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The salve in words

I love walking to the nearby park with my six-year-old son, Aadhavan. Holding his little fingers in mine seems magical. Throughout our walk he would be dawdling, dancing or gambolling. I can feel the joy in the spring in his feet. Sometimes he would be lost in his own thoughts and sometimes he would buttonhole me with his talk. Sometimes, losing my patience I ask him to walk straight and talk less. He would acquiesce, but the next moment I start missing his leaping and prancing. I thus prevent myself from checking his movements and concentrate on my grip on his fingers.

So one evening he wanted to go to the park. I was feeling jaded after a hectic day. The kitchen was still unclean. Clothes lying in the washing machine were yet to be spread out for drying, and dinner was to be planned and prepared. Amid this I couldn’t think of accompanying my son to the park. Even after some emotional haggling he didn’t show any sign of relenting. So I called my friend Deepa who goes to the park daily. She willingly agreed to take him with her own kids.

That call

Hardly ten minutes might have passed and I received a call from Deepa. “Come to the park. Aadhavan got hurt!” I could hear my son’s wailing. I left everything and rushed to the park. Deepa was coming to me with my son. His face was sullied with dust and tears and he had placed a hand on his head.

I flopped down to see his wound and was aghast at the sight of a head injury. There was a gash of about two inches in the middle of his pate. His hair was smudged with blood. He had fallen from the swing which was in full motion, and when he tried to lift himself the swing hit him on his head. “Mumma, it’s paining.” he said. I had almost become numb at the sight. I brought him home.

My husband and I rushed to the paediatric surgeon. We were told that any apparent sign of vertigo and vomiting in the next 24 hours would necessitate a CT scan. Five stiches were put. I would have swooned at the sight of my son getting stitches but his father stood by his side. I could hear him involving Aadhavan tactfully in a conversation that would have reduced to an extent the pain of needles and pincers while the doctor did the procedure.

Penitent heart

It was 10 p.m. when we reached home, drained emotionally and physically. My heart was penitent. Had I accompanied him to the park, this could have been prevented: I couldn’t avoid this thought and each groan from my son made it worse.

When we were about to sleep, my mother called. “Since morning you didn’t call me even once. I hope all is well,”she said. “No, all isn’t well!” I blurted out. My voice became gruff and tears welled in my eyes. My narration numbed her as well.

“Listen to me,” she said at the end of the conversation. “Your worry wouldn’t cure him. Don’t blame yourself for this. This could have happened even if you were there at the park standing behind the swing. Every mother has a second-nature to hold herself responsible whenever her child gets into some difficult situation. Cook something and feed yourself and don’t go to bed on an empty stomach. You can take care of him only when you take care of yourself first. And have faith in god; Aadhavan will be fine soon.”

Her voice and words bolstered my strength. No matter how many centuries and generations we traverse, Mother is always coeval with unfathomable profundity of compassion, love and solicitude. I took a break from my job. I didn’t let my son attend school for four days. I cosseted him with good food and we together had some good time.

Within a week his wound had healed. We both had learnt our lessons. He had learnt not to be foolhardy on a swing and I had learnt that my son isn’t big enough yet to forgo my hold on his hand.

singhal.purti@gmail.com

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 6:39:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/The-salve-in-words/article17047230.ece

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