Late one downpouring September night in the village of Lakhanpur in Chhattisgarh, Sarita felt something. Then again. "It's the baby!" she shouted to her husband, Bhanu. He ran to get the village health worker, and together they helped give birth to Bhanu and Sarita's first-born, a healthy little boy.
Only, there was no time to celebrate. Sarita was pregnant with twins, and the second baby would not emerge. The health worker phoned the doctor. "Get her across the river!", he said. "I'll have a jeep waiting on the other side to bring her in to the hospital."
With the heaviest rain in many years, the river Maniyari was full, fast and furious: about 60-80 metres wide, the water shoulder high. But there was no bridge across it, no other road. The only way to cross, from Sarita's village, was through the water.
It was now close to midnight, completely dark and still raining heavily. Fifteen villagers gathered. Sarita lay on a cot. They put her baby beside her. They picked up the cot and carried it the two km to the river.
When they reached the other side, they put Sarita in the jeep and it sped over bumpy roads, an hour-and-a-half to the hospital. Not long after, her second baby was born. Another healthy little boy.
But to reach the other side … Bhanu and the villagers walked into the water and strung themselves out. Through and across that fast-flowing river, in the darkness, in the rain, they passed the cot, with Sarita and her newborn and her yet-to-be-born lying on it, hand over hand over shoulder overhead.
And so for 2012, I wish you peace, happiness, the company of good friends and any number of small miracles.