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Being a New Mum

June 6, 2023

Speedily marching towards toddlerhood, taking one step at a time. My baby recently turned one and my heart can’t take this. The year whizzed by like a speeding train. So fast that you could barely get a glimpse of what’s inside each passing window.

It’s been a rewarding experience, but I would be lying if I said that it’s been all rosy, and easy. I don’t know what a few hours of uninterrupted sleep is anymore now. And I often curse my younger self for haven not taken advantage of it when life was in a party mode. As someone who loves to write, I had always planned on maintaining a pre and post pregnancy journals. But when it was time for me, my mind went numb. Except for recording the milestones and penning a few poems I have barely written anything. Both because I was too lazy and also too tired. The little moments that I would get for myself I would hungrily use them to relax, doing absolutely nothing. And I don’t regret it, because bouncing back right away had never been one of my goals. I let my body and mind take the lead. And surprisingly I started feeling like myself much sooner than I had anticipated.

Here are a few tips from my experiences. However, listen to your child‘s pediatrician first and foremost.

1. This one is for all the new and expecting mothers. please don’t remain fixated on timelines and milestones. Every pregnancy is different and so is every baby. Some start teething earlier than others, some start rolling earlier and so on and so forth but in a larger scheme of things as long as your baby is healthy and growing well these things don’t matter. Your baby will be examined at all pediatric visits, so don’t Google and worry unnecessarily by a little delay especially if your pediatrician isn’t concerned. Age range for each milestone is often wide. For eg., some babies may start rolling at 4 months and some may start as late as 7. So my advice would be to wait till month 7. I was a frantic first time mother and was fixated on this particular milestone, and my baby actually never learnt to barrel roll, he just started sitting up one day and our focus automatically and at once shifted.

2. Don’t be a hoarder. Newborns outgrow things quicker than you can imagine so your cupboard full of newborn clothes might not even be put to use completely before you’ll have to upgrade to a bigger size. My advice would be to invest in good quality swaddles, overalls and onesies. And if you want them to sleep soundly keep your newborn swaddled until they start showing signs of rolling.

3. Tummy time is a must. Start soon after your baby’s umbilical stump falls off. It helps in head control, strengthening shoulder and neck muscles, preventing flat spots and also may soothe a colicky baby.

4. Engage with your kids from early on. Talk to them as much as you can. Read to them. Be funny, be goofy, make faces and soon enough they’ll start copying you.

5. Your newborns will really enjoy looking at high contrast objects. So buy some black and white flash cards, picture books, colourful rattles, and interesting activity gym for them.

6. If your baby regularly spits up after every feed, burp them not only at the end but mid session as well, and keep them in an upright position for at least 20 minutes after each feed. Also avoid over feeding. But of course feed them every two hours even at nights unless your child’s pediatrician suggests otherwise.

7. Some babies especially those born a little early may still have lanugo i.e. new born body hair. Don’t let it stress you out. They usually tend to fall on their own by the time your child turns 4 month old. Avoid using home remedies because they may irritate your baby’s skin.

8. Don’t try to feed your baby anything other than milk until their half birthday. No matter what people in general say, Mother’s milk or formula is complete food for babies for the first six month of their life.

9. Keep your babies skin nourished and hydrated at all times. Use baby lotions or creams, especially in winters. Massage your baby with olive oil. But be gentle.

10. Keep your baby clean, change their diaper often to prevent rashes and also give them enough diaper free time by using cloth nappies.

11. Take them outside, let them interact with nature.

12. Avoid using talcum powder for babies. It’s unnecessary and causes respiratory issues.

13. Don’t take sterilization of baby products lightly, especially milk bottles and pacifiers.

14. Follow safe sleep rules if co-sleeping. Newborns don’t need pillows, soft toys and blankets to sleep soundly. Just swaddle them properly. And for babies who have started rolling, make them wear comfy pyjamas during bedtime. Maintain the room temperature to what is suitable for babies.

15. Mamas, don’t forget yourself in all of this. Eat well, take your vitamins, and rest whenever you get time. It’s normal to get overwhelmed and get baby blues, but that generally settles in a few weeks, however, if it lasts longer than what’s supposed to be normal don’t hesitate in seeking help.

Lastly, If you are the father reading this. Hi there, congratulations! I hope you are enjoying this beautiful phase, and now make sure you take some load off of your wife’s shoulders. Divide the night time duties, like If she is feeding, you change the diaper. Device a mechanism that works for you both. Postpartum period is especially tasking for a new mother. She doesn’t only go through changes physically but also mentally. She absolutely needs enough rest, nutritious food, a calm environment and a supportive partner and family. Always remember only a healthy mother can raise a healthy child.

