No, ma. I want daddy to put me to sleep,” cried Harsha.
Harsha was Tarun and Dhanya’s second child, after their daughter Navya. Contrary to usual scenarios in which daughters were daddy’s little darlings and sons were mumma’s little princes, Navya was mumma’s little cuddly while Harsha was his daddy’s darling. While Navya grew into Dhanya’s heart, soul and mind gradually, the attachment between Tarun and Harsha grew the very instant Tarun took Harsha in his arms right after he was born. In the hospital that Dhanya delivered Harsha, it was a rule that the baby’s father should be present in the labour room and receive the child in his arms during delivery. Not just that, he was supposed to cut the umbilical cord too. That was an experience in itself for Tarun. He hadn’t been with Dhanya when she delivered Navya. Dhanya was at her mother’s place then and she delivered about two weeks before she was actually due. So, by the time he had reached her place, Dhanya was already shifted to the room with Navya beside her. He was then busy attending to the friends and relatives visiting the mother and the new born and completing the hospital formalities, etc. Navya always stuck to her mother, whether it was for milk, or for warmth, or for both, he never knew. Gradually all of them got busy with their lives and there was this small distance between the dad and the daughter, which somehow remained even today.
But that wasn’t the case with Harsha. Tarun had received him right in his arms when Dhanya delivered him. That feel when you have that gentle life right in your arms is sure to melt even a heart of rock, needless to say then about Tarun’s that was made of flesh and blood. He had cleaned Harsha up too himself, of course with a little assistance from the doctors. He had even cut the umbilical cord by himself. It was as if like he had virtually severed the mother-son relationship in doing so; Harsha always remained stuck to him. Whether it was because of this, or because Dhanya was exhausted after the family-planning operation or because of the complexities involved in raising both the kids together, nobody including Tarun knew, but Tarun knowingly or unknowingly got so much involved in every single activity of Harsha’s- burping him after his feed, changing his diapers, bathing him, putting him to sleep, checking on him if he cried in the night- you name it, he had done it. Probably that’s why during the hospital check-ups then, when someone had asked how old the baby was, Tarun could actually give Harsha’s age in exact months and weeks, much to everyone surprise. For the society, a dad who had such precise knowledge of the son’s age was a news in itself.
As for Dhanya, she felt she definitely needed a break because she had already been too much involved in raising up Navya. She had almost been a helicopter parent with Navya, even without her realizing it. She used to micro-manage all her activities, taking her to sports, hobby classes, managing her daily schedule and all, to the extent that she forgot to live for herself. Obviously, it had taken a toll on her and she had found it tough to cope up with. So, she deliberately wanted to maintain a little distance, breaking away from her usual attitude of giving it all or giving it none; she tried to maintain an optimum balance by giving only what was needed.
So, in Harsha’s case it was Tarun and Tarun all the way. Tarun was his hero. Harsha dressed up like him, walked like him, spoke like him, laughed like him and did anything and everything like him. If Harsha ever fell sick, he would only want Tarun beside him. If he woke up in the night, again, he always wanted only Tarun to attend to him. Harsha just wouldn’t spend his days without Tarun. Tarun was his world. After all, for Harsha, it was Tarun who had done everything. There had been times when Dhanya had found it extremely tough to manage Harsha if Tarun left out-of-station. He used to cry for hours together asking for Tarun. As a r