Ambuja is a 20-year old girl born in a little, damaged and poor village in Dungarpur. She is extremely thin, with some oily and long carbon hair, periodically hanged in an amazing and long braid; she usually wears her two traditional and colorful Indian dresses, which she switches every week and some old and broken leather flip flops, these clearly show her ten rings, one on each toe. She loves wearing traditional jewelry, such as huge and shiny earrings, rings on all her fingers, hundreds necklaces, normally a red bindi on her forehead and she has henna all over her body. She looks always really tired, frustrated, worried, but at the same time hopeful, with a fake smile, which shows her black and yellow teeth. Some months ago she met a merchant from New Delhi and they had a relation, which brought to some causes… He left after some months, as every man does, and Ambuja remained in her ruined old-wood sort of house with no money and her ill grandma; each night she couldn’t sleep, she perspired, she needed to through up after each meal and she had the felling of fainting and not be able to get up anymore. After several months suffering she decided to go to the capital and consult a doctor in the public hospital. She had to travel for 5 hours in the worst way possible, hidden in trains, walking, wondering for someone to bring her in the city of her dreams, where she wanted to go since she was a child, in the first real town she had ever seen in her life, in a city where there actually are some unknown people, in the city which each time someone was coming to sell some new products to the village she looked with jealous eyes, while thinking what a beautiful city there was behind that huge mountains.
When she finally got there, she jumped out from the last wagon of a freight train.
She rubbed her eyes and very slowly she tried to open them…. The rays of the sun were penetrating in her big chestnuts; but once she opened them she couldn’t stop admiring the beauty of what was in front of her, the most beautiful thing she had ever seen in her life, the majestic Taj Mahal. She heard a lot of it, but none could really explain to her the attractiveness of that place, none could transmit her the feeling she was having in that precise moment, nothing more around her, just this amazing mausoleum, the incredible white color, which communicate peace and hope… hope for her life, hope to get a job and have sufficient money to cure her lovely grandma, hope that everything will be good or at least fine, hope for everything, day by day. Once she had studied it in all the minimal particulars she was ready to affront the hospital and the doctor, there was just a difficulty, she was in the middle of one of the biggest city and she didn’t know where to go or what to do, she was scared, cars, traffic, screams, people, shops, tourists, restaurants, elephants in the middle of the road, markets…. She was new in that type of life, all of these were new and unexpected aspects she had never seen until that moment, she was scared, she felt insecure, like everyone when faces something for the first time. She crossed the road without looking to the cars and without asking to her self if she should wait for the green pedestrian light, looking to sky, to the houses, she was in the middle of the road and all the hasty little Indian men suddenly started using the car honk, an elephant got really nervous and it stood up on two legs, causing a disaster. When she had finally reached the other side of the road she saw a massive and dirty building: the hospital.
Once arrived in front of the enormous, white, nearly falling wood door, she made a deep breath, which gave her the courage to open it and solve that mystery, that continuous pain, that exhausting agony and maybe have a more suitable life, she was young but it made her feel like her unlucky grandma. Once inside she sat on an unstable antiquated chair and hope that she could enter as soon as possible.
The doctor came out from his “luxurious” office and called the next. It was her moment now, she got up nervously and went in the office gently. Without asking anything about her problems he made her lie, touching her stomach calmly he announced she was in the wrong office, she had to go immediately away and she should visit the second floor offices. She ran up the stairs frustrated, almost crying and she just opened the first door and went inside.
-Sorry, who are you? Who gives you the right of coming in such in a violent way?
-Who are you? Answer! You are forcing me to call the police.
-Ya, you are who?
-I’m Ambuja. They, they, they said to me to come here.
-Who said you what?
-The doctor on the previous floor.
-Ok, so you have some problems with your stomach, right?
-Ok then, lie on here.
Very scared she lied on a kind of medical bed, her eyes were full of tears, she was thinking about her devastated life.
-Anyway I’m Dr Sharma.
She didn’t answer, she couldn’t talk, she couldn’t stop thinking about her problems; the doctor started touching her stomach, and her breast, she was worried.
