It was Friday. The morning was dry, pale blue was the sky . Mother was admitted to a hospital. An expecting mother, with a perfect dome-shaped belly, with a busy husband in the office, with what so called “orang-orang rumah” –the extended families and two house maids– who were ready to lend their hands for her.
The second child were about to be born. Girl or boy? The question was not so important. At home, an eleven months baby was crying. He was too young to know that mother had left him to deliver another baby. The second baby was unexpected, I guess. With 11 months interval from the first baby, I suspected that the second one was merely an unplanned birth (or shall I call it a sweet surprise for the young couple?).
The day before, mother was rejected. The nurse told her, “Come back tomorrow, it`s too early for you…” For those who understand terminologies in child-birth process, the word “early” is clear enough, isn’t it? “Too early” meaning that there will be hours before the baby was ready to push the womb and say hello to the World. “Too early” also refers to your weakness as a mother, who can`t handle the pain, the strikes –regular or irregular– against your hips, your back and the whole body. It is an emotional and stressful moment. “Go home… handle yourself with care, come back here, when the strikes are intensifying…in every 30 or 15 minutes…”
The hospital was called Rumah Bersalin Bahagia in Kampong Dadi, Makassar. It was closed several years later. It run out of business. I was in the second grade of elementary school when I found that it did not exist any longer. In Kampong Dadi there was a hospital for patients with mental disorders. People in Makassar referred to a cynical joke, “You better go to Kampong Dadi” for those who appear to act like crazy people or showing mental disorder symptoms. Once I had tried to search the hospital. No trace. When my life and things surrounding go weird, I sometimes remember the hospital and jumped into a clumsy conclusion: being born near a hospital for people with mental disorder had opened a possibility for me to inherit what so called “crazy or madness symptoms” in a very early stage of life. (my bad habit number 1: justifying things irrationally)
Mother was spending the rest of her day with unimaginable pains. Waiting for tomorrow, counting the beat of dreadful contractions inside her belly. She was dying, so was the baby. She went home carried a terrible news: the baby was tightly tied with her own placenta. Mother cried with pain for every move the baby did.
On the next morning, the day was fine, it was July 16, the dry season was climbing its peak. Mother was finally admitted into a decent room. She insisted that the best doctor in the hospital should be by her side, helping her to delivery the dying baby. Boy or girl? The question was replaced with: bad or good news: being born alive or dead?
The baby was born. Mother vividly listened the Friday preach from a mosque nearby while she had the labor. “I forgot what the preacher said, but it must be about good deeds…”
The Friday was fine. The preach was about to finish. The mother, with her simple thoughts in mind, as simple as her life itself, delivered a little creature with a complex mind and life: me.
Mother described the new born baby as: a dark-blue little creature, moving her hands and feet weakly, no first cry. Everyone in the delivery room, the mother, the doctor, the nurses — they all thought the baby was dying (or dead?). “They pushed your little breast, they shook your tender body… I cried for all possible reasons, having you or losing you…”
She gave her blue-dying newborn baby the most precious gift ever: to become a full time mother. Mother resigned from her job as a teacher in a local elementary school, a fifteen minute-walk from her house. “I have to raise you well, with all my best..” she recalled her promise. The gift that would not be properly paid back for years to come, in all of my life.
Years later, I tried to confirm my assumption about the unplanned birth. Mother poured her tears to answer me, “For every bless of life, why should I regret you? Planned or unplanned, why should you bother?”
(My bad habit number 2: planting so many weird assumptions and seeking confirmation at the wrong time, in the wrong place and sometimes with the wrong persons)
Today, after receiving a birthday call from the mother, I recalled my birth. I spent my morning to look back at the path that I have taken, the stages –unplanned or planned ones–: the dark-blue new-born baby, the dying small creature, a complex soul and mind, a woman, a wife, a mother with an endless journey…
The daughter of Friday, that was my nickname. That`s how the mother and orang-orang rumah called me. They believe that Friday is the day of stubborn people. (Why? Once I asked. That`s the belief, they said).
“You did not cry when you were born, but we had difficulties to stop your anger and tears whenever you were disappointed or if someone let you down… You know what, you had unstoppable tears ever!”
It was Friday. One fine Friday. The day when I was born. The daughter of Friday. Me.(*)