Friday, December 2, 2011

Lessons I learnt in November 2011

Ahem ahem. For those of you who haven’t noticed, the image to the right has magically changed from participant to…*drum roll*… WINNER!!! … I’m a NaNoWriMo 2011 Winner! Yippey! I wrote 50,000 words of my first ever novel in a month. Can you believe that?
I’ve been partying (in my head, at least) for the last two days and being extra extra nice to everyone at home. That’s to make up for the crazy mood I’ve been all month.

This was my first experience with NaNoWriMo and I so wanted to win. I told myself that I owe it to myself to write that novel. And I realized that all I needed was to push myself a wee bit.. and things just fell into place.

I’d like to tell you all about the experience...

1. NaNo taught me that I could be a novelist. Sure there were plenty of times when I felt what I’m writing is trash, no one but no one would like to read it… and I even thought of giving up. But that was the insecure writer in me talking. I got her to shut up by putting duct tape across her mouth, locked her in the cupboard and ignored her while blissfully typing away, dreaming of one day holding my published novel in my hands.

2. The thing most people will hear me say is, “I have no time!’ Which is probably true depending on how you look at it. But NaNo taught me what a fool I’ve been. I’ve got to make time! Kapeesh? If you want something enough, it is ALWAYS possible to make time for it.

3. People who just dream about doing something, then sob about not being able to make that dream come true and don’t make any effort towards their goal, such people should have the word WIMP stamped across their foreheads. Actually, I should have had the word WIMP stamped across my forehead. But not anymore. I have seen the light. And I believe in me. I CAN!

4. When you are doing something you love, you are at peace. November was a crazy month that flew past me in the blink of an eye. Every day was just about obsessively writing my novel and obsessively updating my word count at the NaNoWriMo website. But despite the lack of adequate sleep, I was able to enjoy myself. Because I was chasing a dream and loving the process as well.

5. I was able to really appreciate the things that I had. I enjoyed my playtime with my kids, spent quality time with the husband, and did a lot of other things, despite nano. This was possible because I scheduled time for writing. This way my mind was always focused on the task I was in, instead of thinking, ‘Damn, I need to start writing’, or ‘When am I going to get that assignment done?’ Nano taught me to organize my day better and set aside an hour or two writing every day, no matter what. I hope the habit stay throughout my life. It’s my ME time, where I let my mind soar and dream, with unlimited possibilities.

6. The most surprising and MOST IMPORTANT lesson I learnt from nano was the importance of a support system. I cannot tell you enough about how vital this is to a person chasing a dream. If it weren’t for the support and encouragement of my husband, I wouldn’t have won Nano. A few days before November began, I was wondering out loud about whether I was capable of doing this. Hubby was driving me back home from a Nano kick-off party when I voiced my thoughts. His expression was a mix of annoyance and disbelief. “I wouldn’t have driven you to and from this party, if I didn’t support you and believe in your abilities,” he said. He gave me a good half an hour monologue on how I needed to want this. He told me to stop making excuses and just do what my heart wanted. I usually hate people giving me lectures and end up slamming doors or just giving them the silent treatment for a while. But something clicked inside me when I heard him out. I only said ‘Thank you’. On that day and on 29th November at midnight when I completed my 50,000 words.

7. In continuation to the support system point, my family and friends who knew I had participated in Nano (thanks to Facebook status updates) also gave me much needed boosts and help me keep writing. My mom called everyday and checked on my word count. My husband’s brother, who is a dentist, kept asking me if there was going to be a dentist in the story. His wife gave me a huge congratulatory hug the morning of 30th November when I reached the 50K mark. My father-in-law and mother-in-law, what can I say about them? Nothing I say will be enough. Towards the end Papa asked if he should take a day off so that I could write and he would take care of the kids. He and Mummy told me how proud they are of me. I never thought they would take my writing so seriously. But they do. And I’m sorry for ever thinking otherwise.

