Keeri who loved humans

Keeri who loved humans
Something to say?

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Which Baby is more Equal than the Other?

When great men die, Shakespeare insists, the whole world screams: dogs howl, tempests try to destroy the land, and winds rage. Is this true of great men and women being born also?
 I suppose India is expecting heavenly choirs and deserts blooming when Aishwarya finally delivers that baby. What a non-event! Millions of women all over the world give birth unsung, many of them with no doctor present. In Africa child-birth is a hazardous event because of infections to the umbilical cord - so many die of puerperal fever, which could have been avoided with elementary precautions. Like not using the kitchen knife to cut the cord.
   In a neighbouring household to mine in Thalassery, a friend died at childbirth though her uncle was one of the respected doctors in the town. He was sitting on the veranda waiting for the good news of his niece's next baby (the fifth), while she quietly bled to death inside. 'Why didn't he save her? Stop her bleeding?' I clamoured when I met her family next. They did not call the doctor in because they were embarrassed to tell a man about bleeding at childbirth, they said. It was 'women's business.' For heavan's sake!
   Some of the babies, in unnamed villages in India are quietly taken away by old, cold witches in the family, and murdered, if they are girls. The number of girls per thousand births is suspiciously low compared to boys in some states of India.We should be focusing on that horrible statistic rather than what is happening in one pampered Bollywood family.
   Takes me back to the time when I had my first child in my home in Thalassery. There was a noticeable absence of technology. No stirrups (thank God), no forceps, no oxygen, no husband anywhere within calling distance. Remarkably a pile of old rags washed and ready for the event and lots of hot water boiled on three-stone fires. And my aunts and my grandmother asking me to be quiet and do it with good grace. Now, if there is any event in the human span lacking grace it must be the painful expelling of baby heads through channels that look not fit for purpose.
   I was twenty-three at that time and babies had not yet become fashion accessories.In those days twenty-three was considered quite late for a first baby. My mother had her first baby (me) at sixteen and died giving birth  to a second daughter at eighteen. I have sometimes thought my mother's death when I hardly knew her must account for a great deal that is strange in me. Asking too many questions of men, for example.
   My sincere prayer these days is: hope The Duches of Cambridge is not being pressured into having an 'heir' before she has stopped spinning from the wedding event. I hope the announcement that they will live at Diana's old residence, Kensington Palace, does not mean the nest is being marked with a red circle and she is pushed towards it. And I hope when she does have that unfortunate mite who will be stared at by a whole world she will do it in peace and quiet - in Mystique hopefully, where Margaret hid, would be a good idea. Just don't tell us plebs about it.

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