Moments Winging By...|Feb 24, 2003 4:04 PM| by:

Born…Once Again!

Experiences. The most potent, vibrant and real paths to progress. And yet so deceptively shrouded under layers of unassuming, unpretentious, inconspicuous moments that thread themselves into becoming a cause, an occasion… an experience. If one stays minutely aware of the great game played with our lives, or at least with the knowledge that there is a game being played, irrespective of  whether we are aware of its constant play, it does make life a lot more intriguing, interesting and incredible to say the least.

And so it was the incredible that lured me to its warm shores on one ordinary day.

Babies. No one can really apply the term ‘hate’ to babies and yet there are those like myself who run many a breathless mile just so as to avoid the wails that get under the skin, the smells that overpower one quite suddenly, unconditioned to the  grown-up rules of conduct and control, and the fixed stares that one receives from eyes tender and yet all-knowing…a highly unnerving scenario specially when the ‘starer’ is all of one foot in length. These are just a handful of reasons for running away from other’s foot-long offspring, but in addition, there are a whole lot more excuses that makes me cringe just at the idea of ‘one’s own’. That however is not the subject of discussion. In passing though, and also in the utmost brief, I admit to have decided without the permission of Those who decide for us, that I shall not venture towards this particular arena of human affairs. Strictly off limits. Reasons were many and the decision rigidly tied to its own conviction.

Then I get an email from my cousin in America. Twins, she announces. Visiting India. Would I care to have a look?

A look…why not? How painful can it be? Besides the human is known to be biased towards its illusionary sense of ‘own blood’. Bend the rules and take the train. A look can do no harm. After all, I was carrying plenty of work – the equation in my mind was to do the work and fit in the babes as and when inclined.

So a few hundred miles later, the chugging ceased and Bombay arrived. As the house approached, the heart strangely fluttered. Who knows why… have always attributed matters such as these to prosaic causes like low BP… certainly saves one from immediate introspection.  I entered the den, took a sweeping look and found my life inexplicably changed from the one that was a moment ago to one that it had just become. The pandemonium caused by excited hello’s and ‘look who’s come’ was somewhere in the distance, vague and muffled. Instead what roared within me was the silent gaze cast by two pairs of curious eyes. It wasn’t me who’d come for a look…it was they that were having theirs. And who can gauge what they saw…? What I saw from that four feet distance was a couple of babies. What they saw was an entirely new revelation, a mystery, another twist in this fairy tale adventure they had started on. Or then perhaps, it was none of this; maybe they saw deeper into my being than even I could, wiser with the memories of the knowledge that they had packed inside them from another time, not too long ago.

Right there and then, I knew that a lot of pre-conceived notions , arrogances, prejudices were going to be drastically overhauled before the time was up. And so as I  stood, daring to reciprocate the intensity of their gaze, I prepared myself for the onslaught, and picked the nearest of the two, gingerly, as if it was a pup with unpredictable chewing proclivities. Unsure of what was expected of me next, I let the morsel decide its own agenda and after an uncomfortable moment or two during which  she swung aimlessly in the air, her tiny arms reached out, grabbed my neck with a grip that would put fitness buffs to shame, and simply draped herself on me. At that point, the babe ceased its status as a human and became simply this pure, unadulterated being, dissolving right through me, through my senses, my mind, my body, my soul. I felt myself dissolve as much right through her tiny frame. And for the life of me, I didn’t know what was going on!

Not quite confident of my ability to speak articulately, I turned around and wished everyone a simple and matter-of-fact hello, of one who had just arrived from a journey, not one who was about to set off on one.

That moment was an experience. But so was every moment that followed thereafter. For, the first was only a hint… what followed were the details, the exposition of the experience, the defining lines, the guiding factors.

On the surface, it was the usual bathing, feeding, playing, singing to sleep chores that took all of my time. Everything was a new event and unknown to myself, the sheer maternal instinct housed in whatever part of every woman, and some say every man, came to the fore and spilled lavishly across these tiny tots … my time limit was a month and my task was to raise them from their 5 month old juncture to budding 6 month olds. Only those who have had similar experiences will realize that in the life of a baby, this mere matter of 30 days is a lifetime on its own.

