The bead glittered with the joy of contentment, with the sweet pain of labour; rolled slowly down and settled. Her gentle hand reached out to the infant’s brow where the bead of sweat glistened. As she wiped her baby’s brow, she ensured that the positioning was well maintained so that the baby’s grip as she suckled her milk was not disturbed. Tiny hands cupped and suckled with pleasure that lent a mutual chord of feeling. When the baby gave a contented burp, Amala rose with the baby in her arms and gently lay her in the cradle. A tender smile lit her face as she watched dark lashes rest on rosy cheeks. She gently rocked the cradle, then tiptoed away. As Amala made her way through the passage towards the kitchen, her expression changed to one of concern and worry. She could catch the smell of the burnt gravy and rushed to switch off the stove. To her utter chagrin, very little of the gravy could be salvaged. She could picturise Ravi returning home tired, looking forward to eating Rajma and parathas for dinner. What could she do now? Maybe she could place an order and Swiggy could deliver. Alternatively, maybe she could call up Ravi, explain the catastrophe and request him to pack some dinner on the way home. As Amala was contemplating, the baby’s cries reached out to her.
Picking up the little one from the cradle, she cajoled and coaxed, crooned sweet nothings and pointed to the bougainvillea in the garden, to the flight of birds winging their way homeward.
One tiny grubby hand had entwined her hair possessively and was tugging at it with pleasure. Another tiny hand had cupped her cheek and wide innocent eyes were peering up at her face. An all-winning smile radiated towards her and Amala almost swooned with love and adoration. Simultaneously she also wanted to shriek because the tug on her strands of hair was becoming painful. She tried to lay down the baby on the cot but thd young one clung even tighter.
With the young one in her arms, Amala reached for her mobile placed on the wide glass-topped mahogany table in the hall. She turned on the electronic merry-go-round for baby to watch. Having succeeded in keeping baby occupied with the toy, Amala dialed s
wiggy and placed an order for vegetable parathas with malai kofta and palak panneer from ‘Daffodils’ restaurant located on the main road.
At 9.30 PM the bell rang. Amala opened the door for her charming and handsome husband. Ravi gave her a quick hug, then rushed to pick up baby and play with her. Baby’s diaper was wet. Together they changed the diaper and were caught up in baby’s chuckles and tinkling laughter as her father threw her up and caught her.
Amala set dinner on the table and laid out the melamine crockery. The little one too was hungry and this was evidenced by the rapid and continuous sucking of her thumb. Requesting Ravi to start his dinner and informing about the burnt rajma, Amala gulped a bowl of tomato soup, then took baby for feeding.
The golden moonbeams shining through the window bathed mother and child in an aura of light. As little Natasha released her hold on the nipple, Ravi took her in his arms to burp her and put her to sleep. Amala could now have her dinner.
As they happily slept,.the night lingered to salvage a glance at a budding bloom.