Being an Indian woman #shortstory

This is a short story I had written for Women’s Web muse of the month.  They received some fabulous stories and I was not a winner.  But,  I felt the story needs to be told.  So, here it is.  Your comments, love, brickbats, everything is welcome.

The cue was: “For the first time she realized that nothing was permanent in life – friends, circumstances, riches or parental love.” — Tanushree Podder, Nurjahan’s Daughter.  

http-www-pixteller-com-pdata-t-l-501379Sunita stayed awake for a long time that night.    She was unable to sleep.  Her mind refusing to accept what had just happened.

After 5 months of her pregnancy, she had undergone a routine sonography.  She was suspicious when she heard her husband talk to the doctor in whispers.

‘It’s a girl,’ her husband had told her back in the car.  He said it with the saddest expression.

It felt like she was back to her first pregnancy.  Their elder daughter Tanya was four.   When she was born, no one had rejoiced, not even her husband Raj.  Her mother-in-law had wasted no breath in showing her displeasure.  She constantly nagged about the futility of spending money on a girl who will grow up, marry, take their hard earned money as dowry and leave the family.

Sunita was aghast.  She was unable to reason with her mother-in-law.  Sunita was the only child of her parents and she had never felt that being a girl, they were affected.  They had brought her up as an educated and independent woman.

But her parents had called her up after Raj informed them about the girl child.  Her mother said, ‘Sunita, be practical.  Give up this one.  You already have a girl.  You should have a boy now. We never had a second child because you were a girl and we couldn’t risk having another girl.’

Sunita’s world had crashed then.  She would have still accepted all that.  But, when Raj also showed his displeasure, she did not know whom to turn to.  She heard endless discussions during the day between Raj and his mother about aborting the girl child.  Though it is illegal, they sounded very confident.

Sunita felt a slight movement in her pregnant belly.  She put her hand on it and cried.   But there was no sound and no tears.  How could she agree to kill her own baby?  The defenseless baby who has not even seen the light of day.  But, she has nurtured the baby in her womb for 5 months.  She loved the baby.

Tanya shifted on her baby bed.  Sunita got up and went to her.  She wiped away her dry tears.  She picked up the sleeping Tanya.  She closed the door to her flat softly, lest she wake up her husband and in-laws.

She waited on her floor and pushed the lift button.  The lift came immediately.  She got in and pushed for the 18th floor which was the last floor.   When she reached the top, she walked on to the terrace.  She stood at the edge and looked down.  It was a beautiful society and she could see the fairy lights in the garden and the temple in the society.

Tanya felt cold and woke up.

‘Mummy,  it is so cold.  Where are we?  Are we going away?’ she asked in her sleepy voice.

Sunita snapped out of her reverie.

‘Yes,’ she said.

‘Where mummy? Is Papa also coming? And Dadi?’ asked Tanya getting excited.

‘What am I doing?’ thought Sunita, ‘Did I really want to go away?  End it all?  Suicide? How similar I am to my husband and in-laws’ the thoughts came rushing.  She took a few steps back.

She moved further back and sat down on the hard floor.  She put Tanya on her lap and covered her so she would feel warm.

Tanya snuggled closer and was soon dreaming away.

Sunita sat there for a long time.  For the first time she realized that nothing was permanent in life – friends, circumstances, riches or parental love.  At the end, she had made her decision.  She went back to her flat.  She placed Tanya on her baby bed and lay down beside Raj.  Raj seemed unaware of her absence.  She stared at Raj searching for the man she loved.

The next morning, everything was routine in the house.

Sunita was surprised to see her parents arrive looking glum.

At the breakfast table, Raj said, ‘tomorrow morning at 6am we have to be at the hospital.’

‘No Raj, I won’t go to the hospital,’ Sunita said.  Her voice, quiet yet firm.

‘What do you mean, you won’t go,’ Raj asked getting angrier.  His mother also joined in abusing Sunita.

The tirade lasted for some time till Sunita put up her hand, with her palm outwards indicating them to stop.

‘Me and my children will not live in this house with people like you.  Raj, I thought you will understand.’

