted to bite his other arm too. Santa wasn’t going to come anyway. But I didn’t. It was because for the first time, my mother’s eyes were missing the twinkle that they always had. I couldn’t bear to see my mother upset. So I did nothing. Except follow her home with the demeanour of a quiet, little lamb.
That night at dinner, my mother had a forlorn expression. She had not spoken to me since the incident at school. Neither had she laughed when Maria, my elder sister, had recited a joke she had learned. I can’t remember what the joke was - but only that it was something funny, and I too had laughed along. Maria and I had a chasm of an age difference - 11 years. After dinner, my sister left for the movies along with her douche-bag of a boyfriend, Buster. I mean, who gives a dog’s name to a kid? After they’d gone, mother had rushed me upstairs. Father had not come home yet - he had been working rather late for the past few months and they had been arguing a lot.
Mother tucked me in tight and left without saying a good night or reading me my bed-time story of the little cat who would not have its milk. That was the first time that she had forgotten to do either. Usually she would sit around to make sure I had slept; but that day, it had seemed like she did not care. She had seemed impatient and agitated. I remember blaming myself for having made my mother upset. And I had cried myself to sleep for that.
I woke up to loud voices. Maybe screaming is more apt. I don’t think I noticed the time. All I knew was that it was late. Too late for my liking. And people were shouting. I tiptoed towards the stairs. The voices were coming from the kitchen. As I slowly climbed down the stairs, the voices became clearer. “You Bastard!” , I heard my mother scream. At least I think it was a scream. I’d never heard her raise her voice before. Not even when I had managed to slip a red sock into the washing machine along with all her whites.
Back then, I knew not what ‘bastard’ meant. All I knew was the intensity with which the words were spoken. And the hatred that coated each word. As I neared the kitchen, I heard a thud. And a groan. Followed by a long pause. And then a blood curdling cry. I stood rooted to the spot. The kitchen door, that was slightly ajar, was only a few feet away from me. But I couldn’t move.
"How could you? You wretched man! She’s your……", I heard my mother’s voice, slowly fade out. Like the horn of the local train did, as it sped away from the station. I still do not know where I got the strength from. But I took a step. And then another. And then a couple more, till I reached the door. And then I peered through the gap. In there, I saw the scene. One that would haunt my nights and days for months and years to come. One that no amount of therapy or counselling could cure. One that I wish I hadn’t seen or heard.
I noticed my mother sobbing. The sound started like a tiny sing-song noise, like the hum of the bees in Mr. Dickenson’s yard. Gradually rising and falling. And then it exploded. I had to rub my eyes to be sure that the source of the voice was indeed, my mother. I hoped it was not. But my eyes said otherwise.
She was leaning over a man on the chair, hugging him. Rocking back and forth, like she was cradling a baby. A man who I would soon find out was dead, with a kitchen knife through his chest. A man I would soon find out, was my father. I wondered why my sister hadn’t rushed down yet. I would find out later that she was in the kitchen that very moment. Lying in a puddle of blood. Unconscious. But still breathing. Barely.
I will always remember that day.
Because it was the day I lost my family.
Although this work is fiction, I have read and in some cases, even known a few families who have been shred to pieces because of instances like these. As a parent, it scares me. The fact that sometimes we cannot trust the very people who are responsible for us. I've left out explicit scenes or descriptions so as not to disturb the readers. Also it is the first time, I've attempted a 'first person narrative style'.
