It was in the middle of the woods.
The sun was setting.
Neither the Sun was seen at the sky nor were there any humans in close proximity.
What would the poor woman in labour pain do? “Yatheeeh..! Save me…” – she screamed gathering all her energy that tore her soul but there were none to listen to her painful cry within the audible extent of her voice.
A lightning pain twitched at the lower back region; the painful tightening began as though someone was sitting inside the hip and axed.
She threw the firewood on the ground with a thumping sound.
“The prediction of the old woman that the child birth would take a week or ten days seems to be wrong. This pain is not a false one; this is too much to bear and shreds my soul” – she thought within herself through the pain.
“Oh God save me and my child”
Now where could I go and lie down?
The land on which she stood was thorny; on the east - a parched river; on the west -Agamalai Mountains; on the north - a jungle of brush-wood; and on the south - a well. Three hundred feet away there was a guard’s hut which seemed three hundred miles long for her who was in labour pain.
Pressing her palms on the back of her hip, she tumbled and moved ahead through the thorny land, reached the hut and fell into it.
A very small hut it was that even a dwarf had to bend and crawl to enter the hut. It was a hut made with pea-tree stems that supported the roof made of coconut leaves. A worn-out sack was lying upon the dried stalks of millet that were spread on the ground; on both sides were two sacks full of second crop of grains extracted from the stubble; near the sacks two pumpkins were lying on both sides which seemed that a lactating mother was lying, hugging her child under her armpit. A dried bowl-shell of the bottle-guard hung at the centre of the hut, from the ceiling.
Screaming in pain, Karuvachi held her hips and slowly stretched herself upon the millet sack.
“Oh, God have you written in my fate that I have to deliver the baby all alone without anyone around me? Hmmm.. who could have been the midwife for the first born of the first mother, in this world? Has this Karuvachi’s life turned fateful?” – she brooded.
The contractions began; it was excruciating; she felt that rather she could die than to bear the pain. At that point of pain she also vowed like every other woman during delivery, to end her life.
“I hadn’t known what labour pain would feel like…. Yaaaathe..eh…eh…what would I do now?
If someone is here, then, I could comfortably lie on my back and they could attend to me. Now I am all alone; I am the full-term woman and the midwife too. If something goes wrong while lying down on my back would I be able to get up”?
Moaning to herself she pressed her hands on the ground, twisted her body on to one side and slowly got up. She rolled up the saree above her thighs and raised it above the hips. Gritting her teeth tightly she dragged the sack in front of her and stood on her knees; pressing her hand on the ground stretched her thighs as widely as she could. Then she bent down and tried to see below; blood was oozing down as though someone had poured a thick red substance.
Clouds almost stopped moving and night had settled down; wind blew with a hissing noise and it seemed that Adikesava - the divine snake of Lord VISHNU had climbed down upon the earth.
It seemed the rain had sent a communication through a lightning ray, the thunder to announce its arrival and rain began.
Upon the thatched roof, drizzles slashed creating a noisy rustle.
The contraction was powerful and she began to moan and push; then she pressed her hands strongly upon her thighs that were voluptuous like black ivories.
“Oh God.. what a delivery is all about? Is it your miracle of bringing the child out or simply the mother’s effort of pushing the child out?” – she thought wildly.
She held the dried bowl of bottle-guard tightly with all her strength that hung from the ceiling like a baby monkey that hugs its mother while it jumped from tree to tree.
Mmmm…mm..mmha… she moaned. Through her moans, in unbearable pain she uttered unrecognizable words; the pain increased which felt as though someone was inserting a needle between the bones and flesh and dragging it out mercilessly.
“Ayyooo..” she tightened her grip and pulled the dried bowl of bottle-guard; the rope was severed as she pulled, it fell on to the ground and rolled to a corner. At the same moment her placenta membrane ruptured.
Her bleeding had stopped and the amniotic fluids oozed began to ooze like porridge; seeing the oozing fluid, she became confident.
“God… you are great…. have you made this arrangement to help my child to gently slip out without any hurt? I wish to pray to you sincerely now but I can’t raise my hands.
Of course, if the membrane ruptured, it would help the baby to swim easily and come out. But it was a wrong notion that the pain would reduce because the rupture gives way to severe contractions and also the danger of risk for the mother. Many a times it was said that the woman in labour pain while crossing the critical stage of pain after the membrane rupture, would feel like jumping into a well and commit suicide, unable to bear the sternness of the pain.
The fetus rotated inside the ruptured amniotic fluid and it was natural for the fetus to find its way out from the womb.
With closed eyes, the fetus finds the way out of the womb to the outer world; whereas with open eyes, the humans err; and this is what the elders call as fate.
As the contractions became strong and frequent she moaned aloud. She held her breath trying to push hard, bit her lips and tongue to bear the pain and moaned deeply with bleeding lips.
