One year ago, we came into your life.
It is all so vivid in my memory. I remember the day you came home from the hospital, the first day you dipped your toes in water, the day you first said baba and ma, the day you got your first tooth, the day you ate solid food, the day when you started to crawl, the day you opened your first book and turned the pages, the day when you waved at me, and the day you took your first steps. I remember being able to cradle you in one arm and to rock you to sleep. My biceps have since gotten bigger.
365 precious days ago, you came into our life. You were born with your eyes wide open and full of curiosity. Your movements became coordinated. You started to grasp. You began to sit up. You started to stand. You reached for the camera. You took your first photograph.
You had your passport photo taken. You sat in cars, and trains, and planes. You traveled to cities, forests, fields, deserts, and mountains in three countries on two continents. Along the way, you learned to smile consciously. You became camera-conscious. We have taken thousands of photographs of you over the last year. Let me confess that among those photos that have turned out well, I have not been able to delete a single one of you, even those backed up on multiple storage devices.
I still fondly remember the tiny clothes and swaddle blankets you rapidly outgrew. Your mother has neatly folded every single article of clothing since your birth. You won’t be able to wear them again, but we have not been able to give them away yet. Your fragrance still lingers in them.
Growing up has taught you fear. Of the unknown that lurks in the dark. Of injections. Loud noises. Iron supplements. Gerber’s sweet potatoes. The fear that your mother will get lost behind the bathroom door. That your father will get up in the middle of the night and leave. And there must be many other fears that I cannot know which stalk you in the night. But when you wake up, your mother’s reassuring voice is always there to caress you.
You have taught me conversations in which the meanings of words are inconsequential. You have helped me to be patient when rational arguments are meaningless. You have shown me how to derive pleasure from the simplest of blessings. Last year, for a fortnight, I was traveling from one strange town to another. Every evening, in my hotel room, I would check my email for new photographs of you, and wistfully wonder what milestone I had missed. Even now, every morning, as I leave, I am saddened because I will not see you until the evening; every evening my footsteps hasten because I know you will rush up to the door with a beaming smile to greet me.
Before you were born, I had an erroneous idea about parenting. I thought that once I became I father I would finally have to grow up and act my age. Since, you’ve been born I’ve had the rare opportunity to be a child again. We’ve stared at grease stains on windows, made music with makeshift instruments consisting of tin lids and pots and pans, played battleship while simultaneously modeling global warming by overflowing bathroom tiles with bathtub water, danced Gangnam Style to the Elmo song, and derailed choo-choo steam trains in dastardly Maoist attacks.
Last week we went to the beach. You were amazed when you saw waves rolling into shores for the first time. You looked out into the distant horizon where the water dissolved into the sky and clasped my right hand tightly. After mumbling something of great import, you let out a huge sigh. With a serious expression, you sat down. You purposefully picked up your little shovel and started to pour sand in your bucket. The beach was vast and your bucket was tiny. How much sand could it hold? I joined you. We filled up the bucket. We poured out the sand we had collected. We repeated this activity until we got exhausted. As it turned out, I had the rules wrong. I had underestimated the thrill of the game. It was a blast.
Today, as you turn one, we celebrate. I can’t wait to find out what new adventures await.