8. Lastly, this post was a real inspiration on the night of 27th November when I was full of self-doubt, with an aching back and stiff fingers that begged for some rest. It’s wonderful, the ways in which God communicates to you.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Writing a Novel in 30 Days

Okay, don’t laugh but I’ve challenged myself to write a novel in a month. Yes, you read it right folks. I, mom of two little kids, believe that despite the lack of time to breathe in a normal working day, will be able to write a novel in the 30 days that are November. Ha! No, I’m serious. Really.

As the badge to the left of this page proudly states, I will be participating in the NaNoWriMo 2011 challenge. If you have no idea what I’m talking about then go click on the picture which will take you to the website. If you are too lazy to do that then read on.

I heard about NaNoWriMo last year. But I had no way to probe further and see if I could do it since I had just given birth and was still in the hospital when the event began. But then when I saw it being talked about on facebook this year, I decided Ahh, why not give it a shot. And I registered on the site.

The deal is that one needs to write a 50,000 (at least) word novel in the month of November. Those who reach the 50,000 word mark by the end of November will be winners. What a challenge, huh? I needed something like this to push me to write.

I registered over 2 weeks ago but it wasn’t till today that I actually decided to do the challenge. Since the event is open to writers from across the globe, there are various chapters within each region holding events to support participating writers. I heard that there was going to be a kick-off party in Mumbai and I decided to attend it.

And boy, am I glad I did. We were a group of 7 writers meeting at a cosy coffee shop. Most of us were first timers but we got a whole lot of tips on surviving NaNoWriMo from a seasoned participant. I realized one important thing that would take me through the month. I need to look at it as an exercise in letting my mind go free, in letting the words flow, in releasing those words that have been jumping up and down inside me for the longest time… They’ll be plenty of time later to chop, edit, rewrite, link, etc. But November will be about writing my heart out.

People who know me closely would know that I currently have almost no time to write. My kids take up all my time. It’s only when they are asleep is it possible for me to sit at my laptop, in the dark, and write. That means compromising on sleep, which is very very difficult. But thankfully I have a really great support system at home. Everyone wants me to do what I want to do (except the kids, perhaps, who want me to do whatever they want). That’s probably one reason why I really want to push myself this time and do this. For myself and the people who believe in me. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to blog about this yet because it will look really lame if I chicken out of it midway. But then I thought, the more people I tell about my participation in NaNoWriMo, the more real it will become and the more motivated I will get to go through it. You know?

So what I need right now it a wealth of encouragement, guys. I know ultimately it all boils down to me. Do I want to do this? Yes, I do. Can I do it? Sure, I can. So here goes nothing. Thirty days and nights of literary abandon, here I come!

I shall keep you all posted on the progress. Wish me luck.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

My Birthday Boy

I wrote this post a few days before Zaid’s birthday but forgot to post it.

One year ago…

I had only one child. I didn’t think too much about the second one growing in my womb. Maybe because my daughter took up all my time and energy, I never got much time to ponder over what the second one would be like.

One year ago…

I was 9 months pregnant, and I knew this time was going to be different. I wasn’t scared and jittery. I knew exactly what I would be going through physically. The c-section, the pain, the recovery, the loss of control for a while, the needles… they didn’t scare me this time. I was thankful that I wouldn’t have the labour pains. But my fears were made of other stuff.. how would Zainab manage without me? How would the new baby affect her? How would I explain to her the baby’s need for Mamma’s time?

One year ago…

I wished for another daughter. I always missed having a sister and I wanted Zainab to experience it. I knew how it felt being a mom to a girl and I didn’t want unfamiliar territory. I even wondered, how does one change a boy’s diaper, with all that external plumbing?

One year ago…

I wondered how it would be possible to love another child as much as I love Zainab. I didn’t feel I was capable of it.

