The Invincible Moonsheen
Part – 14
(Telugu Original “Venutiragani Vennela” by Dr K.Geeta)
English Translation: V.Vijaya Kumar
(The previous story briefed)
Sameera comes to meet Udayini, a friend of her mother in America who runs Sahaya to help women. Sameera feels very happy and develops a positive opinion of Udayini. Four months pregnant, Sameera narrates her troubles and her willingness to get a divorce, explaining the circumstances that led her to make that decision. Udayini wants Samira to listen to Tanmay’s story before making her own decision.
Tanmay, who met Shekhar at a wedding ceremony, falls in love with him, and later they get married with the blessings of their elders. The couple soon starts their new life in Vizag. Within six months of their marriage, Tanmay becomes pregnant and goes to her parents’ home for the delivery.
As soon as Tanmay got down from the auto-rickshaw, she felt completely exhausted. She let go of all the bags and baggage and went straight to her bedroom, falling onto the bed. When she woke up, she felt relieved and refreshed from the fatigue of the journey. Looking through the window, she saw plants filled with marigold flowers swinging happily, filling her with joy.
“Oh, once again, she felt happy to be in her own spacious room surrounded by green plants and trees. Very soon, she is going to experience an incredible journey in her life—a little baby with whom she has been whispering countless chats all these days, now coming into this real world.
That guy was very happy knowing that a male child would be born.
Jyoti broke into tears, reminding her mother that her grandmother was not fortunate enough to see her grandchild. She would have loved to see a male child!”
Tanmay thought, “Why is everyone so obsessed with having male children? But I love girl children. I was raised with great care and affection as an only child. Perhaps that is the reason.”
She asked her mother many times why she didn’t have any siblings, but her mother never answered, except with a smile.
Now she asked the same question again to her mother. Her mother came to her, patted her head, and said, “I don’t know, Nanna! I haven’t had any children after you were born. We are all daughters to your grandmother. She would have been overjoyed if her first grandchild was a boy.”
Although she had no specific reason, Tanmay wanted her first child to be a girl. When she learned that she was going to have a boy, she felt a bit disappointed. Perhaps Shekhar’s attitude had greatly disturbed her for some unknown reasons. During her nine months of pregnancy, she realized that a mother’s love is not determined by the gender of the child.
As she reached the end of her nine months, she became heavier. She eagerly awaited the delivery date, finding it difficult to pass the days. She had been deprived of sound sleep for many nights. The baby’s limbs poked inside when she turned on her side. These days, the movements were less frequent. A sudden jolt in her abdomen would abruptly wake her from sleep. The stretching of her stomach from the lungs to the waist made her feel breathless and sometimes anxious.
Tanmay wanted to go upstairs to enjoy the fresh air, so she slowly started climbing, holding onto the railing. She was surprised by her current condition. Going upstairs used to be a skipping one or two steps ahead at a time, but now her body had undergone a tremendous change. It felt like carrying a heavy stone around her stomach. As she climbed the stairs, she felt a dragging pain in her shoulders. She remembered Vanaja and the pleasant memories they used to share in the evenings.
“Forgive me, dear friend Vana, for not writing to you,” she said aloud.
She glanced at the neglected sanna jaji creeper, which had become unruly and bushy since her departure, almost blocking the exit. When she got closer to the creeper, she felt nauseated by its fragrance. Lately, she had developed an aversion to certain smells, to the point where she couldn’t tolerate the scent of flowers in someone’s hair even if they were far away.
She looked down, strolling around on the upstairs. The banana trees in the yard had grown tall in a row, with one of the trees hanging down, its big plantain resembling her. The rose plants were scattered here and there, while marigold plants spread everywhere, abundant with flowers. Kanakambaram plants looked lush and green.
Tanmay loved spending most of her time in the garden, surrounded by plants and flowers. She had grown plenty of kilograms of brinjal and nurtured different vegetable plants like beans and bottle gourds. She sighed in despair hwhen she remembered their small, poorly ventilated rooms in Vizag.
She thought, “If we had such a big house in Vizag, I would have grown plenty of flower and vegetable plants.” Then she said to herself, “Of course, it’s not possible now when I am unable to bend my body.”
The sky reflected an orange hue as the evening sunlight painted its canvas. The dust kicked up by herds of animals indicated their return home. Birds, after their day-long search, flew back to their nests with a lot of hubbub and noise. Tanmay settled into a comfortable chair, exclusively allocated for her, and enjoyed the surroundings in the fresh air.
