A Boy is Born
A boy was born. A new life had joined the legacy of men. The continuation of the blood line was assured.
His father could have danced with joy at the news and dragged his friends, his brothers and his cousins in the merriment. Perhaps his mother would have liked the baby to rest in his grandfather’s arms and to see the old man touch the baby’s tiny fingers to trace any familiar imprint. Or maybe both the parents would have liked to hold the baby close and wait for his face to wrinkle into a smile. Maybe they would have searched for resemblances in the tiny form that was looking at them.
Is the baby’s dimple a little bit like his wife’s cheeks when he kisses her unawares? Or those eyes narrowed into an almost-frown, don’t they remind her of the way her husband devours the newspaper at night?
It could have been a possible narrative but that’s not how the story eventually unravelled.
There must have been some celebration and of that we have no doubt. The mother must have smiled with joy when the mid-wife showed her the living breathing crying form that emerged from her. One of the nurses must have uttered ‘congratulations’ and in an unguarded moment she must have been elated at what took place.
It’s clear the father was not present when it happened. Or if he was, it’s likely that for one whole minute or maybe two or three, he must have felt proud of having fathered a son. He must have looked in the mirror and felt confident that his lineage wouldn’t disappear. Maybe it was only later in the night when she phoned him to discuss the matter, celebration must have turned into panic.
How could they be proud of a bundle of shame? How could they hold this evidence of a love that shouldn’t have crossed a certain line in the first place? Who among their own kinsfolk will ever dote on the little child when he makes a fuss like babies usually do? Won’t he always be a cruel reminder of the parent’s folly and their loss of honour in the town where they lived?
So when they finally took the decision, she knew that this was the last time she would ever hold this baby like the mother she was to him. He bought her the pink blanket even though she asked him to choose a different colour. It would solve the problem, he told her and she was too tired to argue.
She gave him a bath and resisted the urge to feel involved when she saw that he enjoyed playing with water despite crying out loudly. Then she decided to feed him herself, and had to look away when she noticed the baby was feeling comfortable in her arms. She was too vulnerable at this stage and could change her decision at any moment but knew they had made an agreement and it was done for love. Love. Their love for each other. After all, that’s what mattered at this moment for her, and for him, too, she thought.
He didn’t want to upset her any further and decided to drive to the mosque himself. He told her that he’ll do so quietly and ensure that he won’t attract any attention. She asked him not to trouble her with details but just do what they agreed since she felt that any additional information will only crumble her resolve and show him how weak she really was. It was too late for debates and discussion, she told him, it is time for action. She didn’t agree but thought that was what he wanted to hear.
That night she couldn’t sleep and wondered what might have happened. She didn’t have to wait for too long because the very next day, the front page of every newspaper carried the story. It was no longer their dirty secret. It was out in the open now except that no one knew the names of the culprits. She soon found out that the news had hurt an entire nation and many wondered how someone in their midst could do such a thing.
She wasn’t sure whether to be glad at this news or just continue regretting what she should have – naturally – done in the first place
The only thought troubling her was that from now on, for her son, she would be the very definition of his idea of abandonment. And that hurt. Badly.