Right after her birth, my daughter was taken to NICU for observation. The six hours observation first turned into 12, then 24 and continued into days. Meanwhile, I cried, screamed, threatened and even entered a state of complete silence, but nothing happened. The hospital had converted the occasion of child birth into a gloomy episode of emergency case. However, my motherhood knew that nothing was wrong with my baby and they were feeding my baby through tubes in order to fill their pockets. I stood strong and followed my instinct. I signed a paper which said I was taking the baby out from the NICU at my own risk.
I had gathered strength when I entered the house. But somehow the gloom from the hospital had followed. I was expected to undergo the ‘After birth confinement’ ritual which I had agreed to do in the past. I am ok with all traditions as long as I can logically relate it to some betterment, and keeping the baby away from the infested world was definitely on the top of my priority list. But little had I known that confinement in India mostly is, to make the life of women more miserable.
My room had no ventilation. The wall started where the bed ended. I was restricted from taking daily bath, walking freely across the hall to the TV room, and entering kitchen. The confinement was restricting not only fresh air but also happiness from entering the room. It took me just a day to regret my decision, but there was no looking back. Though my in-laws are the coolest in laws in the world but it never occurs to them that rules can be bent, broken or modified without consulting the “Badi Amma” in the village. So, while my parents happily marched in and out of my room, my in laws kept themselves separated, completely from me and the baby.
I could feel that the air was depressing. My husband’s dark circles and unshaven face had made it worse. Everything was unpleasant and surely this was not the way the house should welcome a new member. Finally the news was broken to me that the baby was born in “Mool”. Hello! Now what was that? I was clueless, my husband was sad, my MIL was panicked and my mother was confused whether she should go for her daily walk or wait back. I looked at my husband and he said apparently it is something inauspicious; Inauspicious either for the mother or the father or the baby or the maternal uncle, who in our case was posted in Siachen border. Generally my husband shuns down such conversations but in this case he was dumbstruck as it was concerning his princess. I made the mistake of asking “What next?” and all the relatives present elaborated the procedure to me and that too in complete chorus.
- Mother to follow 27 days of confinement without bath and father cannot shave.
- The father cannot see the baby’s face till the Havan is performed on 27th days
- Daily butter roti for black dog and river water for the crows
- A feast for 27 Brahmins
- All the Brahmins to be donated yellow clothes and idol of Mool made of silver.
- No ceremony till the havan is completed
I was not satisfied and I knew even after spending 50 k I would never be. So I strayed to Google; the same google which makes your common chest pain look like a heart attack. Soon I concluded that the Mool was the end of all happiness and harmony not for the baby but for the mother who was awake either to feed the baby or to google. Also I found out from the relatives that the “Mooling mother” developed lice by not taking bath for 27days, “Mooling father” became Baba by not shaving for 27 days. The more I learnt the more I hated the distraught.
When I had lost all the hopes, my father came like a light in the end of the tunnel. Apparently, his Pundit had calculated that the baby was not born in Mool. I could not believe and started crying in happiness. But it was not easy to convince all the relatives. Soon the debate started. Mool or no Mool. Relatives from both the sides started to question, doubt and judge the intellect of pundits of other side. I remember around five to ten pundits came to house but could not end the cold war between the sides; and “Inke yahan-Unke wahan” “Inka pandit-Unka Pandit” kept going for days.
After witnessing the whole drama for five days, I crossed the threshold of my patience. To hell with the endless stupidity, I had to celebrate life. The moment had come when I should be strong and take the charge of my life. I call it my moment of #Be Strong. I decided to take the final step. I called everyone in my room. I told them that the birth of our baby was the most auspicious thing that had happened to us and as a family we should celebrate this. We should have a Namkaran ceremony on the 11th day preceded with a havan in which we would do a “Shanti Path” to appease and thank the deities. We will rather offer feast and donation to the people who really need it. There was a brief silence and everyone was staring at me. My mom broke the silence in agreement, followed by my father and my MIL gave in too. Soon other relatives too started nodding their heads in approval. To my surprise the consensus was reached in no time. I cannot tell you how proud and happy I felt at that moment.
So we broke the web together. The Havan ceremony was performed followed by the Namkaran Sanskar. I came out from the confinement after 11 days. My Husband did not become Baba and I did not develop lice. The best part I noticed that my in-laws never break rules themselves but never stop me from breaking it. How much ever they themselves fear of going against the society, they have never objected nor took any stand against me for questioning the age old beliefs. This is the one support I always appreciate. Anyways I am happy to act as a representative on their behalf.