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Oh, the physical pain she had suffered, not to mention, the trauma and the heartbreak of losing one child after the other. And for no fault of theirs, or hers.
She stared into oblivion as her daughter lay asleep on her lap. It was dusk, she had been on bed since afternoon, when she had begun to bleed all of a sudden. If it was only the cramps or the heavy discharge, she would have taken them all in her stride. But, the loss of someone she nurtured for weeks in her womb, shattered her completely.
Her husband brought her dinner, he gathered her as she broke down in his arms.
“It’s the second time in two years, I can’t handle it anymore.” She wept inconsolably.
“Shh…Rest my dear, apply for a long leave at the workplace. Don’t get back to work, home or office till you are completely fine. We’ll take care of everything.” He stroked her head gently.
Blessed was she, to have such an understanding husband and in-laws. She thanked the Almighty, not only were they caring but extremely broad minded as well.
“I don’t understand your fixation with a second child.” Her colleague and close confidant advised her at lunch one day, “I mean, if the doctor feels your body is too weak, then why subject yourself to more pain? My son is a single child, he’s turning out absolutely fine. Talk to your husband, birthing a sibling for your daughter at the cost of your health is too selfish.”
That night she spoke to her husband about not having children anymore.
He was quick to retort, “Your friend can very well say that, she has a son.”
Perhaps it was the stunned expression on her face, that he ended the conversation abruptly and retired for the night. As for her, she couldn’t sleep a wink, she wondered how her so-called well educated and modern spouse could harbour such outdated thoughts.
Post the incident, she somehow felt restless all the time, as her husband and his family had no qualms about her risking another pregnancy, just so her daughter could have a sibling, or rather, a brother? Were they actually as kind and emancipated as they portrayed themselves?
“When your doctor stated you were too weak and prescribed those medicines, didn’t you seek a second opinion? Your first pregnancy was absolutely fine, right?” Her friend was sceptical.
“Why would we? I had my first delivery there, the whole experience was safe and proper. Moreover, my in-laws place a lot of trust in that doctor, so we had no reason to consult someone else.” She reasoned.
“Maybe, for once, you could get a routine check up done at this hospital near our office. Just to confirm you would be strong enough to carry on with another pregnancy?” her friend counselled.
Somehow, she made up her mind to abide by her friend’s opinion. Though financially independent, she had seldom taken any important decisions by herself, or kept secrets from her husband. But this time, she felt different; she had to go ahead with this check up by herself. There was something amiss.
She read and reread her report, her reproductive health was perfectly alright and her body had always been capable of sustaining a pregnancy. Then how had she suffered two miscarriages in a row, especially with the doctor’s medication?
That evening, she reached home somewhat disoriented. She locked herself in her room and tried to process her thoughts clearly. Unlike the first time, the doctor had insisted upon more frequent ultrasound scans at really initial stages of both her unsuccessful pregnancies. He had stated her uterus was weak, so he had to check more often. Now that she recalled, he had picked the medicines from his own medical kit and handed them in a small brown envelope. The medicines weren’t purchased from a pharmacy, nor did she know what they were. And she very well remembered, just three days and hardly two tablets into the treatment, she had lost her babies.
But as she delved deeper, she pondered, why would the doctor do this? Surely, he wouldn’t risk his career and reputation for nothing. And like a flash, it all fell into place; her husband and in-laws being bent on her having a second child, ever insisting on consulting only their family doctor and often talking about having an heir to their family and business.
She felt numb, she couldn’t move, nor could she cry. She had been so blinded by their love and kindness, never for once had she imagined in her wildest dreams that she could be tricked, and how! She could have perhaps understood if it was only her in-laws who maintained such misogynist views, but her husband whom she had loved and trusted immensely had been an accomplice, had escorted her to the doctor every time and in fact, fed her the medicines.
Her little daughter came in to check on her, she embraced the child and no sooner had the little one fallen asleep, that she burst into tears. If only she could turn back time, if only she had been more cautious, if only she hadn’t placed all her faith…
She wouldn’t let them get away with it, she vowed as she wiped her tears. If she confronted them upfront, it would alert them and that could perhaps foil her plans or worse still, affect her daughter’s life. What could she do, in a manner that wouldn’t arouse suspicion?
The trick question had begun to seep in, however. It had become a trick situation. The longer she sat feeling sorry for herself, the less sorry she felt. It’s called a reverse something or the other. There isn’t time to get into that now.
She was awakened by her husband’s whisper, “I’ll take the kid to her room, poor thing, she sticks to you all the time as she’s alone. Why not you and me plan her brother tonight, don’t you think she needs someone to play with? It’s the right time of the month if I’m not wrong.”
“Oh really!” She scoffed to herself, “He maintained a record of my cycles too.”
“Not tonight darling.” She pouted. “Tomorrow, I’ll be dropping her off at my mother’s for a few days. It’ll be a change for her during vacations and we too could enjoy some quality time.”
He nodded and with nothing more to say, he turned around and fell asleep.
“How could I not notice, I’m just a boy producing machine for him.” She abhorred him every moment.
Early in the morning, she packed her certificates and some valuables and along with her child, she left her husband’s home for good. She had her job, her parents, her daughter and a clarity of her future. But there was something that couldn’t wait, she had to act upon it straightaway.
“City Doctor held for illegally testing gender of unborn foetus and aiding female feticide.”
“Patriarchy Raises It’s Evil Head Again: Affluent family held for illicitly testing the gender of foetus and duping the mother into aborting two unborn daughters.”
The newspaper headlines read the next day.
This story was shortlisted for our July 2021 Muse of the Month short fiction contest. Our juror for the month Jane De Suza says “Taut storyline and controlled use of language – a story that takes you along effortlessly. My suggestion is for the writer to explore the climax/ twist and exploit it further to deliver that punch.”
Image source: Virvoreanu-Laurentiu on pixabay
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Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views, individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times.
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Shows like Indian Matchmaking only further the argument that women must adhere to social norms without being allowed to follow their hearts.
When Netflix announced that Indian Matchmaking (2020-present) would be renewed for a second season, many of us hoped for the makers of the show to take all the criticism they faced seriously. That is definitely not the case because the show still continues to celebrate regressive patriarchal values.
Here are a few of the gendered notions that the show propagates.
A mediocre man can give himself a 9.5/10 and call himself ‘the world’s most eligible bachelor’, but an independent and successful woman must be happy with receiving just 60-70% of what she feels she deserves.
You do not have to be perfect. There’s no perfect daughter, perfect employee, perfect wife, or perfect mother. These are just labels created by society, for their convenience.
So here you are, just out of engineering college, having no clue why you pursued Electronics Engineering. Yes, I know, like many others your age, you too were persuaded by your parents to opt for engineering because it supposedly gets you a lucrative job.
Believe me, however strange this might sound, you’ll soon come to realize that a high paying job need not always make you happy. And there are a myriad courses and career options out there, you should definitely consider something that’ll make you look forward to go to work every day.