Anika turns one today. In the last few weeks, she gave us one jolt after another. First, teeth started sprouting all over inside her mouth. I know that is normal but it was strange to see her with teeth. She looks like a bunny when she laughs which she does a lot nowadays. She farts and laughs. A lot.
She has started walking too. She did a drunk dance for a few days and then one day, got up and crossed a room. Everyone fell silent and looked at each other, as if we have realized that there was a green alien from Mars sitting in the room with us. Then everyone fell upon each other to grab their mobiles. She clapped and laughed and walked. She is still getting the hang of it. Her gait is funny.
She has started eating all kind of food – eggs, yogurt, butter, panner, khichdi – you name it, she eats it. We usually have to put up a song when she eats. Thank God her relationship is over with Justin Beiber’s Baby. The affinity was driving me crazy. Nowadays, it is plain, old Lakdi ki kathi. Bless the Lord.
A few days back she made the first connection between a word and what that word means. It was a bit surreal. I don’t know how to explain it. It is like that moment when you understand the first word in a French movie because you have started learning the language. That happiness. That first click. I felt that for her.
And that was the first time I felt how far away she has come from being an unknown face floating in liquids that she was a year back.
Last year, we were worried about everything going right, worried about her grand entry in the world. And when the doctors brought her out – a pink mass of flesh, completely dissatisfied with the change in her quiet existence, hungry, crying – I felt a surge of blood to my face. Something changed inside me. I went to the nursery, saw the nurses put some identification on her as she tried to open her eyes and look at me. I stood there a long time trying to comprehend what had just happened. I became a father. Holy crap!
It had been a crazy one year journey. Geet and I went through myriad collection of emotions. Our limits were tested. Sometimes, there were cloudbursts of happiness. Sometimes we went through volcanic eruption of frustrations. But we clung to each other. We watched her face change every day. We saw her pick up new habits and discard the old ones within weeks. We saw her smile one fine day and smiled with her. I won’t lie if I say that there weren’t times when we wanted to break free, when we wanted our own personal space, when all this got too overwhelming for both of us. And that is when our families came to our support. I don’t know what we would have done without them.
But you know what, Diary? We always felt guilty about leaving her behind whenever we went for a movie or a dinner date. We kept talking about her. I remember both of us getting restless when we went to watch a movie leaving Anika with her grandparents for the first time. We could not sit through the second half. And that is when we realized how much our lives have changed. How much this girl has crept up in our thought process. How much she means to us.
In January ’14, Geet and I went on a holiday with Anika to Kasauli. She was seven months old and everyone scared us to bits about taking such a small child to the hills. We still went ahead and immensely enjoyed the trip except for that one time when we had to go to a temple on the top of a hill and taking her there in the pram was not an option. I picked her in my arms and climbed the hill and then scared a monkey away who tried to kidnap her. I was Superman in Geet’s eyes that day. Her jaw scraped the ground and she had no idea how I did that. Neither did I.
I wonder what is in store for us in the future. I am scared that she might not pick up my habit of reading or watching movies. I want to discuss books with her. I want to discuss old Hollywood classics with her. I know, I should not be imposing any sort of career choices on her but I want her to an artist – a singer or a painter or a writer or a dancer. I want her to love her profession. I want her to choose a career that fulfils her, not something that just pays the EMI of her apartment. But, well, I think I am thinking far ahead. We will cross the bridge when we come to it. All that makes her happy right now is her plastic fruit basket that she loads and unloads relentlessly with plastic mango, papaya and bananas.
So, one year has gone by Dear Diary. Who knows what the future holds. But I do pray that the fun continues.
Happy Birthday Anika.