Friday, 4 March 2011

My birth story?

The light from the moon shone on the water trickling down her leg. It was time. She'd known yesterday that this baby was ready to enter the world. Gently she pushed down on her belly; a faint movement.
Her head throbbed and stomach growled with emptiness. It had been the same for several weeks. She'd been forced to eat less, some days almost nothing. Her daughter could no longer get enough from her breasts. Cobu's portion of the little they ate each day was given to the three year old who was hungry almost constantly. Now that it was impossible for the child to subsist on the dwindling supply of breast milk, her husband seemed even angrier. He regularly slapped the girl for crying out in hunger. And she couldn't help but notice that he took even more onto his plate each night. She didn't dare protest but she'd begun to boil some of the scrub scattered in the courtyard and feed the girl the broth from the weeds to supplement her meagre diet.
 Cobu tried to shield the small girl but a proper Bengali wife never crossed her husband. She fingered the welts from the beatings he gave her in the first few months; they had bled and scarred over. She had shamed him.
 This time she was certain it would be a boy. The nausea was faint and her breasts weren't as tender. She prayed every night that god would hear her. Her husband had refused to welcome their daughter with a kiss as was tradition. Refused to mark her tiny forearm with black or light the fire to ward off evil spirits. In fact, Cobu could not recall a time when he had even held the child.

Hope urged her out of bed, quietly. Her mouth watered – she tried to taste the lingering odour of last night's bhaji (fish curry mixed with boiled rice). She'd allowed herself one bite before pushing her share to the hungry child who gobbled it down quick. It was a rare treat when her husband could bring home a bit of meat or fish for their meal.

Now the cramps started coming faster. She knew she would have to wake the old dai (midwife) soon. Shuffling out of the dank mud hut she could feel the monsoons coming. She was grateful that the baby would come before the rains. For this time, she was instructed to do her birthing behind the hut. Shivers traveled her spine at the thought of delivering another girl.
“Dai, it’s time.” She whispered, shaking the old woman gently. It didn’t take much to rouse her. Cobu waited in the courtyard while the midwife gathered a few things. To her delight the woman placed a lump of cold rice in her hands. She shoved it into her mouth savouring the sticky sweetness and swallowed with it the tears that threatened at such a kindness.

A sharp pain doubled her over. She needed to lie down. The two women hurried to the small pond to gather water. Cobu was required to wash the old woman’s feet as a sign of trust and dependence.

And so began the long labour.

I've joined the ladies at the Red Dress Club. This is a fictional piece written using the prompt water. I don't have any details surrounding my birth. But I imagine it might have gone something like this.


  1. This piece was so stressful, that poor woman and mother has so much to worry about. I so hoped for her that she would have a son only because I feared for her and her children if she didn't. I thought you did a great job of providing a perfect amount of information about Bengali traditions without overwhelming the basic story.

  2. This was a brilliant take on this week's prompt. The details were perfection. Such a raw, moving piece. Leaves me sadly enlightened. Nice work!

  3. This just simply breaks my heart!
    You do know that your writing is brilliant, don't you?

  4. I hope your birth wasn't really as difficult as you describe. B/c this story is heartbreaking!

  5. Excellent job taking the prompt and expounding on it with personal details and imagination. You've captured the tension and anxiety of birth so well, although it makes me so, so sad that any child is considered "not enough" (because of gender or any reason!)

  6. Lovely.

    And I love the photo of the flowers you arranged, too.

    Thank you for sharing. Great idea with such a prompt.

  7. You are so welcome Kim:) And it is so true:)

  8. It was hard to read - I'm glad it was fiction - I didn't come from the link - just came by t read you today - I wrote one too - a fluffy one - not like yours.

    It was awesome - hung on every word.

    God Bless.

  9. Your mother was a strong woman. Great imagery, so real and painful.

  10. Incredible. It is so important to share birth stories, especially ones from other cultures. Thank you for sharing this, and imagining this from what you know of your culture. I really enjoyed reading it and I wanted more!!

  11. Wow. This was unlike any other birth story that I've read. I love how you intertwined your traditions and what you know with a fictional account.

    Visiting from TRDC.

  12. argh... this makes me so angry. Knowing that this is so many women's story, I can't even take comfort in that your piece is fiction :(
    your writing is so powerful.

  13. It broke my heart reading the lines where the stupid husband hit the girl... so unkind and so cruel. And i feel so angry because I know that this is going on in some many places till this date.

    No woman should undergo such a wretched experience.

  14. What a bittersweet story. And not limited - there are variations of that story all over the world, some of which I've heard from my own patients.

  15. This is true art. You are talented. You are a gift to this world. Love this beautiful piece of writing. BRAVO my dear friend, BRAVO!!

  16. The beauty of this piece is that you took me there inside that hut behind the eyes of Cobu. You are a writer through and through

  17. Stunningly powerful. Well done, you touched my heart once again Kim...

  18. Kim, I keep scrolling and scrolling through your posts, not wanting to take the time to comment as I try to sneak in more of your stories before my boys (8 and 5 tomorrow, eek, rise and shine).

    This story is so utterly heartbreaking. I can't imagine. I can feel her hunger and desperation. Excellent.

    And with that, I'm being paged :) Can't wait to get to know you better!!


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