Letter to my daughter about her father.

Saman Quraishi
14 min readJun 21, 2020

The first word you spoke was papa. And I'll tell you today why.

Ever since you came into our lives, and I mean even before you were born - the day we found out we were expecting, our lives changed completely. You were the clarity to our confusion, the calm to our chaotic lives, a sense of direction and purpose. A dream in becoming. A hope fulfilling. A void finally filling.

It was our first joint adventure and your father was with me every step of the way. I didn't know how to take care of myself and now with the two of us, he left no room for doubt. He made sure that I wake up to a plate of fruits, sugar and caffeine were temporarily bid adieu. I would habitually pop up painkillers at the slightest hint of chronic backpain and cervical headache, but his insistence that we don't consume anything that may hamper your growth - we looked for healthier ways of being. And it worked. I became the fittest version of myself during pregnancy - physically atleast. Mentally there were alot of upheavals that I was going through. But your father wouldn't let me blame it on emotional hurricanes of pregnancy. He said it was precisely now with all the hormones haywire inside of me that I must learn to maintain homeostasis. I would retort that it was easier said than done. But he never believed in appeasement politics. He would not try to console me with false hopes or ideas. He was like a mirror to me challenging my ego self every moment but with an unparalleled compassion. I would get provoked and call him names but he would put his point forth with conviction. I would sometimes shout and say that he brings out the worst in me, but the truth is, it was with him that I was able to acknowledge my deepest fears and insecurities and become a more authentic version of myself. It was all a part of preparing to have you in our lives.

I don’t have any memory of a day or an hour when he didn’t lookout for me. He would hold my hand and accompany me everywhere. When I went to college for my PhD classes, he would be around. Even walk me up the steps to the bathroom in the middle of the night. I was not used to this I have to admit and it felt like an infringement of my freedom and independence. But in my moments of meditative quiet I couldn’t thank Allah enough for giving me a partner that was hell-bent on taking care of me no matter how much I push him away.

We attended a three day workshop by a world renowned nuclear physicist Dr. Amit Goswami on Quantum Physics and Activism when I was five months pregnant. Needless to say your father was with me and the workshop opened many doors of opportunity for us. We then also attended a 10 day residential Worksop on the same and your father went a step ahead to professionally shoot the workshop while taking care of me and also paying attention to the nuances of what was being presented. Talk of women multi tasking! This was followed by two trips to Jaipur to shoot personal interviews of Dr. Goswami so I must say, you were exposed to alot of ideas of unity consciousness and quantum physics as a science of possibilities while you were still in my belly. You got the blessings from the most spiritual and enlightened people from around the world. And one very important idea that we got introduced to - lotus birth, was at this very workshop. But more on this later.

We went to Pune to visit your bade papa and badi mamma and this had some crucial long term consequences for your life. It was in Pune that I was able to overcome my fear of animals and water. I learnt to be around dogs and your father taught me how to swim in two days! We then knew one thing for sure, we wanted you to grow up closer to nature and with animals around. And also how beautiful and natural the water felt. This again led us to explore the idea of water birth.

We met over a dozen doctors in delhi but we could never decide on one that we could trust with your birth. The details of which I have documented in your birth story. When we found out about the Birthvillage in Kochi Kerala in my last trimester, we pounced on the opportunity. Kochi was beautiful. With strangers smiling at you, to eating all kinds of fish to my heart’s content, walk on the beach and coconut water every day sometimes twice a day, dance classes with Donna, walking through the mall, and even though we were going a to be there for a very short while, making a home out of the house we took on rent. Your father is an expert at that - setting the ambience no matter how transient the abode may be. He is focused on creating an experience out of any event and so the usual days transform into a series of adventures. There are speed breakers ofcourse and we often lose the track, sometimes we don’t even wish to continue with each other but you know what’s amazing, how I can explore a plethora of all known and unknown human emotions with this one man. He would put yellow LED lights, and play music, bought a swimming pool and a gym ball at home and even got an oven to bake and treat me with new delicacies every single day.

