My mother was silent when
I told her about the pregnant woman
whose water broke while she was walking
behind her husband, barefoot, the end of her sari
clenched by her teeth, still walking.
She gave birth on the road, her blood with the sun
above, unable to look up, almost the end.
A baby girl in the open. A baby girl in lockdown.

The mother rested for an hour and a half,
then continued still. Her baby wrapped in a cloth,
with her husband now. With blood stains on her sari,
she walked ahead. And along with her were so many
women- faces covered with the loose end of their sari,
walking towards home, in a country
without borders, filled with terror.

Perhaps it is the shared pain my mother
felt with the woman of the road;
her body drooping, her labour unaccounted for –
both nameless bodies of existence, both silent,
locked inside, or walking towards a home –
far away from a place that would leave her alone.

(This poem is inspired from the accounts of several unnamed, pregnant, migrant women in India who gave birth on the road they were crossing by foot, ever since the nationwide lockdown began in April.)

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