Thursday, July 26, 2007

Birthing in the cave

The house was cave-like in its darkness, and in the gloom it was a little time before I could distinguish the various shadowy forms of the earthenware pots piled high in one corner, the worn plough resting on the rafters overhead and the battered tin trunk which the family had to protect their few belongings. Then I was pushed forward by the women relatives and there in the corner was the young woman who had just a few hours before delivered her first child.

She lay on piles of fresh straw with only torn saree pieces as a cover, but her head was firmly wrapped in the "palla" of her saree to protect her from cold. Beside her was the tiny sleeping baby nestling within the winnowing basket which had hastily been laid with straw and lined with old torn cloth pieces.

The mother seemed weary but content as she looked to the child. The child, so perfect and delicate in form, lay naked. No one had thought it auspicious to prepare clothes, hang a cot or choose a name for the new born baby, and the baby lay careless to the surrounding poverty, wrapped in the tenderness of his mother's joy and the gentle strength of nature.

The child had come as simply as the passing seasons--as full of grace and beauty as the rising sun or the first rains after the red heat of summer. The birth had the freshness of the spring green of the growing paddy and all the fullness of the ripened grain.

My anxieties and fears concerning the harsh starkness, faded in the face of this pure acceptance of the mystery of birth, and a hope in the fragility but clear strength in Creation.
(From a diary note of Jane Sahi)

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