On the day my labour started, he was a pro at all the maneuvers we were taught at our Lamaze birthing classes. He would stroke my back at every contraction and sleep for the time in between. You know how women proudly claim that it is only them who go through the pain of labour, well I couldn’t say that because your father was there supporting me, holding me, through every single one of them and they lasted a good 25 hours. He was the first to see and tell me that Kaira has arrived. We three were wrapped around each other through the golden hour. and I couldn’t agree more on what they say about this miraculous moment at the time of birth - "The Moment of Awe is a biological, spiritual and evolutionary moment of a soul coming into being, through a woman and a man, into the physical world - into the family and community that will raise the child."

After that, I had two babies - one on my chest feeding on colostrum and the other sleeping right next to me, victorious after a night that seemed too exigent and long.

Next morning he wrapped the placenta and prepared it with all essential oils and salts for keeping the cord intact and connected to your first habitat. You were a lotus birth.

I must confess that the period immediately after birth is even more challenging. The females body has gone through a kind of turbulence it’s never experienced before and some even say that it takes almost a year for it to recoup from the change it had undergone. It was now, more than ever, that your father expressed exemplary service to both you and me. I could barely sit and doing basic things like going to the toilet or eating felt like herculean tasks. But he would support me, feed me with his own hands, help me feed you, hold you, make you sleep on his chest innumerable times when I needed some uninterrupted sleep, he was the first to wash you up, to give you a bath, change your clothes. There’s just so much care needed that I wonder if this is the reason so many women choose to go to their maternal house at the time of their first delivery. Thank fully I had both my mother and your father by my side all this while.

All of us are taught how crucial it is to feed the newborn breast milk for the first six months exclusively and then for as long as possible. Some people just decide on a date like a year or two years while for some it is about when they have to join work after which it is inevitable to look for substitutes. While it is a beautiful feeling which gives a woman a sense of fulfillment, worth and well-being, its a road that comes with its own set of churning. Hunger pangs, sore breasts, holding a baby at odd positions for hours together can take both a physical and emotional toll. It is almost always accompanied with unsolicited advice from well meaning 'experienced' mothers who will ask you to follow their advice, learn from their share of mistakes and adopt the tricks of their experience almost without any improvisation. It is difficult to overcome the guilt of not knowing why the baby is crying even after being fed and changed which is mostly suggested to not producing enough milk to satiate the hunger of the baby. Not just that, sometimes the pain is so much that you almost dread the idea of breastfeeding and push the baby away if only momentarily but long enough to leave an impact so deep in your heart of not being a good mother that is difficult to truly heal. We can deny it or act strong and unaffected, but post partum depression is a real thing. The reason why I have elaborated on this so much is because how important it is to have a partner or support system that pushes you to keep at it without judging you and trusting your better sense. Your father was and is that person who empowered me on my breastfeeding journey through thick and thin. And so with his facilitation I was able to feed you everywhere and anytime you asked for it. At home, in the mall, on the road, footpath, train, plane, changing room, in the middle of a garden, while watching a play, or attending a meeting while holding you in one arm and writing notes with the other, in weddings, in a moving cycle rickshaw, on the roof, under a tree, through every season. It’s been a year and half and I feel happy to see you desire and devour this very special relationship between us and knowing the benefits of breast milk for both baby and mother, I can’t thank your father enough.

Fun fact : Men can also undergo hormonal changes when they become fathers, including increases in oxytocin. Evidence shows that, in fathers, oxytocin facilitates physical stimulation of infants during play as well as the ability to synchronize their emotions with their children.

I remember the first time you fell ill and were running a high temperature, we panicked, atleast I did. And then others got involved and I saw your father feel the burden and was forced to do something against his intuition and that was to force a medicine down your throat. That night you were in pain and he comforted you for hours. When you finally went to sleep, he cried his heart out. Without exchanging too many words, we decided that this won’t happen again. Something changed in us that night and we knew almost in a divine way that as much as it is important to respectfully pay heed to what well meaning others have to suggest, when it comes to your baby, it is foremost that you listen to and give precedence to your own inner voice. The universe and the divine chose you to parent that child - so even if nobody agrees with you, you have to follow your Instincts. This is why we chose not to vaccinate you. And one day when you grow up to read and make sense of this letter, you would know how this one decision would become THE most significant decision of your life in the times we are living in. And I only hope and sincerely pray that you don’t complain and we don’t regret it.

When you turned five months old, we left Delhi for Pune where we spent the next seven months on the outskirts at a farm, living in a tent, waking up to the tunes of birds, surrounded by cats and dogs and nature at its most serene self. That mountain where we lived was rightly called the Healing Touch. Your father again had a huge role to play in manifesting which most of us dream of but don’t have the courage to act upon. He intends, acts and the universe responds almost instantaneously. You fit there so well. In nature. You belonged there. And I couldn’t be more glad.