The fetus completed its first round inside the womb and in one round it had moved and lowered its position. Her hips which bore the pain gave way and the pain descended on to her thighs; she screamed. In the sky the thunder also roared, outside the hut.
The fetus took its second round of travel in the mother’s womb and was on the ‘head first’ position; the contractions were more frequent and she felt deathly pain every few minutes; In her third stage of pushing phase, as she pressed her body more strongly the sack opened behind her back and the millet stalks peeped out.
The fetus now took the third round; it searched the gate of its home where it lived for ten months. It began to move its limbs; she prayed to all the Gods on whom she believed and thought – “will my baby be born… or will I be gone? If I am to be gone, let it be so but let my precious be alive to be born”.
The fetus was on its fourth round; it managed to move toward the right direction and gently began to slip in the amniotic fluid, fitted its head on the mother’s divine entrance and the ‘birth crowning’ happened.
As she swayed her hand in her efforts of pushing phase, a pumpkin near her head flew away to the corner of the hut.
“Oh dear baby…. lying at the doorstep of my life…. are you moving ahead to come out or you are moving out because I am pushing”? - her thoughts were crazy.
“There is nothing like a job shared by two. It is for the mother to push and the baby to move forward… easy… will be the delivery”… thoughts reeled in her head.
She recalled her mother Periyamooki’s emphatic words when long back when she fought with someone, which fluttered near her ears like butterflies.
In her first push, the baby refused move and stayed like a stone.
A strong second push she gave… she felt it moving further as if it was squeezed out.
“Yatheeeeeehhh! Seems it is coming… coming out… yeah ya yah…. It’s coming”!
She stretched her raised thighs widely as much as she could, pressed her palms behind her hips inhaled strongly, held it a while and gave a powerful third push. As she continued to push strongly with all her strength… the head came out her and the baby entered the world.
She slowly tried to come on to her knees, raised her head and bent forward to see between her thighs…. She could see the head of her baby slipping out through her fluid.
“Yeh… dear one… How thick is your hair? Wish I could plait your hair right now and adorn it with flowers.”
She gave yet another strong push… baby’s neck slipped out… but then, her hip and genitals pained severely. For the head and neck, the small opening was enough; but for the entire body, the open needs to be wider. Like a train cannot come through the opening in which a cuckoo could not, it was a strange occurrence; will it… will it come?
She was at the last stage of a herculean task; it was the hardest part of the delivery because the small opening would cause unbearable discomfort due to perineal pain.
Her vaginal pain was too much to bear and it shivered to bring out the baby completely.
The baby wanted to kick the womb and aimed to jump out of her.
Again she gave a strong push and the baby forcefully moved ahead; its shoulder slipped out and half the body emerged.
Outside, the drizzle turned into a heavy rain. The sound of the rain was heard as though someone was pouring tons of sand upon the hut.
Half the baby was outside of her and the other half still within. Dear God, how much time it would take for me to see my child’s face…? Not knowing what to do to bring out the child safely, she again changed her position to lie on her back, raised one the legs, swayed it, took a deep breath and pushed with all her strength.
That was it…. The baby came out fully. Connected to the umbilical it fell out gently facing the earth, slowly turned by itself and came on its back, upon the millet stalks.
“Yaaaathththeeeeey” – she screamed finally and sent her pain away with a final sigh. She then raised up a little to see her baby.
“Is my baby alive? Yeah… it is… it is… its limbs are moving.
Boy or a girl? Ah… a male child only…. The identity of a male child was there, like the black fish (Cyprindae). She gave a motherly touch to it and was overwhelmed.
Oh Kaliyatha! (Goddess Kali known as Goddess of Time, Creation, Destruction and Power) You took me on a journey to the gates of death… and gave my child in my hands as your present… To show my gratitude lamb sacrifice will be offered to you.
Though the child was out of her, they were still connected with the umbilical cord. Also the placenta had not come out her.
She coughed heavily giving pressure to the lower abdomen and the placenta got expelled.
My dear Son, you are lying on the round like an elephant yam. I am your only mother which is the universal truth but you will be my only son and that is my vow”.
In her pain, she was not aware that she had kept a sickle in her hip. She took it and severed the umbilical card; blood oozed; she knotted the cord; pushed aside the millet stalks on the round and created a pit; cleaned the excreta and buried it beneath the stalks; and finally she got up with a sweating body and sticking saree.
She picked up her child; rolled it safely in her bosom garment and tied on to her neck; and pushed aside the dried bowl of bottle-guard and pumpkin with her one leg.
She came out of the hut.
Then, she picked up the firewood that was lying wet in rain, bent and placed it on her head.
…And began to walk on the lone-path through the black babul woods.
The sky clapped its hands applauding her bravery.
The clouds sent a streak of lightning as their present to welcome the new born prince.