At the end of the first trimester of my pregnancy, my doctor suggested an ultra sound scan to ensure that the growth and other developments are on track. The radiologist, perhaps owing to a long experience of seeing eager first-time Moms, turned the screen towards me as he did the scan, and after satisfying himself that everything was fine, told me, “That- is your baby.” I could make out nothing, I felt as though I was looking toward outer space on a starry night. Slowly he explained to me where the head was, how the body was positioned and how the hands were gently moving, so that I could make out something that resembles a foetus. The sight placed a lump in my throat and jerked a few unseen tears from my eyes; it was an emotion I could not explain. That shapeless form slowly moving about in my womb is my child! I could not wait the remaining few months to hold him in my hands.

Today there was a routine visit to the paediatrician for the shapeless form who is now a three-and-a-half year old boy. And the little being that had once elicited tears from my eyes was running about as if a pin would prick his back if he sat down. I almost lost him twice in the hospital. First, after I left him watching Tom and Jerry from the Plasma TV in the lobby for a moment when I went around to get his reports (the lady at the reception was frantically searching for the paper she had just left there a moment ago) and when I turned back a moment later, the head that was bouncing up and down in a chair was suddenly missing. A second later, I saw him come out of the radiology department, calling “Amme… Amme…”, looking for me. I hoped he was sufficiently frightened not to run off again. But a spirit like his cannot be dampened by insignificant instances as those. After getting the reports I found that there were two patients before our turn. So we both sat down to wait. Suddenly a pre-schooler appears, his parents nowhere in sight – they must really have given up on this one, and I don’t blame them – and the two begin to play. No introductions, no questions. They look at each other and when I ask my son to sit down, he tells me, “He is my friend!”

Suddenly, the new friend starts running towards the reception and before my startled eyes, my son also starts running after him. I wait a moment to see if he realises that he has an anxious parent somewhere nearby and turns back, but no such thoughts deter him. They go on, go on, past the reception, past the pharmacy and almost into the canteen where I catch up with him and ask between breaths, “Where… do… you… think… you… are… going?” I puffed and panted my way back, holding his hand (a little too hard), muttering, “You go sit there in that chair, young man! And don’t you dare move!”

The doctor’s room has a rotating chair that no doubt has been used to wear and tear by all the little ones that visit. This young man sits on it and starts rotating it to glory and when I say, “please sit still”, he says, “This chair is made to rotate”. I could find nothing to refute that argument. I am silenced.

My only hope is that in a few years, at least he will be able to find his way back once he gets lost.
So much for longing to hold him in my hands!