He came into my life after an arduous 36 hour labour and when I was introduced to him he frowned and squeaked, obviously annoyed at being disturbed. I laughed and cried at this tiny bundle, my world, my Earth, my abode of existence, hence Prithvi I named him, my son, which means Earth in Sanskrit. He just recently finished college and stepped into a job. The night before his first day at work I couldn’t sleep. To say I was deliriously happy that he had come this far would be an understatement but there was something else I was feeling and I couldn’t quite comprehend it. I stared at the starless night sky from my window, imagining the stars there, counting them mentally.
I remembered when he was a toddler and teething; he tried to grab whatever he could find to put into his mouth to massage his gums. When he sprouted his first two teeth, and people remarked, ‘Oh his tooth has grown,’ I’d proudly correct them, ‘Not one but two, simultaneously.’ Like it was a major milestone, and that I had somehow contributed to that. Every single thing from thereon, I took pride in! If he is 5 feet 11 inches tall, I’d make sure people got that right and not 5 feet 10 inches as they might think! If he smiled a lot, it was because of me, if he has curly hair it is because of me, if he started walking early it had to be because of me. Not that I was responsible, but it can only be explained as ‘a mother thing’. We are wired like that. I know now that he is his own person and that for everything I tried to teach he could have rebelled, he could have turned inwards and become a deviant. But he became who has, and like the glow worm, I continue to glow in the dark for every little step he takes.
Yesterday he told me, ‘Ma, my first salary has got credited and I want to take you out for dinner.’ Only my ears were blocking the widest grin one could have ever seen on my face. When I was trying to understand why I tears were flowing, when I indeed should be rejoicing, there is only one explanation for it. This was because my son, as a child and teen was written off as a failure, as someone who did not have it in him to face the tough challenges of modern education and academic life. I am not one to be in denial, but I never thought of the future or worried about it, because I just didn’t have the time. I wasn’t one of those movie mothers who gets up with a steely glint and starts pushing her child in the name of determination. I am only human. Yes I was deeply hurt by the cruel words of the world and at the irony that at that stage my son did not understand what he was called. Ask my pillow.
But I just wanted to get through that particular day! That is how we got through that phase and now as I hear him say what he did, I can’t help take pride in how he focussed on getting past each day himself. I am an adult, I could have faced anything, given myself pep talks and found the motivation to get through, but he was a child, a sensitive one at that who was hurt by the barbs, the acerbic, unkind words all round and all he could do was cry. But in retrospect as Kahlil Gibran said, he is life’s longing for itself.
From all of that to here has indeed been a long, long journey. The stars were not there that night when I wanted count, but I knew where each would be, thanks to experience. There is some lone star out there I believe, that watched over my son as he grew and it is now probably hidden by some cloud. To that unseen, hidden force I bestow my heartfelt thanks for enabling yet another day and night and all of those of the future. I know he’ll be fine and my pillows will be dry.