Children of Numbers

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After nine unberable months;

months of drowning in agonizing uncertainty

like the toss of a coin;

months spent clutching my swollen belly and praying for a “y,”

I hear this fatal statement at last, as though it were my own death sentence:

“It’s a girl.”

A cold fear trickles down my spine,

and rests like bitter poison at the pit of my stomach,

where a small, fluttering heart had once grown.

My daughter, my flesh and blood, born into a society that doesn’t want her,

yet needs her all the same;

a society that turns baby boys and girls into investments and liabilities;

mere numbers, their humanity ignored without shame.

How could I deny these numbers set in stone?

A million rupees for dowry, leaving nothing to put food on the table,

and see my daughter grown.

Her sex is a dark cloud that will hang over her

throughout every day to come.

I know from experience.

How could I have blamed my own mother,

if out of loving concern,

She had laid me to eternal rest amongst debris and waste,

or perhaps released all of the motherly smothering that she would have expended throughout a lifetime

in one fatal minute,

or thrown me to the churning brine,

to be rocked to sleep by the waves,

and sunken back to nothingness.

Life, unwanted, is no better than peaceful death

where want is unknown.

How could my daughter, my flesh and blood,

now sleeping in my arms,

blame me for what I am about to do?

I clutch her tighter,

feeling my heart break beneath my swollen breasts,

soon to have no mouth to feed.

I fill my trembling hands with sharp grains of rice,

harvested from the Earth’s womb;

grains of rice that might have seen my daughter grown,

but instead bring about her doom.

How can you prevent the ones you love from being swept away;

swept away by society’s current,

when you have no sure footing of your own?

How can it be known,

that having her lungs filled with sharp bullets of grain,

Is a worse fate than living with the pain;

living in a society where she is number,

her humanity ignored without shame?

 

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