On the surface it may appear that your father and I argue alot and challenge each other vehemently, it's true. But what's also true is that deep down in our core we are both driven by the same sense of purpose and direction. And so those are the things that we never have to debate or even talk about - it flows smoothly. Even before you were born we knew we would never send you to school to get indoctrinated in a flawed system based on competition, corruption and that which systematically desensitizes you and curbs your curiosity and kills your intuition and judges you and approve or discard you instead of your actions and allow you certain freedoms at its convenience and withdraw them at the slightest hint of rebellion. You were to grow up free, of any labels. Or expectations. Without instructions. And it's not easy to practice that which we're proposing. We have come a long way and so we concern ourselves mostly with what we need to unlearn rather than what we can teach you and you can/should learn. To get rid of deep rooted conditioning requires concious and persistent efforts and I won't be lying if I say your father has been that one person who has pushed me to become a version of myself that may not be pleasing to the eyes but is the food for soul. Not a better but definitely a more authentic version of myself. I guess all of us go through these phases of evolution as a human species. Your coming to our life only sped up this process as we skipped the part of procastination.

Your father that you so lovingly call Kaku understands you better than I do. He looks into your eyes and that’s how you communicate. Words seem so unnecessary in this whole scheme of things. It’s a connection that transcends any kind of limitations and doesn’t need any tool beside an open heart. When people say the child is too small to understand, you couldn’t be committing a graver mistake. It’s almost criminal to underestimate the capacity of a child to gauge and form perceptions from its environment. 0-2 years is the age when millions of neural circuits in the brain either sustain or dissipate depending on its use. It is before the age of 7 that you operate from your subconscious mind and so it not only makes it the greatest window of opportunity to lay a strong foundation for a child but also is the most vulnerable age to getting exposed to the undesirable impetus which too will have lifelong implications for that child. So we can’t really wait for a baby to grow and form an intellect suited to our vocabulary to make a connection. We have to communicate with our sense of being.

You know what makes a child so innocent and attractive? It's the ability to be in the moment. We start losing the spark when our vision is blurred by the burden of the past or assumptions of the future. Your father has somehow kept it alive in him. And he inspires me to do the same. We drift away yes. But our default state is love - the unconditional kind.

How a child comes to this world is a very crucial moment. Not just for the child and its parents, but for the whole community and infact for the whole of humanity. I read something powerful about it which I must put down here:

"You and every other baby had the right to be treated As a real Sentient Human who needed to only reconnect with the mother in:

Love not fear

Bliss, not violation

Freedom, not repression

Attachment, not separation

Intimacy, not control over.

These create the neural roots of peace and war.

We are birthing war in an environment of fear and control based on politics and money.

Multiple boundary violations: Separation, pain, disconnect, lack and loss (Stolen placental blood and foreskins) and disruption of intimacy and attachment (no mama's breast or separation before)

The neural roots for warring for peace are imprinted in birth in modern obstetrics.”

An environment of love, calm, Sacredness and kindness that believes in nature's knowing of women's bodies to give birth, of physiological model of birth, of mama - baby - papa focused birth, creates the neutral roots, the 'hardwiring' for love, connection, empathy."

The systems of the world need to stop telling us that we are divided in casts and creeds and genders and roles and the isms and left and right and progressive and traditional - for indeed we are one with all of humanity, and all of creation.

"a good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society. " - Billy Graham

Maybe that is why the world gets amazed to see a father feed a child while a mother finishes her own food, the father gets up to change the diaper and the mother continues to watch her movie. When the father soothes a baby to sleep and let’s the mother continue hers uninterrupted. When the father takes the baby on boys night out while the mother is free to read a book. It’s still unusual and so no one thinks of giving paid paternity leave for more than a week even in the most advanced societies and developed nations. I want you to know kaira that your father was all of this and much more. His priority was YOU and your comfort in every waking moment of his life. You both share a bond so pure and indescribable that it wouldn’t hurt me if you always team up with him and turn around and tell me - Ma I love you but I love Kaku the most. I’ll gladly believe you.

Gratitude. And love. Truck loads of it.

-Saman

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