What is breastfeeding really like, you wonder aloud when you’re pregnant. Nothing can compare with it, you mother informs you sternly, as she massages your swollen feet in the last trimester of your pregnancy. It’s where the mother-child bond begins. It’s the most beautiful, natural thing in the world – the foundation of all the love that is to come. But what about the pain, you ask. When your breasts get so full because she won’t drink enough. And when she grows teeth. Won’t they bite? Dhat! she responds in a trice. How can you even say things like that?
Well, where your own mother won’t answer your questions, Kiran Manral does, in her book titled Karmic Kids: The Story of Parenting Nobody Told You. The first time she was expected to nurse her child, she says:
A nurse was sent for and the doctor on duty, because well, you might as well have an appreciative audience while you try to figure out which part of you should curl up and die, when you have to reveal in a public situation a breast that is suddenly gigantic with what the mater casually informs you is ‘the milk coming in’…two massive boulders on your chest that might need a couple of wheelbarrows under, if you plan on moving out of the hospital bed ever and navigating the earth again.
No mother who’s ever nursed her babies, she continues, will ever look at her breasts as objects of sexual desire ever again. And why would you ever want to have sex again when you have a human mouth latched to the boobies for more than 12 hours a day?
Author of All Aboard, The Face at the Window and Saving Maya, Manral ventures for the first time into the realm of non-fiction. Karmic Kids is not really a parenting book as much as a tongue-in-cheek account of her experiences as a first-time mother. It explores the narrative of motherhood through non-traditional eyes, accounting for details that those innumerable great-aunts, who cluck time and again about how they got married when they were 17 and had had five kids by the time they were your age, never tell you about. Her talk of mammary glands, libido and mother’s guilt would make even your favourite senior citizens cringe because, behind all that humour, Manral looks social convention in the eye and rejects it by embracing the mother as a human being, instead of as a milk dispenser.
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