Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Ira

Ira came into our lives on the 20th of April, 2005. I was at work in Silvassa and took a day off the next day to be in Baroda where she was born. Ira was of course very tiny. Her skin was all red and blotched, her eyes were like little slits and her head was oversized. She had no hair on her head, not even a hint of it. She was, however, recognisably human.

I went back the very same day. The next I saw her, a couple of weeks later, the skin had become clearer and there was now a hint of hair on that still ridiculously oversized head. She slept a lot and her waking hours were few. Since I was away at my place of work, coming down to Baroda once in a couple of weeks or so, I saw Ira grow up essentially as a series of snapshots taken at intervals.

Over the days, she had come to identify her mother, realizing instinctively when passed on to strange hands, including her fathers. I would sing to her and she would look at me intently, her judgment not having matured enough to identify poor talent. On occasions, she would even chip in with her own blabber.

The massage lady was her pet aversion. That even at two months, a baby can bring down the roof, I would not have believed had I not heard her. And then, it became worse. Even before the massage had begun, she was able to tell – by the lady’s voice, by the ambience of the bathroom – she was able to tell what was coming and she would howl in anticipation.

Looking back it all seems to have happened so fast. It was not so long ago, she was all red and blotchy. And now, she is a playful bundle with a finely developed sense of imitation and mischief, for whom life is mostly all play, a little cry and no work. She likes to be taken out for walks in her pram. She also likes to watch the older kids in the neighbourhood at play. She has a basketful of toys which we keep on a low table for her to reach at. It is her job to overturn it and spread the toys all over the floor. It is her mother’s job to pick up the lot and return them to the basket when she is done. She loves it when I toss her in the air, giving her a free fall for that fraction of a second. And sometimes, when I hold her up in mid-air, and she knows what is coming, her eyes light up with anticipation.

Since she sleeps till late, she wakes up alone and usually crying. On this day, I happened to be there, when she opened her eyes. She was silent for a long while, merely watching me as I went about getting ready to leave for work. And then, all of a sudden, she brought her hands together and it sounded like a clap. And she smiled at me. For Ira, a new day had dawned.

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