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The First 1,000 Days: A Crucial Time for Mothers and Children—And the World by Roger Thurow

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chapter eight

LOTTERY OF BIRTH

SHYAMKALI WAS BACK ON THE FLOOR, THIS TIME THE HARDENED mud-and-dung floor of her little house. She sat in the open doorway of the only room, facing an interior yard that was supposed to be the second room of the house but wasn’t yet finished. The walls were incomplete, as was the ceiling. Two dung fires laced with incense smoldered, one at the entrance to the house and one beside the door of the interior room. There, in a haze of smoke, I found Shyamkali the day after she gave birth, sitting cross-legged, looking smaller than ever. Anshika slept on a thatch mat behind her.

Upon returning from the clinic, mother and daughter had gone into confinement in accordance with an ancient purification ritual meant to protect ...

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