Sujata pulled the shutter down. It was 7.30 p.m. ‘Charan, come quickly, ammaji will be waiting for us’, she said to her son.
Sujata was a tailor. In fact she was the only (woman) tailor in the village. As such she was quite in demand. With her 12 years of experience she had become adept in stitching blouses, long skirts and even shirts for school going boys. She hurried home Ammaji would be waiting for her at home. She needed her dinner by 8 p.m. Though she herself would cook but it was her rule that dinner should be eaten together.
But today Sujata was a little morose. No it was not because of business. Her business was going good. It was just that her sixth sense was predicting something. As she stepped inside the house she could feel that something was not right. ‘Ammaji’, she called out, ‘why is the home so silent tonight’. Ammaji was sitting quietly. ‘Is dinner ready’, Sujata added. In normal circumstances Ammaji would have screamed back that ‘Am I your servant that you are asking me such questions’ but today she sat silent.
‘She won’t talk’, said Chetan her elder son. Sujata always felt proud when she looked at him. He was about to give his tenth Board exam. Already very tall she had to really strain her neck to look at his face as she herself was quite short. And he was quite responsible too. She had never had to worry about him.
‘Your husband had come’, Chetan said. Sujata shuddered at that. He always addressed his father as her husband or Ammaji’s son. Never Babuji or papa. He couldn’t be blamed for that. Because her husband was indeed a worthless person. After Chetan was conceived she had rarely seen him. He used to work for the railways but had been thrown out because of his debauch ways. A drunkard who used to steal for his needs, a frequent ‘guest’ at the police station, he would come home whenever he needed money. Sujata could have put a restraining order against him but had not for Ammaji’s sake.
Ammaji had been a pillar for her. She had cared for her like a daughter, protecting her against her own son. She had hopes that one day he would return a sane man for his mother’s sake.
‘Ammaji, it is nothing new, he comes, takes money and goes away, why are you worried?’, asked Sujata.
‘I didn’t allow him to take money today’, interrupted Chetan
‘Yes, this fellow pushed him out, gave him two solid slaps and forbid him to enter this house again’, Ammaji yelled.
Sujata hid a smile. Chetan was slowly taking on the responsibilities on his shoulders.
‘ammaji….’, she started to speak but Ammaji interrupted her, ‘This fellow doesn’t understand Sujata that his father is a vicious man. What will happen if tomorrow he brings a knife and slashes his throat.’
What Ammaji said was right. Sujata sighed but then said, ‘Ammaji I will find a way out, first let us eat dinner’
Just as Sujata was about to put a morsel in her mouth her mobile rang, it was Nurse Sharda, ‘ Sujata, the constable’s wife is about to deliver. My scooty is not starting, so I will be a little late, can you please take charge’, she said.
As Sujata hurriedly finished her meal, Ammaji kept ranting, ‘why do you have to be midwife too. You don’t earn much in that…it is dark’ and so on.
‘ma, I will come with you ‘, Chetan said, ‘I will bring my books and study there only’. He added.
Their village just had a small clinic and most of the childbirth took place at home. When the nurse had asked for some volunteer to be trained in midwifery, no one ventured. So Sujata had volunteered. As the Nurse lived 10 km away Sujata would be the one to attend to any childbirth in their village. Of course she had been trained for that.
As she began preparations for the delivery her mind was trying to find a solution to her problem. True that ammaji felt a need to see her son but at present Chetan’s safety was more important. If Chetan in his rage attacked his father then….
‘I hope everything is alright with my wife’, it was the constable.
‘Yes everything is fine, nothing to worry’, she smiled. And then she thought of asking him for a solution, experienced as he was, he would definitely suggest some solution. But that would have to wait. Now the child had to be delivered.
In half an hour, the nurse too had arrived and together they helped the mother.
As Sujata held the new born in her arms, she smiled. Ammaji always asked her why she did this work but who could explain the joy of seeing the new born. The miracle called life, can there be a greater mystery or joy than it.
na jayate mriyate va kadacin
nayam bhutva bhavita va na bhuyah
ajo nityah sasvato ‘yam purano
na hanyate hanyamane sarire
For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain. (BG 2.20)
Though the soul keeps on changing bodies, it is not necessary that one gets the human form, So when a child takes birth, it is indeed a miracle that out of 84 lakh forms the soul got a human form
I’m Writing Bravely for the Write Tribe Festival of Words – March 2019’
Today’s prompt ‘miracle’