Lakshmi became a mother to 9 babies at once and it isn't easy to raise the bunch of them!
Lakshmi lives a few miles away from a small town, in an abandoned village. Her family was poor – just like all of their neighbors. The roof of their house required major repairs every year, or the downpour would flood the clay floor and soak the beds. Lakshmi's father would bring clay from the river and slap it upon the sticks that formed the roof structure. The walls were built out of cow chips that the family collected on the streets.
Lakshmi met her future husband when she was washing dishes in the river. His family had recently moved to the village. Their parents bonded as well, so they got married without pompous celebrations and dowries.
Lakshmi and her new husband made their home in an abandoned hut that was barely standing. They fixed it up a bit, just to shelter themselves from the wind and the rain. They packed the floor with clay, threw a few strawmats under their feet, made a bed for themselves, and this was the start of Lakshmi's married life. She doesn't blame her husband for their poverty: he worked night and day as a bicycle rickshaw driver. The job didn't pay so well since he drove locals to the nearest town, not tourists. He had a dream to purchase a gasoline-powered rickshaw so he could make twice as much money. His goal made him and Lakshmi scrimp and save even harder when they were already struggling.
Two years passed but they didn't have any children. Lakshmi could see how upsetting it was to her husband and his parents, and she was excited to become a mother herself. After speaking to the local women, she learned her best bet was the herb-wife who lived in another village nearby. She'd helped many women conceive before. When Lakshmi visited her, she handed her a bunch of herbs and gave her detailed instructions on taking them, which Lakshmi followed to no effect. The herb-wife said she had a generational curse on her and redirected Lakshmi to a wise-woman she knew.
The wise-woman told Lakshmi to lie down on the bench, then she soaped up her belly, poured some hot water on top, and started twisting it. Lakshmi couldn't wait for the two-hour session to end but she kept visiting her. Some weeks later, Lakshmi felt a genuine change within her. She was finally pregnant! Her family celebrated the news. After two more months, Lakshmi had difficulty walking, then she could barely even get up. It was obvious she was expecting more than one baby. She was really hoping for twins but she couldn't afford a proper medical examination at a hospital, so all she could do was guess. Everyone in the village was terrified of her enormous belly. When Lakshmi's father consulted the wise-woman who treated her, she told him she was carrying a monster inside of her. He and Lakshmi got into a huge fight over this so they hadn't talked to one another until recently. Lakshmi's husband had to lift her to change their bedsheets. She used a wheelchair to go outside.
When her labor started in the middle of the night, Lakshmi screamed so loudly even her parents heard her. They rushed to her house, wide-eyed with horror. A few minutes later, the local grandma showed up to assist the natural process. Less than an hour passed until Lakshmi's hut was filled with baby cries. All of the infants were squeaking in different voices. But Lakshmi was so disoriented she could only hear the old woman wailing. After the storm of pain subsided, she heard her mother counting the babies: nine! Lakshmi's husband was standing transfixed on the bed full of children, repeating: "Oh no! Not five sons at once!"
Lakshmi didn't have a lot of time to recover. The entire village brought her linen and fresh milk. She only had enough milk for the weakest infants: the four little girls only weighed two pounds each. She's very grateful to her family and neighbors who came to care for the babies during the day. Lakshmi and her husband would never manage on their own.
Lakshmi's children are almost one year old now. Some TV reporters have tried to film a story about them, but Lakshmi was so baffled at first that she wanted no publicity or popularity whatsoever. A bicycle rickshaw driver would never be able to feed so many mouths so Lakshmi's husband has to do seasonal work in China now. But their babies are precious to both of them. They aren't planning any more children though. Nine is more than enough!