Sunday, September 14, 2008

OLDEST NEW-BORN MEMORIES


The first baby I remember holding in my arms was my nephew, Chimpu. I was around eight years old when his mummy, my cousin, came to stay for six months with her parents in our joint-family home.
My brother and I had excitedly decorated the bed in the room where the baby was about to stay with flowers (perhaps confusing the arrival of the new-born from the nursing home with the traditional arrival of a new-bride, when the marital bed is decorated with garlands). Sadly, our efforts were wasted because the hygiene-factor took precedence over the aesthetic-factor. The flowers were summarily removed, the bedspread changed, and then all was forgotten in the excitement of the arrival of the mint-fresh miracle.
Everything about the baby fascinated me – the oh-so-soft-skin, the bright-eyed gaze, the piercing yells, the tiny clenched fists, the paper-thin nails. I would visit him first thing in the morning, rush home from school - carefully washing my hands and feet before entering the sanctum sanctorum - to watch him sleep, or feed, or wave his limbs, or even do his surprisingly-yellow poop. To gaze, to sigh, perchance to touch (with a hand as gentle as a sigh), but I was happy just being near the baby - a living doll.
I especially loved to see him bathe, in his bright blue tub, splashing in the tepid soapy water, surrounded by all the Johnson & Johnson's paraphernalia and enveloped in the softest towels and sweetest smells.
As he was born in winter, my jethun (uncle) made a makeshift cradle from some tied to the then-unused ceiling-fan. As an extra precaution, the fan-switch was disconnected. And the baby would peacefully sleep or play in his rock-a-bye shelter.
When the baby was a few months old and his neck became steady and self-held, I was given the proud privilege of holding him for a few minutes, stiff and straight as a board, too conscious of my precious burden to really enjoy its warmth and wonder, till my nephew wailed loudly to make his (and my) discomfort known.


DO YOU REMEMBER THE FIRST BABY YOU HELD?

9 comments:

HOBO said...

Yes, I remember.
My cousin brother who was 1 year old and was too good by looks and he was the first whom I first hold (if I remember correctly) in my hands and I used to take him for ride on my bicyle.
He was too good by looks and everybody of the family still loves to watch his childhood picture.

The Scatterbrain said...

the first baby i held was my cousin Arpana! Ohh! Im so thrilled you wrote this post, inspiring me to write on the same topic! look out!

PBandJ said...

The first baby I ever held was my little sister; I was also 8 years old. I was in such awe because she was so small and sweet and trusting; she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I have held so many babies since then, including my own, and I always get the same feeling of awe!

Aleta said...

I don't have any younger siblings and I wasn't raised around babies. I do remember one time in high school, an aunt of a friend had a baby and I had the child. I was nervous, so afraid I would hold the baby wrong or something would happy. The most recent experience holding a baby was my cousins's first child. That was special.

sukku said...

Well I guess my memory would date back to my sister who is 10 younger then me. It was nice but nothing can beat my feelings when I held my first son. And now he has left for Moscow for his medical studies. How time flies and I guess my next wish is to see my grand children...

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Thanks for sharing your 'infant joy' (as William Blake said) and trepidation.

arpita said...

As a five year old, the first baby I held in my arms was my 5 day old brother, flooding me with such an intense feeling of warmth, love and responsibility, that I can recollect it still after 32 years....In all the years since, I have held babies of aunts, cousins and even strangers but the beauty of holding a new born baby always remains the same....

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Hi arpita,

lovely memories, and very intriguing profile photo!

arpita said...

Sucharita,
(this photograph is one of my favourites!) & that is my daughter"Hiya" (then aged 3yrs 4 months) on Saraswati Puja,this year, decked up in the traditional yellow saree (for the 1st time), trying to catch the world outside through the 3rd floor balcony grill.....