That fact that I am here today to write this post, or rather, that I am even walking the face of this earth, is actually a miracle. A miracle that occurred three generations ago, when a little lady persevered with her son’s life. This post is a tribute to that wonderful woman who was my great-grandmother.
In an age where having 10-12 kids was considered the norm, my maternal grandfather was an only child. And, not by choice either.
My great-grandparents had completed over 16 years of married life before their one and only son was born. Living in a little town called Thrissur in the royal state of Cochin, they had tried just about every treatment that was available to them in India in the early 20th century, somewhere in the 1920s.
It was around then that an acquaintance told them about a big hospital in Madirashi (later called Madras and today known as Chennai), where they had had success in treating infertility. My great-grandparents must have been pretty well off then (history, a.k.a my aunts from whom I learned this story, are not particularly clear on that point), for they decided to go to Madras to pursue the new treatment there.
Unlike today, in those days if a couple did not have children, it was thought that maybe God had cursed them and things were left at that.
No one actually travelled to get treatment at, God forbid, a big hospital. Hospitals were also considered to be the last resort for a person, and if one went there, then it was surely to breathe his last. That was the kind of reputation hospitals had in those days.
Well, they went, they saw, and they conquered. With the advanced medical treatments available there, my great-grandma finally became pregnant. But, the pregnancy was riddled with difficulties. Once again, my aunts were not clear on what the specific difficulties were, but the problems were bad enough to have to induce a birth in the seventh month of pregnancy.
Things only began to get worse from there. There was just a midwife to assist at the birth. The Indian ‘midwife’ of those days was a completely different concept from the modern-day midwife in the Western world. In India, a midwife is generally a much older woman who has assisted in several child births in primitive conditions. She usually knew some herbal medicines, which may or may not work (who was to question her in those days?).
Anyway, the baby was delivered, a tiny baby boy who was just about as large as the midwife’s palm. The baby could not suckle, and the chances of survival were closer to zero. Remember, this was the 1930s and there were no incubators or any high-tech devices in that little town in India. All that a person could do was pray and hope for the best.
Yet, my great-grandma wouldn’t despair. She had been waiting for a little one of her own for 16 long years, and she was going to keep this one, even if it killed her. The baby needed constant warmth – so she wrapped the babe in a woolen sock (he was small enough to fit into a sock!). Next, she filled an empty cardboard box with hay and made a mini-incubator. She then attended to the baby round-the-clock to the exclusion of all else.
And all her efforts actually paid off. Against all odds, the baby survived! He grew up to be an exceptional young man, got married and had seven kids of his own. My own dear mother was his fourth daughter. And his mother (my great-grandma) survived to see all her grandkids – five grand daughters and two grandsons – and even got to see two great grandsons.
Her words and techniques are still a byword among my Mom and her sisters, and even today, they fondly reminisce about how she was the first to teach them to write, by seating them at her knee and making them write out the alphabet with their fingers on sand. She was the one who taught them to appreciate music by having the radio tuned to the popular stations of the day.
Today, those seven kids have grown into a family of 36 – consisting of people in various walks of life – army officers, architects, designers, engineers and so on. And, all because of a single woman. Just imagine, if she had ever lost hope, none of them would be here today.
My great-grandma’s life is something that still inspires me to be a better person everyday – thinking of the possibilities that may be out there if I don’t lose hope – and still strive to do the right thing, no matter what the outcome. Hoping always for the best.
Have you ever had someone in your life who did the impossible and made life possible for all?
This is an original World Moms Blog post from our book-loving mom from India, Fire Crystals. You can also find Fire Crystals on her personal blog, Merry Musing.
Photo credits to the author.