‘Nanu, nanu!” exclaims C. He wants to meet his Nanu, my dad, his excitement rising as he inspects the family photograph yet again. It stands in a frame in his nursery, and also features his Nani.

‘Nanu?’ His voice is a question this time. When will I meet him, Mommy?


You won’t meet him, little fella. He is no more.

Guess what happened to him?

He lost his life to COVID, this dratted virus that has killed lakhs of people around the world. Your granddad, ever so fit, ever so obsessed with his fitness tracker, succumbed to the virus after spending his last days in a hospital, unconscious.

Well, dad is gone. Mum is gone. It is only me who is left to face the rest of my days alone, without parents, expected to be a good parent to a little fellow who is oblivious to everything that is transpiring around us.

Every morning, I wake up exhausted. Fatigue is my permanent state of mind and body. They don’t tell you just how hard it is to look after a toddler without an extensive support system. I face the sunlight, get reminded of the golden sunshine of winters spent in Delhi…days and nights that will never be mine again. I have lost my drive and motivation to do anything, be anything. Composure. Patience. Fortitude. These are mere terms that can no longer describe anything I possess.

Some days -most days- it is only the need to make breakfast for C that forces me to get out of bed. He cajoles me, pulls my hair, screams ‘Mama, mama’ in a super bossy tone, and I get up, shower him with kisses, suppress my need to cry. Sometimes, I think, he keeps me sane in this entirely meaningless world.

‘You won’t meet Nanu anytime soon,’ I tell my son. ‘But we will go visit Mama’s childhood home one day.’ Nanu’s memories are there, and so are lots of toys and books and dilapidated gadgets he loved to fix and takeout menus and cricket-match listings.

Tons of things irk me. The notion that mum and dad are together in some kind of heaven, that I should be glad they are one again. The idea that this is God’s will. The expectation to be ‘strong’ especially because hey, I am a mum.

Please let me grieve the way I want to. I don’t need placations and silly statements meant to make light of this tragedy. Every day that papa spent intubated in the hospital revealed to me just how lonely I am, how little I can bank on anyone, how absurd my notions of familial ties and shared sorrows are.

Perhaps, one morning will dawn when I will be able to smile at all the moments mum, dad and I shared and accept that everything must end. But for now, life as I knew it, as I had learnt to live it after mum’s passing, has collapsed again. I want to wallow in self pity and cry a bucket of tears and then cry more about how dad will no longer ask me, ‘Are you okay, beta? Your eyes are red. Have you been drinking milk every day? Are you getting enough sleep?’

COVID is a thing of the past, apparently. They are distributing vaccines with only a few cases of uh, adverse reactions. The death toll is majorly down; people in my locality roam around with masks covering only their beards. Just the elderly and the frail are dying, you see. People like my papa, ever so fit, still happily working at a job he loved, relishing his plate of chicken tandoori and walking several kilometers every day, are exceptions.

C, someday I will tell you more about your Nanu and Nani. For now, all I want is to close my eyes and let my dreams transport me to happier times when both my parents held me tight, steadied me when I fell, and had my back at every moment of the day. It was another lifetime. Oh, let me lose myself in the memories so; maybe they will blend into my reality and I won’t be sad again.



Little C

My son cuddles up to me, still half asleep, his little body warm and fragrant in a way only babies know how to achieve. He smiles, then nods off. I wonder of what he will dream. I have a hunch it will be his favourite lion king.

When he wakes up, my boy gives a massive squeal of excitement. Crawls so quickly into the living room you would think they were dishing out free chocolate cupcakes. He pulls himself up on the couch and proceeds to dump all the cushions onto the carpet methodically.

My little one had a birthday a few days ago. He is now one year old, and my oh my, he already seems to have transformed into a toddler. Throws mini tantrums if you don’t let him nibble at your food. Screams when you hold him down to change his diaper. Acts overly sweet and smiley when he wants to bite your nose.

Already, he is happy to wiggle about from room to room, climbing, exploring, err, re-organizing. He cries ‘B-Byeeee!’ if you open the front door only to take out the trash. Holds on to my hand and hums as he walks, looking up quizzically when we encounter an obstacle in our path. Babbles ‘Ma-Ma-Ma’ when R shows him old photographs. Giggles when R clears his throat in the washroom; he even attempts quite an accurate imitation.

Where did my baby go?! He would fit entirely in my arms when he suckled at my breasts and struggle to keep his eyes open. You could place him on the bed, under a play gym, and read several chapters from a book. You try that now, and he would have unloaded the laundry basket, emptied the pantry, and uncorked all the bottles before you could finish a page.

I know exciting things lie ahead in this second year of his life. Little C is growing up fast, and as his mum, it fills me with joy. But with each passing moment, my baby becomes more independent. There will be a day when he won’t come tugging at my pants when I do the dishes in the kitchen. He will wish to play with his toys by himself, hang out with his friends – possibly even be embarrassed by his mama. He will want other things in life than just his mum’s proximity and the comfort of her touch.

Allow me to end this post right here as I return to cuddle up with him once again. The days do seem long sometimes, but when put in this perspective, I realize they are way too fleeting. I want to soak up the smell of his baby-soft skin and the warmth of his breathing. It needs to last me for the remainder of my life.

Seven Months

Seven months have passed. More than 210 days since I last had eight hours of uninterrupted, blissful sleep. Since I went to the movie theatre and munched on some popcorn. Since I idled over a meal while watching the television, unafraid of things abruptly ending because of a beep from the nursery.

