Celebrations that end…..

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 33; the thirty-third edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The theme for the month is ‘Celebrations’

The young lady, lay prostate on the narrow table-type bed. Her nylon saree sticking to her sweaty skin in the heavy summer heat. A ceiling fan whirred noisily in the room. I watched her anxiously. She looked back at me, in a way that said “Don’t worry about me, I am OK!”

I couldn’t help worrying about her though. She could not be more than 19 or 20 years old. Her name was ‘Mahua‘. Short and petite like most of the tribal women I had seen around here. Mahua looked malnourished, and not at all like the full-figured, almost round pregnant women I had seen back home.  She had walked 20 kms in the summer heat to reach this little hospital setup that Dr. Rani and Abhay Bang ran. Mahua had been experiencing intense labor pains since the last three hours. And though she had every reason to be scared and apprehensive, she maintained a stoic silence. There was a quiet dignity about her .

This was the first time I was going to attend an actual delivery. I had been watching Rani tai attending to the patients in her clinic since the last ten days. Today Rani tai had graciously allowed me to  assist her in conducting Mahua’s delivery. Rani tai, spoke  with Mahua in the local dialect, that I didn’t quite understand. But it was obvious that her words were warm and friendly, because Mahua was soon lying down comfortably on the delivery table. Rani tai then gave her assistant some instructions and showed me how to time the contractions. She then left to attend to her lengthy line of patients.

Each time a contraction came, Mahua’s body convulsed! her face contorted in pain. But she did not utter a single cry of pain.  Soon the contractions became longer and started coming faster.  From one convulsion to another, Mahua now seemed to be in a constant state of pain. Still, the assistant maintained that the baby was nowhere near crowning right now. I wondered if Mahua’s frail body could take this much torture?  To give myself something to  do. so as to avoid panicking.  I wet a napkin and ran it over Mahua’s  dry lips. Hoping it will give her some relief. She smiled at me graciously.

“Relax !” I wanted to tell her. “You don’t have to worry about  the others around you right now. Just focus on yourself. Shout, vent, get angry if you wish to, scream, let us know you are in pain”.

I had heard my aunts speak of child-birth. It was the most painful process of a woman’s life! they said.  On a scale of 1 to 10 they rated the pain of childbirth  at 20! “It felt like your very insides were being squeezed and shifted about to make space for the child” said one. The other,   a gentle woman who hardly ever uttered a loud word recounts, somewhat sheepishly, about the way she had constantly shouted and had almost hit the nurse when the pain during her prolonged delivery had became unbearable.

I almost wished the lady would hit me now. Anything would be better than helplessly watching her go through this silently. As the pains came sooner, Rani tai returned.

When I had asked Rani tai, if I could watch a delivery. She had been unsure.  Laughingly she recounted to me the story of  a city girl like me who had ended up fainting herself, as the  baby crowned! Leaving Rani tai to tend to both – the patient and her! I had assured Rani tai,  I was made of sterner stuff. Now with the delivery about to begin, both Rani tai and the girl looked at me with concern. Did I see them exchange a ” Is this girl upto watching this” look? My god! Mahua herself  was barely my age, if she could give birth, I could at least watch! I straightened up , so I would look taller and tried my best to look calm and in control. Wetting more napkins, I applied them to the girl’s forehead and palms. Hoping the sensation would distract her from her pain and give her some relief from the heat.

As the baby started crowning. I tightened my grip on Mahua’s hands. She dug her nails into my palms. Where was her husband? or her mother? or mother in law? shouldn’t someone be here by her side right now? I wondered.

I asked her if she would like me to call anyone. No she nodded , not having the energy to speak. Rani tai indicated to  me there was some trouble and she would need to cut a little bit. “Cut” The word itself scared me!Surely, now the girl will  cry!

Rani tai explained to Mahua,l what needed to be done. Then proceeded to give a precise cut. The girl lying beneath me took in a sharp breath! her hands were clammy where she held me. Still Mahua didn’t scream. Not even a whimper.

The baby came, Rani tai held it to me. I was mesmerized! The feeling of holding a new life in my hands was too profound to be written in words. Time stood still for a second in the labour room. Next moment, we  all burst into smiles. Mahua looked relieved and closed her eyes for a second. I lay the baby  next to her. On seeing her baby lie next to her, Mahua smiled, a wide toothy smile!

Just then, there was a knock at the door. As I opened the door, a middle-aged woman stepped in . She strode purposefully towards Mahua. With one deft hand she uncovered the baby, took one look at the new-born baby girl. And walked out, without uttering a word. I looked questioningly at Mahua. She quickly turned her face  away from me. But not before I saw a tear roll down her eye.