One year ago…

I realized the baby I was going to give birth to was going to be very different from Zainab. When I was pregnant with Zainab, my belly would do spontaneous dances. It would jump and twist and bounce in all direction, like she was having a football match in there. Even today when I see Zainab burst into song and dance or even into noisy tantrums, I think about how she was doing all this before she was born as well. But during the second time my belly didn’t jump and twist and bounce. I worried about it and spoke to my doctor. She said, “No two babies are alike.” And she was right. I guessed at that time that those gentle graceful movements, that felt like a ballet dancer in there, were hints that I was going to have a child with a temperament very different from the little rainstorm I already had.

One year ago…

I was lying in an operation theater. It was 8 in the morning (Bahrain time) and my husband was miles and miles away in India. My parents were waiting outside the door. My wonderful anesthetic (what an angel!) was talking me through the surgery and checking if I was as comfortable as a pregnant woman being operated on can get. I wasn’t jittery. I was as cool as a cucumber. Until I heard my son cry. Nothing prepared me for that moment. I’ve always felt bad that I didn’t feel very maternal and emotional the moment Zainab was born. The shock of the surgery and everything that preceded it seemed to overwhelm me so much, that I couldn’t place the maternal instinct within me.

But Zaid was a different story. Through eyes brimming with tears I saw my son, my beautiful little boy. And God whispered in my ear, “It is possible to love another child, isn’t it?”

One year ago…

I fell in love with a tiny, frail baby boy who seemed to throw up more milk than he drank.

Who slept in the day and stayed up all night (thankfully this lasted only a month, after which he slept like a baby all night).

Who had the most curious and beautiful black eyes. People having conversations enthralled him. They still do. He looks like he is absorbing every little syllable you are uttering (which is a scary thing, actually).

Who is crazy about his sister. Zainab is the only one who can have him splits by the merest sound she makes. From when Zaid was around a week old, we noticed that his expression changes when she is around, he is suddenly alert and excited. Today, he never misses opportunities to kiss and hug her or just be around her.

Who has the naughtiest little impish smile. He’s getting naughtier as he grows, but it’s so cute to see how he gets away with it all by flashing that disarming smile of his. *sigh* He is going to be a heart breaker for sure.

This Friday, my little boy turned one.

Happy Birthday, Sunshine! Thank you for lighting up my world every morning, noon and night. Thank you for the tiring workouts you make me do throughout the day, with all that crawling around and messing up you do, which is helping in keeping me slim and trim. There’s lots more I need to be thankful for, but let’s save that for another post.

Happy Birthday, my darling doll. May you always stay happy and healthy! Ameen.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Freelancing and an Award

I haven’t blogged in 4 months! Yikes! I hadn’t even realized I would be away for so long. No time for excuses and feeling sorry for myself this time. I need to look myself in the mirror and give myself a good slap on the forehead for procrastinating for this long. Plain and simple. That’s what it is. Procrastination. Because if I wanted to I guess I could write every single day. But it took a freelancing project and a blog award to shake me from my reverie and ask myself, “What the hell do you think you’re doing, woman?”

First the freelancing bit. I am mighty happy (with much jumping and whooping) to report that I am back to serious freelancing. I had never really stopped freelance writing, doing bits of this and that throughout my pregnancy last year and even after that. But I had stopped working with my friend Kavita. Old readers of this blog (yes, I like to imagine that I’ve been blogging for eons and have like a gazillion readers) will probably remember my mentioning working with her. We work so well together, I wonder how I ever managed projects all by myself. Just last week she called to ask if maybe I was interested in this lucrative project, and I, who was pulling my hair out due to the frustration of domesticity, jumped at her offer.

While I love taking care of my kids, and cooking for them, and feeding them and putting them to sleep and playing with them and doing every other lil thing that goes into bringing up a child, I started to crack under the stress of it all. I wanted ME time. And I wasn’t getting it. I wanted to work, for no one but myself. I wanted to spend money that I had worked for myself. Yes, we women are a weird lot. But you know what I’m talking about, right?

