Two years back, on the 1st of February, my life changed forever.
Yes, everyone said it would. They warned me. They said that I wouldn’t be able to go back to what I was. It was irreversible. There was one life before, and a completely different life after. In most cases, you would not even be able to remember what you were before – the change would propel you into a world that could not be understood, only experienced.
I went ahead anyways. There are decisions in life that one just has to take – sitting on the sidelines is not an option. And boy, has that decision changed my life. In one stroke, I became someone else. My outlook towards life changed, the way I thought changed. I didn’t know what to make of it – it seemed natural, yet so different.
You came into my life to change me, for the better. No, what they say is wrong. Totally wrong. Children don’t owe anything to their parents – if anything, we as parents owe the world to our children. We don’t bring them up, they make us better persons. We don’t provide for them, they help us to think beyond ourselves, and that too unconditionally. They are sent into this world to show us the way forward, and to prepare us for the one eventuality that we don’t believe we are close to at any given point in time. And yes, they reassure us that we may not live forever, but somewhere, somehow, we leave a part of us in them.
Rohāmrta was born on the first day of February. The first day of my new life. And as I write this, he ran past me, that charming smile on his face, as if saying – I told you so:)
Here is what I wrote on the day he was born.
I’ve never been a father, so I really didn’t know how to react…
The clock ticked, and I stood outside…I cannot say I stood patiently, because I was not patient. I was a bit worried, but more than that, a lifetime of anticipation, non-preparation, and apprehension stood before me.
This was it.
My life would change, said everyone. Sleepless nights and diapers, is what I gathered from conversations that I had on the subject (that was pretty much a consensus). Your mother was wheeled into the operation theatre for a C-section, and this was by far the closest that I had come to family in an operation.
I had joked earlier that I would, like the movies, wear a pearl necklace that I would joyously yank from my person and reward the nurse who carried the good news to me. The necklace I had forgotten, what remained is a bit of tension since I had heard your mother’s screams from the labour pain a few minutes earlier.
It’s then, that I heard you first.
A faint cry…sounded like you, maybe was you, but I wasn’t sure. Should I celebrate? I didn’t know yet. With your mom on general anesthesia (as I was to learn later), celebrations would have to wait. I didn’t even know if it was you, or some other baby in some other OT…
I messaged my friends that I guess he has been born, I just heard a baby cry. They were anxious to know, but that could wait. I needed to know first.
And then, just like that, they wheeled you out of the Operation Theatre. My first glimpse of you, in a white towel, yawning. Weren’t you the same baby who was crying a minute before? I couldn’t tell.
I asked the nurse and she told me that the mother was fine, and that you would be wheeled into the labour room, where I was to wait for your mother, who would take a bit longer.
I went and sat in the room. In a couple of minutes, you were brought in, put onto the baby stand (I really don’t know what that’s called) and left alone with me.
I didn’t know what to do. Should I pick you up? Well, I had, until that point in my life, never ever picked up a baby. Yes, an unblemished record of over 43 years. Would be broken for sure, but I didn’t know when. But not just then.
And so, I whipped out the camera (iPhone 12 Pro Max actually) that I had brought for the occasion, and I started to make memories, for your mom, who was not there to witness your first minutes on this earth…and for me, who till date, has never been a fan of the still medium (or video, for that matter).
So here I was, clicking the first minutes of your life. And what a start. Yawning, eyes closed, in your own little world…Were was the crying baby that we all hear about and see everywhere? U didn’t cry, and I didn’t pick you. A bit awkward it may seem to the outside world, but no sir. Not to me.
For those first 15 minutes of your life, that you spent with me, will always be just between us. What happened, what I said to you, no one will know, but for you and me. People may speculate, but only we know the truth.
And what a 15 minutes that was! When you entered the room, we were strangers. Meeting for the first time. But when you left, on the way to our maternity ward, we were father and son.
I will always treasure those moments, captured in part digitally, but no bits and bytes can replicate or reproduce those lovely moments in time. They are mine, solely mine. And now, through this medium, I hand them over to you. A photograph of your entry into this world, created through an iPhone and a few words that I spoke to you. Others will see the photograph, but the words remain between us – spoken by me, felt by you.
I’ve never been a father, so I really didn’t know how to react…but at the end of it, I was, and still am, your father. And you, as they all said and I most suspected, changed my world.
I love you.