It was dark and she could barely see her hands in front of her face. The night sky was covered with a thick blanket of rain laden cloud hiding the stars beneath it. Occasional flashes of lightning cut across the sky followed by deep rumbling thunder.
The wind was howling, and several dogs were barking in the distance. An owl hooted nearby and the cicadas were chirping noisily. She paid no heed to these noises however, her attention was focused on another sound, one that made her blood curdle with fright. It was the shrill cry of a newborn piercing the night air.
She ran blindly into the thick bush on the right side of the path that led to the stream not feeling the pain of the blades as they lacerated the skin of her arms and face. She was unaware of the blood streaks mixed with sweat dripping down her face. One thought rang in her head.
She had to find the baby.
A streak of lightning flashed across the sky then, illuminating her path for a few seconds and she saw something white, a few meters from where she was standing. She rushed towards it.
‘That must be the baby’ she thought as relief surged through her ‘poor thing, not having anyone to care for it’
The white object turned out to be a cellophane nylon. Sadness washed over her and she stood staring at the nylon.
She heard the shrill cry again and her heart beat picked up speed and fresh panic seized her. She had to find the baby! Simultaneously, the rain started falling. It came in torrents and in a few seconds she was drenched and shivering.
She ran as much as her legs could carry her and with each step she took, the cry became louder. She was near.
She burst out into a clearing in the bush and stopped in her tracks. Everywhere was deadly quiet. The air was still and the ground was dry. There was a bundle at the foot of a tree 20 metres from where she stood. She moved towards it, feeling a sense of dread enveloping her.
She picked up the bundle and unwrapped it and let out a shriek of agony. The baby stared at her with glassy eyes and blood all over it. Her legs could no longer support her and she fell to her knees and clutched the child to her bosom and rocked to and fro.
‘Too late’ she thought with despair ‘I couldn’t save it. Poor child’
Her heart squeezed with pain so intense that she gasped. She could feel her heart turning to stone, and her body growing cold. She clutched the child close to her chest and sang to it. She was never letting go.
“My baby” she whispered, and the tears began to pour. Soon she was screaming and crying loudly. “Give me back my baby! Don’t take away my baby!”
Then there was blood everywhere, on the floor, on her dress and her hands. She couldn’t place where the blood was coming from. The baby moved in her hands and she looked down at it. It was covered in blood and its eyes were closed. Then it opened its eyes and smiled at her, a full toothless smile.
And woke up.
It took a few moments before the fog cleared and she realized that she had been dreaming. Her cloth was drenched in sweat and her eyes were wet with tears. A sound to her right drew her attention and she glanced to see her husband sitting up in bed his eyes holding hers and saw in them the emotions coursing through her.
Her eyes went to the cot next to the dressing table.
“My baby” she gasped, the realization of her loss crashing in on her all over again, and burst into tears.
Dedicated to all mothers grieving the loss of a child.