Child of Delight--a memoir

Child of Delight--a memoir

A Story by Ru Banerjee
"

A memoir on the birth of my second daughter Sharanya.

"

In this coarse life amidst stone, sand and soil,

I behold the softness of your misty sleep.

You float on the dreams of a silvery stream in Wonderland,

I kiss the beauty of your liquid sounds, your lifting smiles.

In whispers and living lullabies, I drink your life.

Carry your warm breath, fragrance and melodies

To radiant worlds that show your tranquil light.

 

I can’t remember where I lie down, with curled up limbs and fists. Is it the edge of a world where I am suddenly awakened by unknown voices of masked faces and gloved hands? What is this shivering abyss I surrender myself to? Whose are those fingers that touch and caress my face? I surrender to the touch of those hands, those shivering fingers, as the music of touch and endearment swirls across a new-found universe.

 

Welcome the life that survives the pleasures and the pain that lay within the dark confines of the womb. Welcome the life that rips wide open the once-closed canal with a burst of blood, hunger and uninhibited screams. Welcome my new life, when spring is born out of the frosted gray deadliness of winter. With the pulsating, rhythmic pain of the womb, while the door opens out, I cry, seeking release into a new being that will hereafter be nurtured by the infinite milky goodness of nature. In this new life, I will share fragments of a surrendered soul with my primeval family, my friends, my kith and kin, my love of this birth. I am the serenity of angels in the womb; I am the innocence and pain of childhood, the treasures of the heart that embraces and loves life on this planet, the hope that grows and flourishes through lives lived here.

 

The truth and beauty of the womb: a mother’s voice

 

"Just as a women's heart knows how and when to pump, her lungs to inhale, and her hand to pull back from fire, so she knows when and how to give birth."

Virginia Di Orio

 

October 2010, Omaha, Nebraska

 

Some days, long past the midnight hour, my limp, frail body looks at the clock ticking on the wall. I fail to recognize my body as I put on extra pounds every week; a relentless ocean bearing an anonymous name and identity surrounds me from inside. Each morning, the dim golden sun of our new home in Omaha, Nebraska carries my pregnant body to the blossoming plains where I discover myself--swelling, expanding, contracting with several frantic forms. My body, waxing and waning with every move, knows there is the fluttering of birds inside. Inside my overgrown belly, the tiny whispers of life float on the slumbering water that becomes a tepid sea with each swelling, expanding and contracting move. I see myself in stirring shadows as night approaches, blurring the horizon. Night after night, I have started waiting for the midnight as I awake in a cocoon of pain whispering to me the emotions of Mother Earth. Sitting still on the edge of darkness, I know the heaving ocean will come swishing and sweeping at the shore of my body. Groping in the darkness of the midnight room, alone with the midnight clock, I listen to the rocking and weeping and lullabies of the earth. I smell the autumn air as the day darkens more and more; I surrender my body and soul to the golden sunshine of another day. 


As I blink, look up at our bedroom,  I find myself lying on my back on the stained carpet, my throat closed up with the anticipation of a new life that forces me into a searing self-consciousness. The pillow is crumpled, as I have drifted into sleep, dreaming the midnight; while the dawn birthed a new life.

 

August 1977, Calcutta, India

 

What is that sharp, shrill cry, the protruding pain tearing the muscles of the pregnant belly? That first tender cry, wrapped up in the blood, mucus of the mother’s womb, breathing the fragrance of a new life? An exhausted, unconscious body is put to delirium in the surgery room with endless doses of morphine and the spell of general anesthesia. The body, scraped and pierced with vertical incisions, rests in shadowed sleep; while the new life with curled up limbs sucks her fingers in the nursery. For one last time, the surgeons look into the tainted labyrinth that they have sealed with gauges. Under the constant fierce gaze of flashlights, there is the helplessness of vague silence, while the baby sleeps in the nursery.

 

**********************************************************************

 

“What was it like”, I’ve asked my mother, “the very moment of my birth?”

“You mean what it was like in the surgery room when they first cleaned you up and handed you over to me?”

“Yes, how did you and Baba feel holding me together?”

“Well, nobody was really allowed to stay with me in the surgery room, dear. It’s still like that here, you know. Besides, I was under the constant threat of preeclampsia."

"And what was that? Was it a fatal condition?"

"Well, you know, almost! I was suffering from constant symptoms of hypertension that was giving me seizures. They gave me morphine and I slept like a dead dog. I hardly remember a thing.I remember the doctors speaking about the risks of your birth in hushed conversations, but that was before the surgery.”

“When was the first time you held me in your arms”?

“Well, that was at least four-five days later. It was still difficult to breathe, my incisions hurt like hell. I had so badly wanted to feed you, poor tiny bundle of delight. You weighed just over 4 pounds and every day back then was critical to both of us.”

“What was Baba doing? Did he see me then”?

