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Seven weeks—at her mother's house

Today I met Alka and Nikhil at her mother's house. It is in an old building which is a chawl. I found the place without difficulty as she had explained the way clearly. She was at the door. The house consists of two rooms and a balcony. There were a lot of people in the house and as I entered she only introduced her mother. On seeing me all the women started to talk among themselves as to who I was. There were two women on the floor with the baby. Two small children were sleeping beside a young lady. One of the children was Akhil. He recognised me and gave me a half smile. After ten minutes the mother started to breastfeed Nikhil. Akhil was sitting beside her. She turned herself to the wall and covered herself up. Once settled she started to chat with me and introduced her family members. Her grandmother and paternal aunt were sitting near the baby. Her sister and her son had also come down to stay there.

Today I felt closer to Alka as she had come to her mother's place where she rightly belongs. She could ask her mother to help her to clean her baby and to feed Akhil a mug of milk. I saw a new confidence in her. She chatted and told me that she has two younger sisters and a brother, who is still to get married. She talked proudly of her father who built a new building next to their old building where they would have an entire floor to themselves. It felt that the house would also be hers. I enquired how Nikhil was doing. She explained that he still cries in the evening but it is not so intense. She feels that he is better here than at her husband's building.

At some point she got up and her place was taken by her sister. I had been playing with Nikhil and he started crying after a little. Her sister took him on her lap and he stopped crying. She wanted to chat and find out about me, as did the grandmother. Alka answered the queries with breezy confidence and said to me, "You have been coming to our building since he was just a week old." Her attitude was that I acted like a friend and that she had a right to explain our relationship. I left the house with a light heart. I noticed Alka looking at me through the window with a smile and a pre-occupied expression.

Comment

The observer feels a change of heart in this observation in Alka's mother's home and feels welcomed as a friend of the mother's. The mother feels an attachment to her own family and feels secure in her place in "her" home. In turn she can feel not only closer to her baby but also her older son can be with her while she feeds the baby.

 
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