(100-word flash fiction)
The baby was a gruesome freak. Of nature. Born after years of prayer and pilgrimage. The nurses would bring him for a feed but she couldn’t bring herself to touch him, let alone take him to her breast.
The woman in the next bed sobbed through the night for her perfect, stillborn baby. The small room pressed down heavy and oppressive with the weight of two empty cradles.
Her depleted womb became a bloody battle ground. Disappointment warred with Despair until Guilt started to trounce them both.
Eventually, Self Pity won. Her room on the seventh floor had unbarred windows.
A couple of weeks before the festival of Diwali, Hindus celebrate the festival of Dusshera. Prior to that for nine days, Navratri (nine nights) is celebrated, culminating with Dusshera celebrated on the 10th day. In the states of Gujarat and Rajasthan, during Navratri, a dance form called Garba is performed during the nine nights. People dressed in colourful attire dance around a clay lantern with a light inside, called a Garbha Deep (“womb lamp”). This lantern represents life, and the foetus in the womb in particular. The dancers thus honor Durga, the feminine form of divinity.
The lit tent reminded me of the lit pot with lighted little lamps around it with the dancers performing during the night. Except that, for the protagonist, there was no light.