I sit in the dark, Laddu snug against my bosom. Her head rests on my shoulder, her left hand playing with my earrings. I hear her sucking on her other thumb. We rock back and forth in the darkness till her arm drops, heavy and relaxed. I stay in the dark, unwilling to put her down and break this bubble I am in. My face is burrowed in her neck. I feel the fine fuzz on her skin and breath in a mix of her unique smell and sweat. Today marks the first day she is weaned. As much as I know this had to happen some day, it feels bittersweet. A reminder of the separation that must commence so my baby girl grows up into a person all her own. Reluctantly, I stand and lay her gently in her crib. The thumb from her mouth falls to her side. Her lips are pursed and she breathes evenly.
I walk away and hold back sadness. Something that was special to just the two of us has now fallen by the wayside. I remember the early days and weeks when I kept at nursing her despite toe curling pain and exhaustion beyond belief. I also remember the happiness I felt at being able to nourish her, drawing from within me to sustain her week after week, month after month. A primal bond that is at once humbling and amazing.
I hear the odd sound over the monitor every once in a while that indicates she is rolling over or adjusting her position. I strain for indications of wakefulness before continuing on with my chores. She has grown, my little one. From a tiny seven pounder to twenty pounds. From someone I could hold in one arm to a child who spans the width of my legs when I sit cross-legged on the floor. She walks, runs, goes up and down stairs. She babbles, demands and communicates with sounds. She is adventurous, tasting everything she can see. Her eyes twinkle with mischief as she scoots with something she picked off the floor. I hold my hand out and she makes to place it on my palm and in one smooth gesture pops it into her mouth. She plays hide and go seek, peek a boo and catch with her sisters.
The sound of the door opening in the evening is enough for her to stop what she is doing and run to the door to wait for her Appa and their daily ritual of walking to get the mail. She enjoys the swing, the outdoors and the grass. She loves her vegetables and fruits and scoffs if I offer anything that is mild or bland.
She wakes up in the morning and brings with her the sunshine. She lights up our life and everything in it. She is truly a musical note in a sea of cacophony. She is the apple of our eyes.