He had been nine months in utero, and god knows, I was curious to see how he'd turned out. So when they placed him on my stomach, a little mewling ball of flesh, I recoiled. The blood, the blood. I am, to put it politely, a little squeamish about blood. It was a miracle I didn't pass out from the sight of this little creature they said they'd pulled out of me, even though it bore little resemblance to a human right now, never mind that it gave credence to the man descended from the apes theory. And of course, there was the myopia. Mine not his.
"Where are my spectacles?" I squealed, realising that the first moments of mother child bonding were to be perennially marred by the fact that I couldn't see him too clearly. And of course I wanted to see him clearly, I had a roster list of things to be tick marked off, five digits per limb, one nos male appendage, two eyes, two ears, one mouth and such.
"Where are my spectacles?" I squealed again. The anaesthetist looked at the gynaec who looked at the nurse who then looked at the ward boy who grunted and looked around in a fair amount of confusion before it dawned on the cabal that the spectacles in question had been handed across to the mater for safekeeping, and the mater was outside the operation theatre, and a minion was despatched to retrieve the spectacles from her, and my mater in keeping with her penchant for keeping everything safely, had deposited the spectacles in the shelf back in the hospital room we were in, which was at a considerable distance away from the operating theatre. Consequently, my first view of the offspring was that of a red blur that looked somewhat like a newborn kitten or puppy, although the primary impression, in retrospect, was that of a monkey. Maternal love did not well immediately in the maternal breast, I must confess.
They whisked him off to be cleaned up, weighed and tested and announced proudly to me that he'd got an AGPAR of nine and my competitive streak automatically reared its ugly head and asked what the top score in this test was, and damn it, if he couldn't ace his AGPAR now what hopes did we have at the JEE some years down the line.
I should have kept those spectacles handy. Perhaps for the next offspring, I told myself.
Finally, I was wheeled out of the operation theatre, the needlework completed, attached to a drip, smiling from a combination of relief that this was finally done with and I could get back to walking around without a baseball in my stomach and wobbling uncertainly every time I approached a long, curving flight of stairs.
I then drifted into a chemically induced sleep, and when I emerged blinking into the cold fluorescent light of evening, the offspring was brought in to see me. Swaddled in regulation hospital swaddle cloth and an ugly frilly cap on his head. No no no, I thought to myself, my kid cannot wear ugly frilly cap, not when the troops are marching in to view him and pass judgement on who he looks like, talking of which, whom did he look like, me or the spouse. I stared at the little mewling ball of flesh kept gently next to me, the side of me that wasn't attached by intravenous needle to drip. Just then, he scrunched up his face or the crumpled, wizened, red squashed thing that was his face then and opened his eyes to look at me. Grey eyes. I froze. I imagined the spouse dashing off paternity suits and shaking an irate fist at me. Such lovely grey eyes and thick curling lashes. The newly minted maternal heart, it completely melted into mush, the oxytocin I know now, that had kicked in, and how. I would fight tigers barehanded, climb down cliffs, throw myself in the path of a speeding car, and even do calculus again if I needed to, for this child.
The child in question gave me a scathing, startled look and began bawling at the top of his voice. And what a voice it was. I was sure people from three adjoining suburbs would despatch representatives to check the source of this nuisance and were writing out petitions in triplicate to the authorities to do something about it.
"Feed him," said my mother, who had been hitherto fawning over him with beaming grand-parental pride, throwing him at me.
"Feed him," repeated the hospital ayah who was standing around with no actual purpose except to look most amused at my complete incompetence in the situation. It was a line I would hear the most often in the next 365 days. It was also the moment that I realised that I would never look at my breasts in the same way ever again.
Whenever the offspring so much as emitted one bawl, he would be thrown back at me with the command, "Feed him."
I had never ever held a newborn in my life and all the dolls they make you practise with in the pre-natal classes don't come with amplifiers for voice boxes, making your hands go all jittery, and likely to drop the swaddled ball of flesh onto the floor, and all the horror stories they tell you about babies who've been dropped on the head flash in Font Size 200 in the mind's eye.
A nurse was sent for and the doctor on duty as well, because well, you might as well have an appreciative audience while you try to figure out which part of you should curl up and die when you have to reveal in a public situation a breast that is suddenly gigantic with what the mater casually informs you is "the milk coming in," which you assumed would be nice and pleasant and the cause of much maternal and offspring bonding and nothing like what it really is, which is two massive boulders on your chest which you assume you will need a couple of wheelbarrows under, if you plan on moving out of the hospital bed ever and navigating the earth again.