So you can see how much I welcomed the freelancing projects. But it was going to be tough. I still had the kids and regular chores to take care of, which pretty much is a full day. To top that, we have a wedding in the family this month and LOTS of tasks pending there. But I JUST.HAD.TO.DO.IT. So I started with fretting and cribbing and biting the heads off everyone around me. Then I found the 2 to 3 hours of almost uninterrupted work time every afternoon. And then, when the need arose, I arose… at 3:30 am to get the damn assignment delivered on time.

And I made it! The first assignment went off today and I got such a high sending it a day early that my fingers are dancing just typing about it.

Okay, the second thing I mentioned was the blog award. My second award. See it proudly displayed on the right there? I know anyone can give anyone an award in the blogosphere. Blogs don’t have to go through a rigorous round of scrutiny by a panel of expert judges to get an award. I mean, it is perfectly possible for me to write nonsense, which I believe I sometimes do, and maybe, just maybe someone might decide to give me an award. But still… it’s an award. This wonderful girl who I don’t know at all has been reading my posts and liking them. In fact, she likes my posts so much that she decided to bestow me an award that reads ‘The Versatile Blogger’. Thank you. For spreading some joy. Because that’s what compliments are, aren’t they? Little snippets of joy passed from one human being to the other.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

K is for Kids...

"Having a baby is like getting a tattoo on your face. You really need to be certain it's what you want before you commit."
— Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love)

Yes, having a baby is like getting a tattoo on your face. Your life, your identity, your outlook, the person you are, everything changes from that point. You are not you anymore. You are a mother. And the children consume your life, eating into your time, energy, money, health, sanity and even the calcium in your bones.

But, strange as it sounds, these children become the light of your life. Because even though they are depleting you of your reserves, they give back much much more than they take away. Here are some reasons why I think having kids is a good idea:

• Their laugh. Have you ever heard the sound of a baby laughing? It is the most beautiful sound in the world. When my baby laughs, it’s a piece of celestial music right here in my home. My son, Zaid, is so adorably ticklish that he giggles and gurgles when I bathe him, change his clothes and sometimes when I pick him up. He also bursts into gleeful laughter when he sees his impish sister dancing and jumping in front of him. I wish I could hold on to those moments and capture them within me. They seem to slip away too soon.

• Their innocence. It is humbling to see how we all started out as a clean slate. Unaware of the wickedness or cruelty lying just beyond our layer of perception. Oblivious to the hurdles life is going to soon throw across our pathways. Ignorant of the losses and failures we are going to face. Babies are pure, unadulterated goodness. A fragment of heaven. Revel in their innocence while it lasts.

• Their wide-eyed wonder. Zainab loves stories. And I love telling her stories. Because when I’m telling her a story, which could be just an event that happened at the dining table or the mall, or anything, I have her complete attention. And she opens her eyes and mouth wide with surprise at all the right places. She giggles at the funny parts and makes a sad face at all the sad parts. This eggs me on and I earnestly plunge into more animated story telling, with a lot of hand gesturing, facial expressions and voice modulations. After a while we are ‘in’ the story and she pipes in with her variations to it. We do this every day. Try it with your child. Trust me- it is a very enriching experience.

• Sometimes when I tell Zainab, “Sweetheart, you look so lovely,” she does the movie star act and says, “Oh thank you, my little mamma.” She then pats my check, twirls around to look in the mirror, smiles at her reflection and cat-walks out of the room, stopping at the door to flash me a smile from over her shoulder. While I gape with my mouth open like a 3-year-old.

• Sometimes when Zaid is busy playing with someone else at home and he hear my voice, he immediately sticks his lower lip out, ready to cry, his eyes scanning the room to locate me. Once he spots me, he extends his arms and whimpers. He has even started saying mam-mam-ma. I think his sister is giving him acting lessons. Because he does the sad-lil-boy act perfectly. And it melts my heart. I rush towards him and scoop him into my arms, cooing and rocking my beautiful little boy. Only your babies can make you feel like a super hero, super star, rock star, angel, saint and the most beautiful woman alive, all rolled into one.

