a poem by Rita Joyce Singh, India

The Mom inspected and gently whispered to her new born,
Her head - rang warning bells, her eyes - threatened tears, her heart - felt torn.
Still, she soothed and cuddled the baby-girl tight,
The helpless, tiny bundle had struggled; barely made it the previous night.
The suave husband, bouquet and gift-laden, breezed in that morn,
And said, “Congratulations, pretty baby, proud Mom …”, and all that.. on and on.

He (rat) shuffled eyes and heels awhile, then blurted, “ I don’t want you to think I’m a ratter”
Though, you’ve known - it’s splitsville now ……………. the crux of the matter,”
The Mom, didn’t reply, hugged her bundle closer and wanly smiled,
Exhaustion had hit her but, she took it on the chin. No point in getting riled.
She listened to him prattle through her haze, how the papers would be filed,
Irreconciliable differences, he shamefacedly muttered..adding, “….. the birth of a girl child ?”

Great timing- she thought – but no time to be bitter,
You forget, I’m a Mom, and a Mom can never be a quitter.
So she set that chin firm and, her purpose that day forward,
A Mom is a Mom. Courage. No time for tears or being a coward.
Doctors concurred , sympathies murmured.. and evening- before they spoke to Mom,
“There’s good news and bad news there’s some.”

“You do realize that this case was a most difficult birth.”..
Warning bells again, Mom wondered - what could get worse, what on earth!
“Oh, the baby is bonny”, They said, “And, physically tough,
Though, a little patch in her brain has had it quite.. uh..rough”
“Lack of oxygen - crucial few moments …her cognitive skills will be slow”
“These things happen, we tried our best … and of course, you should be the first to know.”

Yes, she knew and just too well this condition’s medical name,
It preceded heartaches -sleepless nights- each day of the years that came.
Though, this was no ordinary mother in this so extraordinary a fight;
With amazing grace and patience spoke each learning word and loved her little girl right.
Mom tended plants just as gently as she taught the girl songs- with gestures enhancing,
Several seasons - Mom kept at it - watering, tending, talking, whispering, one-step-dancing.

“One -step -at -a-time”, Mom said, “My sweet little child, is all you need to learn to walk.”
…then on a rainy day - the little girl, in alarm - suddenly, began to ungainly - hop, walk and talk.
“Mam-ma!” she lisped, trembling like a leaf, stammering, dragging her words yet, clear
“Sh-Th-that f-fragg-le h-hair p-p-lant sh-on th-the te-terr-ace ish g-get-ting d-w-renched-d poohr d-d-dear! Upstairs raced mom and fetched it down , the dripping, Mimosa flower pot,
Raindrop smothered, quivering, leaves so shut, so sensitive, so frail, so,so Touch -Me- Not.

Breathless, besides herself, finally - Mom laughed with relief and cried. (Love labours well).
Was it a miracle? A reprieve ! Where’s the wonder really? What’s there to explain or tell ?
Her speech-tied, wobbly little girl - no motor control, was prickly and shy to the touch,
Gentle words, teaching and loving and, loving and teaching her- had done so much.
Great timing dear girl - she thought – in no time you will do better,
As Moms go, she was one amazing, nurturing, daring, whispering, dancing.... relentless go-getter.

She set her chin firm, (heard that one before?) she was after all no coward. Hugging her girl she whispered softly, “One word, one day, one step at a time … is all we all need to go forward.”

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