As I stepped into the house last evening, my son rushed out of his room to greet me. The seventeen years old had a wide grin on his face, a sparkle in his eyes and a lightness in his step. I sensed there was something very exciting coming up, because this 6-feet baby of mine did not usually display so much emotion and come skipping out of his room to greet me. I waited, my mind racing, trying to guess a possible reason for this joy. By then, he had come and stood in front of me. He reached for my hand, put a 100 rupees note on it and stood expectantly, waiting for my reaction. I looked at him, looked at the note and then back at him, realizing this was an immense moment but unable to comprehend. He understood. Smiling, no, correction, beaming, he said that this was the first earning of his life!! He had earned the 100 rupees on his own, with his own efforts and with his own intelligence!
I looked at his hands and saw the tiny, pudgy, balls of pink, 17 years ago, which I had held in mine and slowly kissed each finger, the day he was born. I looked at his eyes and saw the huge, black eyes that shone many shades darker when he used to cry to be fed. I saw his tiny pink feet, soft and tender, kicking away into the air all day. I could still hear his gurgles of laughter and smell his baby- powdered skin. I could still feel his hand clasping my finger whenever we went out, how he would stand beside me, toying with my dupatta while I spoke to people we met, look up with his huge eyes and smile, each time I called is name. Time and again, he would turn and look at me, reassuring himself that mother was around, and then get busy playing.
I shook out of my reverie. Here he was, standing taller than me, having earned his first bit of money!!! How soon those tiny, pink hands grew into these strong, square hands, I did not realize…. How quickly he stepped out of my shadow, and into the world, I did not realize…… Yes, indeed, my baby had grown…. I smiled warmly, looking at him with pride, my heart seeming to burst with the flood of love that surged inside, I raised my arms and hugged him. My baby had grown up!!