I was pretty happy about the work I have been doing in community health, till a week ago. And then I met a woman, a tribal woman, in her early twenties, in a remote village in Andhra Pradesh, India.
She had just had a baby. About 20 days old, the little girl, now named Suman was nursing happily, sucking at her mother’s breast. The mother, barely out of her teens, was achingly beautiful. And sad. She had this lost look about her I found impossible to resist. I sat down beside her and in my broken telugu started asking her about her daughter.
“When was she born?” “25th July”. “Where did you give birth?” “Utnoor Governmnt Hospital”. “Oh that’s nice”, I said. I was happy that even tribal women are going to hospitals now, for deliveries. She looked at me with a blank expression, mildly bewildered at my reaction. “I wish I had had her at home”, she said. She looked at her baby and then at me. “Why?”. I got that bewildered look again. “Is it not better to have a child under the care of a doctor and a nurse, that to have it by yourself at home?” She asked me, “Have you ever seen how babies are born in that hospital?”. I had not. I had to find out.
She was beaten by the attending nurse for crying out during her labour. She was cursed, yelled at, while the doctor was away and never bothered to conduct a post delivery check up. “Did you not enjoy with your man when you were indulging in sex?” “Did it hurt then?” “Did you complain then?” “IT’S TIME TO PAY FOR IT NOW.” “You deserve to die, what the hell are you screaming for?”. She had to bear all these abuses hurled at her while she was in incredible pain, trembling at each contraction, and being hit by the attending nurse every time she pleaded for help.
I could not believe it. I went to that hospital that instant. There was no doctor or a nurse in sight. The labour room was filled with a sickening stench and there were about half a dozen women giving birth, alone. She was right. She should have had her daughter at her own home.
What are we doing? We dare to talk about achieving Millennium Development Goals when we do not have facilities to help a mother give birth in peace? We beat the mothers who cry for our help. And we humiliate them when they need us the most.
I still get goosebumps when I remember that moment. These superwomen have endured more than I can even begin to imagine. I want to kill that nurse and that doctor. I want to shake the entire system by its roots and question its very existence. India shining? Where? How? Do people sitting in air conditioned offices, churning out policies, even know what’s happening on the ground? Have all of them gone blind? Or chosen to turn a blind eye to what they believe, does not exist?
When will this end? National Rural Health Mission, with all its glorious promises and policies and scores of network hospitals has not even come close to reaching out to the ones who need it the most. They have failed me, they have failed motherhood, they have failed themselves.
How can we stop this charade from going on? I am still trying to figure out. Right now, I am just too angry. There has got to be a way.
I am indescribably proud of the woman i met. I hope I find my strength in her. I hope her daughter doesn’t have to go through the same hell. Enough is enough.
“Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel. Why? Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you’re a lot of other people: but the moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself. To be nobody-but-yourself-in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else-means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”—E. E. Cummings | 3 Statements on Poetry
She traveled to the end, not knowing what she would find She hoped and prayed to fall off the world and leave it all behind. You can’t rewind your life, nor change the path you took But staring into the abyss, she wasn’t ready to close the book.
Stuck at her world’s edge, she had no idea what to do Then she finally realized, she can find a world that’s new.
We were never infinite, and while everything in her worlds will end She just travels in a new direction, and starts her world all over again.
“It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing. It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive. It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain! I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it. I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human. It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithlessand therefore trustworthy. I want to know if you can see beauty even when it’s not pretty, every day,and if you can source your own life from its presence. I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!” It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children. It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back. It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.”
What’s particularly surprising is the virtually nonexistent privacy on Google+. If you have complained about a lack of privacy on Facebook before, you surely won’t like Google+, and if you freely voice your opinion that could get you in legal trouble, you may want to think twice about using Google+. The company’s general terms of service also apply to this new service, which would include these paragraphs:
By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.
You agree that this license includes a right for Google to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals with whom Google has relationships for the provision of syndicated services, and to use such Content in connection with the provision of those services.
You understand that Google, in performing the required technical steps to provide the Services to our users, may (a) transmit or distribute your Content over various public networks and in various media; and (b) make such changes to your Content as are necessary to conform and adapt that Content to the technical requirements of connecting networks, devices, services or media. You agree that this license shall permit Google to take these actions.
