Jumaana means 'The Silver Pearl', a name that was suggested by my close friend 'Gnaniyar', when my wife was in her 7th month of pregnancy. After that myself & my wife discussed various names from few books & web sites, but the one that finally settled was 'Jumaana' & we added 'Ibrahima' to that.
It all happened like an early morning dream. She came, she entertained, she made us understand how big life is, she made us understand how brave you must live & she left us setting a real example that, what we have felt in the past as the big loss in our life is nothing, but just a part of our day-to-day life.
It was one early morning, the Silver Pearl came out of the Mother's ward crying "Amma, Amma, Amma" thrice along with the usual cries. ("Amma" means Mother in Tamil). We were all surprised to see that, but never know her life here will be that short that she won't have the chance to call so any more.
May be the god thought, I will be a bit jealous on my wife, as she called her mom thrice & not even me once, he has created her exactly as a photocopy of me. Long nails, bright eyes, long hands & fingers, long neck, curly hair & many resembled me exactly on that little angel. For the first time in my life, I felt I had achieved something much greater in my life. I myself could note the changes in me, my proud walk & talk, a champion's glory in the face, my usual smile back after so many years, knowing I have someone to address me as a "Dad", someone who could run to me when I am just back from work, someone who could turn my Laptop & mobile in to pieces of toys, someone who could bring me a cup of tea when her mom is busy, someone who could turn bright & greet with full of joy, when I meet her at her husband's home & well it goes on & on. Those dreams are too big to write, but ended too short than the dream itself.
For the first time in life, the rising gold price made me wonder, how much should I save for the future, so as to glorify the Gold with my Silver Pearl. How to dress her, how to educate her, how to fulfill her needs & all those new worries started within me. Even, I started thinking about how hard it will be, when she gets married to someone & how much I will miss her that time.
As soon as I get up in the morning, I would run to my wife's home to spend some time with the little angel. She would be sleepy most times in the morning in those early days & I would sit near her, admire her & praise the almighty for giving us such a wonderful baby. Her smiles in half sleep were something that could please my heart & start my day with so much of joy & fun. Even a little move from her would make me as happy as I have ever been. She is one of those greatest & loveliest angels, the Almighty has created.
I went to shopping in the next few days to purchase dresses, gold & accessories for her. Usually I take just 5 to 15-minutes to choose a dress for my wife & just around 5-minutes for myself. But it took more than an hour for me to choose few dresses for my little girl. Even a dress that was labeled "For 14-years old girl" got my attention & thought if I could purchase that, so she could wear it when she reaches 14, without knowing her life is going to be too short. Such special she was to me & I tried my best to get the best for her.
And when she was just 18-days old, she was stuck with Pneumonia, due to which she struggled to breath & was immediately rushed to a famous hospital here in Chennai. After few hours of treatment in ICU, she recovered & after almost some 20hrs, we were allowed to see her activity for few seconds. Her eager & a sharp look on us clearly indicated she was missing us & that she might have felt that she has almost come back to a new life. And the next day, she was crying for the feed & my wife could not help her, as she can feed the baby only after next 24 to 36hours. Our baby was crying so much that the entire ICU ward could hear it. My wife cried & I just made myself strong to console her. My heart could almost burst with emotions & I know having a 'MAN' tag is meant to hide your tears & emotions & I did my best to stay strong to make sure my wife feels better.
The Nurse who takes care of our baby too helped me in consoling my wife telling the baby will be perfect to take the feeding by next day. And she also explained how hard it is for another mom, who can't feed her baby that's admitted in the same ICU, as she has been admitted in another division with a surgery. My wife understood that it's a part of the treatment & she decided to help the other baby who needs feeding. I felt proud of her & we both know our baby will be safe & fine, when the other baby gets its feeding.
I was eagerly waiting for the 'Father's Visiting Hours' to meet my baby again. At the entrance of the ICU, I can hear her crying like anything, with two doctors standing near trying to console her & giving her the breathing treatments. I walked in with my wife & as soon as we went near her, she had a close look at us, suddenly stopped crying & had a smile in her face that could live for million years. And the doctors know that is a best treatment for a while & we were allowed to spend few minutes to make sure she feels better. After all she was just 20-days old & that recognizing power of parents, the sudden stop of the cries & that cute smile in her face stunned us & we started to believe 100% that she is going to be fine after all this. Once we moved away from her & came out of the ICU, we could hear the cries getting louder & we can't help anymore.
