Stories about birth

My birth was an ill-fated ugliness

The kiss from the scorching sun was now a routine, For there was no shelter that could block it from me; Ugliness not just defined my face, As my birth was no less than an ugly fate.   Amidst the chaotic environment, I was trained, And repeatedly told that it was no shame, Because survival on your own is something only the bold can do, And if I resist, then society would crumple me, like a toy of play dough.   The countless tears I hid silently, Were considered useless and unworthy. The smile I gave with a one clap gesture, Had unknowingly become my unique signature.   A thick coat of red ...

Read Full Post

The newspaper boy

He threw it inside the house and as he cycled forward and heard it land softly on the doormat. Great shot, he thought. There were three streets to go. And the light around him was slowly spreading. He continued. In the street before the last, he slowed down because he was nearing the house filled with flowerpots. Previous shots had broken some pots and invited anger from the owner whose life seemed to be divided into the dozens of pots she had. This time, though, he came near the gate and slowly hooped it inside. The sound of contact with ...

Read Full Post

Genetically ‘male’ woman gives birth to twins. Great, but did she have to?

A few days back, I read about a medical miracle that occurred in the Indian city of Meerut. I understand that a ‘genetically male’ woman has given birth to twins. A 32-year-old ‘woman’ had a rare hormonal conditional where she looks like a woman but is ‘almost’ a man. She did not attain puberty and has never menstruated. Her uterus was underdeveloped, her ovaries were non-functional and that she had an unpronounceable condition called “XY gonadal dysgenesis “(whew that sure was a mouthful). In short, ‘her’ body was not designed for natural conception or to hold a nine month pregnancy. She ...

Read Full Post

Birth, confusing and perplexing, birth

The August night was frightening, confusing, perplexing. Hot, humid and sweaty… The room was pleasant, comfortable, properly lit and professionally decorated in muted, soothing hues of beige, gold and taupe. Tapestries artfully draped, artefacts tastefully displayed; everything oozed style and grace. The effortless elegance and oomph of old money inherited through generations, mere mortals can only think, or write about. A room, about to witness the first birth… The loudest, metropolitan city of the land of the pure was in complete darkness, thanks to power outage. Energy crisis was at its peak and on that particular night, the shortfall in electricity production was more than many thousand mega-watts. She whimpered in pain ...

Read Full Post

Whitewashing

Our names will never roll around their tongues, With the delicacy and finesse, Of the mothers who named us. After 14 hours of birth, Sweaty, sticky, spicy, sweet, tangy names with stories and secrets. Our names in foreign mouths Are like spices with unexpected Sharp thorny flavours, Spat out in discomfort, Pronounced with pain, And anglicised quickly like a cool drink of water.   So that Dureshawar becomes Rey, And my own name In my mouth Feels like a dry, flavourless biscuit. And they laugh when I can’t recognise Myself being announced at banquets. When I cannot recognise my placard On the table; When they demand I leave by the backdoor. It is always by my father’s name.   Our names will ...

Read Full Post

A mother’s soliloquy: They ask me if I feel honoured…

People ask me how I feel. Do I feel honoured? Do I feel pride to have given birth to a hero? I would take off my clothes, if you could see the pain that grips my breast. My son died. 17 years and three months 12 days he lived. Add more! Add my nine months of labour; my pain for his life. Consider that night when I delivered him to this cesspool of a world. Where grass is green and the leaves turn brown, but men… huh! Men have been robbed of their old age. And you ask about pride? That the very last thing ...

Read Full Post

Ladies, don’t opt for abortions!

Florynce R Kennedy once said, “If men could get pregnant, abortion would have been a sacrament.” My maid refuses to take any birth control measures because her husband considers them to be a ‘yahoodi saazish’ (Jewish conspiracy) to sterilise the ‘flourishing’ Pakistani nation – just like the superstitions concerning polio drops. However, she doesn’t mind going to the local dai to get an abortion – illegally of course. When I admonish her and tell her that she will get herself killed, she replies, “Baji aap ko kia pata… woh bari tajrabakar hai. Bohat aurtain aati hain us ke paas aur bus kuch ke ilawah kabhi koi mari nahi hai.” (Ma’am ...

Read Full Post

I am a Muslim who celebrates Christmas – and you should too

I plan to take my family out for dinner. I may call it a Christmas dinner and I don’t think there is anything wrong in calling it that. As Pakistanis, I think it is a great coincidence and blessing that today is also the birthday of our founder, Quaid-e-Azam, whose message wasn’t far off from what Jesus Christ taught us. Not only is there a religious connotation but a national association to this day for us to be united as one, spread the love and share the blessings with those less privileged. Before anyone takes objection to the term “Jesus Christ” please note ...

Read Full Post

My father divorced my mother because she gave birth to me, a girl

A few days ago, a newborn baby girl was dumped in a garbage heap by an unidentified woman in Faisalabad. No one realised there was a baby until the heap was set on fire and the cries of the baby girl alerted the garbage collector. She was taken to hospital with more than three-fourth of her body burnt. Unfortunately, the doctors could not save her. Female infanticide is still very common in Pakistan. It is sad to see that even in the 21st century the birth of a female is considered a stigma. When my eldest sister Tena* was born (we are three sisters ...

Read Full Post

Want to marry your cousin? Think again!

Cousin marriages have been very common in the subcontinent and this may be one reason why quite a large number of people in our rural areas are so unhealthy. I personally know two families whose members are the products of many generations of inbreeding. In one family – distant relatives of mine – many children are deaf and consequently unable to talk. The head of the family reacted with amazement when told that his children and grand-children suffered from various birth defects because of cousin marriages in his household. In fact, many doctors advised him to stop arranging marriages of his ...

Read Full Post