The clouds appeared as ashy patches against the orange-colored sky. As if sensing her joy, the baby inside her abdomen stretched its limbs freely. Tanmay ran her palm over her stomach happily and whispered, “Oh, my sweetheart! Look there, see those deer… peacocks… come, baby, come… I will show you everything.”
As she climbed the stairs, Jyoti stopped midway and said, “Tanmay, come on, it’s already late. Why don’t you eat something?” Tanmay’s mouth watered as she looked at the plate of sweet roasted dosa. She laughed while looking at the plate, reminded of her recent experiences with her ever-changing food cravings during these nine months. Many cravings had disappeared, replaced by new ones. It was a completely transformed situation of likes and dislikes, including Shekhar!
She had previously developed an aversion to roasted food, but now the same roasted dishes were pleasing to her eyes and taste buds. She picked up a dosa from her plate and said, “Look, it’s not properly burnt.”
Jyoti teased, “Hey, don’t eat such charcoal… your son will be as dark as a tamarind seed!”
The next day, Devi called and said, “Tanmay! Shekhar called me and asked me to take you to a nearby doctor. Please come to us in one or two days. He doesn’t want your delivery to happen in such a remote rural village. See how much he loves you!”
Jyoti immediately commented, “Oh, what a strange thing! Haven’t we given birth to babies?”
Bhanumurthy interfered, saying, “Tanmay! Let’s do what they want from us, what’s the harm?”
Jyoti sarcastically replied while blowing her nose, “Isn’t it a problem to take care of our child for those three days, ensuring she follows a proper diet, if the delivery happens somewhere else? Okay, fine! Then ask your mother-in-law if she could send meals to the hospital three times a day! Why should I unnecessarily get involved? Whatever you and your father wish to do, just do it. Who am I to interfere?”
Tanmay felt undecided. She had been scared of the delivery from the beginning. She had her own fears about how the baby would come into the world. Although she was reluctant to have her delivery at her mother-in-law’s house, she had opted for better medical help there.
“Why couldn’t he make a call about it? If he truly loved you so much, why did he communicate everything through his mother like a petulant child?”
Suddenly, she felt sick when thoughts about Shekhar crossed her mind. Some things are only understood when they are spoken out bolhd. She sat leaning back against a wall. Jyoti watched her daughter in tears and said curtly, “What’s wrong with me? Did I say something wrong?”
Tanmay felt exhausted and couldn’t respond to her mother’s question. She remained quiet, bursting into tears.
Yes, there’s nothing wrong with a mother’s pain.
Even though she had come to her mother’s house a long time ago, that guy hadn’t made a single phone call all this time. But now he was very concerned about the delivery. Why this sudden attention? Was it the love he had for her or just because his son was about to be born? The more she thought about these things, the more nervous and pained she felt.
She always felt that he wasn’t happy staying at her mother’s house, yet he never made a phone call himself. The intermediary was always her mother. His mother constantly showed a vengeful attitude towards something that had happened during their marriage. Tanmay couldn’t understand why there was this vengeful behavior towards her family.
When she asked about it, he sarcastically countered, “On what grounds should I pour my love upon them? Do your father and mother shower me with wealth?”
Tanmay didn’t want to make her mother feel bad by revealing this. “It’s my bad luck, what else can I do?” She suffered silently within herself.
The next day, Tanmay proposed to her mother, “Shall we go to the hospital tomorrow or the day after tomorrow?”
Her mother replied, “Well, but we should go to your mother-in-law’s house before we see any doctor. Let’s fix it on an auspicious date.”
The expected date of delivery according to the Vizag doctor is still 15 days away.
The next morning, when Tanmay woke up, she felt something different. She experienced pain in her waist and noticed watery fluid dripping.
Bhanumurthy immediately rushed to find a taxi.
Throughout the journey, her mother anxiously asked how she was feeling.
When they stopped the auto-rickshaw in front of Shekhar’s house, Shekhar’s father and mother rushed into the vehicle.
In the hospital hall, there were several photos of gods and goddesses hanging on the walls. Inside the consulting room, there were numerous photos of Sai Baba. The doctor had vermilion kumkum on her forehead and horizontal white powder lines, seemingly a devotee of God.
The doctor, in a rough tone, asked Tanmay, “Give me your arm.”
Tanmay hesitated but extended her arm. “Why do such people become doctors?” she whispered to herself.