-You are pregnant. There’s nothing clearer than this.
-NO, no, no… It’s impossible!
-Do you want to know more than a doctor? If you do just go away, you don’t need a doctor, because you are better, no?
-No, no, no…. Please I didn’t mean that. Since when?
-Since exactly two months and half. We can already define the sex of this baby, do you want to know it?
While he went taking some tools in the other room she was literary desperate, she was wondering how that MISTAKE could have happened, how she could get out from that, how she could be a mum, how she could bring up a child, whit no money, without a man by her side… all of these reflections were made in less than a minute. The doctor came back; the truth was coming; the tension was at the maximum value.
-So, this is the moment…
He was moving the tool up and down on her stomach while looking at the screen, she was literary trembling, she was anxious, she was impatiently waiting for a response, her life was changing, in a fraction of minute she wouldn’t be the same anymore. The doctor started moving his lips and speaks silently …
-It’s it’s… It’s a girl…
-Yes, a girl!
-Yes are you happy for that?
-Happy, Happy? Are you actually asking that to me? I’m alone, I don’t have a job, I have to take care of my grand mum, I don’t have money and now you are asking me if I am happy to spend other money for something that in the future won’t give me anything back, but will still take from me…. Ah! You know what to do, I am ready!
-No miss, I don’t. Explain.
-Oh come on. You suppose to be a doctor, how many times did this happen and to how many girls like me? I just tried to say to kill it in a better way, but there are some people who don’t understand that, so I’ll say that directly, I don’t want that, kill it.
-Sorry, but I can’t do that.
-You can’t do that? Since when?
-Since the State decided it and since it is considered an illegal action.
- Illegal action? Illegal action? How do I suppose to bring up this baby, I can’t afford it.
-You have to find a way, I can’t do anything more, it’s your problem now.
-I am sure we can find an easy way to do that in private, none will know that.
-Are you trying to corrupt me? I won’t do that, I’m patriotic, I’m faithful, I trust in this country and I can’t dishonor it. You asked to the wrong doctor.
-Ok but why you decided that? What would ever happen with a girl less in an enormous country as India? Nothing.
-No, You are wrong, lots of problems will happen. This continuous killing of female babies is leading to an imbalance in the sex ratio, that means there aren’t enough girls for boys, and as a result there is the illegal traffic of women, child marriages, that are always more common, child pregnancies… And then there wouldn’t be mothers in the future so no more babies and our society will be an elderly one, and in a century we won’t exist anymore, India will disappear. Why? Why do we have to reach this point? Why not helping the society? Why just being selfish? Why just thinking about ourselves? Think about it.
-I’m not being selfish at all, I didn’t think about my self for one minute, I’m thinking instead about this baby, what future she would have if I let her going out, in that jungle, in that mean world, where none cares about us, none cares about the non rich people, who can’t give you anything for free, who are not important for the society, who will live unconsciously, who won’t know anything about the real planet, to who the reality of the things has always been hidden, who lived in a bubble, in a protect and safe bubble for the whole life and suddenly, one day, this bubble bursts, this will happen to everyone who is like us, it will bursts and the world, the real one is finally, for the first time shown at your eyes. I don’t want that to happen to her, I don’t want her being like me, I don’t want her to have a life like the one I had, I don’t want her to renounce at the education, because she has to help me with the work, I don’t want her to marry a man who will disappear or will offend and maybe abuse her. I don’t want that for her, yes, obviously and certainly neither for me, but I’m mainly thinking about her and what her future will be, with me supporting her.
-She will live as everyone does. I can’t stop this natural process, I’m none to do that, I can’t kill a human life, I can’t, the abortion is a wrong way of thinking and acting. And moreover the State has banned it, because it’s an important issue, which is causing real problems, which I already mentioned you. If you don’t want her just because you don’t have enough money, it won’t make a difference, in this country none has money, none is pleased to have a child if not planned, so I’m trying to make you understand another time that an abortion in this hospital and with these doctors won’t happen. If you really want, you need to go in a private clinic, where paying you can do some illegal operations, but it will costs a lot, more than bringing up the actual child.