[This post is written for the Project 365 program at We Post Daily aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. Tell us about a conversation you couldn’t help but overhear and wish you hadn't] Image source: Getty Images
Krishna Monga smiled, as he watched the British Airways flight to Mumbai, BA0257, taxi up Heathrow’s runway number 2 and take off into the twilight sky. He always timed his allotted one-hour break to coincide with the flight’s 1935 departure time. Neither him nor the flight had ever missed their “scheduled date”. Not once in ten years. As the flight transformed itself into a little speck against the setting sky, almost disappearing to the naked eye, Krishna leaned forward, the tip of his crooked, aged nose making contact with the icy glass windows of the terminal. The sudden change in temperature caused the tiny goosebumps all over his body. In the distance, he heard the familiar voice of Ayesha Phagun announcing the successful departure of flight BA0257 from Terminal 3, London Heathrow Airport. He smiled again, as he fondly thought of the young Ayesha, who was probably only old enough to be his daughter, had he ever married and started a family. Ayesha’s thick Hindi-encrusted English accent was what had secured her the job as the passenger service announcer for all India-bound flights. Hers was the only familiar sound that a lot of Indians could associate with, amongst a cacophony of thousands of other English accents. He still remembered the time, he’d first heard Ayesha’s voice over the Passenger announcement system. He had used all his sources to find out who the owner of the “Hinglish” voice was. Today, Ayesha’s familiar voice over the passenger announcement system was the only thing that signified a bit of “home” out here in a land that he still felt alien in. Taking a step back from the window, he looked around. The terminal was a hive of activity, as always. Everywhere he turned, there were all kinds of passengers and people going around their business. The long-haul connecting passengers had taken over the entire corner between Gates 3A - 3G, most of them trying to catch a quick nap in their sleeping bags before the connecting flights to their destinations. The first time flyers were pacing up and down near their boarding gates, their faces visibly taut with the tension of flying. Families with infants and little kids in tow, were comfortably settled in their large boxed cubicle, that was reserved for them and packed with everything that a family could potentially need to make their stay in the terminal as enjoyable as possible - from thick blankets to a children’s play area where a few small kids seemed to be collectively bullying a larger kid. The frequent travellers were sipping their complimentary drinks and furiously gesturing at their portable devices pretending to make world-altering decisions. The shopaholics, who always seemed to have plenty of time to kill, were busy wandering in and out of the various luxury shops that the mile-long World Duty Free section provided. During his tenure here, Krishna had seen all kinds of air travellers. From the downright whiny ones who picked on every little thing to the ones for whom flying had become almost second nature, like walking or sleeping.
“I’ve been here a long time!” he thought as he stole a glance at his name badge which once had the letters KRIS engraved in golden ink, but now had turned a strange dull metallic copper. As he ran his gloved fingers over the badge, he felt a strange twinge of remorse. He’d run away from both his family and home when he was a teenager. Stealing every single dime from his grandfather’s rickety old safe, Kris had paid his way onboard a cargo ship headed for the magical desert kingdom across the Arabian sea. He knew his family would never forgive him for what he’d done, but he had always wanted to go abroad and work in the travel industry, which was starting to bloom. And once he had failed his plus two exams three times, he knew he was going to have to join the family tradition of magic and puppeteering. But fate had intervened in the form of Rasool chacha, a friend’s uncle who had started a shipping agency specialising in exporting cargo to the gulf. So he’d done what he’d needed to do, in order to go abroad and make a living.
Over the past three decades, Kris had travelled across various countries and worked in various roles, from a lowly labourer, toiling away his life and health in the blazing and searing Arabian sun for a measly daily wage to his present role as the maintenance supervisor for Heathrow’s Terminal 3, one of the busiest airport terminals in the world. He had travelled the world like he had always dreamt of. But there was always something that had been gnawing at his brain, like an unreachable itch. Despite his biggest wish having come true, he was a nomad. He had lost touch with his parents and extended family years ago, and despite having spent almost a decade in London and having successfully managed to secure a British nationality even, he still had no home to speak of. All he had, was a career built from working around the globe.
A loud crackling over his walkie-talkie snapped his attention back to the present. He quickly glanced at his watch. His break was almost up. He looked outside the window and noticed that though darkness had set, the skies over Heathrow were still lit up with the flashing lights of the numerous flights taking off and landing. His walkie-talkie crackled again. There was an emergency in the one of the air-conditioning ducts downstairs. As he walked across to the maintenance lift, he threw one last look around the terminal. Yes, this terminal with zillions of yearly passengers and thousands of fellow team mates had now become his “home away from home."
