Speaking Her Mind

NIRMALA PALSAMY

Lying on her back on a mud floor, Mallai looks nervous as a nurse bends down to examine her. After losing two children at their birth, the 27-year-old farmer's wife is frightened for the baby that is due soon. Nirmala Palsamy, the nurse who is visiting this makeshift clinic in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, is also worried. This fetus is in an incorrect position. "You know that you might need an operation, don't you?" she asks her patient. Mallai bursts into tears. Nirmala patiently explains that a caesarean surgery will help the baby. Then she makes a little...

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