Monday, February 15, 2010

Unnatural Resistance

How vividly I remember those fragile tiny fingers, twining and wrapping themselves in their cushy blob of a palm. I inched my finger close to his, fascinated on how huge my Tarzan like nails and fingers seemed next to his delicate wisps of nails. I could easily spend the afternoon squeezing myself near his bed, transfixed at his peaceful and cherubic face, even as a tinge of jealously would pass through me; a wistful wish to blissfully sleep like him, lulled by the soft rhythm of the ceiling fan, and the cool puffs of the afternoon breeze. For the longest time I never thought he would grow to be bigger and taller than me. It never occurred to me that one day I would no longer be able to play with his ears, tugging and bending those supple and soft ligaments like a piece of dough, as he concentrated on taking his toy apart.

Soon I was helping with his alphabets, then assuaging his fears and disappointments at losing his "lives" in video games, and then... I seem to have lost track of time and events, transported to some world where time coagulated just around me. Today he stands towering over me sporting a trendy chin strap, his eyes holding a curious mix of childlike mischief and amusement when I get mistaken for his younger sister. Somewhere down the road, I stopped growing and the tiny little being rapidly grew and transformed into this young man who now seems like a stranger from another planet, when all I know is he isn't that baby I wanted to bundle in my arms.

Starting from tiny seeds blooming into dainty flowers to my strapping cousin, the miracle of life and growth never ceases to amaze me. Almost like a child giggling over how the moon zooms and runs along with her, not caring to understand that the moon stays put while she chases after it, I seem to have frozen in this notion that everyone around me continues to grow, while I remain being the same silly and confused girl. How cliched, you might say. And I agree. But when I see those around me bringing in their own little bundles of joy, it hits me hard, to the point of being disconcerted, uneasy and queer. When did they grow up? When did I grow up? Will I ever feel grown up? When my heart thuds as I enter a dark room, I wonder if I will ever be able to snuggle and comfort a little being someday when the lights go off. What measures are there to qualify us as having grown and being responsible enough to facilitate the growth and well-being of another life? None.

Such instincts have been wired in us, many say. Scientists have given me plenty of comforting proof that even a docile little bird can hammer her beak off if her nest were threatened. Chimp mothers face unthinkable tortures and put up brave fights just to safeguard their babies from being eaten by other chimp males. Just as I am counting my blessings for living my life in this pampered age, why do I see ignorant human mothers starving and neglecting their young? Isn't something terribly amiss? I thought these were the kinds of species and genes that were weeded out by natural selection a million years back. Or have we humans isolated ourselves so much from Nature's fundamental traits, with technology having insulated us from the wrath of natural selection, that we are now reduced to materialistic automatons who no longer identify with Nature, and are programed with the only objective of conquering academic and career goals?

Perhaps we are now at an evolutionary phase where nurturing is no longer just an instinct. Just as how everything now comes bubble wrapped with an instruction kit, nurturing and parenting have now become a science - to be meticulously imbibed through books and kits and games teeming aplenty. No, I am not sarcastic or resentful. I'm grateful. But I can't help being aghast and resentful at those who stay blind to every modicum of help and guidance showered their way, quoting their ignorance and discomfort at handling the angst and pains involved. My grandma often used to wisely remind us kids every time we flinched on getting hurt - "Females are born to go through pain. Grit your teeth and learn to bear it". In a world of hassle-free root canals and pills for everything, why are we still complaining? Where is this line of "evolution", which seems to resist the idea of going through any pain for one's child, leading us to?


Leena said...

i loved the image of chasing after the moon, imagining it was running alongside you. quite an apt description for the feeling of standing still while everything around you is changing. hopefully, you will find that you too have grown, perhaps in a different way than expected.

SecondSight said...

Though your post left me with more feelings of confusion than resolution, it was still fun to read ;)

I like the description of adulthood and maturity described in Shadows of forgotten ancestors. "We achieve some measure of adulthood when we can look squarely into the long dark places" - Not that the dark spaces cease to exist, nor that we are no longer afraid of them- Just that despite being afraid, we do what needs to be done anyway. Or as Fulghum puts it- Being an adult is a dirty job, but someone has to do it!

A lot of the mom blogs I read describe the same fears and confusion about parenthood that we as non-parents experience, if that's any reassurance ;)

lakshmi said...

Rajaji's introduction to MS's Bhaja Govindam starts with knowledge becoming wisdom and wisdom turning to devotion - bhakti.

I guess in this age of chasing after qualifications, we have lost sight of education leave alone wisdom and devotion. No wonder the natural instinct has died an unnatural death !

One has only to look at construction sites in India to see how the maternal instinct is so alive. I dont pity those children - they truly live in wisdom :)

Neeraja said...

Thanks Leena!

SecondSight - Agree and I just repeated the quote :). Hopefully what now seems like a dirty job, won't be as "dirty".

Aunty, thanks for your insightful comment! I too remind myself of the construction workers and other resilient women to pacify myself and learn from them :)