The doctor completed the tests in a couple of minutes and reassured, “Nothing to worry about. It may take one more week.” Hearing this, everyone felt relieved.
However, Tanmay still had doubts about the doctor’s judgment. The movements of the baby were very clear, with the head palpable downwards and the legs upwards. The baby’s movements had decreased significantly, and Tanmay could only feel limited stretches.
Tanmay remained uncertain and felt that the delivery was imminent, earlier than the doctor’s expectations. She thought about staying at her mother-in-law’s house, so she expressed her desire to her mother.
Devi smiled and said, “You’re right, and that’s what I had in mind too. The doctor is available even at night here if there is any emergency. Please leave Tanmay here, sister-in-law. If anything urgent comes up, I will call you.”
Jyoti and Bhanumurthy left Tanmay at her mother-in-law’s house and returned home.
The next day, Shekhar called and spoke to Tanmay, saying, “Hey, why don’t you listen to us every time like this? At least this time, you followed my mother’s words. Take care of my son as per my mother’s suggestions. By the way, I am leaving on a business trip this week to make some money! Perhaps I won’t be there during your delivery, but don’t worry, my parents will be there!”
Tanmay was filled with tears, and she choked as she said, “I am scared. Would you mind staying with me during my delivery?”
“Hey silly, don’t make a fuss. Giving birth is the responsibility of womenfolk. Look, you stupid fellow, men are not allowed in the delivery room. After delivery, people usually say they experience something like a renunciation feeling. It seems like it has already clung to you, watching you cry. My mother is there. Why do you feel fear? What can I do even if I come there? I will be in touch with my mother to know how things are going on regularly. Don’t worry.”
By the fourth day, the watery fluid that was dripping now gradually oozed continuously.
“The doctor already said there is no urgency for a week. Why do you feel unnecessary anxiety?” Devi said without looking at Tanmay’s sweaty face.
After waiting for one more hour, Tanmay said, “I am not feeling well, the baby is not moving, Attamma.”
Shekhar’s father suggested, “It’s better to take her to the hospital.”
When the doctor looked at Tanmay, she immediately said, “Join her immediately into the hospital. She has lost amniotic fluid profusely. She needs immediate delivery, otherwise the baby may face problems.”
Bhanumurthy and Jyoti rushed to the hospital as soon as they were informed.
Shekhar had already said he wouldn’t come. Tanmay thought that at least her mother should have accompanied her. It’s a very small hospital, with the delivery room behind the consulting room and three other rooms.
In the middle of the delivery room, there was a crescent-shaped table, and two poles on either side of the table had ropes. It looked like a slaughtering block, and her fear suddenly doubled. She kept her hands on her abdomen and prayed, “God, please save my child, even if it takes me!”
A nurse came with a syringe and administered shots after Tanmay lay on the table. The pain in her abdomen gradually escalated to convulsive pains. They tied her legs to her knees with the ropes and also tied her hands. The doctor asked her to forcefully push out the pressure.
As Tanmay followed the doctor’s instructions, she looked around for her mother.
Devi sat a bit away and watched her pain undeterred, with a smile on her face. “Don’t make a fuss, Tanmay. Just do what the doctor tells you, and it will be easier for you.”
Tanmay started yelling in pain, “Amma, Amma…”
A nurse called Jyoti, who was sitting outside.
Tanmay started crying while holding her mother’s hands and suddenly said, “Amma, I have never done anything wrong in my life, not listening to your words. Please don’t send me to him again.”
Meanwhile, Devi interfered and said seriously, “Hey, what did my son do to you? I can’t bear to see you suffer. I will sit outside, and your mother-in-law will be here with you.” Jyoti tried to break away from her.
Tanmay felt helpless and unaware of what was happening around her. Her eyes were reeling, and she was experiencing dragging pains in her legs. She also felt shuttering pains in her waist, and something viscous was flowing from her, making her uneasy. Despite following the doctor’s instructions, the baby was not coming out.
It had been almost four hours, yet there was no progress. The doctor started getting irritated, saying, “What kind of girl is she? She’s not pushing. It’s already midnight. It seems she wants us to stand here all night.”
Devi added, “It’s true. She is such a stupid person. My son always complains about it. That poor fellow suffers a lot.”
Tanmay felt even more distressed by these hurtful words, and her pain doubled. She prayed again, “God, take me with you and save my child!”