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Why I Named my son after Prophet Zakariya (عليه السلام‎ ʿAlayhis salaam)

June 24, 2022

I have always been fascinated by names and their meanings. I also like suggesting names to newborns in the family. It is more like an excitement driven hobby. A fulfilling experience. And you can feel an adrenaline rush when your suggested name actually gets chosen. 

To me a good meaningful name is really important because it’s something that remain unchangeable for most people, unless you so despise your name that you actually take the court’s route and get it changed. But most people neither have time nor energy for that. 

In Islam we don’t believe that a name can impact a person’s personality as in related to astrology (that every name is connected to a star and the star decides a child’s fate). But we do believe that it can impact them psychologicaly in the sense that If you name a child after some personality, the child when he learns about their namesake may try to become like them. 

The story behind my child’s name is quite magical, especially for me. Years ago while reading the Quran with meaning, I was moved by the story of Prophet Zakariya (عليه السلام‎ ʿAlayhis salaam). He was the prophet of bani Israel, a simple man, a carpenter by profession with limited provision, but a sincere devotee of Allah. Surah Al Imran is full of miracles and in it I found the story of Maryam (عليه السلام‎ ʿAlayhis salaam) and her uncle Zakariya (عليه السلام‎ ʿAlayhis salaam). How the latter was appointed as the guardian of the former, and how he would witness miraculous events surrounding Maryam (عليه السلام‎ ʿAlayhis salaam)

Every time Zakariya entered upon her in the prayer chamber, he found with her provision. He said, “O Maryam, from where is this [coming] to you?” She said, “It is from Allah. Indeed, Allah provides for whom He wills without account.” (Al Qur’an 3:37)

Zakariya (عليه السلام‎ ʿAlayhis salaam) had reached an extreme old age and also his wife couldn’t bear children. But witnessing these miracles his faith in Allah only increased and he started supplicating for an offspring of his own,  not to inherit his wealth (of which he had none), but rather, progeny who would continue spreading the message and knowledge of Islam. So he started praying with utmost convictions 

“My Lord, grant me from Yourself a good offspring. Indeed, You are the Hearer of supplication.” (Al Qur’an 3:38)

He also supplicated:

“O My Lord! Leave me not single (childless), though You are the Best of the inheritors.” (Al Qur’an 21:89)

“My Lord! Indeed my bones have grown feeble, and grey hair has spread on my head, And I have never been unblest in my invocation to You, O my Lord! And Verily! I fear my relatives after me, since my wife is barren. So give me from Yourself an heir, who shall inherit me, and inherit (also) the posterity of Yaqub). And make him, my Lord, one with whom You are Well-pleased!” (Al Qur’an 19:4 – 19:6)

Soon Allah answered his prayers, cured his wife’s barrenness, blessed them with a child and also their son had the honour of being named by Allah himself, with a name that had never existed in mankind’s history. 

So We answered his call, and We bestowed upon him Yahya (John), and cured his wife (to bear a child) for him. Verily, they used to hasten on to do good deeds, and they used to call on Us with hope and fear, and used to humble themselves before Us. (Al Qur’an 21:90)

What I learnt from his story is that the prayer is the ultimate shield of a believer. And nothing is impossible for Allah. Allah can provide for whom He wants, at His own will. And our faith in Allah should overpower any negative thought of hopelessness. There is nothing Allah cannot do, even when circumstances seem impossible we should lean on to him with sincere faith like Zakariya (عليه السلام‎ ʿAlayhis salaam)

So while naming my child after such a humble and God fearing personality my only hope was that throughout my son’s life may Allah answer all of his valid supplications just like HE answered Propher Zakariya ( عليه السلام‎ ʿAlayhis salaam)‘s supplications, And may my child’s faith increase after learning about his namesake. And may he strive to be like him. Aameen. 


My Quirky Jute and Fabric Rug

September 26, 2020

I have always been fascinated by all things handmade. So when it was time for me to move into my new abode, I excitedly turned to DIY and started an insta account by the name of “do it yourself fam”

Anyway can a home of a voracious reader be complete without a reading corner? Of course no. And my husband being a total sweetheart that he is surprised me with the beauty that he had designed himself. 

He smartly used the space beside our cupboard to carve out a spacious bookshelf, he had also taken care of  the seating space and lighting. The only things that I wanted now were books of course, a few decor items, a rug and cushions. So after taking some ideas from here and there, Pinterest and YouTube to be precise. I sat down to make my own jute and fabric rug. 