[This post is written for the Project 365 program at We Post Daily aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. If you had the opportunity to live a nomadic life, traveling from place to place, would you do it? Do you need a home base? What makes a place “home” to you?" ]
“There you are!” exclaimed Amit as he threw open the door to the terrace. “Everyone’s been looking for you. The event starts in 40 minutes. Come down, will you?” he added with a smirk on his face. Tina took a long drag of the cigarette and felt the menthol vapour fill her throat and windpipe. It was a welcome contrast to the chilly London air. She looked back at Amit and smiled. As he came closer, she blew the smoke onto his face. Amit instantaneously retched and took a couple of steps back. “I’ve told you not to do that. It’s bad enough that you want to kill yourself smoking. I’m not going to die from passive smoke. I love my lungs, thank you very much!” he said in mock anger. Tina shrugged her shoulders and turned back to the view she had been enjoying until Amit had suddenly made his appearance. She really liked Amit, but it was moments like these, she felt he was really uptight. “Leave me alone for a bit longer, Amit. I’ll be down shortly. I am calming myself down” she said, as she gestured to Amit to leave. As Amit muttered something under his breath and left, Tina leaned against the wall. She was going to have to somehow get through today. And from the looks of it, it was just the beginning. Having been an introvert all her life, she'd often politely declined being part of any kind of public gathering. But this time around, she hadn’t been able to excuse herself. After all, the event was being thrown in her honour. A glimmering light drew her attention to one of London’s iconic buildings - the Gherkin. Within minutes, lights of different colours and intensities had lit up the city of London. Standing atop the tallest building, not just in London, but also in Western Europe, Tina felt a strange surge of satisfaction.
“It’s funny how things sometimes work out!” Tina thought to herself, as she wrapped her sweater tighter around her. She’d never even dreamt of being a writer. Though she’d found solace in books, it had just been a much-needed escape from all the routine problems of her world. As she grew up, so did her choice in books. The Enid Blytons were replaced by other literary classics, which were then soon replaced by books on modern literature. Considering her love for the written word, she had often contemplated doing a degree in arts and creative writing or even journalism. The only thorn in her side had been her father. Though he’d been in the UK for years, the urban lifestyle hadn’t quite rubbed off on him. He was still very traditional and was adamant that he was going to get both his daughters married off as soon as they finished their basic education. Her sister, Nina, had been a really good painter and had been even offered a scholarship from the esteemed Slade School of Fine Art at UCL. But her father had been obstinate and in no time, she had been married off. Unfortunately for her sister, she’d fallen pregnant soon after and was now a homemaker looking after their two kids. Tina had known all along that she was going to have do something drastic, if she was to avoid her sister’s fate. So during her final year of high school, she decided to grab hold of a work internship with a London financial firm. Her father had vehemently disagreed stating that he’d almost finalised her marriage with a “nice Indian boy who had his own corner store”. “As if I’m a piece of property!” Tina had thought whilst she quietly packed her bags in the night to leave for London.
That had been five years ago. She’d only met her father once since, which was for the second birthday of her sister’s first child. The internship had gone smoothly and they had even offered her a full time position, which she’d quickly grabbed. Her penchant for numbers and ability to think outside the box had ensured that she was promoted regularly. She’d even managed to complete her business degree whilst continuing to work full time for the firm. And that’s when she’d met Amit. A few years older to her, he’d been pursuing his MBA in the same university that she had been enrolled at. Amit worked part time at a publishing company and she was often privy to a lot of gossip about stories that they had either rejected or ones that had been delayed indefinitely. It had initially been exciting to listen to the stories, considering her affinity for reading and books. Soon that excitement had turned into a reality check; a realisation that she should try her hand at writing. She was fortunate that Amit too pushed her to follow her heart. As with most newbie writers, she too had tried her hand at blogging. Amit had managed to persuade his publishing company’s editor to give some of her short stories a read, and fortunately for her, he’d been impressed. Shortly after, she’d started contributing articles for Metro & The Evening Standard. Buoyed by her almost-overnight success, she’d decided to write a romantic novella, which unfortunately had not found many takers. Dejected, she’d vowed never to write anything ever again. And she hadn’t, for almost a period of six months. But everything changed, late one winter’s night, when they’d encountered 7 year-old Monisha decked up as a bride in the alleyways of Brick Lane, in East London.
