Roadside Birth

Shakuntla stumbles down the rocky road
On weary feet beneath a blazing sun
And on her head she bears a heavy load
Her daily toil has only just begun

Construction gang for her the only choice
No education did Shakuntla get
For women in this village have no voice
She works to keep her family out of debt

The labor pains intensifying now
She throws the gamala load upon the ground
And pauses as she wipes her sweating brow
The workers hurry by without a sound

Squats alone within the thorn bush shaded
Spreads her legs to welcome baby five
Reaching for another sari faded
Other children barely now survive

She strokes the baby with her dusty hand
Old sari hammock spread within the bush
It holds the baby with the black charm band
She gives the tiny hammock one last push

While sighing, puts the gamala on her head
To join the coolie women on the run
And wonders if she’ll find the baby dead
When toil does cease at setting of the sun

To then return to cook the evening food
Now seven of them will share the meager lot
No hope of rescue for her family brood
For they’re the people destiny forgot

“© Copyright Ian Grice 2012, all rights reserved”

16 thoughts on “Roadside Birth

  1. Sweet Ian what a sad story…tears came to my eyes as I read. WP is giving me a hard time of late leaving comments. Hugs


  2. I remember a story almost the same as this, in our country, which is Philippines, a lot of people were living in poverty and they give birth under the road bridge which is also a place they’ve come to call home.

    Thank you for sharing this to us!! 😀


    1. I respect people who make a determined effort to find ways to lift themselves out of poverty and have met many people who’ve done so, but women seem to get short changed all around the world.


  3. Very upsetting to know that in general every British household throws away 25% of the food they bought! And I do not think it is better in the rest of Europe or America and Australia.
    Love, Steph


    1. There is a story told in India about a Mahatma visiting the west for the first time. I don’t vouch for its truithfulness but it does carry a sobering message. It is said reporters were interviewing him and asked what it was that amazed him most about the west. “It’s your garbage cans,” he is supposed to have replied. The reporters were surprised. “In India we eat food, in your country you throw it away!” It’s true much of the population of the world would be happy with the scraps we throw.


  4. Oh God, this is raw and gut-wrenching.

    Suddenly “our” challenges pale, our whinging we are ashamed.

    Thank you Ian, for brining this to the fore and so very well too. Looks like the sub-continent lives in your heart…

    God bless you, Eric


    1. Actually my heart is much wider than that. I have happy memories of our 30 years working and travelling in Asia. But the sub-continent is very much a part of those happy memories.


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