She stopped her parents from interrupting.

Sunita walked out of the house with her daughter Tanya.  She will struggle to be independent and give life to her children, not death.  No one will accuse her or shame her for being a woman or for giving birth to daughters.  Tanya and her unborn child deserve a better life away from such abuse.


21 thoughts on “Being an Indian woman #shortstory

  1. My heart goes with Sunita! When I was reading this story, all I was wishing in my head was for it to not come to an end! Cases like these happen around us all the time. I know so many people suggesting women to go for the third child coz they have two daughters and getting checked their second child if they have an elder daughter, but very few women like Sunita have the courage to leave everything and walk out to make a life of her own!

    Beautiful! I just loved the story!


    1. Thank you Geetika. I agree that the norm is to run away or avoid becoming independent. I really wish the women will choose the harder but long term route to live life and be independent.

  2. A husband ready to kill his own baby doesn’t deserve to be a father. It’s goodish walked out rather than suffer the guilt all her life. I hope women find strength like her to have their say. Loved your narration.

  3. This is a true story for this must have happened in many homes and I want it to happen. I want women to walk out. Lata – I have always been a fan of your stories. I am so happy that you wrote one and shared with us. 🙂

    1. Thank you Parul. Your comments are encouraging. 🙂 . Walking out of a family is the most difficult thing for the woman. By being married, and if she is stay-at-home and financially dependent, her wings are literally clipped. She has to start all over again. During such stages, a good support system is required, be it family or friends.

  4. It is the courage of women alone that has the potential to cure any society of its unjust and cruel conventions and practices. History is a testament to that, and that’s how things will be in future too. At least this is what I think. And your story shows this too. Well written, Lata!

  5. A story written, with so much power and it enrages me to see our attitudes in regards to the girl child. At least, people in stone age are better than us. Makes me wonder what kind of people they are. If every Sunita in his country takes a stand and we will be better off.

    1. Thanks Vishal. For me, it is easier to write in a story that the woman will walk out and be independent. But the truth is our laws, are definitely against the married/divorced woman especially if she is financially dependent. However, this is the ending I want to see.

  6. Lata lovely story . I am so glad it ended on a positive note. That’s the way it should be. Women should walk out of such abuse. I am sure wlshe would live a happier life.

    1. Thanks Ramya. I wish it were true in real life too. Many factors hold them back. Lack of confidence, financial support, parental support, societal pressures to name a few.

  7. A story of power – I have shared this on Facebook. Children learn from the culture they grow up in and I can hope that this fictional little girl will take the example of her brave mother, and thrive in what we can only hope will be a better world.

    1. Thank you Alana. We face blatant sexism right from before we are born. But still, the women in our country have overcome many difficulties to reach leading positions. It is indeed the culture we grow up in and determines how we treat our women.

    1. I wish we had an answer to changing mindsets. There is a start and I hope it sustains and grows. People are now feeling the pinch of not having enough women in their societies to get married to. As long as ‘honour’ is tied to a woman, it is a sorry state. Thanks Shilpa.

  8. It is sad that gender of a child plays an important role in how well they are accepted in the society or not. Thankfully growing up I never felt this kind f a discrimination. But later during my teen years, there were some loving family members who took it as their task to point out that I and my sister were girls and going for higher education with little money is not worth and all that drama. I hated it. Proud to be a girl! Liked the way you ended the story, Lata. 🙂

    1. Thanks Vinitha. I am seeing this happening even today where a girl’s educational choices are questioned whereas the boy will be forcefully sent for higher education.

  9. I liked the dispassionate way you presented Sunita’s case. It is a hard choice for any woman to make to destroy the life that’s growing within her…..

  10. Touching story…..But I liked the way you ended it….All is not lost as long as one is willing to fight….And mothers will always fight for their children. The moment of indecision in the mother’s mind kind of scared me…But that reflected her helplessness at that point…She was in a trance but her daughter’s voice brought her back to her senses….Liked the story….

    1. Thank you Sunaina. Many women take the easy way out instead of putting up a struggle. Financial dependence is a major concern. It is more difficult to live than die.
      Thanks for visiting.

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