“Congratulations! She is so adorable. God bless her, mwah! If you need anything, just tell me. Take care”, divine words from a stranger neighbour to Danish.

Danish’s usual response is a thank you with a wide smile that makes her eyes wrinkle. She doesn’t know why she just stared at her neighbour’s eyes and kept silent.

Danish has not slept for the last 13 days (and nights!). She fatigues and starves all the time. Her lochia is still heavy. Her breasts are tender and hurt. Her vaginal pain has not subsided. Her whole body hurts. There is no energy left in her body. If this is not enough, her nightmare starts every evening. Her baby won’t stop crying the entire night. She gives the colic drops that her pediatrician prescribed but the baby would spit it out and sometimes, oozes the drops through her nostrils. She and her little one cry together most of the times. She can’t do anything right. This is her new life.

Danish has cocooned herself to stay away from people and unsolicited advice. She wants to go through this phase peacefully without being watched or judged.

Danish hopes that today is a better day than yesterday. The neighbour made her day by uttering those divine words at a time when she doesn’t see another creature. Fingers crossed!

As luck would have it, her baby has been sleeping for two hours continuously. Danish forgot what she needs to do and how she should make use of this time. She goes to the kitchen- beats two eggs and pours them quickly on the heated pan. She grabs the omelette and relishes the food in peace. After the second bite, one sharp ice pick headache made her sit down. She can’t stand for a while. A series of pains attacks again and the pain radiates to her eyes. She holds her head with her right hand. The subtle touch hurts even more. She quickly returns and lies down on the bed close to her baby- closes her eyes. Her head hurts every time she swallows. She just wanted to eat. She could not finish one omlette. Tears roll down her cheeks.

There is so much silence. The fan’s whirring sound absorbs all other noises. It soothes her. Danish still lies on the bed and stares at the ceiling. The corners are damp and covered with cobwebs. The paint peels are waiting to fall. Few cracks started to appear in one of the corners. The colour has faded too. She wonders how the ceiling has changed its entire look in just thirteen days. She feels the instinct to fix it urgently.

Her baby wakes up. She looks as fresh as a daisy. She flails her arms and legs. Danish doesn’t feel like to cuddle or play. She just adores her. The baby turns her head and whimpers. Danish holds her up and feeds her. She runs her fingers through the baby’s hair. Her baby looks gorgeous. Tears roll down on Danish’s face.

She has almost forgotten her past self who was a cheerful and enthusiastic young woman. She has not moved out from her house for many days. She spends hours in her dark room not knowing what to do. She does not want to open the windows. The last time she opened the windows was to let the sunlight shine on her baby’s skin to cure jaundice. Her vision becomes blurry when there is light. Window light is too bright for her eyes.

The baby whimpers. She becomes fussy. Danish stops feeding her. In no time, the soft whimpers escalated to shrieking. She hurriedly holds her up and keeps her close to her chest. The baby’s face has become reddish. Danish rocks the baby, talks to her, strokes her back, and tries all possible ways to calm her. She walks around the house to pacify the little soul. The baby continues to cry until she became silent holding her breath. Danish palpitates, breaths shakily. Nothing works. For a moment, it seems like she opened the door and stood near the edge of the balcony to jump off!

Danish’s tears have not stopped since the baby slept again out of exhaustion.

“Am I doing the wrong way? Am I not prepared?”

“Is there a way out?”

She feels trapped. She doesn’t feel like a good mom. Things cannot be undone. She doesn’t know how many more days and nights she has to spend under this ceiling. She closes her eyes slowly.

Danish wakes up suddenly after a deep sleep. The alarm is too irritating. She turns off the alarm and stretches her body. She opens her eyes.

“Oh gosh, the ceiling!”

The ceiling appears so bright. It looks like it is freshly painted. It is no more damp; the cobwebs are gone. She feels light and her body is not hurting anymore. She comes out of the bedroom.

“Mama, please be hurry, I am late!”, yelled in a sharp tone.

“What!”. Danish gets startled.

“That’s right. How can I forget!”

Danish storms into the kitchen and starts preparing her food.

“Hey, eat well. Have fun but come home soon”, tells Danish while she hands the lunch box to her daughter.

“I know. Bye”, slams the door. Danish jumps at the sound as usual. She slowly removes the food debris and clears the table. She is careful not to break any plate. She does the littlest things with care but the plates often slip from her hands.

As she cleans, her eyes fall on her daughter’s photo framed 13 years ago. She slides her hand on the photo, and looks at her daughter’s face lovingly.

“The days are long but the years are short”.

Danish is happy about her harmonious life and has embraced both good and bad old times. She doesn’t fight with her own feelings. She no longer feels the urge to rush things. She gives in to others without resisting. Her daughter’s accomplishments in the school are enough for her to be content with her life. She admires the certificates hanging on the walls. She feels fulfilled.

She touches her daughter’s stacks of books proudly. Her hand lands on a new book that read “My Journal”.

Danish opens the journal. There are more scribbles than writing. There are some more images that make no sense to her. She knows that her daughter is fond of writing. She flips through the pages to see if there is any writing. She finds one. The handwriting looks scrawl but she can make out the words.

It reads, “Why I want to hurt myself? I don’t want to but I want to. It hurts. It calms me down. I fall. I am scared of falling but I fall. I don’t feel safe. Whom do I tell. I want to be happy like my friends (sic).”

Danish gets startled and starts sniffling. She is not able to digest. She recalls a few accidental cuts that her daughter had and was surprised how often she gets injured at this age.

Her daughter barged through the door. Danish asks, “Hey, what happened?”.

“Don’t say anything, I am loaded for bear today.”

Her daughter takes away the journal. She enters her room and closed the door leaving the keys jangling. Danish could not say anything.

Danish knocks the door but no reply. She waits for the door to open.

Her life as a new mother flashed before her eyes.


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