B a b i e s h a v e
t h e P o w e r
Aasha Mehreen Amin
An important observation this holiday is that during Eid and pretty much most of the time, children rule. Not only are they eligible for eidee from their grown up relatives, for whom, it is a kind of tax that increases with age, but they compel their parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts etc. to brave the human traffic jam in amusement parks, zoos and ice-cream parlours. Although, television footage has shown that once they get there, adults tend to get caught up in the mood and may end up taking all sorts of spinning, nauseating rides and partake in gorging themselves with ice cream with as much gusto as the miniature wards they are minding.
Speaking of miniatures, I have come to the conclusion that young humans, specifically babies, have supernatural powers. Oddly enough, this holiday I met about six babies and all of them displayed immense power: the power of control. Grownups become putty in their hands. They are ready to strain their backs and pull a muscle without a murmur, because the little angel has decided that she will sleep only on her aunt's arms, kuala bear style, even if it means two hours at a stretch. The doting aunt, of course, would rather endure the pain than wake her precious niece whose comfort takes precedence over everything else. Admittedly, apart from the discomfort of being immobilised for an hour or two, having a sleeping baby on you does have its merits and gives one an illogical sense of peace and joy. Grandparents become their personalised robots and no ailment or bad mood can come between them and their adorable grandchildren who happily exploit their exalted status.
Mothers become hostages of their babies although they barely realise their zombified state so immersed are they in caring for their little dribblers who need constant attention 24-7. One mother, who lives in the US and so does not have the luxury of having a nanny to take care of her 7 month old rather delicious-looking daughter, has to play peek-a-boo when taking a shower while her baby smugly sits in her stroller enjoying the show.
Fathers turn into total slaves of these little creatures who are far more ingenious than one would think. I just met this ridiculously cute little man of one year something who almost smashed his Baba's expensive cell phone because it had an image of him that he considered not particularly flattering. His mother explained that the kid, a bit of a narcissist (who wouldn't be with such killer looks), loved looking at his own pictures except for that particular one that was a bit out of focus and made his head appear too big and thus the regular bashing of the cell phone whenever that image came on the screen.
See what I mean when I say supernatural powers? These tiny people with cuteness oozing out of every crevice of their miniscule bodies (except at certain moments when they are disgustingly human), their devastating, toothless smiles, their sparkling eyes that reflect all that is pure and joyful, their heavenly baby breath and Johnson Baby Powder scent, their petalled cheeks and round squeezable limbs - all these things are meant to entrap any grown up or even the most jaded teenager that comes into contact with them. You maybe having an intense, yet pointless argument about our unfathomable politics and a physical brawl is about to ensue when the baby in the room will let out an incomprehensible gurgle and everything stops. All eyes are on the kid and even the most articulate sophisticate will start uttering garbled gibberish in the lines of 'ulee, bulee, gushu moni'. It is as if adults are possessed, completely under the hypnotic hold of the little creatures. Babies may not be able to utter a single word properly but they sure have superb interpersonal skills. They can draw crowds and hold them spellbound. They can melt the most cynical and stonehearted. They can make you pick up that darn rattle sixteen times without batting an eyelid. They can bring you to your knees with incessant, screaming that increases in volume and pitch by the second. They have the power.
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