An article in the Bangalore Mirror caught my eyes this morning with the headlines “Pregnant, mother of 11, yet she refuses to hire baby sitter”. The article goes on to describe this paragon mother of all wonders, who is currently pregnant, home-schools her kids and drives them herself in a mini-bus. She and her husband take care of the kids, do not claim state benefits and have no time to think of how exhausted they are.
Yes, it is indeed a story of resilience and courage, but I wonder, would the thousands of rural Indian mothers who have eleven or more children ever make it to headlines in their own countries or internationally?
The mother in the article has the option of the National Health Service (NHS), the option of a baby sitter, of child support, of schooling for her kids and of buying her own mini-bus.
Zoom to the mothers that I am talking about and I see not just resilience and courage there, but an inhumane over-burdening of their capacities to cope with life. They have no health system to fall back on, no option of a decent schooling for their children, total unavailability of travel options (even in an emergency), no state benefits or state support even in the worst situations of starvation and death and with many of them continuing to work in fields as the lowest paid labourers.
Are these women not courageous? Instead we glorify a mother from the West, and forget those of our own, who die and become statistics Are they not worthy of being flashed by media as people to respect? They don’t just deserve our respect. They deserve our active support to reduce these unbearable burdens being placed on them. They die, not because they were not as courageous as the woman in the article. They die because no one cared enough, because they weren’t supported even on the basis of humanity during their child birthing process. They die as unsung heroes of this macabre tale of inequity in our country.