Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Deliveries

He felt wretched as he walked up and down, caught between two in the throes of labour pain. His anxiety was not so much on account of the expectant mothers as what he hoped they would deliver. He muttered just one prayer repeatedly, "A boy for me, O Lord, and a girl for the cow."

A small farmer, his livelihood depended on the milk his cow gave. This was her third, and he wished for her to have an heir. She had been generous, and one born to her would be no less, he thought. The first two, disappointingly, had been bulls. Once they were weaned, they had to be... sold. His mind refused to pursue that thought.

His wife was also delivering for the third time. He hoped for an heir he could train in his profession and hopefully expand his business. The first two had been girls, daughters who would only be a burden he could not afford. He had given them away to the midwife, to do as she pleased. He had not seen them since. He flinched, his mind quickly focusing on the sounds from the shed and the room.

Finally, it was time. He looked up anxiously at the midwife, who quietly brought the child wrapped in thin cotton. "Lakshmi has honoured your house," she said with deliberate formality, knowing well that Lakshmi was not very welcome. He turned away, but not without giving her money to dispose Lakshmi off. She knew what she had to do.

He went to the shed and watched the bull emerge and dive straight for the udder.

He sighed, disappointed, dragging it away.

Maybe he had mixed up the genders when praying. Well, it was not totally worthless, the bull would fetch something.

As for the right offspring, he would just have to try again.

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