When your child is born.
You go through it all. Your insides tearing, just like the screams renting the air. Apart. Some so strong they die the moment they take birth. In the throat itself. Shrouded in the silence of decorum you were taught to maintain. You try behave. Cooperate, as you get killed to be born in the form of your child. You heed the doctors, the nurses order you. Sit-up and spread, now push a universe out. Exposed but all sense of shame lost somewhere in the crowd of pain. Earth-shattering. Every vessel in your body threatening to explode. Exploding. The only truth? You, what’s inside of you … and the struggle. And then it comes, looking blood and sweat but with your nose, or maybe eyes too. An out of body experience for the pain leaves you. Suddenly. Your body is yours again. Cleaned and cherubic, wrapped in pastels, your baby comes into your arms.
And then the world takes over. Hospital or home. Your child no longer yours. The oldest around occupies the throne, orders the next in line. Instructions from Stone Age. Some wise, most otherwise! Don’t count the toes thus, stop the camera, you fool! Black dots on foreheads, black thread on the ankle. Face North and recite a mantra. Sleep, don’t sleep. Don’t drink, why eat. Praising your child you evil mother? Pour kohl into those tiny eyes. Ugly. What do the doctors know? Honey, have you got honey? Bind them in wool in summers, as tightly in superstition too. Sense sits suspended. You can hear the commands and commandments. You can hear another scream rising. In a throat still swollen sore. Yet to recover from pain they too felt, once, when they delivered theirs. You wonder. Did they? Teeth gritted you curse, silently. Oh the shame! A newly made mother cursing. But you care not. You want to just be. With your child. After an eternity of wait.
But the world creates a circus around you. Of dos and don’ts. Of grey hair versus young curls. Of utter obsoleteness donning jeans or progress even in salwar-kameez. The contrasts and contradictions, the fake ‘Oh so sweets’ and the frivolous banter. Hurt. Your child reduced to a weight-at-birth. Curiously asked. As if the .3 was your doing. Your child an object, to be done with as they please. Puppet bodies, both of you. Neither to be claimed as yours. Taken away from you when they fancy fun. Or you feed, and the world watches. And you, reduced too to a wounded bag. Blood. Bones. Breasts. Bull shit. You. The mother. The epicentre of the tamasha of birth.
And then when death visits.
Its claws, long ones, you cannot escape. And neither the talons of those who come prey on your loss. You see the extra effort they touched up their eyes with. And time. To pick a pretty white for the occasion. You are crying inside, smiling in their face. Returning smile with a ‘What can we do?’ But longing. To be alone. Assess. Assimilate. Adapt to an Absence. They? To mark Attendance. To meet friends and family they come like white sheep. A flock. To sit back and study clothes and jewellery. Catch up on lost time. Gossip. Look forward to the meal. How oily! Tea anyone? You walk around empty, but offering full cups of tea. Sugar? I have diabetes you want to kill me?
The ‘body’ arrives from the morgue. The calculated tears, and cries begin the show. Set dialogues spelling RIP. Another scream rising in your throat. But this no time to rage, for you still grieve. Wait. Eagerly. For it will be over soon and they will leave. To live their lives, maybe stop by at a drive-in and pick something special for the night on their way homes. And when it comes, the moment called space, those lists of rituals and lists of rites need your time, your attention and your heart, a bit of which expired that morn. In details you are lost. In arrangements for the rites of passage you cannot find yourself. You cannot. Meticulous precision of everything and everyone around the ‘body’. Daughters don’t touch. Keep off. Who are you to say? But no time to say this. Bathe and make ready for the final exit. This hand first that foot next. All female eyes watch the naked ‘body’. Who puts the coconut first? Or the final shawl? Politics! You, keep the child in. No, get him out. The elders war, some curse the bad tea, one eats biscuits in peace looking for the pista. The priest does his thing. And you wait. For your time to be with what may be nothing but a memory, already. Smoky. But at least alone, for then you can grieve. Away from the tamasha that death brings inside your home. Your head. Around a ‘body’.
Is there no escape?
There is. Your voice. Through a swollen throat, or one saline with crying. And a palm up front saying ‘stop’. Show them the fatigue, and the guerilla fatigue. From under the hair matted with sweat. Post-delivery. Or post-death in the family. Say ‘shh’, politely. Then ‘Stop the show. Of meaninglessness.’
No other way out. Your voice they should not own.
So, I say Stop! To escape.
The only way I know.
So, I say Stop! To escape.
The only way I know.
[Written for WordPress Daily Prompts : 365 Writing Prompts aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. The prompt for today was - Escape! - Describe your ultimate escape plan (and tell us what you’re escaping from)]