Some days I just don’t want to be here; I just don’t want to be in Khajuraho. In about a month’s time I’ll be in Varanasi and I’m really looking forward to replacing my in-laws with some good Western friends, to not caring about not having a shower or washing my clothes everyday if I don’t want to, and to spending more quality time with Kishan.
Overwhelming sister’s visit
I don’t usually feel bad when we’re just the usual household, with homestay work to do. But right now, Kishan’s sister no. 4 is visiting, with her husband and their young son, and so it’s more ‘Indian-family’ time, endless cooking and chai-making and mother and sister asking everyone to “go for a shower” or “have some more food” or “sit down”, and playing with the boy, and for the men, especially the husband, doing nothing all day (‘time pass’, as they say, argh!)
One day of 2010 when I was living in a family guesthouse in Varanasi, a French man staying in the room next to mine remarked that our landlords just looked insane, doing nothing all day but cooking, eating, sleeping and sitting. I still regularly think about what he told me about Indian families, after all these years… And my nephew just skipping school all the time to play with his little cousin; he just never seems to go to school and study… Ah, it’s just really painful for me to see how poorly children’s minds are stimulated here. It’s all just about teasing kids and them screaming and doing stupid things, with that stupid TV on shouting all the time while no-one really watches it, nothing constructive, nothing creative. And I feel bad for not wanting to share much time with the family, but I just get so bored sitting on my bum doing nothing, most of the time not knowing what to say.
Another ultrasound in Chhatarpur
Anyway. Yesterday we went for another ultrasound, to check on the early diastolic notch and Baby’s blood flow. In the first place we had visited three weeks ago, the machine was still out of service! So we headed for the second one. It was a hospital that looked very dark and Indian, and where I would never, ever, ever, ever consider giving birth. But there was a colour doppler ultrasound machine, and something that caught my eye, high up on the wall of the waiting hall: a portrait of The Mother, spiritual collaborator of Sri Aurobindo and founder of Auroville. Somehow this made the place more interesting for me…
We hardly had to wait for the ultrasound, having come pretty early and me being a foreigner. The ultrasound room was as dark as the rest of the hospital, with an old man at the job, and a very old, fat computer screen hanging off the wall for me to see the scan. I asked for Kishan to be allowed in, and thankfully this time he wasn’t refused entry. There were other patients and other men in the room, so I really don’t know how I would have let them refuse him anyway. I hopped onto the bed after a pregnant Muslim woman and uncovered my tummy; Kishan was looking at the old man’s screen. He asked me why I was here; I said I wanted to check Baby’s blood flow. Everything was okay, but Old Man showed me that the umbilical cord was near Baby’s neck and so I had to come for another ultrasound in a month’s time!!! Gosh, they really want your money! I asked if the cord was around the neck; he said “Not yet but you have to be careful, and if it is you’ll need an operation.” I shrugged, knowing tangled umbilical cords are usually an excuse for more C-sections. Apart from that, blood flow is now fine, Baby weighs about 1.5kg, and s/he is still head down in the right position for birth. No, I will not have a C-section, so there!
“Save the girl child”
Apart from that, these posters were stuck on the wall of the hospital and it made me feel funny…