At this time, you can search for people on Google+ without having access to the network. The search result will reveal their profile, including the profile picture, and there is no way to block that information to outsiders at this time, unless you remove that picture. Google+ goes a step further, of course:
Posts and other content shared by or with you – such as photos of you – may be visible on your profile to those with whom that content has been shared. You can use the profile editor to see how your profile appears to particular individuals.
The Profile Editor as well as a few privacy settings provide limited tools to affect the display of your page and the way it appears to others, but a quick stroll around people networks reveals that very few content streams are blocked at this time to anyone. Photo albums, email addresses, and names are wide open simply because posted information is shared with the last defined set of people whom you shared some information with. If you chose to share a post with anyone, then the following posts will also be shared with anyone (unless you remember to change this setting). Once posted, this setting cannot be shared anymore, and the only way to get rid of the post and its public exposure is to delete it. By that time, however, it may already have been indexed and at least cached by Google’s search engine. In following posts, you will actively have to change the setting — which requires only one click, but we all know how negligent we can be when posting content to a social-network stream. It is in our nature that our fingers are occasionally faster than our brain.
The privacy settings should be your first stop after signing up for Google+, as they enable you to lock down the visibility of posted content, such as the visibility of your network, but there are countless loopholes that create a wonderland for privacy intrusions, possibly ID theft and especially spammers. We found it somewhat funny that Google would suggest that Google+ users should use alternative names on their network to avoid spam. In all seriousness, that can only be a joke: Why would you use an alternative name or even a nickname? Isn’t the purpose of these networks that our friends, colleagues, and family members can find us?
She wrote him devotions Clearly stated promises Through insane ramblings That she penned randomly It wasn’t as though each piece Stated in words “This is a promise from me” But she was clearly devoted Just by virtue of the fact That for every five poems she wrote At least three were inspired by him She loved him You could see it in her words Her usual harshness softened These were not love poems These were declarations of devotion Clearly stated promises And unasked for sweetness That may not have been noticed But that she still gave freely Because she loved him
the world was already made before we, nothing in its construct and firmaments its systems and ideologies, its suggested pains, poisons, calculated age, assumed importance, or even its inevitable entropy should shackle guilt upon us,
“Why is the word yes so brief?
It should be
so that you could not decide in an instant to say it,
so that upon reflection you could stop
in the middle of saying it.”—Vera Pavlova, If There Is Something to Desire 9, 17, 18.
“… this is freedom. This is the force of faith. Nobody gets
what they want. Never again are you the same. The longing
is to be pure. What you get is to be changed. More and more by
each glistening minute, through which infinity threads itself,
also oblivion, of course, the aftershocks of something
at sea. Here, hands full of sand, letting it sift through
in the wind, I look in and say take this, this is
what I have saved, take this, hurry. And if I listen
now? Listen, I was not saying anything. It was only
something I did. I could not choose words. I am free to go.
I cannot of course come back. Not to this. Never.
It is a ghost posed on my lips. Here: never.”—Jorie Graham, from “Prayer”
“Go, little book, and wish to all
Flowers in the garden, meat in the hall,
A bin of wine, a spice of wit,
A house with lawns enclosing it,
A living river by the door,
A nightingale in the sycamore!”—Robert Louis Stevenson, Envoy.
It’s a cold bottle Stealing the kinetic energy Of innocent bystanders, Unknowing water vapor. It’s taking the chaos of a gas and forcing it to conform into A more ordered state of matter As entropy is decreased.
I wish I knew what quality drove people to write the books, poems, music and so on that I really admire. I was never quite sure what Yeats’s poem “The Collar-Bone of a Hare” meant, but after reading Seamus Heaney’s interpretation I think it has something to say on the matter. Yeats wrote:
“Money, once again; all is money. All human relationships must be purchased with money. If you have no money, men won’t care for you, women won’t love you; won’t, that is, care for you or love you the last little bit that matters. And how right they are, after all! For, moneyless, you are unlovable. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels. But then, if I haven’t money, I DON’T speak with the tongues of men and of angels.”—George Orwell - Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936)
“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”—John Lennon