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Mumma’s Bindis IX: Over the Rainbow

Finally the day comes when her brother plops out. The night before it had been raining, all night and into the morning. Urja puts on
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It takes a village to raise your kids, and it takes a global village to raise your children. Through this series, “Mumma’s Bindis”, the author shares the stories of the joys of raising two young children in a humanist culture.  The central characters of this series are Urja (nickname Momo) and Ujaan, growing up in a Midwestern college town in North America. Born from the hearts of immigrant parents, they ferry between their hyphenated identities spread across two continents. Mumma’s Bindis is the reality of children rooted to the soil they come from yet adapting every day to the dichotomies of the world they belong.  A mother recounting the bliss and dares of motherhood. This is the ninth episode of this series. 

Over the rainbow

Urja had been wanting a baby brother since she turned five! Ma, I want a baby brother for my birthday gift next year. Can you bring me one? A real brother with hands and legs and nostrils!! A brother to play and run with. Mumma, please….


Urja knows that families are made in different ways. Some babies come from their mother’s tummies and some from their mother’s hearts. Her friend Gulgul came from his mother’s tummy. Urja came from her mother’s heart. For days and weeks, and months, Mumma had a heartache. Nothing would make her feel better. No gifts, no vacations, not even prizes or awards for her excellent job at work. Then one day, she dreamt of a soft little baby girl with big eyes and curly hair. The little baby was sleeping in a bed of clouds. Baba had the same dream the next night. So they took off on an airplane, rode across hills and oceans, and brought the big-eyed, curly-haired girl home. That was how Urja came to her parents. Every time Mumma tells her this story, Urja giggles and claps, “Yeah, I plopped out of your heart!”

urja and ujaan

At school, Urja’s friend Annalisa talks about her baby brother Theo. He is not here yet, sleeping and eating and growing up inside her Mumma’s tummy. During pickup time, Urja notices Annalisa’s mom has a swollen tummy. “Ah, that’s where Theo is!” Urja and Annalisa play with soil in the magical garden in the school backyard. They make a baby brother each of their own with soil and water and twigs and wild berries. They lay them out on the school patio to sun dry so they can carry them around in their backpacks. 


Since then Urja has been wanting a real baby brother. At last, Mumma and Baba tell her she will have one. But Urja has to be patient. It takes a long time for a baby to plop out of the heart, longer than it takes to come out of the tummy. So Urja waits patiently for days and weeks and months. Some days after school, she comes running to Mumma “is your heart getting swollen, Ma? Let me see.” She knows her brother is growing up inside Mumma’s heart.

Ujaan and Urja

Finally, the day comes when her brother plops out. The night before, it had been raining all night and into the morning. Urja puts on a red skirt and matching top with watermelons all over. Perhaps Ujaan will like watermelons? Mumma ties her hair into two big ponytails with watermelon barrettes. As the three of them hop into a yellow taxi to get Ujaan, a big rainbow spreads across the sky. “Wow!” claps Urja, “there I see Ujaan, Mumma! He is waiting for us across the rainbow.” In the dimly lit room, they walk in, there is only one window and some chairs. Her brother appears, with closed eyes, clutching a packet of Marie biscuits. Urja hugs him, kisses him on his nose and cheeks, and shows him her watermelon barrettes. But still, his eyes are shut. Finally, when all of them hold him together tight, Ujaan slowly opens his eyes.


His eyes have been open since then…

Glossary of terms:

Urja: born from the heart (Bengali meaning)
Ujaan: someone who swims against the tide (Bengali meaning)
Mumma/Ma: mother in Bengali
Baba: father in Bengali.

Mousumi Banerjee is Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Michigan (USA). She lives in a world of science, trying to make sense of data to take cancer research and treatment forward. But her passion and affinity for the arts gives her sustenance and counterbalances her work as a scientist. Mousumi writes in both Bangla and English. Her work has been published in many literary magazines in USA, India, and Bangladesh, including Telegraph, BanglaLive, Keyapata, TechTouchটক, Antonym, Sahitya Café, Irabotee, Golpopath, Swinhoe Street, Batayan, Parabaas, Manush Mecca. A rare feat is her poetry “White Noise” published in the leading medical journal (Journal of the American Medical Association) that gives a humanistic face to cancer. Her collected poems Eklaghor (Room Alone) was published in Kolkata by Yaponchitra. Mousumi lives with her family in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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