‘Birthing Vessel’

I was inspired to write after a long gap by a nomenclature I discovered on a site, in a very reassuring post. It was titled “Marriage and The body being a Birthing vessel.” and the author demanded that her body not be viewed as a birthing vessel.

Birthing Vessel . This term intrigued me, amused me and triggered a plethora of emotions. My work directly relates with childbirth. I conform completely with the little note under the above mentioned heading. I have not pictured my body as a ticking time bomb though I am well aware of the biological implications of delaying childbirth.

The funny thing , is and it’s also a sad truth , a woman’s body is considered a birthing vessel . Not only by those who think they’ own’ her body but also by women themselves.

I still remember the worried face of that young husband whose wife had a tubal pregnancy. Though it was diagnosed in time but due to certain circumstances they chose a peripheral health care facility where she was misdiagnosed and wrongly treated. The worry however wasn’t really related to a lot of those things but to the fact when  he  was informed that a surgery is necessary and if not salvagable the affected  (fallopian) tube will have to be removed. The only thing he said was ” We have recently been married and have no children. If you remove the tube will she have children?”. Surprisingly “the birthing vessel’s ” own well being and prognosis was not inquired about.

The other more shocking case is of an elderly woman with no children . Well into her menopause  she suddenly awakened to the miracles of in vitro fertilization. So this “barren birthing vessel” was rejuvenated with the advance science of artificial reproduction and she becomes pregnant after one and a half years of menopause !! I would have been happy for her and for the miracle had she not come to the hospital with a complicated pregnancy in an extremely breathless state. Apparently her old body cannot really take the stress of pregnancy. Presumably this woman had refused to adopt and by choice she had decided to get pregnant.  I cannot and should not comment on a woman’s desire to have children . However, this is a case where the prognosis of the fetus is getting worse and the woman’s health is at risk , I don’t really agree with such medical facilitation of child bearing desires.

So apparently a woman’s self actualization lies in her ability to produce children. In being a “birthing vessel”. But are all women doomed to think that way ? Maternal instincts are natural to women but the inability to reproduce shouldn’t make them any less. As I have already written in a previous article. There is more to a woman’s existence and life. I am hopeful that more women will consider themselves as human beings whose self actualization lies in discovering their special talents and achieving their highest potential and not in being efficient and prolific ‘Birthing vessels’.

STRIPPED

I fail to find words to write . Its like a lump in my throat that throttles the words. The emotions are so profound and the anger so sharp that I fret to find expression. The Guwahati incidence has left me dumbstruck and though there are not enough words but there is an unfathomable rage..

Stripped

I have been stripped of words.

My emotions charred with ciggerette butts

Lay naked on the streets.

Eyes watched with sealed lips.

Haunted by aftermath of  camera clips.

Images of crass hands; of humiliating lust.

I have been stripped of words

My emotions charred with ciggarette butts.

The scars are just not on 16 year old heart

It is to stay on the soul of a nation

A nation referred to as “ Maata “

I can say no more cos I have been stripped

Stripped of words….

Dear Daughter

 

Vidisha could hardly hold the pen but this was all she could think of doing. She began writing with a heavy heart. 

“Dear daughter,                   

              I miss you. I do not know how to tell you that. My sorrow filled heart yearns for you and sadly  I have no way left to reach out to you. I do not know how many tears I would  need to shed to wash away this pain of separation. But my sorrow is still no match to what you went through. There are no words of apology. I can’t say that to you, even if I want to.

           You were a part of me. My joy and  my dream  . Perhaps you would never understand why I let that happen to you. Well !  I know you will never ask. You lost your chance to do so. That however doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t have wanted to ask me …WHY!!….. maa .. WHY!! 

          My dear child the love for you in my heart has been acidified by a deep remorse . It will scald my soul as long as I can recall this fateful day .  This unfortunate day when I realised my helplessness. This dark day , when I was smothered by my own compliance and ashamed of how instead of fighting for you I tried to convince myself that it was for a  greater good . Good for you and for me. But as the physical agony is tormenting me , I also feel an emptiness and a guilt. 

 (I had no right to decide that for you.But did I have a choice? )

             I just want you to know that I loved you. That I wanted to see you grow each day of my life. That I wanted to see you step into womanhood… I wanted to see you learn and achieve in life .. I wanted to help you when you were in doubt… I wanted to talk to you, I wanted to laugh with you, I wanted to be proud watching your bright face and sunny smile… I wanted to pray for you… I wanted to cook for you….. I wanted to feed you … I wanted to sing you to sleep… I wanted to  touch you , hug you , feel you…. I wanted to see you take your first steps… I wanted to hear you utter your very first words….. 

          But….. more than anything else my dear child, my love … I wanted you to be born… to bring you in this world!! 

          Forgive me if you can. I will fail to do so myself… I did not want to abort you and  I shall forever be guilty of not being able to stop it…

with love

 your  Maa.

(December 27, 2007)”

 

                          Having finished the letter Vidisha tucked the ultrasound film to it. The only reminder of the life , that was growing inside her womb, untill this tragic day. She was still trying to escape that feeling of cold emptiness of the room where her daughter was dislodged from her womb. The smell of that room was still haunting her. The doctor and the nurse had performed  that act with professional dexterity.Probably without even a thought. Just a matter of using their experienced reflexes. It was however horribly novel for Vidisha.  Her legs strapped to the side bars , she just prayed that she would wake up soon ,only to realise it was a bad dream. But the needle prick reminded her that it was all for real. The sound of the suction machine ,as it sucked out the flesh and blood, crushed her heart. Tears just kept falling down the corners of her eye wetting the pillow. The instruments kept clearing her womb without mercy , without remorse, as she silently cooperated.

She came back home  shattered by the realisation that she had no control over her own body. Her husband and in laws wanted a son .This  implied that she had to abort the unwanted female foetus growing in her womb. She failed to convince them to change their mind. Her shock, anger and retaliation had succumbed to the web of tradition, patriarchy and mindless son craving  of the society.

Now ,all alone ,she wept inconsolably with the letter in her hand. The tears fell and quietly dissolved some of those words of apology  and helpless expression of love for her unborn daughter.

Those smudged words  will remain a silent testimony of her sorrow for a quite long time…. without giving an inkling  about what would unfold when one day the letter would be found again .

(to be continued……)

 
 
 (Every year in India thousands and thousands of women like Vidisha undergo the pain of abortion unwillingly just because they are pregnant with a female child. Thanks to the hi-tech ultrasounds that can determine the fetal sex  conviniently and those unethical doctors who become a party to this irrational killing. Female foeticide is a very real problem in India  .The dwindling sex ratio and even worse child sex ratio. It is  as prevalent in southern part of India as in the Dimaru or daughter maru states of north India(particularly Punjab and Haryana) .This story is  a humble  attempt to fathom the sorrow of a disempowered mother. My literary competence may or may not succeed in servingthis purpose. But this does not decrease the gravity of the problem or it’s tragedy. )