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Falling into a passive post-partum routine

The door bell rang as I expected it to, at half past eleven. I lay there on my bed unsurprised by the entrant into my overcrowded room. The day was almost half done but my mundane chores remained undone. She was preparing for the next 30 minutes of fun. At least, that’s what she called it.

While her concoction was being warmed, she changed from her vivid attire to a rather uninteresting costume. In the meantime, I reluctantly undressed myself baring my over-sized engraved self to the chilly breeze that managed to gush in through the door that let her in. She banged the door shut and came towards me with her potion.

Drawing her hands together, she bowed before me. For any other person, the whole procedure might be relaxing, but for me it was an ordeal. She made it a point to plait all my muscles and weave my nerves. Her hands caressed every single atom of my being. She proved her years of practice on my flesh. I was happy when she splashed boiling water on me because that concluded the session of torture for the day.

And then it was his turn. She effortlessly stripped and drenched him in the still-warm liquid she prepared. He did enjoy it more than I did. He was surprised at how she knew all his weak spots. She did not heed when he protested on her handling certain areas even I didn’t dare to explore. I hated her for that. I know he hated her too. But we couldn’t question her expertise.

Wrapped in fresh, sanitised clothes, both of us lay in bed again while she changed. She resumed her story from where she had left it the previous day. My attention span ran to exactly two minutes, after which my eyelids found reasons to shut. He was having his usual drink after which I was sure he would have his siesta. He was least interested in listening to her animated tale. She sipped her hot drink and told me how satisfying her job was for her and for her regulars. I gave her a faint smirk and nodded in agreement.

She neatly packed up all her mixtures, cleaned the stained utensils, positioned them on the sun-sprayed window sill and gave me the most cheerful smile for the day. She had made some not-so-spicy brinjal curry, dhal and rice at six before she left to attend to her first prey. Her bed-ridden husband will be waiting for her. We were her last clients before lunch-time. She will have four more after three.

Innumerable wet and dry nappies, three musical rattles, two soggy teddy-bear-stamped rubber sheets, one blue umbrella mosquito net with two holes, a few milk-stained towels, a couple of barely read books, blue bed sheets and clothes had formed my environment for the past 10 days. I wished I could doze off amid all that clutter. But I had ‘feed time’ on the log sheet prepared, and he was having his fill.

“All your baby fat will vanish in 20 days, kannamma, and raja will grow into a strong boy. I will be back tomorrow,” said Kasthuri Bhai, our local masseur, as she left.

She opened the door again, this time letting in the aroma of a sumptuous protein- and calcium-rich lunch that would wake any drowsy lactating mother in the neighbourhood. And for the first time, my face bore a genuine smile.

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 5:04:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/falling-into-a-passive-postpartum-routine/article8241432.ece

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