The girl who had not whimpered during the six-hour ordeal was broken by ‘silence’. The celebrations had ended, before they had begun!

This is a story from my own life. As a final year student of MSW (Masters in Social Work) I had chosen to work at SEARCH. SEARCH, in Gadhchiroli Maharshtra is an NGO run by Dr. Abhay Bang and his very dedicated wife Dr. Rani Bang. It works in an extremely poor  naxalite prone  tribal area. It attempts to provide high quality health care including reproductive and child care, besides many educational and empowering services to the poor tribal women and men living in the surrounding villages. Dr Rani Bang and Dr Abhay Bang are two of the most inspiring and humble human beings I have ever had the good fortune to meet.

Tai : A term used for an older woman/ aunt affectionately

Mahua: The name of a popular tree in this tribal belt. The flowers of this tree are used to brew a local liquor.

The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. Introduced By: SIS, Participation Count:4

30 Comments Add yours

  1. aarthycrazy says:

    hmhm… that was quite a story. And the ending was pretty good. Good luck for BAT.

  2. Bhargavi says:

    A heart-touching write up !! Good work 🙂

  3. There is simply one word to describe it..’touching’.

    1. Thanks! that said everything i wanted to hear! 🙂

  4. Karan says:

    a nice theme…one which needs to highlighted everywhere…hope it all changes soon
    ATB for BAT 🙂

    1. thanks karan! and yes its something that needs to be spoken about

  5. ddeepa says:

    I feel for Mahua 😦 Its so sad that there are people who have to undergo this humiliation day in and day out. Kudos to you for doing your bit dreamer! May there be more gentle souls like you! A very touching poignant story. Best wishes for BAT!

    1. thanks ddeepa! and I love being called a dreamer. so thanks again for that

  6. Wonderfully told. Your line ‘broken by silence’ is also heartbreaking.

    1. thank you valentine 🙂 Am glad you liked it! It was a story I wanted to tell and the challenge fitted perfectly 🙂 Thanks for stopping by

  7. Reshma says:

    Heart-wrenching reality in most parts of India… Unfortunately we revere a million gods and goddesses but disregard life so inhumanly… Loved the write-up.

    1. true Reshma! thanks for stopping by!

  8. Thanks for sharing this experience. The girl and others like her are admirable more than we give thought to.

    1. very true! there is this callousness in many urban people. they seem to think the poor and, villagers feel pain lesser than them. Just because they don’t have the luxury to complain does not mean they don’t feel the pain just like us.

  9. Jai Shruti says:

    Beautifully written. But it broke my heart when you said it was true story.

    1. sorry about that Jai Shruti! I saw it happen. I couldn’t get the picture of Mahuas tear filled eyes out of my mind for months 😦 i hope this ends, somewhere in the near future

  10. Alls well that ends well … That must be an experience I must say particularly when you are not from medical field ….

    1. was quite an experience Amit! thanks for stopping by

  11. A wonderful story. The end came up as a surprise. A heart touching portraying the harsh reality take.
    All the best for all the noble work you have been doing all this while, and for BAT too! 🙂

    1. Thanks Ritvik! Not been doing any noble work for some time now. Unless you count raising sensitive kids Which is a noble work in a way too 🙂 Glad you liked the story

  12. aativas says:

    Howsoever sad, that is Life.
    Glad to know someone like you who knows what is the ground reality and I am glad that you mentioned work of SEARCH.

    1. Thanks aativas. I am glad I got a chance at an early age to see all these people and places. Cant even dream of it now, with all the schedules to stick to!

  13. Shivya says:

    That really tugged at my heart. Kudos to women like Mahua who fight battles bigger than we city folk would ever know. You write wonderfully, Sapna.

    1. thanks shivya! thanks also for the shout out on twitter! Rural women and women from poor economic backgrounds definitely have bigger battles to fight. Their economic and social background adds its multi-fold challenges to the already challenging job of being a woman! I’ve been missing out on the shooting star updates since its Diwali time. but then you know how busy moms are at this time of the year 🙂 I hope I am excused;) will catch up soon! BTW, my uncle’s farm – Nirvana in jaipur, the one you visited, made the cover page in outlook travellers last edition. We were surprised and thrilled! Thought you’d like to know!

  14. Megha Malik says:

    Thanks for sharing this story with us.. 🙂 Sapna.. I am so sorry for coming here so late.. but I am absolutely touched with this story..

    Very well narrated.. Great work!

    1. thanks megha! better late than never as they say 🙂 Am really glad you stopped by 🙂

  15. Madhu says:

    Powerful, poignant and beautiful. Very well done Sapna.

    1. Thank you madhu! The episode itself was so heart breaking, I just had to narrate it! 🙂

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