March 24, 2011

Certainty Uncertainty

Before the faint light of early morning was spread, a stinking news had reached everywhere in the village – “Sabitri’s mummy has given birth to a daughter.” The news had stretched as far as water-taps, rest houses, paddy fields, teashop, among others.

“Poor Ram Prasad had a daughter again.”

“Poor Dhamalni Amai had again a granddaughter. She might die without seeing the face of a grandson.”

“Oh! Sabitri’s mummy has again given birth to a daughter.”

“I heard that they had gone to the doctor for checking and knew that the doctor had said they would have a son this time.”

The ripples of actions and reactions passed through the villagers like a rotating swing's movement. The pole of curiosity that had been buried in the village for past some days was uprooted forever now.

Two days have passed since the childbirth. The house is filled with an atmosphere of doubt and distraught. No one has entered into her room except Suntali, the housemaid. She has no hunger. Her body has been exhausted with a mental pain that emerged after the pain of childbirth. Mind has been blank. Nothing has entered into her stomach except the soup of caraway seeds (jwano). No one is there to ask her to eat. None of her neighboring sisters of the village came to her house to sympathize. Surely, they had come to console and encourage her until she gave birth to her third daughter. But this time, they might have thought that the words for sympathy and encouragement have mildewed being musty, which might only give indigestion rather as a remedy to the lactating mother. Therefore, no one had been there to give a dose of sympathy. She looked at her daughter's face at once. An innocent face of a child! The child was sleeping derelict of the worldly activities and its bonds. She saw her own image in that face; saw her own existence and the waves of ignorance surging on that innocent face, which had come in this world embracing a dark uncertain future.

Her heart has shattered with a pain of being born as a daughter. Her body has been burnt with the curse of being a daughter's mother. Her sky has darkened, the earth has sunk; everywhere is mire without a place to stand.

How happy her husband was until the last two days. Rays of happiness were surged on her husband's face and lips, for an upcoming future happiness. And he himself had taken her to the hospital though he had never taken her there until she gave birth to the third daughter.

That moment of joy, that wave of happiness had disappeared within a moment like sun rays disappear as they fall on the cold snow. In a nick of time, her whole world was transformed. She was just relieved from the pain of childbirth when the moment became like a tsunami to her. That tsunami had shattered her all faith, wishes, desires and future into pieces. She vowed to almost all the gods that she would offer sacrifices. She continued her fasting and even went to witch doctors wishing for a son.

After giving birth to the child, she summoned her energy and asked, “What is it, doctor?” She didn’t know what happened next. It is known that she became unconscious for a long time. When she came to consciousness, she became strong enough to accept the reality. She is alive still today with her willpower.

Before she had given birth to the daughter also, she had asked the doctor in her faint voice, “Doctor, what will it be – son or daughter?”

“We shouldn’t tell it to you, why do you want more when you have already three daughters?”

"They say I have to give birth to a son. Son is the member of a family but not the daughter, they say," she threw a long sigh.

“Your husband might have known that son and daughters are equal.”

It’s not that her husband did not understand it. “Without a son generation discontinues; daughters have to go to their husbands’ house. How can we live without a son? You are here, so I’m dependent on you. How can it be managed without a son?” Her traditional mother-in-law had thus brainwashed her husband. It’s not that her husband, who lives on a low salary as a government school teacher, had not tried to change his mother’s wishes and faith.

“Mother there’s not much difference between a son and a daughter nowadays. Even the members from my wife's maternal home, they begun to tell me not to die for a son.”

“I don't care what they say? Will not our generation discontinue without a son? If she can’t give birth to a son, there are others who can. If you have legs, shoes are found in myriads of numbers. Don't you know your fourth uncle brought the second wife when his first wife could not give birth to a son?”

“What are you saying this mother? How can I be a polygamist as a teacher? Is it good to lose the track being a leader?”

“Then you would surely give birth to a son this time, many others have sons after three daughters.” Her husband, who was brainwashed by his mother, had never denied her decision.

Hearing about her husband bringing the second wife, her heart had ached. She also agreed her husband and mother-in-law’s cruel decision as she had a personal freedom. When her three daughters were not properly taken care, birth of the fourth child had made her unable to see whether her daughters had got to eat or not.

A dead silence has been pervasive around the house. The family members talked and behaved with less energy and less hope, which matched with a dead peace after a big tsunami. Some of their heart has been filled with rage, while the others are imbued with hatred, negligence and frustration.

She was the cause of all these. This all would not have happened if she had not been in the house. She herself had invited that big misfortune. She thought of killing herself. Peace will surround the house in her absence. She wept, wept for a long time. She washed away her pain with her relentless tears as the earth washes its chest with an outpouring rain in the rainy month of Shrawan. She wept for being born as a daughter, she wept for her curse of giving birth to her daughter. She found meaningless to live. She thought of destroying herself along with the reason of the future predicament, her daughter. But, what will the society say? What's about the future of other daughters? With these thought in mind, she dabbled in the vast ocean. She was startled when her infant daughter woke up and cried. She was overwhelmed by an intense motherhood. Embracing tightly to her daughter, she wept again until she was purged. She felt as if her stomach was full. She looked satisfied. Then she started to breastfeed her daughter. She lost herself in the happier days of her life!

