Once in awhile, Kudirat would get up and place a comforting hand on her daughter’s contracting stomach before wiping the sweat from her face with a damp towel. Kudirat would then use a small calabash to take some water from the nearby earthen jar and offer the expectant mother a drink.
'Courage, my daughter, courage. Everything will soon be over,' she would admonish before going back to her prayers. Just then, the wicket door swung open and another elderly woman entered.
'A-Salam-a-lekun' (Peace be unto you'), the woman greeted. 'I hope she’s doing well'.
'A-lekun-a-Salam,' Kudirat replied. 'She broke her waters a few minutes ago. Anytime now, the new one will arrive Insha Allah (by God’s grace)'.
'Well, let’s hope it is a boy this time. After three girls, I am more than ready for a grandson who will be as strong and hardworking as Rasheed.'
'By Allah’s wish, it will be a boy,' Adiat quickly replied.
After the woman left, Kudirat let out a loud, long hiss. 'Stupid woman. She said it as if we have any control over these things. Is she not a woman herself?
'How can she be so tactless as to come and talk like that here? Wasn’t it five girls she, too had before she finally gave birth to Rasheed?'
'That’s all right Mama. Instead of getting annoyed, why don’t you go back to your prayers?' Adiat said.
Suddenly from outside came the deep rumble of thunder, as the wind picked up speed and started howling. In his hut a few meters from his wife’s, Rasheed glanced up from his bamboo bed. Since his second and favourite wife went into labour more than three hours earlier, the forty-five year old cocoa farmer had not been able to sleep. Now as the rumble of thunder grew louder, streaks of lighting dived into the hut, bathing the room in an eerie blue light. And as he detected the smell of rain in the wind that swept into the hut, Rasheed’s heart sank. It was going to be another girl!
And in Amran Gaye's 'What To Do When You Meet A Girl In Traffic, Crying', a woman still grieving the loss of her own daughter, sees the announcement of another missing girl on TV...
She had seen the girl that day, on her way home from work. There had been a traffic jam, and she had been caught in it, her chauffeur shouting at the other drivers in the confusion of traffic outside his window. She had sat and looked distractedly out of her window, feeling the heat and the sweat running its way down her back, almost irritating, yet soothing the areas of skin it passed. She was thinking of this quality of sweat, of how it made you stink and look flustered, yet ultimately gave you relief, when she saw the girl. There were hundreds of other girls passing, on their way home from school, but what drew her attention to this one was the tears running down her cheeks. The way she cried: silently, standing at the side of the road, eyes red and wet, sniffing back snot. The way the tears made her an island in this traffic of people, no one noticing her, everyone passing her on the road and walking on without a backward glance. The way she stood, patient, independent, not expecting any help from anyone, self-sufficient in her misery.
- Read the story here...
- Image by MW