The next day she started taking feed from her mom & she was extremely getting better day by day & after 8-days of treatment we took her back home with a joy that words can't explain. The next few weeks were great as she was getting better & better day by day. Mentally she was very sharp. When she was just a 40-days old baby, her mental activeness was like a 1-year old baby. She could recognize both me & my wife despite so many relatives & guests around her. When someone says "your dad is here", she will immediately look at the entrance to see if I am coming. Once I come near her, she will smile with the same eager look in her eyes & from that moment it will be hard for anyone else around to divert her from me.
Once she crossed 50-days she was even more active that she would try to talk with us in the very best languages of the world - a baby's language. It would be very surprising & admiring when she expresses her happiness when I am with her. She would talk for hours sometimes, trying to show her love & care to me, when her mom was resting a bit.
I would have her in my lap & she would watch my eyes very closely & sharply that sometimes I could not see her back. I would try to divert her by talking something or making a fun, but she would still keep a cute smile & watch my eyes sharply. I would most of the times tell my wife that it was something so different which I have not experienced with any other baby in my life, being a lover of babies. It was an Angel look or you could say it had some sort of power that I really could not face. Those moments were amazing that even now it stays in my heart as if I have her in my lap right now. And it is so true that, she is one of those greatest & loveliest angesl, the Almighty has created.
Days passed on & when she was almost getting closer to mid of third month, we noticed that her physical activities are very less. She would rarely move anywhere; she would rarely move her legs. Her only actions will be those mental activeness with all smiles, bright & sharp eyes looking here & there & talking to someone whoever is near her & enjoying it more & more when myself or my wife were alone with her. She would suck her thumb, move her hands well, but not even a 10% of movement in legs that a baby of her age must have. Her neck won't stand up that, we have to hold her very carefully when we lift her. Sometimes I would feel like she does not have any bones at all, as she would be as soft as anything without any control to hold herself.
We discussed with few famous doctors & every doctor who noticed her mental activities, the way she smiles, the way she talks to them got convinced that the baby is absolutely alright & that she might take few more weeks to get physical strength, as she has been in Hospital earlier. We had our hopes high & she made those hopes grow even stronger with her clever mental activities. When someone switch-off the fan, she will watch it carefully that it's going to stop & once its stopped she will see us one after another with a look as if asking what has happened to the fan & why did it stop. And if it stays the same for long she will start crying, seeing the fan. Once we switch-on, she will turn bright & start laughing & start making all those funs & talks all around. The same fun will continue when we switch on the Torch when there is a power loss for a while & she will be enjoying seeing here & there in all the directions where ever the light moves, with her classic smiles & talks as usual. But there was not even a small change in her physical activities even nearing the third month.
We tried giving her hot water treatment, olive oil treatment in legs to see if she gets better. Whenever I go to meet her, I would help her to move her legs, by giving a simple exercise to her legs. And it seems she will feel much better when her legs gets the movement & she will have a pretty smile & start talking to me. The fun will continue for long, with a hopes that she will get better soon.
But it all got worse as days passed by. She could not take feeding from her mom. And she could not even take any food given via a feeding bottle or spoon or whatsoever. She will struggle to take few drops of milk & will have them stored near her tongue & will slowly take just 3 or 4 drops in about 5 to 10-minutes time. We could see that she is really not comfortable with intake & she just started losing her weight every day.
We ran to many famous doctors, tried everything we can to make sure she gets better & in fact we would be in a hospital at least once in two days for a checkup or a consultation or a scan. X-rays, Scans, Blood Tests, Brain Scan & so much has been done & yet nothing could do wonders. But even with very less intake, even with such physical problems she had, she would just keep herself brave that she will be entertaining everyone around her, be it me, her mom, or the family members & even the doctors would have a smile & spend few minutes to talk with her whenever we go for consultation.
