Sunday, May 16, 2010


This entry is in response to Chitra Divakaruni's prompt about one amazing thing that has happened. I have been thinking about the many amazing things, from the exquisite sunrises and twilights at the beach, to strange happenstances, like my leaving the home shores with only my punjabis and shakespeares, and realising that that's all the equipment I've needed in the new world.

But then when I really search my treasure boxes, one moment stands out like a jewel, a moment after which my very self-view has been irrevocably changed.

This moment, like all such moments, was not sudden like lightening; it had been building up for years, and with more immediate urgency the few months before it happened.

I remember it very clearly: the mirror I was looking at was blurry, with grey and ochre spots, the largest one immediately above my left temple. I also remember what I wore then, as I looked into that mirror: it was a light pink paisley printed quilted jacket, a favorite then.

I had my 6th month sonogram that day. Yes, reader, I was pregnant. We had decided that we didn't want to know the gender of the baby and had told our doctors and technicians about this. We knew we'd love it no matter what.

I was apprehensive because my family was far away, and I was afraid when I went in for the sonogram on my own, the very first time in my life I faced a scary machine with no one to hold my hand. I remember the cold gel on my skin, vaguely uncomfortable, and the quiet voice of the technician, pointing out various parts of the fetus. At last, it was over, and he said he was almost done, just a couple of minutes more.

I discovered I had never, until then, quite understood the import of holding a new life within oneself. That heart beat with such determined will; a fist half-opened in tandem with a foot suddenly flicking up, and I felt the kick. The fascinating, grey, blotchy, moving thing, image, was a human being, and wonder of wonders, it was within my body!

The technician stopped speaking, dragging, forcing my eyes away from the fascinating screen, the incredible, unbelievable throb of a life the universe had entrusted to me. When the technician knew he had my full attention, he said that the gender of the baby was quite clear; would I like to know?

I don't remember my response, but it must have been clear, for he awarded me with the most amazing words I have ever heard, "It's a girl!"

I don't remember, actually, the entire process of crying, but I do remember noticing that the ultrasound gel felt much, much colder than tears. What can I say, reader? This was the most important moment of my life, and I was sobbing and sniffling in the most pathetic manner imaginable! But I knew then, that that's what one feels when joy literally overflows: one loses one's dignity and sputters around in a daze.

I was to wait at the facility for about an hour more, and I wandered around the little strip mall, composed mainly of Cuban shops and Hispanic markets. I knew I had to do something, and I bought my daughter my first gift to her: a pair of booties and a matching skull cap. I then begged the counter-lady to use the rest room.

This, I remember as the most amazing moment: I looked into the mirror and realised that I was looking at a woman who has a daughter.

I told this to the woman in the mirror over and over again, "You have a daughter! A Dikri!"

Never has everything felt as right as those words. It was as though the universe had clicked and whirred into place, everything locked just as it should be because that very recognizable woman in the mirror had a daughter.

My daughter turns 16 this week, and I am continually amazed that I'd be trusted with a being like her, for however short a time. True, my times with her so far have been fraught with as much worry and discord as with joy and harmony, and we have had many, many amazing times.

I measure all those times against the yardstick of a woman looking into a stained mirror, owning her daughter, acknowledging her as a separate being, inseparable from her own being.


  1. Beautiful--as your writing so often is!

  2. Nice write up Shefali ,
    Kudos to you.

  3. Thank you so much for visiting, Shweta! I am so glad you enjoyed this.

  4. Thank you~ you brought to mind amazing moments of motherhood in my own life and the profound feelings that accompany them.

  5. I agree, Janet! Motherhood is a privilege & a miracle. I am glad you enjoyed this.

  6. That was a lovely post, Shefali. "You have a daughter! A Dikri" - one among the beautiful lines in the piece and I knew you still retain your Punjabi.


  7. Thanks Bhuvana! I am so glad you enjoyed it!