Baby Complains

Baby Complains

Hello, hello, my dear fellows! Greetings to one and all .

My name is … Alas, I am not able to pronounce it, let alone spell it. But, my mom, dad and big brother call me by my name all the while, with a smile. They too make silly distortions of my name at their whims. This makes me uncomfortable. 

Shouldn’t I have been consulted when they were naming me? Is it fair that I be given a name, which I myself take years to decipher? Anyway, the name is not the whole point. There are other important issues.

I don’t know where did I come from, but I surfaced on this earth last summer on an uneventful afternoon. People around me looked strange, but they claimed that they were my own. I gave them the benefit of doubt, and accepted their relationship, just to value their sentiments. 

But I found, often my benevolent gesture was misused. Strangers poured into our house and forged their relationship with me. Sometimes they even bribed me with gifts. I tried to fight them in kung fu style, by swinging my hands and legs. Instead of a counter attack, they usually embraced me, which of course was not as comforting as my mom’s lap or dad’s shoulders. 

I pity the adults who make unusual faces and sounds when interacting with me. Perhaps they think that these things excite me, but I think it is more for their pleasure than mine. Perhaps, being tired of the social etiquettes of daily life, they vent out their natural instincts finding me as an alibi. I can usually withstand these gestures. But when they plant kisses at odd places, I feel clumsy and my patience gives in. I had tried discouraging them by peeing on them. This plan has worked mostly but not against a few. Perhaps, my decision to come out of my mom’s womb was an immature one in the first place.

It was so peaceful inside there. My days used to be lazy and the nights were cozy. But on that particular summer afternoon, I suddenly felt too lonely.  The space inside seemed somewhat congested. I thought there should not be any harm to come out for a while and experience the outside world. But as soon as I came out, I realized that going back wasn’t an option. Three people clad in white promptly stitched up the passage. They had even covered their faces with masks, to hide their identity and escape from the crime. The moment I realized this trickery, I cried out loud to register my complaint.  Strangely, at that very moment, a person, who later claimed to be my dad, came forward and patted those culprits. 

Everyone seemed to be overwhelmingly happy at my first yell. Peculiar people indeed! I sometimes wonder if my cry could give them so much joy, how it would have been if I had decided to laugh instead!

I was born tiny. Now, I have developed myself to be designated as a full baby. However, I am undergoing some fundamental changes: like my attempt to crawl or sit up; utter something sensible to the world; or understand the subtle difference between ‘feeling hungry’—which is followed by a cry; and ‘feeling like eating’—which is followed by moving things from hand to mouth. 

I am fond of milk. When I get bored with milk, I take cerelac—my supplementary source of protein, vitamins, caffeine, nicotine and what not! 

There have been some memorable days for me, like the day I took a turn, or the day I somersaulted. One day while lying on the bed, after a lot of struggle, I could even hold my feet. Isn’t holding feet by hands a feat by itself? I wonder why adults never try it while lying down!

However, I feel unfortunate in one aspect. I have a back of one-ton and a head a few pounds less. Because of this heavy back and head, I am not able to lift my body and stand, let alone hop or climb. I too want to view the world from a height. But I am able to do so only when I am in someone else’s arms. My mom, dad, big brother, and all the other people around me are so lucky to have lighter backs and heads. Otherwise, how would they move around so easily?

I have one serious allegation against my near and dear ones. Since I was born, all these days and months, I was made to squirm around on a dry, rubber sheet. They themselves slept on warm comfy mattresses. They claimed that my problem was that I give more respect to nature’s call, doing it then and there. But shouldn’t being natural have earned me more credits? I want to know which clause of which Law disqualifies anyone from sleeping on warm, soft cotton for giving greater regard to nature? 

In the recent past, I tried raising my voice in protest. But each time I tried to do so my mouth has been sealed with a feeding bottle.

Though my bed sheet continued to be a rubber or plastic sheet, one fine day my bed got changed. I was propelled from my usual place and made to land on a swinging cot. I was told that this bed was entirely mine and that I would not have to share it with anyone. This new home gave me more independence because in my previous sleeping place, I used to always be flanked by two bolster pillows, not to mention the adults and their useless gossip. 

Of course, in this new home, I was accompanied by a few toy friends. They were hanging from above and swinging with me. Unlike adults, they were all the silent type. They disturbed me only when I liked them to do so. I loved all of them: the monkey, the tiny tortoise, the duck, and the musical bells. I was only scared of the baby elephant. Obviously, not for its looks. Appearance wise the elephant was the cutest. But, I was worried in case the swinging thread broke with the elephant’s weight and it falls! 

Overall, I liked this bed better. With a gentle tap from outside, it oscillated like a pendulum. It reminded me of my days in my mom’s womb. Indeed, I miss those days! In those days, I not only swung, but also swirled upside down like a fish in a jar. 

I must tell you what all happened last week. My family celebrated my first birthday. Was that the real date of my birth? Yes, of course, last year that particular day I just decided to come out. But, I was born long before. I don’t know when exactly, but I think it was at least several months before that. But how do I explain this to all these ignorant adults!

On the morning of that day, relatives crowded our rather peaceful house and kept staying. All of them wore bright dresses and smiling faces. Everybody wanted to be photographed with me, as if I was one of those cheap celebrities. However, I liked those tiny machines which threw flash lights; whenever they were clicked. I wanted to catch the lights. I tried a few times to do so, but all in vain. 

