In a few days you will be four years. Or three years and one more year, as you put it. It seems like yesterday that they yanked out a bloody mewling mass of flesh from my insides, and then whacked it to make it howl loud enough to bring the hospital building down and the mother in law scurrying up from the ground floor where she had gone to get her precious bottle of boiled water from the car. The husband inflated himself much in the manner reminescent of a helium balloon when you were put into his arms. I am told you were looking left right and centre trying to figure out what was going on, and whatever the celebrations were all about you wanted to be in the thick of the action. Not much has changed since. The anaesthesist exclaimed "Ganapati Bappa Ala," when you emerged, much to my astonishment, I was blessed to hear the name of the lord when you were born. And then the agonies of the post op, the indignity of the catheter, the total scariness of being unable to move beyond the waist for an entire day, the sudden realisation that I had folds of skin hanging emptily where once sleek flat tummy was. And the scars. The scary scars. Nothing mattered when I held you and fed you. You were too hungry to feed contentedly. You attacked me, and couldnt latch on properly and I had no clue how I was to handle you. Everytime I fed, an army of nurses would be at hand to position your mouth, you were already throwing temper tantrums and howling till you went red if you couldnt feed. Not much has changed since. The temper still remains firmly in place. Only now your hands and feet are not tied up, and you can lash out.
You were a beautiful baby. Plump, cherubic, pleasant, friendly and adorable. The husband began loving to carry you in a public situation since you drew teenage girls like a magnet. You were an early lady slayer. You still retain your charm. Then came the seizures, the hospitalisations, the autism spectrum diagnosis. I dont even want to think of those days. Lets just say, thats when I began greying.
Then working with you, pushing you to prove that you were fine. That nothing was wrong with you, you were just like other kids. Maybe a little slow, but fine. Dealing with your odd behaviour in public, suffering because other children refused to play with you, being the punching bag for your temper tantrums and bites and scratches, the marks of which I bear all over like badges of honour. I know of another mother, who also brings her son to therapy, to the same therapist you go to, who keeps her son in a room at home with a maid to deal with him, since she feels embarassed to take him out. I almost spat on her when she told me this. And I am a mild person. I took you everywhere, even if it was backbreaking. Nothing you did was embarassing to me. Your obsession with lifts and doors, your flailing on the floor tantrums in malls, were all fine. As long as it gave you a chance to interact with the world. I did all I could to keep you with people. You went to playschool when you were barely 20 months. And you were not speaking. It was heartbreaking to think of you, alone, with strangers, unable to make yourself understood. I cried for an entire week. I stood outside the gate of the school, with my mobile in my hand ready to run in and get you should they call and say you were crying for the entire two hours you were in there. The teacher told me that she had to take an Anacin after you left, you gave her such a headache. I told her that was what I was paying her for, and if she couldnt take it she should quit teaching. I shifted you to another school which adored you, and did all it could to help you fit in. I never ever wanted you to be treated differently from other kids. You would be the same as everyone else. I would ensure that. Even if I had to put my entire life on hold for that. Then it started, the therapy, the working with you, the ensuring you went out every evening, even if my legs were shaking with tiredness. Talking incessantly to you to make you respond. Treating you much the same as other kids.
You are a beautiful boy today. A handsome scrawny boy who lights up any place he goes, and makes everyone fall in love with him effortlessly. My heart swells with joy when I see you with your friends, making yourself understood, playing happily, oblivious to all the labels you have, just getting on with your life, and having a great time.
God bless you my darling son. And keep you safe and away from any unhappiness. And when you do grow up, and perhaps sometime read this, I hope you will forgive your mother for being the task master she has been.