8:00 PM | 29 June 2020
Sitting on the other side of that plastic screen, I see more than a few pregnant women every day, each one of them recounting a different tale of how patriarchy has strangled the notion of even basic human rights.
95% of these women hail from families where making ends meet is a struggle but where bringing a child into this world is like going out for grocery: that’s the amount of thought these people – who make up a good chunk of our population – put into something completely life-changing.
Deciding how many children their malnourished bodies can bear is a right unheard of. These are women who need their husband’s permission before they can even get – in layman’s terms – injectable iron to correct their anaemic state. These are women whose primary doctor is chosen by their mothers-in-law, or their aunts-in-law, or some other lady relative. Anyone but herself. When does she have the next kid? That also gets to be decided by the other women in her family. These are women who have to beg their husbands to ‘allow’ them a C-section because they can’t bear the labour pains or because it’s technically not possible.
I see the helplessness in their eyes and I wonder what their childhood was like; if anyone asked them ever what they would like to be when they grew up? I wonder what they would say… Had anyone ever actually asked them that?
I see how the lack of control over their lives feeds their hidden demons, the same demons that viciously come out when it’s their turn to give their place to another woman, just like their mothers-in-law. It’s a cycle, one that will never stop. Not unless we educate these women and solve the problems that have made them who they are.
How can a woman who can not even stand up for herself protect and nourish a child? Food and water and clothes are never the only things that a child needs; they need kind love, care, and compassion for their intellectual, moral, and spiritual growth; all of these being part of the ‘*rizq‘ that is supposed to come with this little human.
I remember looking at one of these women rather closely today. Her doe-like eyes carried an unheard tale. The eight-month-old in her lap testifying to how unprepared his mother was for another baby. A haemoglobin level of 7.2, her refusal to get further tests done, and a husband who was sleeping at home did nothing to confute my views.
I see these women waiting to welcome a new life into this world and I do the only thing I can – speak to these parents about the huge blessing that they’re being bestowed with, that a mother’s responsibility is more than just to birth this child and the father’s responsibility is more than just to facilitate and finance that birth. And I say a little prayer for them: may every child born into this world find the warmth of a loving home, the kindness of those we call our own, the miracle of humanity, and the power of faith and true love. Amen.