Well understanding the fact that whether pandemic or not, whether we have vaccine or not, whether we have a proper treatment or not, whether we have infrastructure to meet the health needs of the patients or not, whether a parliamentarian dies or a common man dies of Covid 19, it doesn’t really matter and life as set by the dysfunctional system goes on.
In such a dysfunctional system this story further unravels the extent to which the harm done goes unchecked and uncorrected, this is a story of a couple named Mrs Prayer and Mr Vincent (couple’s names changed).
Vincent is already a father of a child born in grave risk (1.8Kg at birth) and with the child and wife at his mercy of possible earning or loss which depends on whether he wins in the IPL betting arranged in his small town called Chandragiri or not (2018).
Vincent borrows from relatives/ others to bet and losses around 4 to 5 lakhs accumulate forcing him to shift his place of living to another town across the border called the Robersonpet.
In Robersonpet he impregnates his wife and then aborts at 3 months of pregnancy, again putting his wife’s life in danger because PCPNDT law in the country doesn’t allow easy access to ultrasound and early diagnosis.
Because he is living a life of a fugitive by avoiding the people who ask him to return the money he lost in IPL betting, he cannot access family planning services either.
His neighbours treat him and his wife suspiciously because they don’t know the local language. Both are essentially educated only to the extent as to bet their life with whatever others play as games. So Vincent was making a living by driving an auto-rickshaw.
Meanwhile, Mrs Prayer or Pooja as they call in local language becomes pregnant again but doesn’t get any antenatal care whatsoever till some 5 months of pregnancy.
When some ASHA worker comes home and tells her to take some tablets because she either way didn’t know she is pregnant and now that it is advanced she wanted to continue the pregnancy and she continues to carry the pregnancy without a single ultrasound till its 3 weeks past her due date when they get alarmed about why the labour has not set in.
The ultrasound which was done after the time by which the baby should have been already born showed that the brain of baby was absent and turned into a papery balloon at the back of the neck and head and was diagnosed with a strange term called “hydranencephaly”.
Pooja’s prayers had finally materialised into a baby whose most of the brain was absent. She was delivered by cesarean because normal labour would have not allowed the enlarged balloon like swelling in the head to come out unless some destructive surgery was done.
In that way the baby without brain had saved its mother by not initiating the labour, because for initiating labour there needs a signal from baby’s brain which goes to the mother who then initiates the process of labour and delivery.
So this was scientifically a case of brainless next generation being created by a conjunction of IPL, lockdown of Covid 19, and dilapidated education and health system of the country.
But nonetheless it is saving its mother out of love which is its nature, but the mother and its society is as cruel as ever for some reasons unknown.
The fact that a simple tablet or dietary intervention preventing folic acid deficiency can prevent such brainless children in next generation is not known either to the mother and or her family or the society is a very evident fact in front of us in this case.
Further when the baby passed away, it was taken to a local religious gathering and a repeat prayer was offered the reason for which is not clear to the author, but what is learnt from this story is that this public health and maternal and child health failure was being twisted into a religious rally point to make people believe in God rather than science to prevent such happening in future.
This proves the point that religion and science are antithetical at least in the setting of this case and may be so in most other instances and viral pandemic has exposed this fact of life clear enough to the author to having inspired to write this article, but it is left to the people whether they will continue to live in such appalling conditions of lack of education and health.
The author also appeals to his family members to adopt science and scientific thoughts to enrich their lives rather than religious and other narrow partisan thoughts and processes which also have their own place but clearly not in scientific, research educational and health institutions and also in lives of poor people who are the most vulnerable.