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Tahira Kashyap Khurrana’s The 7 Sins of Being a Mother, is all about being a mother today, while also being a modern woman with a cheeky sense of humour. An excerpt.
In the meantime, my bump grew and grew. Every few weeks I would look in the mirror and say to myself,‘This is it. I really can’t get any bigger than this.’ Then I would surprise myself and break my record. My masi would keep asking me if I had become so big that I was getting stuck in doorways. If I wasn’t then I had more capacity.
In the final weeks, she flew down to Chandigarh to be a part of my new beginnings. As soon as she arrived, she gave me a big hug and said approvingly, ‘Ae honda ae size (this is what they should look like).’
No, she wasn’t talking about my bump, but my boobs. Some things never change! I have to admit I was loving it too, though by this point, at nearly nine months, I wasn’t feeling sexy any more. From Helen and Bindu I had graduated into becoming a whale, rude noises erupting from deep within my depths every now and then.
I just wanted the baby out. And so my masi, who was always looking for a rescue mission (she could give all the Batmans and James Bonds a real run for their money), decided to launch Operation Labour. You should start having a lot of sex, she told me loudly over lunch. As much as I appreciated her forthrightness, I really didn’t think she had to be this explicit while I was with my parents at the dining table.
My father choked on his food, my mother tried to shut Masi up by passing all the food to her, even as my nani nodded her head in agreement. As much as I would have loved to take this advice, I needed to have my partner around. He was in Delhi shooting his first film, feeling young and fresh, while I was struggling with a helium-balloon version of myself and the Masi- and-Nani team.
I whispered to her, ‘Masi, he isn’t here,’ to which she said, ‘Taan ki hoya (so what)?’ My father could take it no more. He stopped eating and got up to leave. My nani started scolding my mother for not putting enough salt in the food and forcing my poor father to abandon his meal. ‘This is what happens if you serve pickle bought from the market,’ she said to herself sadly.
Masi realized that sex wasn’t a viable option for me, and so came the next nuskha – moving the nipples. How the f*ck does one move one’s nipples? As kids we had practised eyebrow raising, winking, rolling the tongue while sticking it out, heck, even moving the ears, but moving the nipples? How do you train those muscles, ligaments, tissues – whatever makes those nipples?
Masi corrected me saying, ‘I mean rub them.’ I didn’t want to rub any creams over my swollen breasts. Earnestly she said she could do it for me. What? No way was that happening! Later I learnt that nipple stimulation increases oxytocin production, which causes the uterus to contract. I am sure she didn’t know any of this, and I wasn’t telling her in case she decided to pounce on my nipples.
Her next tip was to have castor oil, taking it either through the nose or mouth. No, I said firmly. After much coaxing I agreed, but on the condition that she would do the sample test first. I didn’t let her argument of ‘I don’t have anything to push out except kidney stones’ convince me. I got the better of Masi on that occasion, but she didn’t concede defeat. After all, no one leaves a pregnant woman alone, and certainly not Chotu Masi.
She didn’t trouble me for the next few days, but couldn’t stop herself thereafter. She came to me carrying a whole bunch of needles. She was going to do some acupuncture on me. I asked her, worried, if she had ever done this before. She told me she had researched on Google for the past few days and might just be able to pull it off. You can imagine what my response was. NO.
Her next idea was to make my meals extra hot, that is, loaded with chilli. She believed the spice would help in inducing contractions. Those meals left not just my tongue but also my heart and stomach burning.
December winter in Chandigarh can be painful. You hold in your pee and go only when it is urgent. And here I was, sitting on the ice-cold pot for hours, running chilled water from the jet spray up my frozen butt.
The next day, exhausted, I left for my daily walk (more of a waddle now since I had gained twenty-two kilos!). It didn’t take long for Masi to catch up. She apologized for frightening me and gave me another tip. I was to imagine my labour. It’s called visualization, she said, beaming.
Okay, this didn’t sound so bad. I started visualizing that I was being taken to the hospital with beautiful, blow-dried hair. The doctor asked me to push twice and on the third push the baby came out gently, all smiling and dimpled. The doctor handed it over to me. I caressed the baby’s soft skin and it gurgled at me.
Masi was not pleased to see my tranquil, happy face (this was surely not a good sign!) and was about to hit me with another hare-brained idea. I had had enough and sped up so I could be on my own. Her presence was giving me palpitations.
My palpitations didn’t stop even after I reached home. My stomach too had started cramping. Maybe the fast walk had been a bit too strenuous. I sat down, closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths. When I opened my eyes I saw Chotu Masi staring at me.
She was smiling triumphantly. ‘You are in labour!’ What? Seriously? Yay! Excited, we took out the hospital bag we had prepared earlier and waited for the contractions to quicken. On a side note, no amount of nuskhas and tricks helped; all that was required was Chotu Masi’s presence!
It was night by the time my contractions became more frequent, coming now every three minutes. My parents who had dozed off in exhaustion were shaken awake by superhero Masi who shouted, ‘The girl is going to deliver here only. Get up. Let’s go!’
Published with permission from the publishers Juggernaut Books.
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Image source: Tahira Kashyap on Instagram, and book cover Amazon.
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