This is Zainab drawing of her and her brother. Don't ask me why Zaid is sitting on top of her head. It was such a funny drawing that I just had to take a picture and put it up. :D

Friday, April 15, 2011

J is for Joke of the Day...

Two nights ago I dreamt of dressing up as a clown. As most dreams go, it was a strange dream. I knew I was dressed up as a clown but I did not put on the red nose, painted smile and big red wig. Only the outfit was of a clown. I hadn’t even worn the big floppy shoes. In the dream, I thought to myself, I must find a big red nose and paint my face. But I didn’t get to it because of some happenings that I can’t recall right now. I asked my husband what the dream could mean. He told me it meant I have been spending too much time on my blog. :/


Yesterday, I was at peace. After eons of looking and asking every person I met, we finally FINALLY (I love repeating words at least twice. Have you noticed?) found a fulltime housemaid. I was so so happy (There. I did it again.) I sat back and rested. Playing leisurely with my kids, entertaining and feeding them, without worrying about cleaning up and kitchen duties. Aaahh.. the bliss. I started to dream about hours and hours of passionate writing (what else?) undisturbed. I could get my life back on track. I could work. I could write. I could visit the beauty salon. I could get a new haircut. I could join a gym. I could go for walks. I could take taekwondo classes if I felt like it someday.

This morning arrived and fate decided to show me what my clown dream was about. Apparently the joke was on me. When I walked into the kitchen the new maid told me that she had had a bad dream in the night and she wanted to go back to her family in Kolkata. She apologised lightly saying that she liked living here but the dream had shaken her up and she just had to meet her little daughter. I looked at her blankly and walked out of the kitchen.

Yes, the joke was on me.

I couldn’t stop laughing when I realised what my J post was going to be.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I is for Ink...

Zainab’s new toy is a MS Word document. Whenever she sees me typing away, she asks me to open a new page for her.

“Mamma, I want to write my name.”

She then gets comfy and locates Z on the keyboard and presses it. Her forehead creases when she sees the tiny z.

“Mamma, make it big.” So I increase the font size from 11 to 36.

She tries again... “z.. a...”

The creased forehead returns. “Big A please, Mamma.”

I turn caps lock on.

She then proceeds to type the rest of her name. Then she types randomly, hitting some Ls and Xs and Gs, and tells me she is writing a story.

Yesterday, as I watched her perform this daily ritual, I felt depressed. I should be teaching her to hold a pencil and write the alphabet. And here she is aping her parent’s version of writing. Whatever happened to good old ink and paper?

My trusty journals, the ones I kept under lock and key, and lovingly wrote on every night had magically transformed into a web log. A blog. This blog. My thoughts and hopes and dreams spilled, for the whole world to read (I wish). Yikes.

When I started this blog in 2009, I just wanted a platform where my work could be viewed easily. Read my first few posts and you will see how painfully journalistic I thought my posts were going to be. Slowly, I learnt to be a blogger and just went with the flow, pouring my heart into my posts.

Do I miss the actual writing process, with ink and paper? Hell no! I have no idea how to spell check, hyperlink and google for information with a pen and paper.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

H is for Happiness...

My dear friend Kavita had once put up a story on her blog that was very well received and also made it to the top 10 finalists in a blog contest. It is a sad, yet inspirational true story of what led a woman to divorce. The woman (named Kyra in the story) has picked up the pieces of her life, remarried and made the choice to put the past behind her. The best part of the post is its title - Happiness is a choice, not circumstance.

I have met many Kyras, many strong women who have it in them to break free from painful experiences and memories. These women have truly believed that they deserve to live a better and happier life and have worked towards that goal, rather than wallow in self pity. I am proud to have several of these women as my close friends. You know who you are. *BEAR HUGS* to all you beautiful, amazing women. Your strength, courage, determination and the choice you made have made ME a better person.

