Mala took a long deep breath. The day looked young and fresh, the sunlight falling in patches over the bushes that littered the park. Back in her village, she was wont to rise up at the crack of dawn to fill the water pitchers, cook the morning meal and then bask in the glory of the day. She especially loved the mornings because the skies looked freshly washed as if the sun had bathed them in effulgent shades of blue and golden yellow. When they moved to the city about three months ago, for the first time she had been exposed to a sky garbed in various shades of grey and white. Naman had landed a job in the city and they had decided that it would be best for them to move, especially as it would provide an atmosphere conducive to the learning and development of their new-born baby. The little fragile bundle of joy had been made to part with his loving grandparents and their cozy village life, and brought to the city to settle and grow.
After having seen her husband off to work and cooked for the day, Mala had come down with her baby for a stroll in the park. As she walked onward, holding her son securely near her bosom, she remembered all those bits and pieces of advice that her mother and her mother-in-law had given her.
“In our absence, you must give your utmost attention to the baby. The city is a wide strange land. You may not be able to find your way there. But you must take care of our babu.” They addressed their grandson as their ‘babu’.
In fact, hardly a few days ago, when Naman had made a call to his parents in the village, his mother had wanted to talk to Mala to ask about the baby.
She had begun by giving her tips,
“Don’t forget these handful of counsels regarding the care of our babu, especially his skin.
Make sure you massage him daily with oil. His teeny-tiny legs need to be strengthened and his muscles need to shape well.
Make sure he sleeps on a pillow filled with mustard seeds! That will help his head shape up well.”
Mala knew that such a pillow would only be found in their village and she had planned to bring back one when they went home this time. Till then, her lap would have to act as the baby’s makeshift pillow.
“Don’t expose him to too much sun or excessive rain. Protect him especially from the heat and dust of the city. One knows only too well how bleak the city atmosphere is and how easily one can catch diseases.
And once the baby starts sneezing, some doctor has to be consulted. Then rain down antibiotics and all those newfangled substances! No need! Prevention is better than cure. Why should a tiny divine creature be burdened with alien concoctions and spurious mixtures? Nature’s cure is the best remedy.”
Mala had nodded her way through the call. She was trying her best to care for her young son.
“Do not use corrosive substances on him. No amount of synthetic clothing or artificial substances. Use only the clothes we have knitted for him. Only the oils and the talcs we have packed for him…”
Mala could only agree. She had taken utmost precautions for her child.
In fact, she had also fought with Naman, who insisted on using diapers for the baby.
“But we don’t know if these would be good for the baby!”
“But Mala, they have been especially designed after adequate research. They are much better than cotton clothes, which can only absorb up to a limit. Try this!”
Their baby had started crying, as if on cue. Mala quickly hurried over and changed his clothes. It was a real task to change his clothes every time. It also eliminated the possibility of their going out on long trips in the city.
“Just try it once. This one is really soft. This is my baby too. I wouldn’t want anything to harm his soft skin.”
Mala decided to listen to Naman. She took the packet from him. There was a group of lovely smiling kids on the cover. She took out a Pampers pad and dressed her baby up. She saw his distress change into a smile of comfort. In no time, he had started to resemble the kids pictured on the Pampers cover.
“You see? This is the time we pamper our baby,” Naman smiled at Mala.
As she walked with her baby nestled in her bosom, she felt that she had finally found something safe and soft just right for her baby’s soft warm skin.
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