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Home alone

Malayalam movie star Sreenivasan was on the stage,greeting my newly-wed sister-in-law and her husband.

Malayalam movie star Sreenivasan was on the stage,greeting my newly-wed sister-in-law and her husband,and my family was busy getting group photographs clicked with him. And there I was,sitting in the audience regretting my decision to leave the stage to give myself some rest,as advised in good faith by most of the elders present there. As I complained a while later about being left out,my father-in-law said it wasn’t late yet as the actor,his close friend,hadn’t left the venue. He headed for the banquet hall downstairs,asking me to follow. As I almost ran to catch up with him,I could hear a number of worried voices behind — “don’t run”,“be careful”,“don’t climb stairs unnecessarily”,“this girl forgets she is pregnant” and so on.

I am back in Delhi after the much-awaited holiday and already missing all the special attention I was getting there. Married for more than six years now,I go to Kerala every year,but the trip was special this time. I did not know the ‘good news’ would break the language barrier that had till now kept me at a little distance from many in my husband’s extended family,including his soft-spoken grandmother with whom I rarely conversed in the past. Car doors would be opened and closed for me,gifts poured in,and it seemed all guests and visitors wanted to see me first. I felt somewhat guilty for claiming share of the limelight reserved for the bride.

Living in a nuclear family has its drawbacks and I can realise this now. Walking into a house locked for three weeks,I feared to even heave a sigh as that could have triggered a desert storm,going by the layers of dust accumulated on each article. I tried to set things in order — arranging for the cook and domestic help to join back on time,calling up the neighbourhood shop to order the essential items,deciding what is to be cooked and making the to-do list — and soon realised that I was on my own again.

And as luck would have it,just when I tried to settle with the loneliness and sat down to write this blog,the cook came up and said she needed a 15-day break early next month. Working for me for the last three years,this was the first time she was asking for a long leave,but this could not have come at a worse time. Though I can cook,and enjoy it too,I needed some time to figure out how would I manage “two square meals” every day,braving 40 degrees in the kitchen.

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The problem of coping alone when expecting is common to many women living in the cities. Pregnant women being pampered by their families,as shown in Hindi movies and saas-bahu serials,can make you feel deprived,but I think it is better to leave certain things to the reel life. You may call it sour grapes,but after a couple of depressing days I have started to look at the brighter side of staying alone. With no one around,there are no contradicting ‘expert opinions’ to follow,and you can avoid a lot of confusion with the only guiding light coming from your doctor.

My mother has been losing sleep thinking about my predicament of climbing so many stairs every day. I am sure I would have started thinking the same way and stopped going out if she were here. Also,she would have made it difficult for me to wear all the maternity jeans and tights I bought over the last few months. For,she thinks kaftan is the only thing suitable to wear during this time,apart from sarees,of course.

On the food front,you can choose what to eat when staying alone and avoid gaining unnecessary weight. I know many women who had to gulp down gallons of butter and ghee because their families thought this would make a normal delivery easy.

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Yes,there is nobody to tell me “don’t bend” when I clumsily drop something and try to carry out the Herculean task of picking it up,if my husband is not around. But then you can’t eat your cake and have it too — in my case,lead a professional life in a metro and also have the parents and in-laws around.

My advice to all expecting women living without much family support is to think positive. Don’t compare yourself with your elder sister who had a houseful of people to look after her during pregnancy,or the friend whose parents could come over to be with her. If you are working,it is even better,for you have a distraction at hand. This is the reason doctors these days ask women not to leave job. According to them,those not working tend to think more about the pregnancy and anything out of place makes them hyper and rush to the doctor,which only makes things more complicated.

And as my mother-in-law puts it,coping with pregnancy or raising a child should not be as difficult for a woman these days as before because today’s husbands are much more cooperative than their fathers and forefathers. They make up for the missing extended family,and I can vouch for that.

First published on: 27-04-2011 at 13:15 IST
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