I’m going through BabyA’s baby pics on my phone and it’s filled with shots of Nandy and her.
Photo 1: Nandy looking disoriented as he walks with her, head resting on his shoulder, in the middle of the night.
Photo 2: Nandy grimacing as he peeks into her diaper to find the explosion that almost rocked the house.
Photo 3: Nandy fast asleep as Aranya manages to rest her feet over his face.
Photo 4: Nandy, tired after getting back from a long trip, sleeping with Aranya snoozing on his tummy.
I suddenly realize that I’m Anupam Kher from Wake Up Sid! My daughter is going to look at all the pictures from her childhood and never see me. She will think that it was her father who woke up every time she cried in the middle of the night, to feed her and then walk her (she in his arms) for hours till she fell asleep. She will believe that it was he who always changed her dirty diapers, wiping the rainbow coloured potties she was capable of exhibiting in her tiniest years. She will think that he was the one who would silently put up with her constant unintentional violence (kicking, slapping, etc.) as she slept and only wanted to cuddle with him at night. Ok- so the last one’s true but not the rest! The rest were ME – ALL ME!
Eventually her memories will morph into a false photoshopped MMS where her father will be the one who would spend an hour (sometimes two, no jokes!) singing “What a Wonderful World” and “Yeh Honsla” (from Dor) in alternation, to her while unsuccessfully rocking her to sleep. But no! That was ME too! Sang till my voice was hoarse.
My husband wasn’t a baby person and that’s why when I saw how he warmed up to his own child, I wanted to capture every sensitive moment on camera. So each little moment of father-daughter bonding was caught and archived for her to view as a grown up.
Of course, since I am the mother, and supposed to be responsible for everything to do with this baby, nobody was there to click me when I had my finger up her nose trying to take out a booger that wouldn’t let her breathe. Moms do that! Who cares?
And that leaves me feeling like Anupam Kher in Wake Up Sid: my daughter will grow up seeing these pictures and thinking that it was her father who was always there: for the first word, to nurse all her boo-boos, for the first heartbreak. But she won’t ever think about who was behind the camera, taking all these pictures?
The only thing I find solace in is the hope that perhaps at the end, when she’s peaking at her mommy-hatred (because that’s naturally bound to happen at puberty with any daughter), he will tell her… Just like Supriya Pathak told Ranbir Kapoor: “Who do you think was holding the camera all this time? Who do you think wanted to take pictures of you all the time? Who do you think loves you so much?” (Or something like that).
And then I will be redeemed in front of my tattoo- toting Goth daughter (because that’s my image of what teenhood looks like). A slow, K-Jo approved, heart-wrenching tune will start in the background and she will run to hug me, hair flying. From therein, she will give up her rebellious ways (and gear), only to wear lemon yellow chiffon salwars, worship me and marry the boy of my choice!