A daughter of a rich family, she had had no problems in her mother's house. She never had to think about what to eat and what to wear. She was the youngest in her two sisters and three brothers. Everyone loved her very much. When her eldest brother talked to his contractor friend about her marriage, her husband’s uncle had asked for her hand. There were some gives-and-takes in contract. In this network of exchange, her future fell on a stake like a bet in the gambling.

A caste suitable for her! A teacher by profession! The talks about his property were exaggeratedly polished like a false ornament shined with by coating. Thus, her life had been sacrificed in a huge bonefire of her brother’s contract business.

Her parents and brothers had let her marry as per a proper Hindu ritual such as by washing her feet. It was her obligation to live and struggle in the house in whatever condition. And she did it. She had tears many times. She many times drowned in the ocean of hunger, pains, hatred and frustration. She went through everything, which were bitter to her. There were no limitations of the things she suffered. She, however, did not explain her experiences with pain to her mother. She only harped on saying that she had delicious food and beautiful clothes in her husband's house. Thinking that to talk about her sufferings in her husband's house would only open the can of criticism from her sister-in-law, she hid her pain. She acted as if things were hunky-dory and she was living happily in her husband's house. She had been supported by her mother’s house and she did not refuse it.

The rope of her responsibilities had stretched as far as working inside the house, looking after the cattle and even working in the field if she was free. Neither rainy season nor the winter came for her. If something came, they were the days for planting paddy and harvesting them. Only the festivals Teej and Dashain would be the days of happiness to her. In these festivals, she could have new clothes and get some delicious food. More than the eating the good food, she would have got a chance to talk with her mother as much as she liked. Thus those were her happy days in her life, but after the birth of her fourth daughter now, it was certain that the door of her mother’s home has been closed against her.

The eldest daughter used to come into her room frequently. With the instruction that the woman in her postnatal period should not be touched, the other daughters were afraid of coming near to their mother. However, it was the eldest daughter, who would engage herself in a conversation with her mother in the room. She had understood and realized her mother’s pain, though a little. May be she was sensitive enough to look at each activity of her house. Therefore, she expressed before her mother what her child psychology had understood, “Mummy, are father and grandmother angry because we have this little sister? They do not even speak to us properly.”

Suppressing her pain of the burning fire of a funeral pyre, she said, “Yes, it's natural for anyone else to get angry if one does not give birth to a son. If there had been a son, he would be your brother. Later, you could have the reasons for coming to the mother’s home after your marriage. But what can I do when god did not spread hands for the son. I just realized that the thing called god is all false, sweetheart.”

“We also are like sons, mummy, can't we be called sons?”

“Yes, you are right honey, but this society? I had to face such a burden of children because of this society. The men from society do not treat daughters as human beings even if I am against of that. Every time, they come and start to talk about the son if we say we don't need sons. They speak sarcastically for not giving birth to a son, you know daughter…”

She did not know how much her daughter understood and how much she did not. She did not show any reactions on her mother's words. She again asked, “Where is your father, daughter…?”

“Father…he is with the priest who is seeing an almanac. He is matching the little sister's date of birth for her baptism.”

“And what else are they saying? Are they talking about the son?” She asked.

“They say that you will not give birth to any brother and grandmother is asking the father to marry again.”

She could not understand the last world properly. Her eyes were surrounded with black cloud and saw nothing. She felt like being unconscious due to dizziness, however, she managed herself. She felt that her chest hardened suddenly. She felt as if no spear would pierce through it. She wanted to cry, but tears did not well up from her eyes. She was frightened. She tortured herself with an extreme pain, but no teardrops fell. She was perplexed for what had happened this. She expected someone to come to console her but, to no avail. She stretched her eyes for a long time with the hope of somebody's arrival. Her eldest daughter had already gone out looking at her youngest sister’s face. She was absent-mindedly looked beyond the horizon.

Whether it was day or night, she did not care for it. Her past appeared before her, then present and then the future. Four daughters’ humble faces delineated with pain appeared in her eyes. She took a decision that she has to live whatever the condition is. She must struggle with the family and with the society. In a moment, she thought but realized that she could not do that. How shall a helpless woman struggle? How can she stand of her own? There are barriers, thorns, and windings and bindings everywhere. How can she cross the river where there is no support nor any means? She oscillated between the certainty and uncertainty. Is her death a solution to all the problems? After all, everyone should die one day, but she imagined that her four innocent daughters were begging for her life. They ask, “Mommy, what is our mistake, what is our crime?”

She dies for a moment but wakes up for the other moment. This dying and living continues. She hears her daughters calling her from a distance – “Mummy! Mummy!” Then she missed herself into a void.

Translated by :Ramchandra KC/Shankar Babu Acharya


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मलाई पछ्याउनेहरु

फेसबुक शुभेच्छुक

भिजिटर म्याप

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