On Fathers and Daughters

On Fathers and Daughters

One night, I was sitting on my bed, my 3 month old baby girl playing in my lap throwing her hands and legs around in an increasingly more fluid and less robotic fashion. The room was dark but there was enough light for us to see each other’s faces. I could see that she was looking right at me while I kept bringing my face down and placing the tip of my nose on hers, like I love doing all the time. She brought her hands to my face and started exploring my cheeks, pulling my hair, rubbing my beard and grabbing my nose, like she had recently learnt to do. Somewhere during this little episode, the realization hit me with an intensity like never before that I was now a father of a girl who I loved so much that it was impossible to describe. Just to look at her playing calmly in my lap gave me a sense of happiness. It felt like I was in a deep state of meditation, in a cave far away from the rest of humanity, and it opened my mind to thoughts I never had before. I was discovering how much I loved my daughter. Right here in that moment, perhaps she was learning to love me too. I was her window to the world, but did she know that right now? I realized that there is something special about a father-daughter relationship that only fathers and daughters can understand.

It is incredibly difficult to know the heart of a father, I realized. Mostly because society talks more about mother’s love, fatherhood gets a distant second mention. Mind you, I don’t think any less about mothers. After all, they go through nine months of pregnancy, then a painful and potentially life threatening delivery, and then years of the child being stuck to them for physical as well as emotional nourishment. It is a huge task and my respect for mothers has only increased with our own experience. But what about a father? What can explain the way he falls in love with a baby who is still in the mother’s womb, months away from birth? He, who accompanies the mother-to-be to the midwife clinics every time and remembers to ask the important questions which she herself would be too nervous to remember. He, who stands by her for dozens of hours while she is in labour, encouraging her to go on. He, who sees the baby’s head and her body come out into the world. And he who then stays awake for the rest of his life so that he can protect them both from the very same world. And finally he, who decades later stays calm and takes charge, while the mother loses herself crying and howling, when that daughter leaves them for her new life with a new partner.

My chain of thoughts is suddenly broken as my 3 month old darling daughter scratches hard with her nails right next to my left eye. In the dark, I know she can see my face and the tears that had just fallen from my eyes. Is it just her innocence or is she telling me not to worry right now? After all, she has barely learnt to move her limbs and there is still a long way to go. I lift her up, hold her tight to my chest and kiss her on her cheeks, and then on her forehead while she continues the exploration of my face and neck with her tiny hands. We sit there like that for a long time as I learn what it is like being a dad to a girl. I used to think that fathers are furthest in the chain of emotions, but holding my little girl in my arms, I question how that could ever be true. I know now how my dad feels about my younger sisters, even though he never shows it, and how much they really must love him back. I know how much my wife loves his father and how much my mom her own. That I am now myself part of this sacred relationship makes me feel special, enlightened.

So, I look down back at my darling daughter and tell her what every father tells his daughter, ‘Nitara! My dear Noni! Papa loves you.’

Smile, My Little Baby!

Smile, My Little Baby!

From the day my darling daughter was born, the one thing I wanted to see her do the most was to smile. The first expression I saw on her face was that of fear after just having come out into this world. Then, she cried. Over many days and weeks, I kept looking at her with renewed hope that she would smile. But of course, I knew that babies that small don’t know smiling yet. And what will she smile at? She doesn’t understand what being happy means. And what could have made her happy anyway? A large supply of milk and sleeping for as long or as little as she chose?

So, weeks kept passing by but there was nothing. She got her name – Nitara – but even that did not please her enough to pass a smile. A few times, we thought we did she a smile on her face when she was asleep and then that smile would vanish abruptly. It wasn’t really a smile, maybe a twitching of muscles in her face? Maybe her brain was learning how to move those muscles in different manners? Sometimes my mom claimed that she saw Nitara smile, but I couldn’t actually count on that unless she smiled at me and I saw it too. And a smile didn’t really mean much unless we were sure that she really was smiling about something.

Finally that day came and Nitara smiled at me for the first time. It was in response to a toy that I had shown her. But even then, it was difficult to make her smile on purpose. I tried many things, made faces, made funny sounds, sang for her. And finally I got it.

What Nitara really enjoyed the most was me forming my lips into an ‘O’, opening my eyes wide, and making the sound ‘Ooooooooo’, all together. The more I did it, the more she smiled. Later, when she started to make sounds like ‘A-gooo’, ‘A-gaaa’, using her voice for the first time, I started imitating her sounds. Gradually, I found that she liked my imitation of her and she started to respond to my imitation by making more such sounds, which I imitated again, and so on, and she enjoyed this whole experience so much that her smiles this time were a true result of joy at a new discovery.

Soon afterwards, the smiles turned into laughter. Now, she has been advancing so fast almost anything can make her laugh. Just talking to her makes her laugh. Showing her your tongue makes her laugh out loud. She looks at the most simple things around her, like a photo frame of my mom and me (from when I was a baby myself) throws her into convulsions. My youngest sister, perhaps, is nowadays her biggest source of laughter. They play peekaboo and Nitara has a rocking time with her. In fact, her smiles now have a character of their own. No longer are there simple curving of lips and expansion of cheeks. Now she opens her mouth wide and makes loud joyful sounds when she smiles and you can see the joy in her eyes as well.

So, it has been worth the wait. Every time she smiles feels like the first time and makes me super happy. And, to see a baby smile and laugh and show happiness, isn’t that the biggest reward of being a parent?

Our daughter Nitara Bagga is one month today

Our daughter Nitara Bagga is one month today

Hey World!

Meet Nitara, our charming little princess who has all grown up to be one month today. We are so glad to have her in our lives and we love her very much. Here’s a Happy One Month to her from her mom, dad, grandparents, great-grandparents, as well as aunts and uncles.

img_4762img_4765

It’s a Girl !!

its-a-girlOn the morning of 13th of January 2017, and after an excruciating 28 hours in labor, while it was freaking cold and snowing outside, the clouds parted and our ray of sunshine, our sweet little angel, finally entered our world.

“It’s a girl!” I announced to my wife with tearful eyes as the midwife turned the baby and opened her legs. The very next instant, the baby was placed on the mother’s chest, skin-to-skin. We were spell-bound. In that instant, we forgot all the tiredness that we had been feeling over the last 2 days. We had our baby in our arms.

We couldn’t believe it was a girl. Why? I don’t know. Maybe because we had become so used to the bump that it would still take time for us to process that it has now become a real person. We had imagined it would be a girl. We had also imagined it would be a boy. We knew it could be either. But seeing our baby girl for real turned out to be so different from imagining.

After a while, the nurse asked me if I would like to hold my baby for some time while they helped my wife relax. They asked me to take off my t-shirt and be skin to skin with my baby because she needs that. I was so scared. She was so tiny. I was scared of picking her up. But they told me I would be just fine.

It’s my daughter… It’s MY DAUGHTER!

And then I held her in my arms and everything else in the world became unimportant. This, Now, was Everything.

Our little baby girl is adorable and quite healthy. The mother is doing excellent, though still a bit exhausted. Our mothers are here to help us and they have both been amazing in sharing our load.

Even now, 2 weeks after the birth, I can’t believe I have a baby now. I can’t believe I have a daughter. I can’t believe I am a Dad now…. Maybe it will take some more time to sink in. Maybe, I should change the tag line of my blog now.

How has your experience been? Do share by commenting below.

(This post was originally written on 15th Jan 2017, but I forgot to publish it and only realized that today.)
(Pictures will be later.)