Cut Up a Baby

Elizabeth and I stop next to the informal settlement to pick up Flora the ironing lady. The minute she gets in the car her distress and mortification lets loose. One of her neighbours, already five months pregnant, had conducted her own abortion in an unimaginable way. Not enough, she decided and just to make doubly sure the job was properly done, cut up the baby in pieces with a knife and placed it in a bucket to dispose of in an outside pit toilet. Before she could do so, she collapsed from loss of blood, the ambulance was called, the baby discovered and the community stunned by shock and disbelief.

There we are, three women in Africa who have pretty much heard it all, crying for a little soul we have never met and never will. The discussion that follows is a bitter one, full of anguish and pain, full of alternative solutions and criticisms. We try and deal with all too familiar similar situations for this is a harsh continent yet we are mothers and we are ourselves children of parents and we remember the pain of those who wish for nothing more than to be mothers themselves.

That night I battle on my knees. I demand answers and explanations from my Maker. I hurt for a little soul who cannot speak for itself and I want justice and I just cannot understand. I measure with my own measure when I tell Him it is unfair that children have to be the ones to suffer while it is the undeserving adults who should and I demand He explains the logic of this to me. I cry silently and I cry loud and I accuse, judge and sentence a society which is so rotten to the core that there is no respect left for Life.

Two days later my nephew calls, hardly capable of speech so excited he is. His wife is pregnant and by all standards in their eyes, they have just created a miracle. I cry again for this time the baby is a Flower, a Miracle of Life … and I think I am beginning to understand.

I understand that to experience the fullness of Life, we have to experience the unspeakable, the unimaginable. We have to understand that there is Justice as well as Injustice, that there is Fear that walks hand in hand with Trust. To speak of Happiness only is unreal for there should be enough Pain to make the happiness real. A world in which everything is Perfect is as unreal as a world in which fairies rule for there should be just enough Imperfections to shatter the illusions that we really do not have to do anything to deserve glory and salvation. A world which only shows it Light side and has no Shadows projects an impossible reality. A Cold Blooded killing by an ordinary woman is often the shock therapy we need to make us question our Compassion and the value we attach to the Life and Dignity of others.

Difficult as it may be, I have to acknowledge that the Misfortune of some is the Fortune of others. While I know this is how Life fits together, I also have to admit that I am not sure I could ever understand why some have to give their lives so others may continue theirs unhindered or even prosper. While I know absolutely that life Takes from some only to be able to Give to others, I cannot fully understand how it all works and maybe I am not really meant to. Maybe I am only meant to learn to Accept as much as I am to Question. Maybe I am only meant to live my life my way and maybe I am not expected to know how it all works quite so perfectly.

Sometimes we have to be reminded of the Sorrow in this life so we can Smile a bit more often, Give Thanks a bit more often, Appreciate a bit more often … and never, never, ever forget the value of Life. Peace and Understanding be with us all, today and always. By Annalie

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