June 23, 2021

Chubby Cheeks – My adorable daughter-Urmila Chanam

 Urmila Chanam, Newspaper Columnist at Imphal Free Press, Program Manager at Orphaned and Vulnerable Children(OVC) and Founder at Breaking the Silence shares a beautiful and a moving story with Mums and Stories, her perspective of her relation with her daughter.
 Yeh hai hamari kahaani

” When I was carrying my daughter, my parents use to run a school those days. Around the month of February and March when the school was preparing for new admissions, it was decided that the nursery be painted afresh with cartoon characters in bright colors to make it child-friendly.

I was living in my parental house as per our tradition of spending the last trimester and first few months after child birth in mother’s house. Lethargy was setting in with progressing pregnancy so the tubes of paint and crayons lured me to volunteer to make a set of charts carrying nursery rhymes for the class. I had something fun to do!

My project paint began with great enthusiasm. My mom helped me get the materials on the large desk that was shifted to my bedroom. I also got hold of a rhyme book from the school library and in that winter morning, I flipped through its worn out pages to enter another world- a sweet and innocent world of rhymes and childhood.

I chose Chubby Cheeks poem for the adorable girl in the picture. I started sketching it on the big white blank sheet and in no time, began painting the small and cute face. It was a challenge to then write the poem in the space that remained after the sketch. Once I completed, I felt that the face of the little girl occupied more space in the chart than the written words.

Was that the reason that I spent a lot of time looking at the chart which hung on the wall opposite my bed? I slept to a peaceful slumber. In my dream, a small girl, about 3-years in age woke me up saying ‘Mama, mama!’ I woke up with a start in the morning and rushed to the kitchen to find my mother. I excitedly told her, ‘I am going to have a daughter. I saw her in my dream’.

My mother smiled and fed me some cookies with morning tea. She did not give it a second thought.

The girl in the chart I made for my mother’s nursery class had a rounded forehead, very large almond shaped eyes, thick and curling eyelashes, a small button nose and a small mouth. Her chin looked like a mango tip and she had an appearance close to how Casper looks in the Hollywood movie.

In the next few months, the chart was forgotten and life took another turn. Pregnancy is such a difficult time. No preparation for it prepares you for what lies ahead. No advice and no regime can make you escape any of the challenges of labor and child birth.
In the Operation Theatre (I had a cesarean section), the lady doctor lifted my newborn out of my womb into this world on 13th June 2004, Sunday. In the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) there might have been many deliveries that day, but I am sure none was as unique as mine. ‘It’s a girl!’, the doctor said with a broad and happy smile. I would like to thank the doctor for her smile that day if she happens to read this story.

The nurse wiped and cleaned my baby and she was wrapped in a polka dot baby blanket and brought to me. Under sedation, I was very weak and my senses were fading but I could see the small face clearly. It was the Chubby Cheeks in the chart paper!
I smiled at her and I cried at her simultaneously and before fading out in sleep I told myself ‘I will call her Tamanna (my desire, my dream)’.

Today Tamanna is an 11 year old girl who is interested in academics, singing and music, crafts and poetry. Besides being my best friend, she is also a reminder that it’s not just marriages that are made in heaven, the relationship between a mother and her children are made in heaven too!”.

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