They whisper these days. And stop, the moment I walk into the room. That never happened when you were around.
Please don’t bother your Dad with questions about me– you said, as you hurriedly packed my bag. I was clueless why you would send me to Grandma’s on a weekday. But I hugged you excitedly.
Look, they are whispering again! Postpartum haemorrhage, complication, emergency, death. All fancy words that I understand. I brag to my friends. Which ten-year-old knows these words? Only the kid of a gynaecologist mother.
Death. I have watched you cry secretly in the kitchen a few times. When you lose your patient. Or when you know death is inevitable.
You told me death is not something to be afraid of. I trust you because Grandma says you often stood…stand between death and your patients. So, I know you are working overtime. To bring back the patient you lost last week-A newborn’s mother.
It is not like you have never been away. I have watched you attend night duties ever since I was a baby. You often skip lunch. But you are always home to feed me dinner. This is the first time you have been gone so long, and I have begun to worry. But I do not ask questions. I can see it is already difficult for Dad. He has teary eyes all the time.
Grandma is here, and so are a dozen other people. Had you been around, you would have worried about who would cook for so many guests. I smile picturing it. You running around trying to help Manju Maushi in the kitchen, praying the guests would leave soon. I doubt you are watching from far, waiting for them to leave. I suppress my smile because it seems inappropriate. People are all quiet here, hugging me tearfully all the time.
There is a new word they whisper- FIR. I don’t know what it means. But they say you left after this FIR was lodged. Lodged where? In the throat? Did you choke, Ma?
They are sobbing, we lost you. And then they say Dad found you in my room on the ceiling fan and rushed you to the hospital. So, I am confused now. If you were found, you are not lost!
Faith is in seeing not just the silver lining, but the silver sky behind the dark cloud, you said. The goons standing at our doorstep the night before you left looked like dark clouds to me.
This is just a passing phase, life is beautiful ahead, you said, Ma. Why don’t you just come back and teach me by example, like you always do?
I just hope you make it fast. Grandma ties my pigtails weirdly. And now there are a hundred teary people clad in white, sitting in front of your framed photo. Come soon, Ma, and get the newborn baby’s mother too. The baby must be missing her, just as I miss you.
Postpartum Haemorrhage: Bleeding in mother, after childbirth. It is a known complication and can result in death.
FIR: First Information Report (FIR) is a written document prepared by the police when they receive information about the commission of a cognizable offence.