Wednesday, 12 October 2011

The Responsible Mother

I am surprised by the total transformation of Daughter II. From a fun-loving, carefree, tempestuous, whimsical, happy-go-lucky and globetrotting girl (once, she even went off to Pakistan for a book-promotion programme), she has suddenly donned a completely different robe, that of a very responsible, very patient, very caring mother who has created a new world, a very small world, a world centered around a gurgling and whimpering tiny creature keen on intermittently kicking the world with all her four limbs and with all the strength she can muster.

As a teenager, wherever my daughter would go, it would seem like a tornado had just ravished the area. Patience, calmness and responsibility were words I would have never associated with her. And look at her now! The catalyst for the change has been that my rebellious and self-willed girl now has a girl of her own, whom she says she has 'made'. The tiny 'bundle of joy' has bound my daughter's hand and feet!

I feel as if I am looking at a complete stranger. I am surprised by the numerous and unending stream of terms of endearment showered by her on her baby. She knows that the baby laughs when paper is torn in front of her or when her mother claps. She now knows that when the baby cries in a particular way, it is time to feed her and when the baby whimpers in another way, it indicates that she needs a nap. I asked her,"From where did you learn all these?" Smilingly, she replied, "From her." And her 'teacher' peeps out with bewitchingly blinking eyes from a bundle of well-set clothes.

Sometimes, when I go near the baby, my daughter seals her lips with her finger and shoos me away with a "Shhhh, she is sleeping." She keeps on reminding me that her baby has a very light sleep and that she wakes up even by the sound of rustling leaves.

Once hesitatingly, I asked her, "Don't you feel anything while changing the dirty diapers?" The reply, with a smile again, is, "It is a pleasure." !!! So are cleaning up when the baby throws up and also having to wake up at night for the baby's needs.

In myriad ways, she tries to make the baby comfortable and happy.

In myriad ways, she tries to find out what the baby needs at which time.

A line I saw in an advertisement for baby food runs, 'It feels like someone has taken out a part of you and yet has made you complete.' How true!

It happens to every new mother; yet it seems to be a new thing every time.

A question comes to my mind - why has God made human babies so helpless and entirely dependent, unlike the young ones of other living beings? A calf starts walking and frolicking within an hour of birth. It takes so long for a human baby even to turn, let alone sit up or take the first tentative steps!

The initial total dependence of the human baby is perhaps deliberately programmed for human bonding and formation of human society.

Tail Piece

I am reminded of a few lines from a poem by Byron:

And what am I?
A child crying in the night,
A child crying for light,
With no language but a cry.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Fungi Nail Nailed by Lemon!

This happened when I was to leave India for Singapore to visit Daughter II. The wife is already with her and we are to return after a fortnight.

About a week before my departure for Singapore, I experienced a slight pain at the corner of the thumb on my right hand. I didn't take it seriously and thought that I had probably wrenched the small piece of thread-like skin near the corner of the thumb and that the pain would go away after a couple of days. However, even after 3 days the pain persisted and had actually increased. I discovered that there was a little swelling on the spot and the the area had become very sensitive. I referred to a book on home remedies and found a suggested cure to the problem. The book recommended slicing off the top of a lemon and inserting the affected finger into it. I wanted to try it out but I did not want to be seen with a lemon attached to my thumb in the aircraft and be a sight. Moreover, I was not sure how long the healing would take. Time was running out, as I was to board my flight in a few days. So I telephoned a doctor-friend and sought his advice.

He prescribed a medicine to be taken for 4 days, one tablet twice daily. He added that this medicine would cause a side effect. It would cause diarrhoea! To overcome that, he prescribed another tablet to be taken along with the first one. The problem persisted even after 4 days so on his advice, I took another set of tablets, one to address the main problem and another as an antidote to the side effect of gastric disorder. After a week, the problem had appeared to wane and I was happy. But the side effect was still troubling me. By this time, I was already in the flight to Singapore.

Two days after landing in the island of my daughter's residence, the problem disappeared completely. I heaved a sigh of relief at the thought of avoiding being in pain in a foreign country and putting my daughter and son-in-law into the consequent inconvenience.

However, my sense of relief was short-lived. :(((((

The day after the right thumb became right, the left thumb left me in trouble! I experienced a similar pain at the corner of the left thumb. :(((

All of us, including my 5-month old granddaughter, became worried. Then I told my daughter about what I had read in the book on home remedies. The daughter took charge. She searched on the Internet and found that the remedy was indeed supposed to be effective. She found out that the cause was fungus, the result of my gardening and handling soil with my bare hands.