Happiness is a choice. Every single day, life gives us this choice. What have YOU chosen today?

G is for God...

Dear God,

Today, when I went to pick Zainab from school, her teacher asked me how her speech therapy session was. I told her about it and how, miraculously, Zainab had reverted back to almost perfect speech. Almost as if the stammer was a figment of our imagination. Though the problem still needs to be worked on, I never imagined that the results would be seen so soon. She said, “I guess it was just God’s way of teaching you some parenting.”

It is true. I always knew that when my second child would be born that we would continue showering Zainab with love and attention, the way she has always received it. Nothing would change. She would never feel neglected. And I believed that that was what I was doing. Until she started stammering.

Suddenly, we stopped telling her off when she was being naughty, began patiently explaining things to her, bending over backwards to keep her happy and humouring her demands. My husband started coming home early from work to spend time with her. Sundays and holidays are now mostly about her- story telling time, playing games and taking her out.

And we’ve seen the change. The crankiness has reduced. The trantrums are fewer. We had never noticed before how delightfully polite and well mannered she can be – thanking me when I say she looks pretty today, apologising for whacking her brother while playing with him...

But she’s a nifty little child. She’s caught on that we have been behaving extra nice recently and she is milking the situation for all its worth. Yesterday, she was back to her tricks, naughtiness and hourly demands for chocolate. Thankfully, we now know how to deal with it better.

So we are tenderly trudging the middle path, learning everyday how best to treat our kids. How to display our all-consuming love for them and how to stop short of over pampering them. How to teach them and how to learn from them. It’s an exhausting and pain-staking process. But it is the only way forward.

So thank you, Allah, for this lesson. We have only gained from the experience. I know we crib and cry and blame and complain whenever our supposedly well laid out plans go hay wire and we encounter a hurdle in life. We don’t realise that there is a reason for everything. We refuse to believe that there is a grand scheme being playing out in the background. We might not recognise the lesson or the reason, at that moment, or ever maybe. Thank you again, for this speck of realisation from your infinite wisdom.

Sincere apologies for the cribbing,

A Humbled Mother

Sunday, April 10, 2011

F is for Fluency...

I thought long and hard about whether I want to write this post. I decided it was not something I wanted to shut out or hide from others. I believe such experiences must be shared. You never know who will benefit from the knowledge. If this post helps even one disfluent child, writing it will be completely worth it.

Wikipedia tells me that Fluency is a speech language pathology term that means the smoothness or flow with which sounds, syllables, words and phrases are joined together when speaking quickly. Fluency disorders is used as a collective term for cluttering and stuttering. Both disorders have breaks in the fluidity of speech, and both have the fluency breakdown of repetition of parts of speech.

Over three weeks ago I didn’t think much about the word fluency. But over these past three weeks I have been living, eating, sleeping and sweating the word fluency. Or rather disfluency.

Three weeks ago I noticed that my perfectly fluent daughter had occasionally begun saying ma-ma-mamma. “Why are you saying ma-ma-mamma?” I asked her. She would then repeat her sentence without the stutter. And my frown would disappear. But then after a while she’d do it again. She started saying da-da-dadi a few days later. Was I the only one noticing it? Why wasn’t anyone else at home saying anything about it? Maybe I was just being paranoid. But it stayed at the back of my mind. I mentioned it to hubby and he brushed it aside saying she was doing it on purpose.

Okay, so I was only being paranoid. A part of me told me I shouldn’t be ignoring it. But I turned a deaf ear to this voice. I blocked it out because I didn’t want to hear what it was saying. I realise now that I was in denial.

Then one Sunday he noticed it too. It was appearing in every fifth sentence or so that she spoke. And my daughter talks All.Day.Long. His confirmation of my fear was a terrible realisation. Our limited and false knowledge told us that we had done something to cause this. We had emotionally hurt or scared or neglected our daughter which had turned her into a stutterer.

