A Night To Remember

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By Jeevani Fernando

Heading to my flat. It will be a night to reminisce.

10 years ago this time, I was lying on a hospital bed, being prepared for a C-Section, in a cold and sterile surgical unit.  Waiting for my son to be taken out. I didnt know it was going to be a boy. I only knew it was going to be hard on the finances. Hard on my time with my daughter who was only 1.8 yrs. So many thoughts running in my head. A lone tear ran the side of my face. I couldn’t brush it off as my hands were strapped on the side. A woman could never feel more vulnerable than when on strapped down on a surgical table, with a swollen belly and a surgical blouse that doesn’t meet at the front. No pins allowed in the OT.  Cold and shivering and and not just because of the airconditioner. Wishing hard for the anesthesia mask to be placed quickly over my face so that I just go into oblivion. But the nursing staff was taking their time.  It was a teaching hospital and I didnt have to pay for the theatre. Only for the medicines. Care is expensive.

Then I heard a woman sobbing on the other side of the curtain. She sounded young and she was crying asking for a man, in Sinhalese. I mentally wiped away my own tears and fears and started talking to her. It was her first pregnancy. She was 23.  I said you should be happy and proud that you have come all this way with no problems. No pressure, no diabetes, baby’s reports were good and I could hear the radio monitoring the heartbeat of the baby strong and rythmic. Maybe she was scared of the procedure. I told her men are not allowed in these hospitals as the surgical rooms have more than one at a time.  What she told me next stopped me dead.  She said the baby’s father will never come, not to this room, he wasn’t even standing outside, he wasn’t even waiting anxiously at home. He just wasn’t anywhere near.  At 26 years, he was buried somewhere in the north of country. Died only knowing he was going to be a father.  He had joined the army only a year ago before their marriage. They thought it will end.  This was 1999.  Caught in crossfire. She hated Tamils.

Dear God, I thought. Here we are two women lying in the same room with not just a curtain separating us and our lives and the lives of our children to be born, but a world of man-made differences.  She went into labour.  I was weeping.  Not for myself anymore.  The nurse chided me. How little she knew of what was happening at that moment.  She went into panic and stopped pushing. They gave her sedatives and baby was delivered by forceps. Swarna gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, fathered by a soldier who, perhaps died in vain.  Life for a life. I saw the bloodstained baby being taken away to be cleaned up. I prayed God help her to forget the hatred and pain by just holding that baby.  I never saw Swarna again because she had a normal birth and in a different section.  I was the woman whose pelvic bones never budge, said doctor. Hence the slice and cut open procedure.

My son and me © Terryll Fernando

Although I was tempted to ask the anesthetist if she was Sinhalese, I was happy to be knocked out. That’s the good thing about C-Sections. There is a baby next to you when you wake up. Hopefully it is yours!!  He was taken out a little after midnight. The moment I saw his big coconut head, I thanked God for whoever discovered c-sections.  He was such a good baby. Slept soundly all morning while the other brats were screaming for nothing.  But he is always like that.  Happy to cuddle up to me. All day and night.  Even till he was seven.  A very affectionate and concerned fellow.  Never likes to see me cry or be alone.  He would assure me a hundred times, ‘don’t worry mummy, I am just here’.  Always warned me of pending danger.    He would check out the house before I could walk in. A dinasour could be behind every door. One day I opened my notebook in the boardroom while at a meeting with old cronies and a dinasour stared at me from my notebook and a caution ‘be careful mummy’ left by my son. Very timely.

He has promised not to marry but instead take care of me. But that was at 6 years. I said wait till you are 16 years and check again.  He is superman, he-man, batman, iron-man all rolled into one jumping off washing machines and table tops with an old cot sheet for a cape. Broke his heart when the sister quipped, ‘you look like a peacock’. Even Superman needs his mummy to rescue him at times like these.  To him, I am a star.

Every year my thoughts go back to Swarna. Wonder what her son must be like.  Maybe one day I could trace her from the hospital records.

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4 Responses to A Night To Remember

  1. A very moving story. Thanks for sharing. We should try to find Swarna. Hope to see more of your writing and best for the little big superman. You are blessed:-))

  2. An extremely poignant and heart warming story…

    Thank you for allowing us to read this…

  3. Munira Morshed Munni says:

    very nice jeevani, please write regularly.

  4. noor says:

    jeevani….i m crying…

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