Plenty of situations arose with its diversity in emotions – the rollicking to the shocking; mundane to the bewildering; and of course those that took one to soaring heights and plummeting depths. The pain in a tummy too young to know the meaning, the sudden hunger pangs, the discomfort of living a life perpetually on one’s back and of course the battles waged against the darkened blankets of sleep that overpowered them and whisked them off to places where our protective words of comfort couldn’t reach – these were a few of those times that terrified me more than them perhaps. But there were those other pleasurable instances, where the delicious smiles cast my way, the free and easy giggles that echoed through the rooms and had the grownups gurgle back gleefully, the look of intense concentration willing a far-away toy to come towards them followed by sweet exasperation when it didn’t, or the signs of recognition that one received, first thing in the morning… in a  baby’s life, there are no moody blues or crabby twitches with the rising of the sun; no Monday morning grief and hung-over residues… instead one always finds them ready with a breathtaking smile, eagerly and generously shared without reservation on all who come their way… good morning sunshine is the only expression they know.

God knows, I haven’t ever looked so forward to waking up as I did during those days.

There was just so much trust on their part on the world of human beings that constantly played passing the parcel with them; no reservations attached to any of their actions, an eagerness to learn, observe, assimilate, progress and spontaneous showering of affection minus all horrendous calculations that we are so adept at making… their transparency did put me to shame many a time.  But underlying all this was something else. It spoke more powerfully and thus took longer for me to comprehend. Even now perhaps, I may not have got it all right but then again, whatever it is that I have somewhat learnt, seems beautiful as is.

It was connected to the notion of self-giving. One has oft heard of it, tried to assimilate it in oneself as a conscious effort at first, and sometimes seen it manifest itself during unconscious moments as well, where the effect is of wonder, pride, joy in the fact that it was even possible for one to have expressed it. Ironically, the moment of conscious enjoyment in one’s attitude of self-giving invariably negates the entire beauty and sends one reeling backwards with the blow of an egoistical triumph and so all said and done, it is a pretty hard achievement to land in one’s lap.

With these toddlers, it was a similar case. In the beginning, I was going all out to do my best for them. I expected nothing and in fact even the notion of my doing anything for them did not arise. Then one morning between feeds, I realized how one has to be entirely devoted to children at the cost of everything else…a constant sacrifice of one’s own wishes and desires in favour of the baby’s best interest. But who were these babies anyway? They weren’t mine and I wasn’t really expected to bend over double for their cause. What was making me offer all of myself to them, with no conditions attached, no expectations juggling alongside? Was it really a sacrifice or was it also a sense of service, an offering? What was it that suddenly made me feel this quality of truth and  purity with every breath I expelled from my body?

The answer was obvious, only it took a little time in revealing itself.

Who can say how the Divine chooses to manifest Himself, in what form, in what guise? He is everywhere and that we all know…in theory. To  experience Him everywhere becomes the goal. But to stumble across Him and not recognize Him instantly is pure folly.

He has a sense of humour and that’s for sure… here I am yearning for a glimpse and there He is, throwing adorable smiles my way in the guise of something that normally would have me shying an entire continent  away. Unconsciously, it was this Divine spark that I was serving and I know it to be that and only that, purely because the joy was such that is not paralleled by any human emotion. In the true spiritual connotation, ‘self-giving’ carries a lot of weight and perhaps this experience is only yet at the foothills of its towering summit of perfection; however, the walk has to commence somewhere and so it is a source of comfort to know that the journey has begun. Of even more significance is the fact that if this tiny glimpse, purely superficial and circumstantial, could offer so much delight, the consequences of true, whole, undivided self-giving to the Divine, must indeed be astounding.

They say one has to become a mother in order to understand what unconditional love and self-giving are all about and here I was with my experience, free of labour!

This may never happen with another baby. A once in a lifetime surprise. But it puts into concrete form that, which till now has only been vaguely understood. The levels have been tuned once again – in future anything below the notch marked out will fail. It shows that there is much to be aspired for and what came so easily on an ordinary day, will now have to be earned. So be it.

I remember my cousin mentioning that we should introduce some educational toys to the kids.  Little did she realize that the kids were my very first educational toys themselves.

I really wonder who felt more like a new born – them or me?