Ram Bahadur was forlorn. He didn’t know what to do. For a full minute he cursed God for bringing him into the world as a Dalit, then he cursed himself; the zamindar (land owner) he worked for was next in line. While he was looking around and muttering out his anguish and anxiety, a ray of hope appeared In his previously morose eyes as he saw Harke coming towards his house. Harke was an old friend of his. They had grown up together. Dark with a muscular build, Harke worked day and night at a small farm he had bought in the nearby village. Occasionally, he travelled to Ram Bahadur’s village to get some supplies for his farm and greet his friend.
The speed and anxiety with which Ram Bahadur ran up to Harke could easily surpass that of any Olympic marathon runner, or at least it seemed so at the moment. He grabbed Harkey by the shoulder , and act which induced a sharp state of surprise in Harke.
“What’s wrong with you?”, Harke asked.
“Maya is in labour. There’s no time to take her to the hospital. Do something.”, cried Ram Bahadur.
“You take care of her, while I get Shyame’s wife. She knows what to do in these situations. I’ll be back in ten minutes.”
Ram Bahadur went back to the shed and tried to calm his wife down.
“Everything will be alright. Harke has gone to get Shyame’s wife.”
However, his words did nothing to quell her screams. Seeing her in so much pain, Ram Bahadur could not help shedding a silent tear or two. He grabbed her hand and tried to convince her and himself that everything was going to be alright.
After what seemed like an eternity, Harke arrived with Shyamnath’s wife and two other ladies. They were experienced women who had dealt with dozens of childbirths. They asked Ram Bahadur and Harke to step out of the shed. The screams from inside the shed continued to grow in intensity and proportionally Ram Bahadur’s anxiety was augmented. Although the women had been in the shed for about 30 minutes, Ram Bahadur felt like he’d been waiting outside for a painful century.
Finally, the shrill sound of a crying child filled the surrounding. Ram Bahadur tried to peek through the door, but he could not. Five minutes later a woman came out with a woeful look on her face, and a baby in her arms.
“We were able to save your son, but Maya didn’t make it.”. she announced in a soft, dejected voice.
Ram Bahadur was filled with a consortium of emotions. He dashed into the shed only to see his wife’s lifeless body lying limp on the hay.
“No! Wake up Maya, you can’t leave me…”, he cried, shaking her unresponsive body. Harke was saying something to him but at that moment there was nothing he could see except her lifeless being, and nothing he could hear except his own sorrowful cries.
…to be continued…
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