An open letter to the most important woman in my life. 

Hi Mom, 

I write this letter to you as you sit on the couch watching this really shitty Bollywood rom-com with me and dad, complaining why neither of us is paying attention to the movie. There’s light summer breeze blowing from the balcony right into the room right on your face- you look so beautiful- and my heart is swelling from the quiet happiness of these harmless familial jabs. But as you chide us for not being attentive enough, I laugh at the sheer thought of emotions this letter is going to make you feel.

I remember being 7 and telling you about the boy I used to fight with all day at school. I, then, remember being 10 and finding my afternoon cartoons more interesting than our conversations. I also remember being 13 and absolutely hating talking about myself because you just didn’t seem to understand what I was saying and then I remember being 16 and taking baby steps towards understanding you- and understanding us. 

If you ask anyone about what defined our relationship, they’d say our arguments. And honestly, they’d be right. If there has been one constant throughout the years as I’ve grown up, it is the way I’ve never stopped arguing with you. As an 8-year-old, it used to be about dal and playtimes. As a 19-year-old, it’s about my lazy routines and your constant nagging. despite how much they exasperate me at times, it is these arguments that have made me what I am today; they remind me I shouldn’t settle for less and speak my mind. There’s no way I would be able to do that without them. You know (you really do know) I suffer from a lack of ability to verbalize my emotions properly- I’d rather shut them down and never talk about it. An ability I’ve inherited from dad, it is these arguments with you that have gently made it easier for me to speak freely. 

I know it has been very hard to understand me when I was younger, and I am so sorry about that. I remember being 14 and so angry at you for not getting me- In hindsight, I realize I was growing and changing too fast to understand these changes myself, there’s absolutely no way you could’ve understood me. I also remember being so jealous- your conversations with my elder cousins were full of comfort and understanding- something I yearned to be a part of. But as I wasted my early adolescence being angry at you, I forgot somewhere I needed to understand you too. 

Funnily enough, for as much as you scold me and I defy you, you’ve never scolded me about the important things- you’ve always let me arrive at my own conclusion (after passing some disappointed looks, which, to be honest, are fair enough) and been there for me as I correct those. And it is always these moments that make my heart ache with the desire to make you and dad proud of me. Since I could never thank you verbally for raising me the way you do, it is only by my actions I can assure you that I really am grateful for how you’ve raised me. 

I see your glimpses in me more as I grow up- in the way I go all out for people I love like you, the way I deeply prioritize my emotions over everything else, the way I like everything organized a certain way (even if it is not the way you want) and the way my cheekbones sit on my face. I see your glimpses in me in all these little moments of my life and I can never truly think what to make of them. These days though, I’ve been feeling so much happier and prouder about them. 

Now, as I sit in front of you at 19 at this very moment, it seems you’ve moved on from the rom-com and are now describing your and dad’s marriage story. There’s nothing more adorable than listening to you talk about it and there’s nothing warmer than the knowledge that I finally get to be on the receiving end. Despite all my complaints, and our argument today morning, I know we understand each other so much better by now, and it feels great. 

Mom, thank you for being the person you are. Thank you for letting me be the person I am. And of course, all of that amazing food.


Your (very annoying) daughter

Featured Image Credits: Dhaka Tribune

Satviki Sanjay

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Three lakh women die from issues in pregnancy and childbirth. So why the ignorance and indifference towards this huge loss to a family?

World Health Organisation (WHO) defines maternal death as the death of a woman while pregnant, or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy. Maternal mortality rate is the number of registered maternal deaths due to birth or pregnancy related complications per 100,000 registered live births. In a world with almost 4 billion women, this issue is touching our lives in one way or the other, yet we do not talk about it as much as we should.

People are not equipped with the knowledge they need, especially in a country like India, to understand the gravity of the issue. This often begins and ends at being a “women’s issue”. Three lakh women, all over the world, die each year from problems in pregnancy and childbirth. About 700 women die each year in the United States alone, while 830 women die each day worldwide, as reported by WHO. The chances of dying during pregnancy, in some places, are 1 out of 15.
I can recall workshops being held at schools regarding menstruation, pregnancy and related ideas only attended by girls, while boys stood outside waiting to hear what this ‘forbidden fruit’ was. Firstly, why should this just be restricted to them when each and everyone is impacted by it?

Secondly, the knowledge provided to the students is inadequate.Several factors can lead to maternal mortality. The first being age, where women below the age of 20, and above 35 are at risk. Socio-economic status in the society is another factor. Where poor and illiterate individuals do not have access to education, healthcare, proper nutrition, guidance, and care are at risk of death during pregnancy. Women are also placed on a lower pedestal and viewed as subordinate, which can be a reason for not being given adequate support during their most important time. The societal pressure of bearing a male child also adds a strain on the emotional and mental health. Unplanned babies, poor sanitation and hygiene facilities,infections, and other factors can also increase the risk. Hypertensive disorders are responsible for 14% pregnancy related deaths, pulmonary embolism causes 3% of the deaths, and 10% women die due to direct complications. Yet, we are not aware of these statistics. To understand the core issues, the world needs to move beyond books like ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’.
The Special Bulletin of Maternal Mortality in India by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in June 2018 stated that among the southern states, the decline has been from 93 to 77 and 115 to 83 in others. As reported by the WHO, factors like access to quality healthcare, state subsidised financing, mitigation of social determinants, and positive engagement between public and private healthcare providers has helped India in reducing MMR by 77% in 2016.
The death of a mother is tragic, with a devastating effect on the families. Though the MMR has witnessed a decline, it is important to educate the masses of such prevalent issues. Proper check-ups during the pregnancy and a nutritious diet is a must for both the mother and the baby.

Feature Image Credits: Saubhagya Saxena for DU Beat.

Shivani Dadhwal

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