“Tina. It’s time!” Amit’s sombre voice snapped her out of her trance like state. Flicking the cigarette butt away, she slowly walked towards the exit to the terrace, where he waited. She smiled and gave him a tight hug. He smiled back and gave her a reassuring squeeze on her shoulder. Together they descended to the mezzanine floor of the Shard, where the event was scheduled to take place. Tina squinted against the bright spotlights that adorned the ceilings of the building. She saw Mark, her literary agent, pointing towards his watch and gesturing towards the seat that had been reserved for her. She slowly walked towards the front of the room, vaguely aware of the camera flashes that were snapping her every move. As she took her seat, she glanced absentmindedly towards the far end of the room. For a moment, she thought she recognised an elderly gentleman in a worn out beige blazer. Almost instantly, a photographer’s flash temporarily blinded her, and she was forced to look away. When she looked up again, he was gone. As she glanced down at the table she was seated at, Mark promptly slid across a copy of her best-selling book. “Great, another copy to sign” she mused as she slowly ran her fingers over the gold-embossed title of her book - “MONISHA”. Grabbing a pen from the table, she slowly turned the cover to write the so-called personalised words that she’d written at least a hundred times since the book released. Realising that she didn’t know who she was signing it for, she threw a questioning glance at Mark, who seemed to be busy on the phone. A small note slid out of the book and fell onto her lap. She picked it up and glanced at the hastily scrawled writing on it.
Teary-eyed, Tina looked up at Amit, who was smiling at her, a short distance away. She smiled back and silently mouthed "Thank you!"
[This post is written for the Project 365 program at We Post Daily aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. The prompt for today was "Proud : When was the last time someone told you they were proud of you?"]
Paul Dixit was a compulsive addict. His addiction - mobile phones, especially smart phones. He spent a considerable chunk of his monthly salary buying the latest mobile phones. His wife Devi, on the other hand, was the complete opposite. She too had a mobile phone, but only by compulsion. At Paul’s coercion, she too had bought a smart phone. It was an Apple iPhone 5s. Though everyone she met went gaga over the phone, it did not tickle Devi’s fancy at all. According to her, a phone only needed a few features - Make phone calls, send short messages and occasionally set the alarm. Anything beyond that was an unnecessary facet, and she just did not care. But when Paul insisted on getting her the very latest in smartphones, she dropped her standards, and let him get her a state-of-the-art phone. The trouble now, was that she had no idea of how to go about using this piece of junk. And to make matters worse, the sim card was a different one. She had tried to fit the new sim card into her old phone, and it just slid through and rattled about in the slot.When he “gifted” her the phone, Paul had promised to spend some time over the weekend helping her get accustomed to the new phone. However in typical Paul fashion, come Saturday morning, he was suddenly required in Frankfurt, and he left on the very next flight. This left Devi in quite a pickle, since she did not have a clue with regards to using this shiny new equipment. Since Devi was predominantly home during the weekend, she could continue to use the land phone. "The real problem would be on Monday morning, when I get to work", she thought. "Hopefully someone at work can help me with it." Monday mornings were a nightmarish affair for Devi. It always had been, and this particular Monday morning was no different. To make matters a bit more complicated, their son’s nanny had pulled a sickie, which meant eight year old Arnav was alone at home. Though Devi’s neighbour, Mrs. Jain, had promised to pop-by, every hour or so, Devi knew that she shouldn’t have left him alone. But with her boss breathing down her neck demanding a finalised projection report before lunch time, she had no other alternative but to go to work, at least for a few hours till she got the report sorted. “I’ll