The month of December had just started. Winter monsoon was already at its peak bringing more rain to the plains. Flood damages and record low temperatures were the topics discussed by everyone in the southern states of India. Only a couple of weeks ago, one of the worst cyclones hit the entire state of Andhra Pradesh propagating its remnants in the form of frequent rains scattered all over Tamil Nadu.
"I was on my 39th week into my pregnancy with my first baby. I still remember the day vividly", Kamatchi recollected that momentous day from her past.
Kamatchi is 55 years old now. Age had painted extra wrinkles on her face, adding more beauty with maturity. A few black hairs on her head showed that she still have years to live and share her life stories with generations.
"It happened 36 years ago! I was only seventeen then", she traversed through time. "Only a year before did I enter into the wedlock. I wanted to complete my school education but my parents had other idea"
I paused and reflected on myself. I am Swati, Kamatchi's last daughter. When I was 16, going to school was a norm. To my generation, it was hard to believe that completing a school or going for graduate studies was a privilege once.
That is when I felt that my mother is a phenomenal women I have ever seen. She wanted to see her daughters graduate in higher studies, that which was denied to her when she was young.
"What other idea did your parents have mother?", I asked her. I was as curious to know about her first pregnancy as I was with my own.
"It was to align with the society's expectations of getting their daughter married as soon as she attained her puberty. Within a few months of my marriage, I became pregnant".
I recollected my prenatal appointments with an obstetrician. "Did you visit doctor regularly?", I asked her curiously.
"My dear, during my days, my mother and other elderly women in our locality were the obstetricians. Each day they would prepare some healthy food cooked with herbals and make me eat. This, they said, would take care of nausea and other pregnancy related complications".
"Did not you feel any complications?", I asked her curiously recounting my days of nausea.
"Not that I can remember, until the day my water broke, that is to say".
"What happened then?", I asked her.
"It was around 11.30 in the night when my water broke. There was continuous rain since the previous night. Most roads were filled with knee-deep water. As soon as my water broke, I started getting convulsions. I could not bear pain any longer. But then, we did not have a car or a two wheeler to be rushed to the hospital".
"How did you reach the hospital then?", anxiety engulfed me.
"My father made my mother and myself wait outside of our house, walked to the nearest railway station to enquire about the next train that would take us to town".
A stark contrast hit my mind hard. On the day when my water broke, I called my best friend who had earlier happily agreed to give us a ride to the hospital.
"My dad came home with his face lit brightly", she said, breaking my chain of thoughts. "Come soon. A train is about to arrive at the station. I had already bought the tickets". For the first time, I felt God is listening to my prayers.
Holding my father and mother's arms from both the sides, we walked to the nearest railway station, all the while my mouth chanting "Mariamma", begging her to be with me till I pull this through.
There was a power outage then because of heavy rain. By the time we walked through the muddy waters and hasted to the station, the train had arrived.
We got down at the town railway station and reached the government hospital by a bullock cart. My father sent for a nurse to attend me, who in turn had sent the news to the lady doctor on call. The doctor, who had just came from her home, injected chloroform, a full body anaesthesia.
"Were they monitoring your blood pressure and baby's heart beat?", I asked her innocently.
"Who knows? The next thing I know was that my daughter was born".