Soon, everyone left the delivery room. Within a short while, Tanmay felt alone. Tanmay called the midwife who helped her to stretch her legs freely. Tanmay felt a sense of relief for a while, and the pain in her stomach seemed somewhat less. She was completely exhausted, and there were no movements in her stomach.
She ran her hands over her stomach and whispered to her baby, “Oh, my little sweetheart, are you sleeping? Don’t worry, you have your mom. I will bring you out safely. Don’t be scared.”
“I must remove the cowardliness from my heart, and then I must bring my child safely,” she said to herself, trying to muster courage. The midwife listened to her words and went out to call the doctor. Tanmay could hear her own heartbeat, which sounded as loud as a wall clock.
“I must be courageous enough to bring this baby into the world by any means. If it requires an operation, I must tell the doctor that the baby’s life is important,” she thought.
Jyoti came inside crying and praying to all the gods and goddesses on the wall, asking them to save her child.
“What happened, Amma?” Tanmay asked.
She started crying even louder and said, “Amma, the doctor says we need to go to another doctor because they can’t handle the situation,” and she started crying in high pitch.
Tanmay felt uncomfortable with her mother’s distress and said, “I will talk to the doctor. Please stop crying, Amma.”
The doctor came in, followed by Devi.
“Doctor, please save my child. Even if it requires an operation, please do it,” Tanmay pleaded, folding her hands.
“It’s not about the operation; the baby’s head is stuck in the middle. Unless you push hard, the baby won’t come out easily without any danger. It’s all in your hands. It’s the only way,” the doctor explained.
Tanmay’s heartbeat suddenly quickened. She said, “I am not feeling any pain, doctor.” The doctor responded, “Okay then, I will give you another injection for the pain, but you must cooperate and push as hard as possible. This is Sai Baba’s Vibuthi. Open your mouth,” she put some vibhuti in her mouth and rubbed it on her stomach, then she said, “Everything will be alright, there’s God!” the doctor assured me.
Tanmay, looking at her baby struggling and wiggling to come out, prayed to God, “Oh God, save me, save me please!” She gathered all her strength to push the baby out, clenching her teeth.
She could hear the sounds of forceps and the vacuum machine used to help deliver the baby.
Aaya was praying to God, saying, “Yesaiah, Yesaiah!”
In the wee hours of the morning, a sudden gush of fluid broke open from her, followed by the cry of the baby. She was exhausted and lost in her consciousness for a while, detached from the emotions of happiness and pain.
The nurse brought her the baby and said, “Hey, this is your son!”
“My grandson!” Devi proudly declared as she took the baby from the midwife’s hands after the baby was cleaned.
They helped Tanmay stand up with her arms and led her to a nearby room where an iron cot was there, with poor ventilation. As she had been sutured 15 times, she felt discomfort while walking and couldn’t move easily.
Jyoti felt joyous watching her grandson, forgetting all about her daughter. She playfully muttered to the baby, “You made your mom cry, giving her troubles.”
Tanmay, looking at the baby in her mother’s lap, forgot about all her pains. She gestured to bring the baby to her bed.
The baby looked like a two-month-old child with milky white skin, considerably long and wide rounded small eyes, curling hair, and a small rounded mouth.
Tears welled up in Tanmay’s eyes, and she felt immense pleasure. She couldn’t find a more beautiful baby anywhere in the world. Her joy knew no bounds. Though she had been in constant contact with the baby, she felt an overwhelming desire to touch it at that moment. She gently ran her finger on the baby’s cheek and hugged it passionately, feeling a surge of emotions from within.
“Who is this little one? Who is this precious gift of motherhood bestowed upon me, coming from within me?” A smile formed on her lips.
“Shekhar! Even if you didn’t care about me, you should have been here to witness this smile,” she thought.
First and foremost, Tanmay felt triumphant in her life. “Perhaps she has won the battle of life. What could be a greater challenge in life than coming to the brink of death? I must not fear anything else in life.”
Now Tanmay understood one thing clearly: nobody would accompany in death, neither mother nor husband. After enduring all other troubles, nothing else mattered now!
Devi, who cheerfully returned to the hospital from home, remarked, “Hey, Nanna, your dad is coming!”
(Continued next month)
A post graduate in English literature and language and in Economics. A few of my translations were published. I translated the poems of Dr. Andesri , Denchanala, Ayila Saida Chary and Urmila from Telugu to English. I write articles and reviews to magazines and news papers. To the field of poetry I am rather a new face.