Author : Trishla Bafna
She opened her eyes. She was having the same nightmare again, her whole body was drenched in sweat. The little joy in her arms was being snatched away in the darkness of her dreams. It was time to push it aside and get on with her life.
Her mother, Rupal, was already up and was making tea for her and her father. Her father, Mahesh, was busy reading the newspaper. Theirs was a typical Indian family where the mother was a homemaker, the father an employee of the bank just on the brink of retirement and the daughter working as an accountant in a big firm.
The daughter had decided to take up the responsibility of earning for the household after the father. Her parents were very proud and couldn’t stop bragging to the neighbours. The neighbours kept their opinions to themselves. They wanted her to get married but to a man who would accept her and everyone in the household as his own.
As such, boys were extremely hard to find. They had reached an impasse in the search for now. She was oddly relieved, she could not face marriage and all its implications right now.
Sitting in her office, she suddenly remembers the events which changed her whole life. She was not a fan of casual sex but a bad day at work had put her on the edge. The guy was some random stranger who was probably looking for a night of pleasure with no strings attached. Well she didn’t bother him with the result of the night, assuming he would, no doubt, be happier in his ignorance.
She had told only one person about her problem at that time, her mother. Now Rupal was as liberal minded as any other modern Indian and took all of it in a stride, keeping her berating and anguish to herself. Being a practical woman by nature she suggested what the best was for her daughter.
Her daughter had not in the first instance considered having a child to be a problem at all. Funny enough, her daughter’s heart had overflown with love and happiness on first hearing the news. Motherhood had seemed like a very happy prospect to her, but Rupal soon brought her to her senses and made her see the reality of having a child without marriage in the Indian society. She could never be able to live down the taunts and the complete cut off from the society it would bring. This was not a utopian world nor was it a movie. No one would marry her.
Rupal had taken her daughter to the hospital. Reminiscing in the office her daughter clearly recalled the stark white sheets, the numbing of her lower body and then after what seemed like an hour or a second, she could not decide which, she saw the doctor’s face looming before her. The operation had been successful. All she felt was vaguely empty and uneasy.
Now Rupal was always proud of the fact that her daughter valued her advice and listened to it. Her daughter had made just one exception in her life when she didn’t heed to Rupal’s advice. She gave birth to her daughter, Rupali , against her mother’s wishes and suffered the taunts of the society and the social cast off as Rupal had predicted. Surprisingly enough, the one way she could forget it all was by looking at her daughter’s face; the reason for it all in the first place.
Rupal’s daughter did fear society’s reaction. The burning shame and humiliation would have been more than she could bear. Floundering alone within the borders of the society with no support presented a very daunting picture and seemed to be unnecessary when other options were available.
But for her the pain of wrenching a part of herself away and making the conscious decision of killing a life within herself was greater than any fear she had. She chose to become an unmarried mother rather than remain a respectable daughter in society’s eyes. She was a victim of the society’s taunts but she escaped the barbs of guilt and shame in her own heart.
Are we really free to live and choose? You decide. When killing a child in the womb is respectable but having the baby isn’t, there sure is something wrong with the society and its invective, condemning lens that finds a fitful garb, to judge and not try to help or understand.
A stalwart presage for the interesting times we’re in would be to really let this story sink in. Who really is to blame?