A popular Bollywood song animated the hustle and bustle of the monthly fair in Sukarore. Naika moved towards the bangles stall -Bangles of all sizes in a myriad of bright colours were set in neat rows. There were glass bangles and metal ones adorned with glitters, kundans or stones. Naika noticed a group of boys approach the same stall and watch the bangle sets on display.
She ran her fingers over the beaded bangles set and tried few of them. In a corner, there were tiny bangles which drew Naika’s attention. She picked up one of them…it was a sliver baby bangle with a dainty butterfly tinkerbell. She held it in her palm and smiled. Some boys next to her still seemed undecided about their choices and constantly looked in her direction.
“You need some help to choose bangles?”she asked them.
They shook their heads vehemently and dispersed away.
Had someone come to know? Had the village chief, Lallasaib, somehow got wind of her best kept secret?
The village chief who was also her father-in-law had been throwing her suspicious glances since the last two weeks especially after her last visit to Dr Sadhna’s.
“Madam ji, churiyan lenge ya nahi?”the bangle-seller’s voice brought her out of her contemplation. She quickly handed them back to him and headed to the next stall.
She caught sight of the same boys coming right behind her. She quickened her pace. They followed suit. This confirmed her suspicion that they were indeed tailing her. She broke into a run
Naika spotted a lane leading to the forest, she quickly disappeared among the bushes. She looked back, there were no sign of them. . Her pain was becoming unbearable. She was soon huffing and puffing. She took deep breaths and kept going deeper in the jungle. She felt a sharp stab of pain, she pursed her lips to avoid screaming in pain. A trickle of clear fluid had made its way to her ankle.
She had to find somewhere to hide and quick!
She suddenly heard the boys’ footsteps drawing closer. She noticed a stable few metres ahead and lunged towards it. She let her tired body fall on the stack of hay exhaling a tired breath. The buffaloes swung their necks to look at the intruder lying on their fodder.
The pain came again…and again. It was time. The pain was unbearable now. She let out a deep screech which echoed across the forest.
The buffaloes bellowed, the boys shouted, and the birds flew shrieking from the trees
One of the boys exclaimed “Chal kalti maar. What if she has got some serious injury and will soon die. We will get involved with the police! Lallasaib had ordered to kidnap her, not kill her!”
Another piercing scream reverberated…followed by a frail wailing. Naika gasped exhausted-
Her daughter was born!
“My Vaishnavi, you finally came! I wouldn’t let those monsters do the same thing they did with your unborn sisters.”
“Madam ji, churiyan lenge ya nahi?” – Madam will you buy the bangles or not?
“Chal kalti maar – let’s go back
Female foeticide: a gender-selective abortion where a female foetus is illegally terminated solely based on the reason that the foetus is a girl.
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