-What about me when I will get old, who will look after me, who will give me money, not her and her husband certainly, my problem is that I am alone, I don’t have a man, parents, relatives, and with that baby I will loose the few money I own, she will get lots of it during her childhood and she won’t give me back, because she won’t work, we live in the countryside and she is a girl, a girl…. And then she will marry someone and go to his house, leaving me alone, and I will have to pay for the dowry; and I am sure that she will forget me once away from that house, the one where she has lived until that moment, the one which has kept her away from the reality of the humanity; she will forget me, she won’t feel culpable for that, because she will hate me for how I made her growing up, for her childhood and her accelerated puberty. She will be an ignorant woman, I’m aware of that, I know she will not have the opportunity to receive an education, and she will not know anything about the life and the world, which is waiting to attack her, a weak, innocent and disoriented girl. Again, I’m thinking about her…. our future.
- You know what is happening in our society? The newborn baby girls are abandoned right after birth in garbage dumps. Why? Because the baby is a girl!
Some are murdered by their parent and then buried in their back garden. People have unfortunately come up with very creative ways of getting rid of their little baby girls. Some of them who get to live are never really treated as their brothers would be; there are often deprived of food, shoes and education and really probably her parents may well sell a little girl to a man of over sixty years old for money. In many rural areas the female infanticide is shocking. The parents wait until the mother gives birth and then, when they find out that the baby is girl they go ahead and kill her adopting various cruel ways; such as strangling the baby, giving her a poison, dumping her in a garbage bin, drowning her, burying her alive, starving her, stuffing her mouth with salt, or leaving her outdoors overnight so she dies of exposure. Did this fact impress you? What do you think about this crime?
-Sorry Doctor Sharma, but I won’t act in a such barbaric way… as you know I’m from a rural area miles away from here, but I came in this hospital, after an exhausting journey, I didn’t kill this baby in all these brutal ways you’ve just mentioned. And then crime, crime? How can you considerate an abortion a crime? The baby won’t feel anything, isn’t it better this than excogitate a way to make her die? I’m not of the same opinion as you doctor….
-What disturbs me the most is that the female infanticide is not considerate a crime. Surprisingly, mothers are the one who often prepare the crime, since they are the ones who have given birth to the unwanted female, they are the ones who must do away with it. They are forced sometimes, and they have to do that until their desired male child is born. In the rare cases in which the daughter’s life is spared, parents often neglect her and expect her to work around the house serving the men of the family. Girls are rarely sent to school, and if they are, they are removed after a few years of education and put to work, usually as maids in homes, and make them send back home the money earned. In all probability they are treated far better in where they work than they are in their own homes, but instances of abuses are also really common.
Although all of us take pride in our Indian culture, we need to recognize that there is something fundamentally wrong with a culture that believes in the superiority of males and that celebrate Indian women for being submissive. One way you can help this country and this society is by being glad of the women in your life.
She was confused, she was reflecting on these words, she didn’t know all these aspects on abortion, she was considering the idea of being a different mum, of saving a life, of not commit these cruel inflictions, the sweat was running down her neck and her eyes where shining… She was thinking that the doctor was right, the abortion it’s a crime, and she shouldn’t kill the baby just because was a girl. She didn’t know what to do or what to say… She changed idea, she wanted to keep her daughter now, was part of her, after these incredible stories she couldn’t act in the same wrong way.
-You are an amazing person doctor Sharma. I will keep my daughter. I am sure of my decision.
-I knew that you are a good girl Ambuja, I knew that you would change idea. We were on two different sides about this subject. But now you understood how important is to be different, how can one person make the difference. It’s never too late to change idea. I know it will be hard for you, but if you need any help I’m here. I’ll see you in seven months then, we’ll bring out this beauty from the protect bubble. I’ll wait for you!
A little smile appeared on her face, she didn’t know how to express all her gratitude, so she just whispered a “thank you”. She shacked the doctor hand and went away proud of her self, touching very gently her stomach and speaking to her daughter… Once out the hospital she was watching the world with a different prospective, She was proud and happy for the miracle was happening to her.
By Fulvia Cappello