The River and the Girl

The River and the Girl

The moon looked down on the earth and cried. The birds turned in their sleep, and their nests rustled. They dreamt that a little girl was starving by a silent river.

Earlier that night, Meena Devi had given birth to a girl. Motherhood indeed is a miracle. Otherwise, she could not have summoned the energy to stop her husband from drowning her new-born daughter in the pail of boiling milk. Finally, the husband had relented. On one harsh condition. 

The new-born was left to fend for herself by a river in the nearby jungle. 

By the time the husband returned from the jungle, the milk had turned lukewarm. He poured some milk into a cup and drank it with relish. At the sight of her husband drinking the milk, Meena Devi threw up. Ignoring the mess, the husband took out his cot to the courtyard and fell asleep beneath the open sky. 

From the sky, the moon looked down on the earth and cried. Inside the house, Meena Devi wondered how many breaths her daughter would survive in the wild jungle. Outside, the birds turned in their sleep, and their nests rustled. They dreamt that a little girl was starving by a silent river. 

And then, they woke up. 

All at once. 

***
Guided by the moon, the birds reached the silent river. 

With twigs and dry grass, they built a comfortable bed for the baby. They drew out juices from ripe fruits. Drop by drop, they fed her the juice.

Thus kindled by love, the little one let out a cry of life.

The birds joined this cry of life. At first, they started a low hum, but steadily their volume rose, till their humming turned to chanting.

The moon shone onto the jungle, spreading its light on the shore and water, tying together what breathed on the land and what flowed in the water.

The river could ignore the moon no more.

The river could ignore the chanting birds no more.

The river could ignore the cry of life no more. 

***
Once upon a time, the river was not silent, it was a bubbling force of joy and mirth. But night after night, it had witnessed abandoned daughters on its banks. Night after night, it had witnessed these daughters become a part of the darkness of the jungle. Night after night, it had drank the shadow of this darkness till it itself had become a silent shadow of its former self. Now it flowed silently, helplessly – baring its banks as the last bed for unwanted daughters of the nearby villages.

But no more.

***
Today the river churned up a boat from its womb. The birds laid the baby carefully in this boat. And the river took the boat to a country where little girls were loved as much as little boys. 

The moon looked down on the earth and smiled.

Moral: If you want, you can save the girl child.
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