Welcome life with a ring
Bundle of Joy immense
Rajiva Shanker Shresta
Some more friends had gathered in the lounge by that time, not much to worry about with hospital accepting the situation and understanding our position as well. Since only two were allowed inside at a time as the new mother was brought to the ante-room, Ranjana was let in first to see them, me next. Bindiya and Nisha followed. What a joy to see the new-born with mother as fresh as could be being blessed thus. The tip her aunt (with a toddler) gave was to take care of herself as usual since visiting friends would be taking lots of photographs if she wished to look good and beautiful that proud moment. More than that, for me, it could be the supreme joy of motherhood attained/achieved - the great relief of having given birth to a new life to see the world after all those months together of difficult days and nights in discomfort. Mother with new born was shifted to another room to spend two more days convalescing. Bindiya had taken due care to decorate the room with Happy Birthday balloons and streamer to welcome them both sharing the same day - May 19. We had, in fact, celebrated her birthday previous night well knowing the due date coinciding.
Anxious wait started several months before preparing to welcome the new arrival. Unlike back home, here the parents-to-be could know that their bundle of joy was a baby girl. It was their prayer answered as there was no daughter born in the family before. Previous one for the elder son too was a son. I do not wish to link the episode in any way to the maternal aspect of the Nair society as my poor knowledge does not permit me to do so. In the Newar society, there is no distinction made whether the baby is a son or a daughter. Rather, we not only hold the daughter in high esteem worshipped as Goddess Kumari right from childhood and believed to be Goddess Laxmi incarnate. Even a husband considers his wife as a deity in later stage of their life together. Personally, we are fortunate enough to have been blessed with the both. At the wedding reception, an elder had said me that my Rachna was now gone out of our home and it was indeed quite a long wait welcoming home Sarvada as our daughter-in-law took some time to happen. Otherwise, even a son-in-law is highly regarded and believed to be an incarnation of Lord Narayan.
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When we were expecting our second baby, the size of the tummy made us believe to be blessed with twins. In our previous encounter, we were not aware that life would be at a turning point with a baby delivered the very next morning. Previous evening we had gone for a long walk to Naya Bazar/Mahatma Gandhi Road from the 8-Unit Quarter near the Happy Valley of Development Area. We had rushed to the STNM Hospital early next day that sunny Sunday morning getting into a taxi and were blessed with a son within hours. It was so simple and straight that made Sanu Mama* and Maiju surprised but also little annoyed taking things easy and not informing them in the morning so that he could have taken us to the hospital. It was a normal delivery when Dr. Shanti Rai* had come to help safe birth in spite of being a holiday. We were home next day. Both my Buba* and Muma had come from Rhenock that very day to be with us while our domestic help thought it better to leave us to our fate. It was early winter/December and to keep new-born and mother warm, we had used charcoal the previous night. Sutkeri had to be rushed back to the hospital very next day as she had some problem probably due to suffocation as our room had no ventilation. Things got back to normal soon as we came home at Rhenock to escape severe winter days Ranjana convalescing and baby growing with love and care of all including three sisters there.
We were more careful next time with double the joy of hopefully being blessed with twins seeing the baby bump. She had, therefore, to be admitted in the hospital well in advance to be safe avoiding any eventuality of rushing there at night. This time too everything went off well and a baby was born five days later that summer afternoon on Saturday. Overjoyed to have a sister born, I took our son to get new garments - one with A B C and other with 1 2 3 printed. It was time for him to go to school soon. By the time we left for home, the hospital room and staff there turned quite familiar to thank the attending nurses with small gifts. So close to our hearts that whenever we happened to visit the private wards the room at the entrance brought us memories back to nostalgic days and nights spent waiting for the new arrival. Well, many changes have taken place there with some renovations but how could we forget the anteroom of the labour room we stayed. Those rooms are now used for gastro-enterology department which we visit to see Dr. Suresh Madan Rasaily whenever needed. They celebrated 100 Years of STNM Hospital this year in a befitting manner. We were at pain some years ago when a move was there to do away with this heritage monument where not only our memories rear cherished till this date but even some historical moments of life that brought cheers as well as sorrows to many like us. Then as secretary to the Department of Cultural Affairs and Heritage (for the second time in my 35+ years long career), I had suggested about and stressed our minister, who also happened to be in-charge of Health, the need to save/preserve/conserve such ancient monuments that Sikkim had very few to declare any construction more than 50 years old to deserve a heritage status requiring such conservation. He simply asked me to keep quiet or else be prepared to face some action again! My friend Dhruba shared on Facebook - "Maturity is walk away from people and situations that threaten your peace of mind, self-respect, values, morals and self-worth." That is what I did exactly in spite of a series of books brought out from our Karuna Devi Smarak Dharmarth Guthi titled "Heritage Conservation" by INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) with its Nepali translation "Dharohar Suraksha" by me besides "Motivation: Skills and Techniques". These were released by dignitaries in a State function to celebrate the Commonwealth Day coinciding with World Women's Day in the year 2006. Incidentally, INTACH Sikkim Chapter is reportedly adjudged as the Best Chapter recently in recognition of their efforts towards the cause of natural and cultural heritage. A long journey indeed since the Sikkim Chapter was started with me as the Convener years ago, then had participated in 20 Years of the INTACH in New Delhi with R. P. Lama* my counterpart from Darjeeling. During his tenure they had brought out a list of their heritage living citizens as far as my memory goes but not much beyond to recollect their names.
Generation Next for our offspring is blessing to us as we see them something to look forward rearing up the child to experience a new life together as a couple. Many hopes and aspirations to take them forward together in life with as many challenges and things different and difficult compared to what we had. They have been moulded into thus more by time and compulsions of modern life like we had ourselves been to come through this age good and bad. We faced little early as being married before we turned 30 to be blessed with a baby soon so as to face the realities of life, sooner the better to be with it. It was not so with our children as they had their own life to live and a career to build in order to cope with all such eventualities. Our patience had paid at last and what could be the joy more rewarding than becoming grandparents at an age many see their grandchildren married and some with kids even - fortunate enough if one lives to this age!
Disclaimer: This is author’s personal account of memories updated to cherish and treasure often on a detour here and there en route to share the joy of the journey called life. Some names (*asterisk for those no more), quotes, places and events mentioned are just to connect with and no malice whatsoever intended. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His latest "The Newars World~Wide Connecting the Dots : Sikkim" is available at Rachna Books.