“He did, may be everyday, during visiting hours. Your elder aunts (Boro Pishi, Boro Ma), young aunt (Mashi) came and saw you during visiting hours. Your elder aunt even suffered a dog-bite while on her way to the hospital, the day you were born. Her legs bled profusely." 

"And what were the visits like? Did they hold me, cuddle me, celebrate my birth?"

"The visitors were allowed only for a brief time, you know. My hospital stay had been extended as they said your condition was as critical as mine.”

 

 

 

Summer 2010: Omaha, Nebraska

 

Nestled in the haven of our cozy bedroom, I support my weary body against the warm, inviting chest of my man. On the verge of peaceful sleep, a sharp, shooting cry of pain awakens me, shallow at times, at times protruding my pregnant skin with pressure. I know these pains as I own them now. In and out of my dreams, they keep coming back to me as an apparition, striking against the eternal darkness inside the mother's womb. Bespattered with the life blood of my mother, wrapped in love and the surreal fragrance of a new life, that first tender cry was mine. The wild shrieks that scraped and pierced my mother's womb come back to me with the midnight chill, swimming the meandering river of my life in thirty-three years.

 

He who fathered the child

 

“A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, bankroll smaller, home happier, clothes shabbier, the past forgotten, and the future worth living for.”
Anonymous

 

August 1977: Calcutta, India

 

In the midnight hour of a heavily raining August day, the door of the operation theater slammed shut in front of the eyes of a bewildered young man. All these days, there was the gradual welling up of unknown pleasures and anticipation of a new life. The man surrendered himself to the barrenness of the empty waiting room, while the world that belonged to him was gradually sinking behind the closed surgery room. The body of the man was drifting into distance from the wife, who was not in the conscious state to lament or even think of her separation from her husband. For hours, he was bewildered, asked himself what he was doing there, while, behind the closed door, the knives, scalpels, forceps were intervening with their conjoined fate. Several hours and minutes later he got the answer.

 

It was a torrential downpour outside on the street; he could feel the rising wind sighing outside the window panes in the waiting room. In two separate worlds of being, the wife lay with tapes and gauges which sealed her bruises, while her man waited with bated breath for her to return to life. Waiting for the touch and caress of life, the baby slept on. When a nurse held in her arms the small warm scrap, he looked into the unopened eyes of the tiniest human form in skin and bones. 

"A premature baby, extremely little. She is very prone to developing baby jaundice. We are trying our best, though, to save her." The nurse sounded empathetic and motherly. 

"How's my wife now?" The lump in his throat was desperate, anxious.

"She is steadier now, but still critical. Do have faith in God."

Nobody there had a chance to hear him sigh. For a moment or two, he stood still, wishing he could fully know this fleeting moment of smelling his own blood. Without his touch, the baby missed the scarlet bliss of her primeval blood.

 

 

 

 

Omaha, Nebraska, February 2010

 

“Dear Ma, how have you been doing? Tried to call you so many times, but the phone seems to be ringing forever. I gave up and finally thought of writing to you. I would have written to you, anyway. There’s something I want you to know. Don’t tell Baba about it right now. He will get to know, sooner or later. I thought it would be better to write to you, rather than give you the news over the predictable long-distance phone call, I am pregnant again. It’s been eight weeks today and both of us just came back home after the preliminary ultrasound of the baby. Not that we had expected it so soon yet again. However, while today the home pregnancy test kit confirmed and the doctor’s speculum reconfirmed the news, I wanted to fly those uncertain miles to you with half a smile and half a spurn; to tell you how intensely I feel the birth pangs that await each new baby of mine, bringing me closer to you than both of us can ever think of.

 

Do you still remember the day you found out that you would be having me? Baba was on his perpetual long distance office trips those days, as you had told me. You had missed your periods for months, lost your appetite severely; shed silent tears in discomfort and dismay. Could you ever tell Baba, even later on, how suffocating it had been to take care of a house with a family of twenty people, each one temperamental, demanding, and above all, ignorant of how your gradually frail, fragile body was exhausting with the endless household errands? Could you ever tell him how, while carrying a fledgling life inside, your body and soul was craving to go to the clinic together with him, to count the heartbeats and feel the movements of your offspring of love?

 

Now that I am a woman, now that I’ve already given birth once, I know what it feels like when a tiny being covers and envelopes everything inside you, muffles you and your thoughts, and you are all alone with them. I know what it feels like when you desperately strive to see for once the door that gradually opens up inside. I know the silent agony thirty-three years back, when nobody who surrounded you cared enough to take you to regular pre-natal visits, to nurture the unassuming existence which was to be a part of their clan eventually. Today, while both of your voices carol over the miles and miles of distance between us, I sometimes go back to my baby days when cloth diapers hung wryly over the fragile clothesline along with a pile of the most ordinary, overlooked everyday clothes of everyone in the house. I go back to those days of my endless wailing sessions, when unable to suck some milk from your breasts, my tiny, feeble body sucked the milk bottle and sought one arm after another, while Baba looked with lifeless eyes of an outsider to the house, completely surrendering to his inability to partake in any act that involved my growing phases. Year after year, my birthday ceremonies, when food and arrangements were aplenty, brought along the same faces of our extended family. Those were the faces that were curious and ready for fun of the celebrations surrounding my birth; an event which could have terminated both our lives as you were struggling to stay in a world, cruel, lonely and vicious, surrounded by those same faces.