She promptly took out a lemon from her refrigerator, sliced the top off and asked me to insert my affected thumb into it. She advised me to keep the thumb in it for 8 hours a day for 3 days. I complied.

Thumb up!

I kept it like that for as long as possible, except while taking a bath and sleeping.

Lo and behold! The irritating problem had disappeared into thin air precisely at the end of the 3rd day! :)))))))))

The problem on the right thumb was remedied with a cost of over Rs 400 and in 8 days with the attendant non-monetary cost of loose motion and gastric woes. The irritant on the left thumb was fixed in 3 days sharp and with S$ 0.50 (about Rs. 19). This would of course be much cheaper in India, where a lemon costs Rs. 1.50 or Rs. 2. Of course, the average size of lemons in Singapore is more than twice that of lemons of India.

The daughter has since purchased a large pack of gloves and has ordered me not to even look at my garden without wearing gloves.

Happy home remedies. :)))))))

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The Monkey Bite

It happened in August 2008. At that time, I was working at Visakhapatnam. I was deputed to Vijaywada for two weeks. Had I been there for this whole period, I would have escaped the accident. Because of an urgent piece of work at Visakhapatnam, I was called back. So I was made to be present there on that fateful day.

A monkey was roaming in our area for quite some time. It appeared to be harmless. It was more or less friendly to humans. It stole food from our kitchen on a couple of occasions and I shooed it away. Then one day, I was returning from my morning walk with two plastic carry bags -- one containing milk packets and the other, flowers for the wife's puja. (Don't get me wrong. I didn't say wife-puja, although I did almost worship her during those heady initial days of our newly wedded life.) As I was climbing the stairs to our first-floor apartment, I saw the monkey coming down the same staircase. I was face-to-face with her. (I learnt later that it was a female.) Our eyes met. I saw indignation, anger and aggression in her eyes. Terrified, I threw the milk and flowers and and beat a hasty retreat, climbing down the stairs backwards. Then I fled from the scene.

However, I realised that my image was fixed in her eyes. She was not harming anyone else but whenever she spotted me, she used to run towards me and snarl in an aggressive way. I was afraid of coming out of our house. During my morning walks, I started carrying a long stick, causing people to throw queer looks at me. To known persons, I would explain why I was carrying the stick. Normally it would be dark by the time I returned from the bank and I was scared and feared her attack. So I kept a stick in the car too.

I sent a written complaint to the Municipality. To be fair to the authorities, they sent a squad twice to catch her but failed. The monkey refused to take the bait and enter the vehicle. Then the Municipality wrote to the local zoo to catch her. In that letter, the Municipality had mentioned that they had to catch her with care as she was pregnant!!! They had sent a copy of this letter to me in reply to my complaint. When I telephoned to the zoo, they said that it was not in their jurisdiction. They said it was the duty of the Municipality and if the Municipality brought the monkey to the zoo, they would accept it.

I was at a loss about what to do. A couple of days later, when I was returning from my morning walk, one of the young men staying in the ground floor of the building, suggested to me to try to befriend the monkey. "Otherwise, how long can you avoid it?", he asked. I threw a piece of roti at her. She did not take it. Then the young man suggested that I should come down and offer the roti to her. I did that and she accepted it. I was coming back but the young man suggested me to stay there for a while so that the monkey would become familiar with me and accept me as a harmless friend. I did that and she did not react. Then the youngman suggested that I should wander around a little to create confidence in her. I did that. AND THEN IT HAPPENED. Suddenly, she charged towards me and attacked me. With my back pressed against my parked car, I could not run away. I was wearing shorts and she started scratching and biting my exposed legs. The young men who had gathered around, were too horrified to do anything. Then another person passing by came to my rescue and drove the monkey away by simply shooing her!!!!!!!!!!!

The young man who had suggested me to befriend the monkey, took me to a nearby hospital on his motorcycle. I had to take anti-rabies shots and it took about 15 days for the wounds to heal.

I continued carrying the stick.

A fortnight thereafter, the monkey simply vanished mysteriously!!!

Was it pre-destined and pre-ordained?

First, I was called back when the monkey was roaming in our area. Then it was I who came face to face with her on the staircase. She was friendly to all except me. Then again, I was advised to offer food to her. And when she had accepted the food from me and I wanted to come back, I was advised twice (of course with all good intentions) to linger there for some more time. Were my bank authorities and my friendly young neighbour the agents of fate?

I pride myself in saying that I do not believe in fate or destiny. What was it? Were all those causes mere coincidences or was the script pre-written somewhere?

I am in self-doubt. ???!!!