I hail from a small town in India. Everybody knows everybody there. Neighbours become de-facto relatives. Relatives walk into your home anytime, without as much as a knock on your door. “Personal boundaries” do not exist. Free advice is freely distributed in casual conversations. Girls are still not allowed to watch Titanic because it is a “bad movie” and women often are encouraged to keep reproducing until they bear the family and male child.

So when I called home to announce that I was pregnant and was due to deliver a girl soon, word went out in minutes.

Thanks to technology, sympathy watsapp messages started to pour in from all and sundry back home (not my parents though. They were as happy as I was).

In brief, most of them tried to console me by saying “don’t worry. Surely the next one will be a boy.”

I wonder if they could ever fathom the joy I held in my heart when I was told by the radiologist that “its a girl.”

And so I celebrate my daughter. I celebrate her in my works as a photographer. For my quest to be a mother has found its fulfilment right here… in the carefree laughters of my beautiful daughter.

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She kept asking me to take her higher and higher, but my weak motherly heart just wouldn’t let go. I was scared she will fall down. I was scared she might hurt herself. I couldn’t bear to imagine her in pain… and so I stopped her from flying high… until when I realised that my fear of consequences shouldn’t be the burden her childhood needs to carry on its tiny shoulders. And so I took her higher… as high as I possibly could. She laughed… she laughed so wildly… She laughed so crazily. She just closed her eyes like a monk would, in meditation. I have never seen her live a moment so completely… with such honesty… such abandon. I have never seen that blissful face before… to you my child! To the freedom of your mind. To the freedom of your soul. I promise I will let you fly. Mumma!

I know she will grow up very soon and then she may not want to do all these things for momma. But until that day… I will live to see my fearless little princess take on the world in her tiny hands.

Mummy can I be a princess?

When do I get to eat it sis?

A mother once said for her daughter: “I made a wish. She came true.”

Nothing is more beautiful than her smile.

“Mummy! Can I go out and play with Bob one last time? I promise I’ll be back for dinner.”

I worry too much about Aayat, I feel. I just don’t know how to detach and relax. Aayat not drinking her milk every day and not having her 5 fruits and vegetables is like my absolute nemesis. If she watches TV too long I start to get stressed. If she doesn’t sleep on time, I go nuts. If she sits still for two seconds and is not jumping around as usual, I literally start to hyperventilate. I am basically just a crazy parent. Really! And she sees it you know! She does. She can sense the pressure I put myself under, to be this “ideal parent.” Today before going to nursery, I gave her a glass of milk to finish. Usually soon as I do that, I start off with my breathless sermonising “Hurry up… hurry up you will get late…. hurry up or you won’t get the rainbow sticker… hurry up or I will get very sad…” But before I could do any of that today, she finished all her milk in a gulp. Then she turned back and said to me “Mummy looooook. I’m finished. Are you happy now?” In absolute amazement I looked at her and flashed a huge smile, “Oh my god Aayat! I am so so so happy.” “Well that’s all that really matters in life you know!” she said. She is just three. I will never know where she gets this world of wisdom from! To the lessons only our children will teach us!!