All those years you spent, errm, stuffing your foundation garments with socks and such like, are nothing on this. But alas, there is nothing, nothing remotely sexy about suddenly finding your chest morphed into a natural heritage rock formation site, and I'm not even getting into the reason my kind doctor offered me a tube of lanolin based ointment with stern instructions to apply it on my nipples at regular intervals. Suffice to know it involved cracks and bleeding and not in the manner made popular by the books which dealt with red rooms of pain.
It was scary, this being the source of nutrition for another human. Another, very demanding human, who raised hell if he wasn't provided with his feed on the dot, every couple of hours, ensuring that the entire suburb knew that he was being deprived of his victuals by his cruel mother.
Finally, one night, when all was quiet and nothing moved, not even the mouse, I stared down, in the flickering light of the television set to mute as I watched stick thin figures on fashion television, resolving to get there soon, at a little ball of flesh gulping greedily from my chest. I created him. He is mine, I thought, never mind what Kahlil Gibran had to say on the issue, and I couldn't have been more proud. The grey eyes, by the way, have morphed into a lovely deep brown, like his father's and the boy is now, a reduction Xerox of the spouse, and has inherited from the Y chromosomal donor the temper sitting on the nose, as they say in the colloquial. The plans for DNA testing have been well dropped.
"...the story oozes warmth in the way it is written. Rhea, like all of Kiran's women, is sometimes vulnerable due to her circumstances, but she never bows down due to peripheral pressures. It makes her character believable as well as endearing."
On Amazon:http://amzn.to/1Jigp9q Most Helpful Customer Reviews Shudh Desi Romance on a cruise! By Dipali Taneja on 15 October 2015 Format: Paperback Verified Purchase A lovely, desi romance which happens to take place on a Mediterranean cruise. The cruise, characters, and the reason for the cruise are all plausible. The protagonist's feisty aunt stands out, as much for her bright make up as well as her unconventional attitudes. There is action, emotion, drama, a real, honest-to-goodness villain, a vamp, adorable children, very very authentic locales, and, of course, the jilted-almost-at-the- pheras Rhea, our heroine, with all her genuine issues and complexes, and the dashing Kamal, who seems to be totally ineligible, despite his strong sensual appeal. Totally contemporary and fast paced. A good addition to Kiran Manral's work.....
Reading All Aboard is the next best thing to going on a cruise and falling in ... By Shaila Coomar on 7 September 2015 Format: Paperback I truly relish Kiran's writing and after reading this book I can safely say that Kiran never disappoints. I usually do not read romance, not since I left college but t Kiran has gotten me back to reading it and enjoying it. Reading All Aboard is the next best thing to going on a cruise and falling in love with a tall, dark and dashing man. It is one of those vicarious pleasures that most of us need in our lives every now and then. I recommend this book to everyone considering a break up, going through one or recovering from one. And also to those in need of a bedtime read after a lazy Sunday brunch.
Makes you want to board a cruise right away! By Sneha on 17 October 2015 Format: Paperback Verified Purchase At the end of the book, I have immediately started looking for Mediterranean cruises and even started budgeting for it! I've always enjoyed Kiran Manral's writing style and diction. The voice of the key characters, especially Rhea is very relatable to young women and I am head over heels in love with Kamal Shahani too. :)
light hearted romance ! 4 stars :) By Namita Tiwari on 5 October 2015 Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase Fun to read...finished in first half of my lazy sunday , it was a light hearted love story. A good indian novel on romance , Kiran Manral has done a good job of developing the characters and weaved the story well , I think I want to read a few more of her books before making any clear recommendation on the author. However - this particular book is fine ..worth the time and money.
On blogs The Book Reporter on FB "This is my initial trip with Kiran Manral and what lively crossing it was. All Aboard is a cheery romantic tale set on a cruise liner. A smooth sailing this is.. no tidal waves or choppy waters. . Just a story with love and a tiny bit of mystery . A book like this must be read to free your mind and believe in the simple sweet pleasures of life!!" Anuradha Shankar Kiran's narrative is as easy as ever, the language excellent, without being highbrow. I have been reading Kiran's blogs for years now, and her books have the same sense of innate humor, which make them such a good read.
When I met Kiran recently over a lunch she hosted, everyone had the same question – had she actually been on a cruise before she wrote the book? It was a reasonable question, and, it is only when you read the book, that you realize just how impressive her research has been, that she has written about the cruise in such amazing detail, without ever being on one! I haven't been on one either, but her descriptions of the rooms, of the cruise experience, of the sites they stop at, are so realistic and well written, I found myself wondering if I could ever write about a place so well, without actually going there!
