“Oh, you are here. Nayantara is getting ready still. Please wait here in the office”. As we entered the Director’s chamber in the children’s centre in an industrial part of north Delhi on that crisp November morning a dozen years ago, the moments of waiting for Nayantara seemed to stretch out interminably. Then right in the middle of our half-hearted small talk with the official-looking people in the room, we stopped in mid-sentence as we heard a tiny roar of voices and a swift swoosh as the curtains parted. A bundled baby was carried proudly into the room by a beaming nurse. I could see a nice head of hair that had been abundantly and freshly oiled, the smallest of noses, and a light blue cotton onesie with little cars and trains printed on it, no doubt picked out for the special occasion. My cousin Vatsala’s sage voice rang in my ears. “Didda, don’t get put off by the hair oil”. Before I knew it, Nayantara was in my arms, and I was almost blinded by her million-watt smile and the spray of dimples all over her face. “She looks just like you”, said the adoption officer triumphantly. Did she know I used to dream of a girl with dimples?
Not because of, but perhaps in spite of what the adoption officer told me, I find myself ever so often tracing my fingers across my daughter’s face while she sleeps gently next to me. I marvel at her perfect little nose that has now filled out, her shapely light-brown eyebrows, her lengthening body, and the fading blue birthmarks that once took up the entirety of her back. From this proximity, I can pretend she is mine. At other times, I see her whizzing past me as she picks up the phone to text a friend whose grandfather is unwell. I try to take a peek at her comforting words. She seems to know and understand loss, instinctively. They say loss of separation from our mother’s body is imprinted on our own bodies even before we develop consciousness. It is a primal wound.