Abi was like any other child – cute, innocent and heavenly. She brought boundless joy in the lives of Raghavs, when she was born. Born after a wait of nine long years, it was understandable her parents became overly possessive of her. Prasad Raghav took a sabbatical for six months just to be with his new found love.
Prasad’s connect with his daughter though, was not instant and natural. It was to be established over time. While he was overjoyed when Abi was born and he first took her in his arms, Prasad learnt that connect of a father with a new born was very different from that of the mother.
Naturally, the mother connected with the child, even before the child’s birth. As they say, you could never beat a child’s relationship with the mother, since it was always going to be nine months more.
The Sun’s rays emanated from the soul of the Sun. The rays were not separate from the Sun, but there were a mere manifestation of the light that was already contained in the Sun.
The fragrance of a rose petal sprung, with love, from the deepest part of the rose itself.
A fully blossomed flower was not separate from the tree – it was a mere manifestation of the love that the tree is pregnant with.
The waves were not different from the ocean – they were the unending expressions of love of the ocean.
Likewise, the mother was not separate from the child – the child was a mere manifestation of the mother’s love, expressed in human form. Prasad understood this.
The father, on the other hand, had to, establish a relation with his child afresh, in a way.
To Prasad’s delight, Abi had made the first move in establishing that bond. Abi had smiled first at her father as if to acknowledge his newly donned, somewhat anxious, fatherhood role. ‘Wow!’ Mrs. Kavya Raghav had exclaimed. ‘Look, she is smiling. First time!’ That was a moment of pride for Prasad – the first time he had felt a special connect. Tears of joy magically filled his eyes, to his own surprise. It was a never felt before feeling that connected to the deepest part of his heart.
At the end of Month 1, Prasad felt exhausted though, especially with his sleep routine having dramatically changed, given the little one’s unpredictable sleep patterns. Coupled with that, was the untold need for the mother to rest more after the delivery than the father, as was natural, since it was the mother who had undergone the physical pains of delivery, not the father. Prasad had after all become a father, simply automatically, after Kavya delivered the baby, without any bodily changes or pain.
Days and Nights alternated at an immense pace, as the new parents stayed on their toes to ensure they did all the right things as much as making sure they did not do anything wrong. A new dimension to time presented itself before the Raghavs, measured only by when Abi woke up, when she cried, drank milk, threw up, excreted, cried, drank some more milk, threw up some more, smiled, played and cried again before sleeping.
Abi was connecting with her dad in more ways than one and Prasad’s amusement never ceased.
Two weeks into Month 2, Abi had held Prasad’s finger as she slept, which he was delighted with. He let the grasp be and did not move an inch lest she would wake up, until she herself let go, after a good two hours. Until then, he lay down next to her, just savoring the moment.
When she was 50 days old, Prasad started singing to her to put her to sleep. He would sing fast paced rhythmic tunes to begin with and gradually switch to slow soothing numbers, which would coax her to sleep. And she had responded beautifully by falling asleep to a particular song, every time he sang it. He thereafter sang in the same sequence, always ending with that song, which she would sleep to like magic, even before he had finished it. Prasad was amazed at how this would repeat every single time.
At the beginning of Month 4, Prasad discovered a sort of connection between her baby actions and his thought stream. One morning, when he had to step out for some official work, he reluctantly pushed himself to get ready. When he was about to leave home and bent down to kiss his beaming daughter, Abi had held his tie, refusing to let go, as if to want to hold him back and suggesting to him that she knew what was on his mind. This had moved him immensely. It was as if she understood all that he felt and responded accordingly.
Yet another time, early one afternoon, which was her favorite time to play, she had pushed away the smart phone from Prasad’s hand, even as he lay alongside her, but engrossed in the phone, as if to demand his attention on her, rather than on the phone. Realization dawned on Prasad on how ignorant he had briefly become and never after that moment did he let his phone interfere with his time with Abi.
There were many such instances that increasingly convinced Prasad that the connect he now felt with his new found love in life could not have been stronger.
If the mother and child were one and the same, it was also true that the child was incomplete without the father. If it was the mother’s love that brought the child into life like the sun that sprayed its bright rays, it was the warmth of the father that kept the baby blessed. If it was the mother who fed her child, like the tree feeding its flowers from her soul, it was the father’s energy and vigilance that ensured the baby stayed safe.
Six months sped past like a breeze and it was time for Prasad to return to work. That period, as he now looked back, would be more valuable than anything else. Something he would cherish for the rest of his life. By the time he went back to work, the father-daughter duo had established a bond that Prasad had never earlier imagined to exist.
Above all, his daughter, Abi, had shown him what it meant to be a father and also in her own way taught him, how to be a good one at that.