First Pakistani Baby Book
Nigar Nazar's Book Review
By Danya Haseeb
Amongst the many things that excited first-time parents collect are baby record books. From what I’ve gathered parents painstakingly fill out these books as memoirs of this beautiful time of their lives and of course, the kids enjoy going through it when they are older. My mother was so excited when I was born that she filled up two! But by the time my siblings came along her workload had tripled resulting in no baby record book for my youngest sibling (she found out only recently and sulked for days!)
Seeing that new parents are eager to document everything about the new addition to their family, many of these books feature pages for family trees, sonograms, arrival of the baby, hand/foot prints, baby’s favorite items, height, weight, immunization charts all the way to child’s first day in school. Some books have spaces for fashion trends, political figures and even the cost of certain items!
So, well, recently I was looking for gifts for my friend’s baby shower. I went online to find the perfect baby book for her and was left mind boggled at the sheer variety of books that I came across! There were baby books in every size, color and design imaginable. The books were available in gender specific and gender-neutral varieties with special editions for unusual family situations like single moms, adoptions, and multiple babies.
But I felt that none of the several hundred books that I browsed online had the appropriate spaces to document traditions that we cherish in our culture. Ghutti was replaced by “baby’s first food”, Aqeeqa was replaced by “baby’s first haircut” and the Azaan had no equivalent except, maybe, the space for details about the baby’s christening.
Following my disappointment with the books online I decided to give the local bookshops a try. After flitting through scores of books more or less the same as the ones I had found online I came across a book with a familiar polka-dotted character printed on the cover. It was Gogi!
The cartoon character that took our newspapers by storm when the comic strips first got published in —-, Gogi – The brainchild of Nigar Nazar, the first female cartoonist of Pakistan and the CEO of Gogi Studios, has long inspired the Pakistani audience with her adventurous and enlightened spirit and playful humor. With her short hair, long eyelashes and polka dot covered dress, Gogi covers a gamut of our society’s positives and pitfalls.
So, when I came across Gogi’s record book I was thrilled. Naturally my expectations for the book, designed and authored by Nigar Nazar, were quite high. Sure enough the book did not disappoint. I found all the categories that I was looking for. The Azaan, Ghutti, Aqeeqa were all there and so were the first Eid-ul-Fitr and Bakra Eid and even the child’s Bismillah! The animations in the book were adorable. The family gawking over the new arrival in colorful shalwar kameez, the smiling dada dadi with tasbeeh’s in hand and the very Pakistani-looking nurse all brought a smile to my face.
The book also had these grandma’s tips at the bottom of its pages for example “The infant’s pewting is the sign of good digestion”. This idea seemed a little strange to me since nobody is looking for parenting advice in a baby record book. Also, on the down side, the book barely had 28 pages with no option to add more pages as needed.
At the end of the day the very desi look and feel of the book meant that I had to buy it. As for my friend, I decided to keep up with the times and gift her a fully customizable digital version of a baby record book.