Three and a half months—the baby is cared for with the aunt's support

The father-in-law had been operated on for a hernia and so the grandmother was absent. The older boys were on their way to a drawing class. Nikhil was on the dining table with Monju sitting at one of the chairs, entertaining him. He looked at me and stared. His attention shifted between his aunt and his mother who was in the kitchen. It seemed that he could hear her movements. Within ten minutes his mother took him for a feed. Meanwhile Monju chatted to me about her father-in law's operation and their children's schooling and questioned me about my life. Within ten minutes the baby was back. He was content, talkative and playful. I responded to his interactions. Alka was plaiting Monju's hair, which was a sweet and touching scene. The baby was playing with a toy, which was a new venture. He wanted to turn but his aunt prevented him as he had just had his feed. For the second or third time in the visit he cried, wanting his aunt or mother to pick him up. Monju rebuked him for throwing tantrums. However she soon picked him up and looked at me knowingly.

Alka had been washing the baby's laundry and came and apologised for not giving me a glass of water. Monju had again placed the baby on the dining table. When he played with me I felt a strong urge to pick him up. A little later he started crying. I tried to soothe him as his mother seemed harassed. I looked up and saw that she was looking tenderly at me. His aunt put him in a rocking chair but she said that he would not be still for ten minutes. She was right. There were times when he yelled but still his mother never came except once to hug him. Monju said he needed someone around him all the time, and he could not be alone. As I was leaving the baby was on his aunt's lap but he kept looking in the direction of his mother in the kitchen. As I left I said to his mother that, "He wants to be with you." She nodded in response and smiled at me. His aunt suggested that he wave goodbye but he was intent on looking at his mother.

Comment

The grandmother is absent and her share of the caregiving is taken over by Monju. As Alka seemed harassed the observer felt drawn into the caregiving. This sharing by the observer was appreciated by the mother. However the observer felt that the baby had lost his sense of holding and turned to an intense looking for his mother, which prompted her to say so to his mother. It was not until the following visit that the observer learns that she has started to wean the baby.

 
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