Hospitals, I am told, are sterile places. They have a way of making you feel less than human. Stripped naked, you lose your identity and all connection with the outside world. You’re forced to unquestioningly follow the orders of uniform personnel; the supposedly qualified medical professionals who talk about you as if you are not there. As if your soul does not exist. But it does, you remind yourself. You’re almost sure of it. To them, your body is nothing more than a broken object that needs fixing. So, fix it, you think.
Mom, I can’t imagine what it must have been like for you that day.
You registered in the lobby thinking you were going in for another cyst removal on your ovaries. You walked out of there knowing that in less than six months you would have a baby and I would have a mother. Years later when telling this story you would laugh and say that I was an unexpected miracle. Baba would retell the story and say I was her miracle. See, when you stopped trying, she started praying.
Months later you went back. This time you caressed your round belly. You were screaming and screaming and screaming. Because it hurt, you said. And you wanted it out of you. You wanted me out of you. Your body was inflated from the swelling, and the contractions made you feel like the world was ending even though my life was just beginning. Someone from down the hall told you to be quiet. You told them to shut the hell up. You saw their baby sometime later, you laughed because the labour might have been pleasant but that cone-head was one ugly child. I was born on a warm summer’s morning at approximately 4:37 a.m. I was long at twenty-three and a half inches and fat at eight and a half pounds. But mom and dad thought I was perfect. Life breeds life, you said, and I was the proof that God existed.
Dad said that when he first laid eyes on me his heart stopped; that when I took my first breath, his world changed forever.
When the nurses scooped me into their arms and away from the delivery room, he followed, not a pace or two behind. He was afraid that I might be switched with some other kid. He didn’t want them, he said, he wanted me.
For what it’s worth, back then, I was his kid. Back then, for what it’s worth, he was my dad. Funny, isn’t it, how things change?