She had very high fever at the last week of her third month, for 2 to 3 days continuously & even then she would be at her best when it comes to mental activeness & she got better in next few days, but with no positives in physical actions & she will breath so fast every now & then without any control. And it was November 3, we had been just adviced to have a discussion with a Neurologist & we had an appointment fixed by November 4th.
I had some of my important project works on that November 3rd night & I thought I can go to my wife home the next day morning & started working to make sure I can complete my works. But when it was close to 9pm, I got some eagerness to see my baby & I immediately closed the works & went to my wife's home, taking my laptop with me, so I can work there, with the happiness that I can spend some more time with the baby who will be awake mostly in the mid-nights.
The mid-night of November 3 ended & November 4 started for us with the real shocks for which we were not prepared at all. It was around 12.10 am, my wife was in deep sleep & I noticed my baby trying her best to move her body & lift her legs & turn herself to the other side. I was curious & happy & was waiting for how much she is going to succeed. But she could not do more, but my hopes doubled seeing her trying few times again & again.
Few minutes later my wife got up & gave her those little feeding that she takes & put her back in the bed & both mom & baby slept immediately. When it was almost 1-am, I was getting close to finish my work, I noticed that the baby is going to wake up & she did. Right away after she woke up, she saw me so close & sharp that so many times she would do & gave that angelic smile to me. I just took it as one of those smiles & close looks she would give me every day, but never knew it would be the last.
In few minutes my wife got up & her mom too came to help the baby get some feeding. As usual she struggled to take every drop & took them with those small cries. While it continued I closed my laptop & just lied down getting ready to sleep. And in all of a sudden I can see my wife & mom-in-law shouting "Jumaana, Jumaana" & I can see the baby had no movements in her body & the few drops of milk have started pouring down & her eyes were completely closed.
My wife ran to the neighbor & the elder women who came to help gave the baby a few pats, tried to give her some breath using her mouth, then gave her a drop of hot water. Jumaana opened her eyes very lightly for a fraction of second to see us for one last time & closed it for ever. At that very moment I know she is no more, while my wife & others in the home were crying & rushing to take her to any nearby hospital, with a hope that she is alive.
I know my baby, I know how brave she has been fighting with her life for past 4-months & I know she is no more once she had that last look at us for a fraction of a second. And I understood that her last smile & that last sharp look had everything for her to say to her dad. But I could not stop my wife & others around rushing to take her to the hospital & we took her to a nearby hospital. The doctor's checkup & his body language clearly suggested me that it's all over. (He later said the truth when I met him after few weeks). He too knew it, but he avoided that seeing how much my wife is crying & advised that the baby needs oxygen supply immediately & we took her to the same famous hospital where she was admitted earlier.
Being an ICU, only myself & two of my brother in laws were allowed to get in with the baby. The doctor clearly said he doesn't see any positive signs & that he will try his best, giving some oxygen supply. By doing that he just tried to calm down us & then asked every one of us to wait outside for few minutes. After few minutes he sent a message with a nurse saying he wants to talk with the father about the baby's condition & requested that other should stay out.
I walked in knowing he is going to say, it's all over. And exactly he said the same saying the baby is no more at least before 30-minutes time & that there is nothing he can do to stop the mom who is crying mad & the other relatives who are tensed as well. It's a famous hospital that the ICU was full with almost some 30 other babies most of them around 3 to 6months of age. So he wants to make sure that they did not get disturbed by our cries or sounds. He requested me to ask every one waiting outside to get ready convincing them that we are taking the baby to another hospital saying she is feeling better now with the oxygen supply.
Those moments were real hard for me, controlling my emotions & everything. Everyone around believed it's true & started to move out of the hospital. I promised them that I will bring the baby out & we can go home & take her to another hospital suggested by the doctor, later on in the morning. Every one waited, with a hope that it's all true.
I entered in to the ICU again & broke out in emotion, when I tried to lift my wonderful angel with me. Every time I lift her I need to hold her around the neck to give full support & it was the same again. The baby's dress was wet as she has passed out the motion during that last minute of death. The doctor gave me a towel to use it to hold her. I declined knowing, it's the last time I am going to carry her & I am not worried about the wetness I am touching.
