Sunday, May 1, 2011

Letter from an unborn daughter to her ‘Amma’

My dearest Amma
I wanted to tell you I love you so much. You kept me safe from everyone in the world in your warm womb and took care of me. My earliest memory is that of your sweet melodious voice. I don’t think you knew I was in your womb then, but I could hear you sing the sweetest ‘Keertana’, although through all the liquid and tissues, your voice seemed a little warbled. But still it soothed me and made me happy to be a part of you and the music of your life. I knew you were happy, as the womb that was my home was bathed in a lovely pink light and to me it felt like little bells were tolling everywhere.
The next time, I heard that sweet voice was when you realized my presence inside of you. There seemed to be a lot of turbulence also inside as I could feel my little home go up and down. It was not until I heard, Appa’s voice, stern and concerned, asking you to stop jumping that I realised with a smile what my dear Amma was doing. With a start, I realised that my home was spinning around now and I heard, your tinkling laughter, asking Appa to set you down. I heard the two of you make your plans all night long. You wanted a girl and I was so glad that I would make your wish come true. I danced around in my home, dreaming of all the things we would do together. I had made up my still unformed mind that you would teach me how to sing as sweetly as you and together we would make some truly wonderful music. I thought of all the things we would do together. I knew we would be the best of friends and I would become your confidante. I felt this strong bond which I knew defied this lifetime.
But, the pink light dimmed when I heard Appa say, his family had a tradition of begetting sons as the first born. It dimmed even further and the water around me got murky when he said he did not expect any less from you. I heard your heart skip a beat but darkness descended onto my world as you fell asleep, worried and depressed. I promised myself, that I will be better than any son Appa would have. I would study hard and be loving and take care of the two of you in your old age. Then Appa would be happy that he had a daughter. The next day, I heard ‘Paati’ tell you to take care of her grandson in your womb well and I never heard your tingling laughter after that. Why did you stop laughing Amma? I wish I knew how to become a boy. I would have done anything to turn into one in your womb if it would bring the laughter back to your life and the light back into mine.
But even then, you were the best mother anyone could get. You woke up at the crack of dawn to cook and saw Appa off to his office. You completed all the household chores yourself, in spite of your delicate condition. You took time out for your music and yet, ensured that I got the best nutrition possible. You somehow seemed to know the foods I liked and the ones I didn’t. Well at least I made sure you knew what I didn’t like by making you feel nauseous every time you ate spices or the chutneys you loved so much. My loving Amma. You stopped having pickles and chutneys for me and quietly dreamt of the great times we would have. I was amazed to look into your dreams and see a mirror reflection of my dreams in them. You had found solace in the fact that when I would be born, I would bring so much joy to everyone that it would not matter if I was a boy or a girl. This helped soothe me and brought some of the glow back in my home
But, what is this Amma. Why is everything getting murkier and darker? I am not able to see clearly any more. I thought, today of all days the pink glow would be back in all its brightness and grandeur. Today was the first time Appa and Paati accompanied you to the doctor. You seemed happy and I felt a hint of you laughter return. Although, I hated these visits to the doctor, the pricking and prodding and especially the sound and grey rays that invaded my space when they moved that rubber ball like thing over your tummy. I felt your loneliness, at having to do all this by yourself. But, today, you were not alone. Appa was there, holding your hand and I could hear the music in your heart beat at this. I could see myself on what the nurse called the ultra-something machine. It was my first picture I guess and I was mystified at how odd I looked through your eyes. I was just a blob of various dots and the nurse pointed out to different shapes as my legs and my hands but I could not make anything out.
My home was filled with a profusion of pink when I heard your laughter after so long on seeing my picture. I was so glad at hearing that much awaited sound and felt like dancing around. But then the light dimmed when I heard Appa ask the nurse if she could tell whether I was a boy or a girl. Before the nurse could say anything, I heard your frantic voice chipping in. “Isn’t it illegal to tell expecting parents the sex of their child in India. We would not want Nurse to do anything against the law.” I just heard Appa murmur something and walk out of the room with the nurse. I heard your heart beat go up but then you saw my picture again and seemed to settle down a little. But after that, this darkness seems to be descending Amma. What is happening? Why is my sight going away? The last thing I remember is Appa walking back into the room with the nurse and saying it is a girl and there was nothing to worry about. It would be taken care of. I felt your terror as you repeatedly said ‘No, No’. Something pricked you then and my world was slowly going dark.
I am very sleepy now Amma. My little home is completely black now and I can’t make out anything. I do see a silver light somewhere in the distance calling to me. My eyes feel heavy but I don’t want to close them. The silver light is calling me but I don’t want to go. I want to stay with you Amma but then I hear some more bells ringing, the music a little different this time and I know that I have to go. I have to leave you Amma. I am sorry I can’t stay to take care of you. Can’t stay to become your friend and your confidante. Can’t stay to prove anything to Appa. I only wish one thing as I go Amma. I wish that the music in my sweet Amma’s life never dies. I wish that you find your laughter again and that Appa gets the son that he wants. May be then, I will be able to find my way back to you and fulfil all the dreams we saw together. But until then Amma, all I can say is I love you. Please don’t ever let the music stop.
Your loving, unborn daughter.

PS: Some facts on female infanticide
·         According to a recent report by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
up to 50 million girls and women are missing from India' s population as a result of systematic gender discrimination in India.
·         In most countries in the world, there are approximately 105 female births for every 100 males. In India, there are less than 93 women for every 100 men in the population.
The United Nations says an estimated 2,000 unborn girls are illegally aborted every day in India.