It is immensely difficult for a new mother to return back to work after having a baby. A tough choice made by many mother, which comprises of entrusting someone else, sometimes even a stranger to look after and care for the baby in the mother’s absence. This anecdote( which is part fiction) is written by a mother and revolves around similar circumstances in the author’s life few years back. We know mothers will relate very well to it. 

There are mothers and then are those who enable the mothers. This is a story about both.

It all started a few years ago when I sent out an ad in the local papers. “Live-in Nanny needed for a six month old” it read. Further adjectives like caring, experienced etc. were rightfully juxtaposed hoping the person who applied would live up to all of them.

For me, it was a tumultuous time. I was going back to work after a long maternity break. My heart was not in it. In the going back that is. But it was a decision I had taken after many sleepless nights. 

“You should hire a nanny,” suggested a friend who had similar arrangements for the last 4 years and balanced a successful corporate life with a happy home one.

I did not want a corporate life, successful or not. But I was not ready to give up the security of a financial income either. Finally, with a long list of phone numbers, couple of e-mail addresses, a bunch of local newspapers by my side, I decided to give the whole nanny thing a try.

After many phone interviews and subsequent screening we narrowed down our choice to an Indian lady in her late fifties, close to my Mother’s age, who seemed to be caring and homely and at whom my baby girl had flashed a gummy smile. We took that as a sign and hired her.

And thus one fine Sunday, “Aunty” as we called her, came to live with us, a single suitcase and a tattered copy of Hanuman Chaalisa in tow.

As was expected I wasn’t comfortable with having the Nanny around. I could not trust her with my baby even though she seemed very competent. I hovered around her as she gave my daughter an oil massage and I insisted that I bathe her myself. I still had a month to join work and so I did all the baby duties myself leaving Aunty little to do.

But “Aunty” seemed a conscientious soul and not one to sit around and be lazy. So while there was little child minding to do, she pottered around the kitchen inspite of my protests. She made me a hot cup of cardamom tea every afternoon and offered to make puffed up phulkas instead of the frozen rotis that I was heating and serving. 

One day she got a bunch of methi greens and next morning for breakfast piping hot methi parathas graced our dining table. I slowly started warming up to her presence and found myself looking forward to what she would cook next. Being a Gujarati she was not comfortable with cooking non-veg but she had a vast vegetarian repertoire to make up for that. I really did not mind. I had little time to cook elaborate meals and hot piping Gujju dinners instead of my Bengali fish curry and rice did not seem like a bad idea. 

Through the crisp bajri rotis, the spicy ringan nu shaak and soft daal dhoklis, I slowly came to trust her even with my daughter. I found myself turning to “Aunty” when my daughter had a fit of bad cold and asked her for advise on baby food. No longer did I think of her as an arch enemy who was here to share my daughter with me, instead I found in her an ally, a grandmother figure who could help me in child rearing with her years of experience.

The bond that happened over piping hot food grew stronger with the years and today when I look back I can only be extremely grateful that she came into our life and gave me the support when I needed it most.

Written By : Sandeepa Mukherjee Datta. 

Sandeepa needs no introduction, she is the author of the book “Bong Mom’s Cookbook” and the very popular blog Her recipes are simple yet delectable and there are stories woven around it. Heart warming stories are told while she stirs up one delicacy after another.