I carried her in my left shoulder & said a thanks to the doctor & the other staff & asked if I have to pay anything & they replied 'No'. I moved out & turned back to see the ICU again where she smiled for the first time, where she gave us the hopes that she will be fine for long with us & I started walking. She was lying on my shoulders as if she was sleeping safely in her daddy's shoulder. I walked down in the steps knowing I am walking down in my life too for yet another time with the biggest loss, that I really can't take.
My wife ran to me asking how the baby is doing. I said she will be fine when we take her to another doctor later on in the morning & convinced her that we can go home now as she has enough oxygen supply. My wife tried to get the baby from me, but I refused saying she wants free air & I had her in my shoulders in the same position. It was almost 3.45am & we started moving back home. During that 20-mins of travel everyone was coming up with so many questions on why the baby is not admitted in the ICU & I convinced them all, hiding all my emotions. I know I have a long way to go in this life controlling these emotions that will live until I die.
We reached home & I laid down my angel in the bed. By that time my mom, brothers, few neighbors & relatives who knew the news were waiting for us in my wife's home & everyone including my wife was eagerly looking at me to know what I am going to say. Every one asked when we should meet the other doctor again. I just hung my heads down & replied "Inform to everyone around that Jumaana is no more".
The whole house turned in to a graveyard, with everyone crying around in disbelief. My wife was holding my legs saying the baby is still fine & that we need to take her to any other hospital immediately. I convinced her & she kept telling the same till 9-am in the morning, when the home was almost full with so many relatives & friends. Now she knew it's true & finally knew the Silver Pearl is no more with us.
The angel was lying down as if she is just taking rest for a while. A small sound or any small disturbances around will wake her up usually, but that wasn't the case anymore that day. She would recognize a simple touch from me & that wasn't anymore that day. She was given the formal last time bath & the other formalities were done & she was lying down like a pure angel with so much of beauty that we have never seen when she was living with us. Well, the god wants to take the Angel with him in such a praising beauty & everyone around wondered & broke out of emotions.
After all she was 4-months & 2-days old, but she was very tall & had a mature look in her face making every one ask if she is 1 or 2-years old girl. Such was the power, such was the look of the angel that everyone could not believe she is just a 4-month old baby.
The formalities were done & the angel was taken to the nearby Funeral place after the last prayers for the Silver Pearl. It was all ready & they opened the cloth covered to show the baby's face for one last time. I had a look with tears filled & I could see her, still she was looking like as if she was taking rest or like having a deep sleep.
Her face was closed & my eyes closed with full of tears & the mud's started to pour over her body along with my tears & in few seconds it's all over. I started walking back seeing the grave again & again knowing she won't get up again to smile at me, knowing the home is going to be a desert without her.
I have bought everything for her that I can, be it a flower, toys, dress, jewels, but what do with all that when money can't buy her life back. Later on we were told by few analysts that she could have born with a disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), which is said to be the number one genetic killer of babies & infants, for which no medicines were found yet despite so many years of research. Well we could do nothing now rather than living with all those dreams, that she has left us with.
The fan she would watch & smile was still running smooth & there is no one to smile at it again. And the torch has no more light to offer. Her living room wasn't the same anymore & without her, the silence started living there. It's hard to believe she is not here & it's hard to believe we are able to live with that.
I would run to see her at my wife's home when she was newly born. I would run to see her when she was admitted in the Hospital and I would run & run where ever she is. But now, where do I run anymore to see her?
Life has so many questions with only few answers & we keep on asking us if we should have tried this, that to save her someway other. But we know it's purely the God's plan & we know she will live safe, healthy & peaceful in the paradise.
I have seen girls using their dad's name as the last name & for a change I will start using my daughter's name, whenever I write something in future, be it a poem or any article or even a letter to someone. Well, that's all I can do for being a dad, to such a wonderful little angel, who will live in our hearts forever. If I could have been a mom, I could have got the chance to carry her for ten more months in the womb. But as a dad, all I can do was carry her in my heart forever.
- "Jumaana" Syed Ali