just keep calling Arnav every hour to make sure he is alright” she thought. She had asked their friendly security guy, Ramu kaka, to keep an eye on Arnav as well. As Monday morning wore on, Devi found herself drowning under the workload. Things got worse when her Managing Director, Mr. Tiwari, called for an impromptu all-hands-on-deck meeting in the board room, during lunch. She checked the time on her watch. It was 1:15 pm. As she walked into the meeting, she wondered if Arnav would have had lunch. The meeting room was packed and she noted that everyone, except Mr. Tiwari was present. “I’ll just make a quick phone call before he gets here” thought Devi, and took out her phone. She glanced at the screen of her new phone, unsure what to do next. For the love of god, she couldn’t find a phone icon. And this god-forsaken item did not have many buttons either, much less anything that resembled a phone symbol. As she sat there fiddling with the side-buttons of her phone, Devi failed to notice Mr. Tiwari enter the room. Unfortunately for her, Mr. Tiwari did see her playing with the phone. “Ah, the new iPhone I see, Devi. Looks like we’re paying you too much again!” he exclaimed loudly, from across the room. Embarrassed, Devi put the phone away into the depths of her handbag. “Why am I worried?” she thought. “Our numbers are programmed into the landline unit’s speed dial. Arnav will call us if there was anything urgent." As the meeting dragged on, Devi could feel her eyes start to get heavy. Suddenly she heard a distant buzzing. It sounded like a very large mosquito, a few meters away from her ear. She glanced around to see if anyone had noticed. Nobody else had seemed to notice it. She dismissed it nonchalantly. The buzzing continued, and Devi just tuned it out. Ten minutes later, when the meeting finally ended, Devi jumped up from her chair. She decided that it was high time she checked up on her son. As she carefully dug her phone out from the abyss of her hand bag, she noticed that the screen was already lit up. 38 missed calls, said the message on the screen. All from a private number. At first she panicked. Then slowly her sensible part prevailed and she decided to check it out in detail. She somehow managed to unlock the screen and clicked on the icon which had the number 38 superscripted in bold, red font on it. She looked at the time of the first call. It was at 1:50pm. The last call from the number was at 2 pm, a few minutes back. 38 missed calls in 10 mins! She wondered what was going on. Something was wrong. She immediately dialled the home number to check on Arnav. There was no answer. She tried the number again. The result was the same. No answer. She could feel trickles of sweat starting to build up on her forehead, inspite of the air conditioning running on full blast. She dialled Mrs. Jain’s number. She answered on the first ring. Talking to Mrs. Jain, Devi felt like she was having a panic attack. Apparently Mrs. Jain had to leave the building to post an urgent letter, and she had just returned. On her way back, she had stopped by Devi’s apartment to check on Arnav. But inspite of ringing the door bell numerous times, she did not get an answer. She had just stopped by her own flat to get the spare keys to Devi’s, when the phone rang. On Devi’s request, Mrs. Jain opened up their flat and checked it thoroughly. Arnav was no where to be found. Arnav was missing! Devi felt the brand new iPhone slip from her hand and hit the floor with a resonating crash. Almost immediately a series of “WHY” enveloped her thoughts:
I intend no offence against any tele-callers who may be reading this, or any of you who may know someone who have been unfortunate enough to do the job, or if you have previously done the tele-marketing/caller role. It too is a job that pays the bills.
For those of you who were wondering what happened to Arnav, he is safe and sound. Paul returned early from Frankfurt, and he was surprised to find Arnav home alone. So he took him out to McDonalds for a nice meal and some much needed father-son bonding time. As for Devi's phone not ringing, remember the time when she was fiddling with the side buttons of her phone in the meeting room? She inadvertently slid the button on the side which put the phone into vibrate mode.
