14 and growing steadily, Anoushrayan’s eyes lit up when I brought the old cot from the other flat and arranged it in his room. This has been his favourite bed, being a tad higher than usual and just the right size for him and his babyhood companions namely Balu, Sheru and Nalu – the soft toys – I wonder how long this fellowship will continue!
“Can I sleep here?” he said with that beautiful smile, tilting the neck to a side. “You want to sleep here? Alone?” I inquired. “Yes, you always wanted me to sleep alone in my room, isn’t it?” he said confidently.
I was supposed to feel happy and in-fact the whole idea of getting the cot was to instigate the urge in him to sleep alone and yet something in me stirred a sad undertone.
Imposition has been the norm for human beings; sometimes the pretext of tradition and culture, sometimes to establish authority and most of the times to ensure well being, especially if it concerns younglings.
But I do not believe in imposing unless it is the last resort in the harm’s way.
As an infant Anoushrayan cherished the cuddles and would protest fervently if kept off the lap. He refused to even lie down beside us, mom or dad would let him sleep on their chest, and there he basked in the warmth. People advised that the infant must be taught that he must lie in his cot and would not be picked up every time he creates a ruckus. I did not comply.
Days turned into months and he outgrew the lap, ready to explore the world with his toddling feet. I felt happy to not have complied, now I could not confine him in my lap even if I wanted to, but I didn’t want to, I have had my share of a warm lap, wet with drools and giggles making me the happiest person on earth.
Next was to teach him to sleep on his bed alone. My counterparts in the west, and even the in-country buddies along with quite a few books suggested that a child must be taught things early on. I did not comply.
So he slept latched on to us, initially between me and Rajib and later with me. After he became 12, I started insisting on sleeping in his room on his bed but he vehemently refused. Once his friends visited us and happened to say, ‘so this is your room’, Anoushrayan denied.
He didn’t want a room of his own complete with a bed and study. His categorization was – my study room, my sleep room (where I slept with him).
Thus a decade and more passed, all of us hurdling on the bed together, two humans, 3 soft toys and for the past one year, added to the list were two doggos. I had always complained how I could never get a sound sleep with this bunch. In his early childhood Anoushrayan used keep changing his position and would invariably end up taking up the bed diagonally leaving me hanging.
From a tiny little doll sized being whom I was scared of crushing by my weight, he has now grown to a size that can engulf me. And now he is ready to sleep alone. He wants to enjoy his being. This is the beginning of discovering his individuality and gaining confidence. Once again I am happy I did not comply and let him sleep with me as long as he wanted.
My mantra was and is to keep myself prepared to let go as and when he is ready but not push him into an unpleasant imposition. Although Anoushrayan is unable to sleep alone as of now; even though I did, albeit with a tug at the heart – looking at the big empty bed all to myself, the doggos won’t let go of their ‘dada’.