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While Jyotiraditya Sleeps

In an interview to a famous magazine, Indira Gandhi had once stated that no matter how turbulent or busy her day was, she had always peeped in to watch her sons sleep because just looking at their innocent faces told her that her world was this and not the political dramas that constantly swept her life apart - she said that she could never resist the temptation to kiss her sons while they slept because they looked like angels...too good to be real. 

I think I understand what she meant now. Because I am a mother and in a way, like her, a pretty lousy one at that.  When I was recently asked how it feels to be a mother, I went blank and with that blankness came the realization that I have never never looked after my baby. Not in the real sense of the word. 

That realization struck worse than anything I've ever felt in my life. That guilt boomerangs into my conscience, making me feel that I'm worse than I can imagine being. Nothing was worth it.

Or, is this the trauma that working women undergo? Maybe it makes sense now what my father always says: he has big dreams about his daughters, but his biggest dream is to see them as good mothers who are there nurturing the precious lives that have been gifted to them as part of their destiny and dharmic role in life. I know that deep within, my father is perhaps right.

As my son sleeps, dreaming of his birthday party, that he was so keen to have and he himself having personally gone and invited the parents of his buddies (and informing me later!!!), I am filled with deep pain and regret that I was never really there for him when I should have. I was too busy with my career. I never saw him take his first baby steps. I never heard him say his first words. I never shared his little pains, aches and tears. I was simply not there when I should have been. 

What makes it worse is that Adi is a fantastic child. He is so understanding about my work-centric behavior and that's just incredible. He tells me that he loves me all the time. I know he does and that's why missing his milestones hurt me even more. But maybe somethings were just meant to be - like I am selfish, while my mom wasn't - she sacrificed her dreams of being a career woman to become a mother for the two daughters she had. It sounds so easy - to sacrifice one's dreams - but in reality, in today's world, its the toughest and most difficult thing to do and I still can't do it. 

What makes me mad is that people so coolly assume that it is so easy to be a working woman - they take it for granted that you have chosen money over your kid, they imply it at every opportunity as if you are a robot, with no feelings but endless opportunities that you exploit. It's pure imagination. The reality is that you feel torn by two worlds and both are of your own making because both mean everything to your life and legacy.

And now watching my Adi sleep, I am torn with emotion. I am so grateful to God for blessing me with Adi.  I had prayed in temples after temples, churches and finally, in the masjid, for this beautiful son. He is not and has never been mine. I can stake no claims over him. God has given me this priceless gift for a beautiful purpose that He alone knows.  My role is to just guard what God, in his infinite wisdom, was compassionate enough to bring into my life. I have promised God that I will never intervene or interfere in the decisions and destiny that He makes for Adi. I know my place in this cosmos. I am not about to take on supreme soverign powers like many moms like to do. I don't have their wisdom or their competence but I trust God does.

Yet for the brief time that I have, I will continue to watch over him, like a star that is destined to look from afar and yet blink away its tears because no matter how it tries, it's destiny is to burn away, from those it loves and those it wants to hold near.

 In Elizabeth Noble's novel, The Reading Group, she writes:
"You could waste an amazing amount of time watching a baby sleep. When he slept, all his creases flatten out and his perfect skin, with no visible pores and no marks, was smooth. The tiny veins on his eyelies made them blush and the lashes cast a shadow on his cheeks. His rosebud mouth, with the tiny feeding blister in the middle of the top lip, pursed and unpursed in dreams...Every single inch of the baby is enchanting to his mother, from the back of his head, to the tiny toenails...When he is awake, you are constantly moving around him like a worker bee in his service. But when he was asleep, you could just watch him and marvel at him and let the balloon of love for him that lived in your stomach inflate until it almost hurt."

I can't believe it, my little prince Jyotiraditya is going to be five on March 14, 2011. Sleep, baby, sleep.

For now, for a while, you are still mine. But God, give me some more time. Please.
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