Last couple of months has been quite eventful. (Frankly last one year, I would say) Feel pity on ManTam at times, coz while we are striving to steady our professional lives, their life’s going through a topsy turvy ride. Fortunately they have adapted to the haphazardness quite well. First 11 months of their life flew very smoothly…
Their first nanny Savita was a boon for us. Since she had joined us within the first week of their birth, they had got well accustomed to her and vice versa. I re-joined work when they turned 3 months old. I was a layman when it came to infants. I had gained bookish knowledge during pregnancy. Savita is a mother of two girls and I got to learn a lot from her which books never taught. I would teach her all that I had learnt from books. She was an enthusiastic soul and a perfect accomplice helping me in ManTam’s periodic photoshoots. I was maintaining a Baby Record Book and would read to her all that I had written and instruct her on what data I need to fill in due course and that she had to make note of several milestones during my absence. I would ask her to accompany me to the pediatric visits. Before the visits, she would ask me to make notes of all our queries we needed the doc to address. She would be at home from morning 8 to evening 8. I taught her basic English. Taught her some rhymes. I was grooming her so that she would percolate all the knowledge onto ManTam, coz I knew that she would be spending more time with my kids than I would. I put those 3 months of maternity leave to good use. During the 3rd month, I made a chart, which had rows for massage, shampoo, feeding, nail cutting, bottle sterilizing etc. I taught her to fill the chart for me so that when I come back from office I could know by looking at the chart how ManTam had spent the day. With her on board and Ma’s presence at home, my work life balance was at perfect harmony. Right from the 10th month, Savita and I were planning ahead for ManTam’s birthday. In the 12th month, on a weekday morning, a call from Savita put us on tenterhooks!
“Didi, Ami ar kaje ashbo na” (I won’t come to work any more), the voice came from the other end. “Whatttt??? What are you saying?”, I yelled unable to handle the shock. She said she had jaundice and she will have to be on rest. Still adamant to let go of her I enquired if she could send any of her acquaintance till she recovers, but she asked me to hire someone afresh. I was shattered. It was as though I had reached a dark dead end and I had no way to go…But like the old saying goes – ‘Time and tide stays for none’, the show had to go on. I was now juggling between work and home. I would massage, bathe and feed them, make their beds, put them to sleep, prepare their lunch, fruit juice for the evening and rush to office. Ma too had a hard time taking care of them alone. But she always tried to put me at ease saying she would manage. I was rest assured that my kids were in safe hands. There were days when Ma didn’t eat herself coz she was busy all the time attending them. I have been very fortunate to have her as my MIL. She was a working mother herself but had to let go of her career as she did not have a support system. Hence, she can empathize with me and is one of the reasons for my tranquil professional and personal life.
After a tumultuous week, there was a new entry to our household namely Poornima. It was very strange to see that ManTam strongly disliked her. Her mere presence around them made them screech. I still wished Savita would come back… Ma had to do all the bathing, feeding, putting them to sleep coz they were resolute to be rigid. Only thing she could do was prepare their food. She was very absent-minded and seemed lost in her own world. I personally didn’t want to have her around. But it was not easy to give pink slip and show her the way out. It’s not fair either. Luckily we got to know that she was pregnant and that her family didn’t want her to work. We too made use of the situation and made her understand that it would be difficult for her to take care of two babies. That was the end of nanny# 2 for ManTam.
During Poornima’s tenure, she had bunked on 8th June 2009, which was ManTam’s first birthday. I had taken the day off as I had planned to bake their birthday cakes. Our cook also did not come that morning only to make the day even more memorable. All day I spent doing ManTam’s chores, cooking and baking 2 cakes. I didn’t have either versions of a blender – electric or manual. All the whipping was done with a steel spoon. All day I couldn’t find time to breathe. After putting ManTam to sleep at around 7, I quickly assembled the cakes – Black Forest and Fruit Gateau. By the time I was about to tell Abbas to get food from outside, our cook appeared from nowhere, her face swollen and battered and I flinched at the sight. She was beaten up by her husband and she was hardly able to talk. She had only come out of her love for ManTam to cook the special birthday dinner we had planned earlier. I almost had tears in my eyes at this special gesture of hers. I first gave her some ointment to smear on the assaulted body. We both cooked hand in hand and finally came up with Fried Rice, Chilli Chicken and Potol Dolma. (Yes, all wrapped up within 10 PM) Then was the task of waking up the birthday girls and getting them dressed (forcefully). We were only 2 hours away from missing their birthday. Cake cutting was done with only Babu, Ma, Abbas, Latha Masi (the cook) and I. I felt the birthday was incomplete without Savita. If I deserved to be there, she too did. She has fed, bathed, massaged them many more times than I must have. But anyway, like I said the show had to go on.
After Poornima, it was Jharna. ManTam somehow mingled with her as though they knew her already. We only guessed that Jharna looked a bit similar to Savita. She was plumper though, but aren’t they too small to spot the difference? Good for us, we thought. Jharna quickly picked up all the chores soon. Somehow I couldn’t bond with her the way I did with Savita. Anyway I was happy that she had bonded with kids and Ma well.
They had been through nanny separation. Now they were gonna go through Mom separation…