My cousin Fareeha came to live with us in our grandmother’s place when her son Zameer was five months old. She was really excited about her first child’s rapid growth and so were we. It is always a risky and tricky task to handle a baby who is just a few months old. Zameer was not ready to let go of even the tiniest detail of his growth go unnoticed. My nephew had it alright, from ear-pains to constipation complaints. He had it all and so the saga of sleepless nights would continue. Fareeha was constantly worried as he would never want her to leave his side. Then it was beginning to become an issue. She had not trained him to be without her, not even for one second! We began to miss his giggling and unconditional gurgling as it toned down drastically. Soon my brother and I would wager on who would be the one to make him smile.
It was beginning to bother everyone, even his grandmother, and her mother’s mother, for he would not even be consoled by her touch. He repeatedly fell sick and whined unrestrictedly. He clung to Fareeha when he got the chance. Poor Zameer was distraught and confused as pain blinded him and he would crave the warmth of his mother’s hands alone. The funniest bit was when she could not even use the washroom in peace, for he would be right outside it, banging the door and beckoning for it to be opened.
He was not happy, he stopped laughing and crying became his one stop solution to EVERYTHING. He couldn’t eat properly and that troubled his mother’s appetite as well. His voice relentlessly rang throughout the house at the cost of everyone’s sleep. My grandmother did not let this one go easy. One would think she would be spellbound by the child, but she was always the one to complain. She is very particular about her pathetic little quilt and her space. But unfortunately, due to the thrill of the newest baby on the family, all of us cousins would be sucked into that one room where he slept like bees drawn to honey.
However, that was not the end of the story. It worsened as his shrills magnified, and so did the late-night hospital visits. Fareeha was deeply distressed as he would not budge without an instant remedy. So the ritual became mandatory every week. Fareeha’s husband lived thirty-five kilometres from our grandmother’s house and even he was affected. It was not easy for us to get a cab late in the night and drive to the hospital. And yet, we made it possible, especially when we live in a country like India and even at three am in the morning there waits an auto-rickshaw to take us to the nearest hospital.
It feels like all the happiness is being forced out from the family when the child is holed up in a bundle, burning with fever or throwing up every other night. Sometimes, we don’t even feel like eating a proper meal when all they get to drink is a bowl of porridge.
It was because of this beautiful baby boy that our family was blessed with was not at peace, him not being healthy hit us quite critically. I realized then that it is not us adults who need to happy, but our kids who need to be healthy and fit, in order for us to smile at the sun every day.