I was given gifts of different sizes and shapes; all inside colored packets. Every time I was given a gift, my grandmother kissed me and kept the gift in the closet as a priceless possession. Most of these gifts, I later discovered, were toys. One thing I want to make clear is that though I am excited about toys, I find real stuff more stimulating. I prefer a switch board to a baby doll. An ant interests me more than a toy car. However, none of my relatives understood my feelings. They gifted me many life-size toys. I would have been happier if somebody had offered me a kitten or a packet of flies.    

By lunchtime, I was tired of being photographed and of the random chitchats of these unfamiliar people who claimed to be part of my extended family. I was missing my mom, dad and big brother. I had hardly seen my mom’s face the entire day. She was busy, since early morning, in the kitchen preparing a number of sweet dishes, of which I was only allowed to smell the fragrance. My dad seemed busy too, running in and out of the house. My brother had completely disappeared.

It appeared to me as if something was going to happen later in the day. It would be big, and may be beyond my proportion, comprehension, or imagination. Neither was I ready for the occasion, nor was I ready to wait. With mixed feelings, I slept.

When I woke up that afternoon, I was not in my usual surroundings. I was in a big hall, may be ten or twenty times the size of our home. A wall of the hall had been decorated with balloons of my size. But, those were all high up in the wall closer to the ceiling. I wondered what could be the use of balloons which I couldn’t reach, let alone play and burst. And all said that ‘it was my birthday…’ Phew!

There was a big crowd. I had seen these many people earlier only on the television or in our super-market, where my mom used to put me in a cart while buying my diapers, cerelac, among other things. Almost all the relatives and acquaintances I have ever seen and imagined were all present in the hall. 

Everyone was talking to every other person. There were hugs and handshakes all around. I felt suffocated. I was afraid of the person who was moving around with a big black machine. He kept pointing that machine at me every now and then as if he was going to fire a shot. My only consolation was that since I was in my dad’s arms, I was soundly safe and secure.

Many came to meet dad, perhaps me. Most of them, I was meeting for the first time. Every time, somebody approached dad, there would be a locking of hands and a release of smiles. There were small greetings and big gifts. I welcomed their gifts, but each of them pinched and pulled my cheeks at least once. My delicate cheeks turned golden to red; and the left one is still paining as I write this letter to you all.

There were many kids in the hall. I was happy about them as they were all busy among themselves and did not disturb me anyway. They were running in all possible directions. My brother was also part of that gang. 

After a while, I shifted my base to Mom’s arms. We were ready to cut the cake.

The cake was huge, almost twice my size. It was a teddy bear holding my name plate on its chest. In the first glance, I was scared. The bear looked almost real. But later I realized that I was wrong when it did not react to a burning candle planted on its navel. I wanted to play with its cute nose and ears, but, I was pulled from all sides. 

My mom assisted me to arm with a knife, as if it was a real bear that I had to fight. Before I decided my plan of action with the knife, my dad and mom pulled the knife on either side over the cake, and dissected my name. Everybody surrounding us clapped and sang the happy birthday song. I felt wild, but did not know how to react. I was shocked to see people feeling elated to cut my name off the cake!

There were more disappointments in store. Since my name was written on the cake, I was presuming the cake was entirely mine. I could have given a few pieces to some of the guests whom I liked. But I was given the minimum possible—just a taste of the cake from the tip of my mother’s finger. When I put my full palm once on the cake so as to grab it, my mom quickly licked my fingers and wiped them with a handkerchief.

I saw everyone taking big bulky pieces of the cakes and swallowing them. None of them asked me whether I wanted to have a piece or two. My brother sneakily picked the cherry placed on the forehead of the teddy. I was most upset with my dad. He took care of the distribution of the cake, but did not bother to give me even one decent piece. 

I felt that only the paper plates were worse off than me. I sympathized with them. Even though they carried all the cake pieces, they could never eat them.

After the eating episode, the second innings of the photo session began. People came in phases and posed alongside dad and mom like a shield for a football free-kick. Do people standing in an approximately straight line, not looking towards each other, make a ‘group’? If not, then I wonder how this can be called a ‘group’ photo! 

I had one more confusion. If the teeth had to be seen as people smiled while being photographed – what would I smile with! All the same, my biggest worry was that any of the shots from that black box must not misfire. 

I was also given some last-minute gifts. There were so many that I don’t remember who gave what. But I clearly remember the silver spoon given to me by my youngest grandma. I remember this, as she wooed me with the gift while whispering in my ear to call her ‘aunty’, not ‘granny’. Funny people indeed!

In the end, there was music all around, and children were dancing. I wished to get down on the ground myself and dance to the music. But, I was told that I was too small for the same as I could barely walk. 

I concluded that my first birthday was hardly mine. It is by others and for others.

You all must have been a baby, just like me, at one point in time. Believe me, babyhood is not always a merry-go-round. It is full of difficulties, uncertainties, and insecurities. With each passing day, I find my little world expanding. I may be getting more confident, but simultaneously I am more confused. I really don’t know whether I am moving from being dependent to being independent or vice-versa. 

As I figure out certain things, it seems there are many more things left to be perceived. Both the domains of my ‘known’ and ‘unknown’ are expanding, probably the latter at a faster rate than the former. I must, however, give credit to my family for being there for me, with their unconditional love and affection. That has really helped me overcome the feelings of helplessness. As I get introduced to different things, I enrich my experience and further develop a sense of belongingness to this world, which is so vast and new to me.

On this day, finding none of the family members around, I have typed my heart out using our computer. I have recently realized that I am quite good at computers. I am able to bang the key board and type many words together. I feel sorry for my big brother; who could only type one letter at a time. 

Now, I am tired. I have nothing more to say for the time being. I only hope that my concerns will reach you. 

Goodbye to all. 

Lovingly yours,

A baby.


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