Overall, All Aboard is the kind of book I pick up when I am between books, and want a good, but easy read, to help me relax.
Sulekha Rawat on Social PotPourri After reading Kiran's book, many of us might end up envying Rhea instead of sympathizing with her over her break up just days before her marriage; mainly because after getting dumped she gets to accompany her lovely aunt, Rina Masi on a Mediterranean cruise, where she bumps into the dashing Kamal Shahani. On a serious note, All Aboard is like a breath of fresh air on a hot and humid day in Delhi during the summer. I read the book in 4 hours; began reading it at midnight and carried on till 2 A M before realizing that it was way past my bedtime. I woke up feeling excited, like a kid on the morning of her birthday. I can't remember the last time I read a novel while sipping my bed tea. I kid you not, this book made me lose control and feel naughty, especially while reading the sizzling and scorching massage scene by the pool side. I would have willingly exchanged places with Rhea and conveniently forgotten that I was a happily married, middle-aged woman, almost as old as Rhea's Rina Masi. Another first for me in this book was my equation with Rina masi. Don't we all love to picture ourselves in the main protagonist's shoes or stilettos? But here I was, going bananas over witty one liners and the flashy fashion sense of the endearing and cuddlesome Rina Masi. Agreed that Rhea was beautiful and had the tall and handsome, not to forget, amazingly caring, Kamal Shahani cast opposite her. I still felt closer to her aunt, and my hero, Rina masi, unmindful of her physical and social makeup. So here I was, at 6 in the morning, happily devouring the book and smiling like an infatuated teenager, literally drooling over the hot and handsome Kamal. There should be a law against publishing such interesting and juicy stories! The authors penning down such enticing stories should be kept away from their computers. By 8 AM, I was done with the book and didn't know what to do with the rest of my day; the only thoughts racing in my head were should I book a ticket on the first available Mediterranean cruise or should I first check the passenger manifesto and find out the number of hot, single Kamal-clones I would be sharing the floating city with? There are love stories and there are comic tales, but when these two come together like sun block and fair smooth skin, deep baritone and great looks, passionate kisses and satiated sighs, a one of a kind story is crafted. Kiran is an excellent storyteller with her finger on the pulse of the readers. She reached into the readers' minds and read their thoughts before crafting her immensely entertaining travel romance with a few sinister and unexpected twists and turns. The journey, or should I say, the voyage, was as fulfilling and enjoyable as the destination, and in this case, there were so many ports of call that it left me feeling like I'd been on a mini cruise without moving an inch from my bedroom.
Karmic Kids: The Story of Parenting Nobody Told You by Kiran Manral
"Funny & True… " Farah Khan, Film Director, Choreographer, Producer
"Hilariously unputdownable…" Tisca Chopra, Actor & Author
"Makes parenthood sound terrifying fun…" Rohan Joshi, Comedian, AIB Move aside Tiger Mom and forget Helicopter Parenting. Karmic Kids is the view from the other side of the fence – of laid back parenting, of giving in to food jags, of making unstructured play time mandatory and of not bursting a blood vessel when your child's grades are not something you might want to discuss in public. A roller coaster ride of love, laughter, and a few tears Kiran Manral takes you through the beautiful chaos of the early years of parenthood. Written in a gently humorous style, this home grown, hit-the-ground-running account of the chaos of day-to-day parenting is peppered with anecdotes, reminiscences, a little practical advice and is a non-preachy, hilarious take on raising a spirited child while retaining one's good spirits through it all. Order your copy on Amazon: http://goo.gl/cerwyj
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This blog is an effort to help. Help India, help ourselves to help ourselves. Because if we dont do it, no one will. Anyone with an urge to do more than just be a bystander to the carnage and mayhem that wrecks the parts of our country everytime we have a disaster causes by external elements or through natural causes, can help. We will maintain a database of people who are in a position and are willing to be of assistance, either immediately during the crisis itself, or later in relief and rehabilitation.We will put people wanting to contribute financially to victims in direct contact with NGOs doing the same or the victims directly.We will look for good samaritans who are willing to contribute towards medical expenses, post traumatic therapy requirements, and prosthesis requirements for those rendered disabled in such situations.We will attempt to sponsor the education of the bereaved children by putting dedicated and serious citizens who wish to do so in direct contact with the bereaved family.We have many hopes. And need all the help we can. Write in to firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to help in anyway, or have any suggestions.