Congratulations - the little one that you've been waiting expectantly for all these months, is finally here. Now, the mandatory 24 hours later, you get to bring him / her home. If you're one of the lucky ones who happen to have the luxury of an extra room (and money to spend of course) to be converted into a baby room, you would have taken all the pains to ensure that you left no stone unturned to ensure the room is cutely furnished and perfectly stocked with a year's supply of nappies, baby wipes, baby creams and stuffed toys. It is your first baby after all :) In an ideal world, you'd be very relaxed at this point, having completed the prerequisite 40 odd weeks as well as the really intense labour session.You know what, that was the easy part. Things are only going to get tougher from here on, but in a good way.
Often you hear inexperienced people say "Newborns, oh aren't they a piece of cake! All they do is Eat, Poop and Sleep". Frankly, the statement isn't without some truth. They do "eat, poop and sleep". What people often fail to mention are the effects that these three actions have on new parents. Since a quick google on the "effects of newborns on new parents" can spill out more accurate results, I'm going to leverage this space to talk about three golden rules, which if adhered to, can hopefully help you retain some sanity and strengthen those bonds, during this testing phase. And yes, there are purely from a dad's point of view.
Yes, you've all heard it. Every single person who has been through this "kid-venture" would have invariably offered both your wife and yourself this wholesome yet free advice of "Sleep while the baby sleeps"; At the time, like me, you'd have dismissed it as if it wasn't applicable to you. Strike 1. It is very much applicable to you; actually it is most applicable to you as the dad than for the mom, since she probably has the chance to nap when the baby does. To all the Mothers - No, I'm not saying that you would actually manage to catch some shut-eye when the baby naps, but at least you have the opportunity whilst on maternity leave. However for most of us working dads, paternity leave lasts a week to two at most. Which means past that stay-at-home period, the last thing you'd want is a "noisy, crying" baby disturbing the few hours of precious sleep that you can afford during night time. Now I could probably write a whole post on "post-baby sleeping habits" (actually I think I might); however for now, rule number 1: Sleep - Take it wherever and whenever you get it. You are going to need it!
b. Share the baby duties:
This is probably the most taken-for-granted part of the parenthood cycle. Most modern day fathers will definitely claim to have played a part in fulfilling the aforementioned duties. Dig deeper with the wife/partner, and you'll discover that "playing a part" involved merely "cuddling with the newborn". Whilst it is definitely a recommended activity, it shouldn't stop there. I might sound preachy, but if you are a small family, without a lot of constant presence from family, then the father-of-the baby definitely needs to step up and play a more vital part. There are a number of different advantages to this one, with the obvious one being that you get a bit more closer to your offspring. Sharing the duties also ensures that there's not a lot of guilt-tripping going around, which means, you know those days when your favourite team's playing and you want nothing more than sip some chilled beer and watch the game - your better half will actually let you off without any nagging. Though, it is very likely that you'll owe her a "ladies day out" with her friends as well, while you take care of the little one.
c. Listen, understand, and sometimes just shut-up
I suppose its only fair to say that these three titular points are applicable in most relationships, even in ones without the babies. Nevertheless, they tend to be more profound immediately after you've had a little one. I mean, look at the big picture here - Your better half has just pushed out a three-odd kg human being out not so long ago. She is tired, cranky, sleep-depraved, constantly having to pump or breast feed, change nappies, and so-on. To top it off, she still has the baby fat and is now constantly losing strands of hair, which prompts the occasional shrieks from her. So expect a rant every now and then, and cut her some slack. I guarantee you, the madness will end. The sooner we can turn into angels of peace, the easier you can get through this phase.
I just wish someone had told me earlier - I had a very practical crash course, sort of on-the-go training so to speak.