My husband disturbed me in sleep a couple of months back. As I sat myself up, rubbing my eyes and reaching for my water bottle on bedside table, I asked him, “Is there anything wrong Kabeer?” He was standing in front of me with his both hands locked at the back implying he was hiding something. I, being a romantic, imagined all the cute little things I love like chocolate, lime ice, or paan (at the most) that he can get me and trust me, will make me feel like a princess. My husband had a proud smile across his lips, the one usually a cricketer gets after completing a century (since we are Indians we will connect to either cricket or bollywood imageries). Anyhow, he asked me to close my eyes, and I very animatedly did as directed. As he slowly brought the gift to the front, the butterflies in my stomach had already reached my throat while my smile touched my ears.
It was a ‘Coach tote in patented leather’, as he explained and showed it to me in such a lively manner that it felt as if a salesman is standing pitching his product in front of me. This bag was my ‘delivery’ gift, the gift for birthing our daughter. I gave him my biggest smile and thanked him nicely like a wife would (winks with a crooked smile). I kept the bag on the wooden chester below the television. However at night, during my frequent wake-ups to feed and attend to my daughter, a particular thought kept on crossing my mind as and when my eyes glanced the bag, “Had I given Kabeer the same response if he got me chocolate, lime ice or paan?” Anyhow, I brushed the thought aside and caught up on any sleep I could get when my daughter slept.
In the morning, I respectfully told Kabeer (as it was one of the ‘on the edge’ conversations) that I do not find value of money in such branded products and next time gift me something which is a quality product (like the bag) but justifies its cost as well. Though he understood my point but convinced me on carrying such things as the family and society we live in appreciates (basically notices and then judges a person) such things. I did not argue with him on this and kept the bag in my cupboard.
In the last 4 months, I was constantly reminded of this Coach bag. In these months, as I get hold of being a first time mother, I have met four female house-helps one after another to help me in household work as I give my total time and attention to the baby. All these helps had their own past and as they stayed with me for some time, they shared their stories with me. Every time they told me their story, I found a new meaning for the word ‘luxury’. The dictionary defines ‘Luxury’ as ‘the state of great comfort and extravagant living; an inessential, desirable item that is expensive or difficult to obtain. As I saw the words extravagant, comfort, difficult to obtain (for many), I realized that I am living a life of luxury, however the coach bag and similar products are no part of it. My luxurious life is desirable, comfortable, and difficult to obtain for many but it is not inessential.
I realized that leaving my job and spending time with my child is a luxury many parents cannot afford. Time is so expensive these days that only a few can afford to spend it on the sleepless nights of a newborn. Giving birth to a child in a hospital, taking a healthy diet after delivery, breastfeeding the child, going to mother’s house for bed rest, searching internet for the baby’s name, giving your baby 40 days of massage, seeing your child sleep, marking the milestones of the baby, sitting idle just holding your baby, singing to your baby, reading stories to your baby-all this and many more instances are very difficult to obtain for many mothers.
This luxury is meaningful and therefore even more difficult to obtain. It requires the emotional as well as financial stability of the parents. My husband can manage the household expense so I can choose to nurture my baby and not any organization. I do not have to worry about finances or household errands and that is why I can choose to be around my baby and peacefully bear her cries. I can sing to her because my mind is only occupied with her growth. I can breastfeed her anytime and anywhere because there is no other place I’d rather be. I can chart her growth in my mind, on my fingertips because I spent majority of my time with her. I find being a full time mother as a rewarding career because my husband treats my part of parenting as a much superior task than earning money.
Five years down the line, I see a luxurious life where the smiles are branded, the husband-wife relationship is branded, where the family time is branded and such brands cannot be bought with money. These are difficult to obtain but not inessential. Five years down the line, I see ourselves as a middle aged couple sipping tea while their kids play on the porch. The kids turn to see their parents and they smile. The smile is of assurance that they have a luxurious family that provides each other with the most expensive brands of strength, support, care, time and love rather than just materialistic products.