My mother in law also lent her helping hand, and we started by rummaging our cupboards for pieces of unused fabrics, and old dupattas. When we had enough of them. We decided  upon the colors that we wanted. Pink, grey and royal blue were the clear winners. We cut them in thin strips. Next we bought a few balls of jute twines, they were easily available in a nearby hardware shop. 

We started with braiding the fabrics first. Strips of three different colors were taken together. Secured at one end, and braided. Once we were done with the fabric braiding we began braiding the jute twines. When we had ample of them. We chose the design we wanted. The fabric braids were to make the border so we started giving a circular shape by glueing the jute braids first. Braiding actually drained us, in comparison to which, glueing was an easy job. 

Once we had a circular rug of about 60 cm ready, we started joining the fabric braids. In the end I threw in some stitches too for the added strength. And thus, my reading corner got a fine and quirky 70 cm jute and fabric rug. 

Materials required:

  1. Jute twines 
  2. Colorful fabrics (I used pink, grey and royal blue) 
  3. Scissors 
  4. Fevicol 
  5. Needle and thread. 



June 19, 2018

Now that the month of Ramzan and the day of Eid is over, I feel a void in my heart. The body still craves Sehri (pre-dawn meal) at 3:30 am sharp. I have been waking up for fajr, the morning prayer without the ring of alarm, and that’s pretty unusual. My mind knows but my body doesn’t, it’s a case of sweet imbalance.

This year again I celebrated Eid in my adoptive city, Delhi. The city of my birth, Patna, must have missed me just as I missed it, dearly. I have a habit of attaching sentiments with things. Things respond to me in ways people don’t, it can be just the branches of a tree in the backyard of my childhood home swinging in the breeze, and to me it will seem as if the tree is sending salutations my way. This life is like a Rubik’s cube. Not easy to solve but interesting, attractive, magical. I can’t ever call it boring, not even on my dark days, because the slayer of dark is life itself.

When people ask cliche questions like, “how was eid?”

I simply answer, “good”, Can there be a better answer for this bland question? Eid is always good. It’s a day of celebration. What we make of eid is the real deal. It’s the same with all the festivals. If you lack enthusiasm it will be no better than the rest of the days. It’s like if you find diamonds strewn on the floor, and instead of scooping them up, if you merely keep looking at them, you will gain nothing. At the end of the day, much depends upon what you want, and how you exert yourself to get that.

Life comes a full circle, there was a time when we were kids, going around in an all siblings-cousins groups, with purses in our hands meant exclusively for hoarding all the eidi money, it used to be fun, not just because we would extort money from every known elder we came across, but also because those elders would make things interesting for the children by coming up with innovative ideas of playful haggling. Things don’t become interesting on their own. Efforts are required.

Similarly, life doesn’t become colourful on its own. You need to make use of the colours, dip your brush in them and paint away. Colours remind me of bangles that we would customarily and mandatorily buy on a night before eid from the local stores in the neighbourhood, those little shops would be jam-packed, but we would always successfully trot our way to the counter. It would be exhilarating trying out bangles, and matching them with our eid outfits. Even though we would have an option to go to more popular shopping places, but we would always choose to buy bangles from our neighborhood, mainly to get all the chaand raat feel. I lived in a mixed locality. So there was quite a handsome percentage of Muslims residing in the area, and that explains why all through Ramadan until eid, the roads, and the lanes would be lit, buzzing with activities. Another interesting ritual was that, the money for the bangles would be provided exclusively by my grandmother. These little things are what bind us together. It’s about inclusiveness, about how you involve all your family members on special days.

Our grandmother was almost a matriarch in our joint family system. And our eid day would begin only after we have said our salaam to her. So after getting dressed in our sparkling dresses, Salma Sitaras, we would hurry to her room, and her sweet compliments would automatically brighten up our day. Next we would attack the firni sewayian, (vermicelli pudding) a special dish, it’s almost like sheer (milk with dates+ vermicelli) but much different. I would particularly choose that bowl, the contents of which would be properly covered with the silver foil (vark). Aesthetics always appeal to my eyes. All the female members of the family would then gather in the grandmom’s room and offer eid prayers. The ritual of hugging each other thrice would then follow. It’s a beautiful display of community building and brotherhood.

We would then start visiting relatives, and entertaining those visiting us. And the day would come to an end just like that. As you grow up, things change, but memories remain. Now when I see my younger cousins do what we used to do, my heart dances with joy. Life does come full circle.