I remembered a book I had read ages ago, when I was in school, about a woman whose son stuttered only around her, but never did when she wasn’t around. I think it was a Sidney Sheldon novel. I don’t remember anything else about the story except that the woman was a manipulating b*@#& who had instilled so much fear in her own child’s heart that he had begun to stutter. But I wasn’t that woman. Then why did this happen to Zainab?

I began to blame myself. My mind went over every single time that I had scolded her, told her off, snapped at her, smacked her, spoke to her angrily, told her she was being naughty, told her to apologise for being naughty... I went over it all over and over in my head, hating myself more with each memory. Was she feeling neglected after my son was born? Was she jealous or angry? Was she scared of something? I convinced myself that I was a terrible, terrible mother and my bad deeds had finally come back to haunt me. Except my innocent little baby had to pay the price.

I got over that stage too. I decided to look at things rationally. We had a problem. Now we had to fix it. If it could be fixed, that is. I spent hours and hours reading all that I could on the internet about stuttering or stammering. Searching the web for information on the subject was a highly frustrating experience. There were so many theories and contrasting views on dealing with stuttering in children. There were also numerous cases mentioned on the discussion boards of parenting sites about children aged between 2.5 and 3 years who suddenly started stuttering. But they were fine in 3 to 6 months. Apparently, it is a developmental stage, where the child’s brain is absorbing so much information that it tends to get taxed, but learns to overcome the pressure in a few months. This information was so reassuring. I breathed a sigh of relief. She was going to be okay.

But then I tried to find out how to deal with it or react to it as parents. Unfortunately, nothing was helpful. While some sites mentioned ignoring the problem, some said that we must ask the child to speak slowly. Some sites said NEVER ask the child to speak slowly. Some sites said therapy is not needed for such a young child, while some insisted that the sooner the child receives therapy, the better. All this while, Zainab’s stammer worsened. She was stammering at every sentence and every morning I realised with a growing sense of panic, it was getting much, much worse.

My chirpy talkative baby girl was struggling to speak. She couldn’t understand what was happening to her. She asked me once, “What’s happened to my voice, mamma?” And I had no answer to that. It was heart breaking. I mentally winced and cried for her everytime I heard her struggling to express herself. But I kept up the smile on my face, determined to never let her get any inkling of our worry.

We spoke to her teacher at her playgroup, to other parents, we met doctors and therapists. To a cut a long story short, we decided to go to a speech therapist because we needed an expert to tell us what to do. I’m so thankful to God that we didn’t delay any further. We learnt that there are so many theories about why disfluencies occurs in children but no concrete proof. That means science has no idea why some people stutter. The therapist said that a popular reasoning is that children in this age group are learning and absorbing so much information and their language is in the crucial developmental stage, that their brain gets overworked, manifesting itself as a stutter.

Obviously, there was no point in beating ourselves up about it and instead we had to focus on solving the problem. We were told that we were to bring Zainab for weekly sessions but mostly it was important for the parents to continue this model at home and have similar daily sessions with the child. Miraculously, after just 2 sessions, Zainab underwent a major change overnight. Today, all of the sudden, she was almost her old fluent self again. Nobody will say she has any problem with her speech. But rather than get complacent, we know we have to patiently work with her to remove the problem completely and stop it from recurring.

It is mind numbing to realise you child has a problem. Especially one that is difficult to comprehend. For a while I could feel my world shattering around me. Because of Zainab’s charm, intelligence, quick witty speech and her confidence we had dreamed big dreams for her. I had even pictured her as an active participant in the school debate team one day. These weeks have strained our nerves and I wondered where Zainab’s life would lead her.

But today was a promise of a better tomorrow. It was a reminder that nothing is constant. That there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Zainab is a fighter. She is not ready to let something like this get in the way of what she loves to do. TALK!