Taking care of a baby can be excruciating. Sometimes, it seems harder now that my son is seven-months-old as opposed to when he was a newborn. Dressing him is a daily battle; I have to sing and jostle and recite poems to keep him from being a nudist. Getting him to nap is an Olympic event. He may yawn incessantly and rub his eyes from exhaustion, but hey, won’t sleeping take away from his enjoyment of the world? What if the lion on his pillow leaves for the jungle when he naps? Preparing meals requires elaborate recitation of the recipe and constant “hey, mama’s now doing this” from the kitchen. Encourage independent play, they say. My baby loves his own version of playing-by-myself-as-mama-sits-next-to-me-on-the-dratted-playmat. It is his favourite kind of play, next only to biting-mama’s-boobs-during-the-third-lunch-of-the-day.

Not too long ago, R and I were worrying about NST reports that depicted his breathing rate. We discussed labour and induction and mode of delivery for hours on end. Today, we discuss solid foods, how our baby is learning to sit up, how he giggles and squeals when we meow and woof. How time flies!

Today, my baby is seven-months-old. I have been a mother for seven months. Have I adapted to it? I don’t know. Will I ever? I don’t know. On some days, all I want to do is lie on the bed and read a book and drink a huge glass of wine. On other days, I spend hours gazing at my baby as he chews his rattle, babbles nonsensical sentences and tries to get my attention with little squeals of delight. When he is such an angel, it doesn’t infuse me with a sudden surge of maternal hormones or a gallon of energy to face all that parenthood entails. But it does make me feel warm and loved. A better person than I give myself credit for. A more hopeful person who anticipates greater gifts on the horizon, never mind the greater challenges.

Maybe, just maybe, I got this.

Wuff Wuff All Night

The universe is conspiring to give me chronic insomnia. Sleep is toxic; it wastes precious, productive hours that people can spend engaged otherwise. For much of this year, my baby boy decided it would be fun to party at 3 a.m. Now, after he has moved his partying to more respectable hours, someone else decided it would be incredibly fun to keep me up. The hyperactive stray dogs in my locality.

Stray dogs in Pune

Now, before doggie lovers pounce at me in protest, let me make this clear: I love dogs. I have always wanted to keep one at home but have been obstructed by various reasons. When I meet a happy, eager-to-please stray, I offer biscuits and pats, sometimes to R’s disapproval. Never have I been cruel to one of these canines.

Why then are they so cruel to me?

Every night at 3 a.m., Continue reading

If Mom Had Been Here Today

If Mom had been with me today, she would have made me a hot cup of coffee in the morning. She would then have forced me to go and sit in the sunshine and listen to the birds as she soothed my baby into his nap. I would have felt the sun warm my skin and my soul. I would have stretched my arms, sore from rocking and holding the baby for hours on end, and smiled up at the blue sky. Continue reading

I Believe We Once Had a Sun

Well, I cannot be sure anymore. It has been over a month since I last saw it. This morning, I stood in the balcony with a cup of coffee and tried hard to ferret it out. I looked at this corner of the sky and that, squinted, even burnt one finger, but nope, no sun. The sky was lined with bad-weather clouds; thunder growled ominously in the distance. It is official: the golden glob over our heads is a thing of the past.

In this sun-less world, I barely get by. The laundry needs to be artificially dried, which means our dryer is perpetually on. Just one of the many perks of having a newborn in the house who looks his most content when he is pooping. After a long night of glorious sleep—give me a moment to do a deep-belly laugh here please—all I want to do is feel the sun on my skin. But all I get are raindrops. And dampness. And mosquitoes. And a general brooding sense of malaise. Continue reading

The Incredible Reason I’ve Been MIA

Ironically, the last post on this blog was about reaching a personal zenith (completing the April Blogging Challenge) and veering dangerously toward zero immediately after. Today, more than 2.5 months since that post, I am here, accepting that life indeed throws zeniths and zeroes in quick succession (even simultaneously?). But behind this absence lies a reason that I am still struggling to fathom. To comprehend. To believe. Continue reading

Zenith, Zero

Switzerland peaks

When I was in Class V, a little boy my age taught me a life lesson. The results for the term exams had just been announced, and I had come first. I was proud and happy, excited about the gifts my family members would get for me. The latest Malory Towers book was certain to be on the list. One of my classmates appeared almost as excited, jumping about, digging into his tiffin box between classes.

“You look happy. How did you do on the exams?” I couldn’t stop myself from asking.

“I came first.”

What a liar! “That can’t be. I came first!”

“Maybe you did, from the top,” he responded nonchalantly. “I am first from the bottom.” Continue reading

You So Happy

Happiness Soap Bubbles

You giggle like a merry child when soap bubbles brush against your cheeks. You look up at the sky—so grey and ominous—and smile as if it were the most awe-inspiring sight you’d ever seen. Your conversations are full of rapture, your eyes full of dreams.

It isn’t that you are particularly young—at least not the young and oblivious they talk about in classic books. If I were to hazard a guess, I’d say you were old enough to have experienced loss—of friends and friendship, ambitions, perhaps a parent. Your fluffy yellow sweater with the polar bear imprint doesn’t fit you anymore. I can’t believe that you escape ubiquitous villains in daily life—a tyrant boss, an obsessive ex-lover, or at least a street that gets jam-packed with traffic exactly when you’re in a rush. Continue reading

Xerox Copies

They had already drunk two cups of tea each and finished a trayful of snacks. The conversation had thinned, and there were several silences punctuated by comments on “how polluted Delhi was getting”. But no one made an attempt to get up, grab their bags, and leave. It was 8.30 p.m., and since that was past both my dinner time and reading time, I was getting more fidgety by the minute.

Someone else in the living room fidgeted almost as much as I did. But the limitations of adulthood stopped him from doing anything about it. It was my Dad. Continue reading