Flower of Maryam
An excerpt from Wild Boar in the Cane Field.
Tara arrives at the midwife’s
“Are you going to show her the flower magic?” Her daughter smiled. This little girl knew how to win her mother back.
The midwife stroked her daughter’s hair and smiled at her. “Go get me the earthen bowl and fill it with water at the pump.”
The little girl rushed out, and her brother followed her. He seemed to have forgotten his original anger and wanted to join in on the fun of the magical flower. This interaction between a mother and her children was entirely different from what I had experienced or seen with Bhaggan or Jannat, but it pleased me.
I would admonish my children like this, and then I would hug them and make them laugh, like the two laughing at the hand pump outside.
I could see the children at play from where I lay. The little boy pumped energetically, and his sister stood close to the stream, barely able to hold the bowl as water splashed everywhere. Her brother, noticing it was too heavy for his sister to carry, took the bowl from her hands and brought it to the doorstep. He stood there, knowing not to cross over it into the room where I lay on the charpoy, and his mother took the bowl from him.
She placed the shriveled plant into the bowl. Nothing happened. The midwife sensed my impatience. “It takes time. Keep looking at the plant.”
I’m not sure how long it took, but I could hear Bhaggan’s heavy breathing in the background as each bud of the flower unfurled, spreading the twig into a fully blossomed plant. I might even have dozed off for a while, but I was awoken by the midwife explaining what had happened.
“You see. The flower will call to your body to open up, to release the new life. The pain will reduce and become a sweet pleasure when you see your baby for the first time.”
She touched my stomach again and announced,
“You see, even your baby has relaxed as you watched the flower bloom.”
Was it possible? I wondered. I had seen the buffalo give birth. One had nearly died because its baby got stuck, but I knew I was strong enough to bear that pain. And I trusted the midwife. She knew what she was doing. She had cared for so many other women through childbirth, even had her own beautiful children.
The midwife was now distracted by a fly that had just entered the room and landed on the rim of the bowl. “The weather gets slightly cooler and these darned flies reappear,” she complained. “Bring me the flyswatter,” she told her daughter, who now wanted to please her mother, so she ran to get it, causing a commotion, and the fly disappeared through the window.
It was nearly time for the late-afternoon prayer. Amman Bhaggan clearly wasn’t in any shape to walk home, so the midwife told her son to call the horse-cart owner from the house down the street from her. “Tell the driver to make sure his horse is calm. One of my clients and her mother need to return before dark, but he should drive carefully,” she instructed him.