 

We would be parents to a baby again. I know it’s going to be the same old world consumed by the cycle of feeding, rocking, bouncing and burping, changing soiled diapers, washing baby clothes and baby bottles. It’s going to be the same journey that we, man and wife had first started two years back when we brought home a swaddled bundle along with the dancing winds of November. Tonight, as the sleeping moon regresses, I think of the birth of a new dawn in a late autumn day, while I succumb, surrender to Mother Nature in another event of childbirth. Thirty three years back, me, a weakling arriving on earth prematurely along with the sprinkling showers of August endured my fate that had denied your conjoined parental touch, embrace, lullabies and dreams woven together at the event of my birth. In a different world today, in a hospital room ten thousand miles from you, your grandchildren will seek indulgence in that very touch and embrace with the same insistent crying and baby smells which you and Baba failed to explore together.

 

I got a goody bag from the Doctor’s office today, full of parenting and childbirth magazines and a handful of prenatal multivitamins of various brand names from which I am told to choose one that best suits me within a couple of weeks. It’s going to be a planned Cesarean section this time, going by my past history of difficult labor. I so wish you would fly to me and be with me all this while, being the embalming mom to me as you’ve always been.

 

Hope all is well with you. I will try and call you back again in a couple of days.

Love and wishes,

Your daughter.

 

October 2010: Omaha, Nebraska

 

In the midnight chill of a late autumn night, the world is buried under the darkness and stillness of quiet sleep; while a young man hugs and comforts his wife surrounded by a group of doctors and their assistants in the surgery room. She lies still, motionless under the spell of spinal anesthesia. The maddening pain that was deepening inside gradually fades as she tries and looks up with weary eyes at the glaring flashlights, the unknown, solemn faces of masked doctors with gloved hands passing away the knives to each other, speaking to each other in hushed silence. It is a sweet, sacred night for both with the pale cold moon outside. She feels her man softly stroking her forehead as the doctors cover her with sterile drapes. 

"Five weeks earlier than the expected date, a preterm baby!" She bites her lips in anxiousness and anticipation, as her body continues to tremble. 

"Don't you worry. She'll be fine. After all, she's 'your' baby, and you are a warrior", the man cups her trembling hands in his own.

The icy stillness in her heart melts away to a feeling of strange happiness and salvation. She knows the doctors are making incisions into her abdomen, layer after layer, laying open her female body to bring forth her offspring, a tiny human body to the real light of the day. She knows she could never see for herself how her cherubic babe would have seized her way, bit by bit, through dark corners of her heaving womb, and the pushing, which her mommy friends have described to her, heroically. She knows when they both will take the baby back home, they will miss their own birthplaces, their own childhood days amidst the people they knew for ages. Together, they both know it’s their journey--the journey of discovering their offspring of love. It is he that has fathered and she that has conceived in her womb, and birthed their baby. As the doctors work on her abdomen, together the man and wife feel how good, how infinite it is to be alive, as the new life calls out, in hunger, eagerness and pain.  

© 2014 Ru Banerjee


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Reviews

You create such a beautiful ambience to life... the journey filled with richly woven experiences of love profoundly spoken. Even in the darkness of days you provoke a vivid imagery: "Groping in the darkness of the midnight room, alone with the midnight clock..." Masterfully done!

Posted 10 Years Ago


The story was amazing. I like the different in times and places. Life teaches us many things. Birth and death are the best and hardest lessons. A excellent story. Thank you.
Coyote

Posted 10 Years Ago


This was a beautiful and heartfelt write. I loved every second of it. I don't have children of my own, I'm unable to, but the magic and awe, the pain and sacrifice, the paradigm shift of childbirth is not lost on me.

There are a few things that you should clean up, some spelling and grammar things, but otherwise it's great.

Posted 10 Years Ago


then and now, i can't imagine the horrors you've experienced...we all have our own private hell, and you share yours with us...that takes guts. so thankful you are here with us, that i've got to know you through your writing, and you've the heart to share

Posted 10 Years Ago



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Added on December 18, 2010
Last Updated on October 14, 2014

Author

Ru Banerjee
Ru Banerjee

Omaha, NE



About
Not a phenomenal woman, rather an ordinary one...in love with the mountains, the azure skies, sandy beaches with gushing waves, with the cup of my morning coffee, and with my husband! Not in that orde.. more..

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