The wood threatened to give away as she rattled the lock to open the door. She used her scarf to cover the lock so it did not hit the wood to make it scream. After a few minutes, she was successful. Well, a little bit of screeching followed, but eventually, she made it to the street.
It was dead of the night and even the street dogs had decided to let the neighbors sleep for the few hours before the sun came out. Her every step was booming, at least to her. She tried to walk as fast as she could, looking back every so often, to make sure that she was not followed. But, she was not in the peak of her fitness and the little bundle in her hand did not make it any easier.
The entire Lakhanpal family, in fact the entire village, was anxiously awaiting the arrival of the first grand child in the household. The to-be grandfather had gathered people around a bonfire in the front yard, while the to-be father was pacing across the courtyard waiting for the ‘good’ news. The to-be uncle, the brother of the to-be father had been tasked to be on the call, running between the pharmacy, the doctor’s clinic and the grocery store, bringing supplies to whoever needed them in the household.
And then the moment came when the house was filled with the cries of the newborn. People jumped and ran to the door to hear the ‘good’ news. Someone counted- there were close to two dozen faces peeping through the door inside into the courtyard to hear the father announce.
And then the moment went away almost twice as fast as it had made its entry. The mid-wife had announced, almost sheepishly that “it was a girl”!
The silence was eerie, almost biting. There was not a single soul in and around the house, only the elders of the family. It was hard to believe it was the same house that was full of humans and voices just a few hours earlier.
The elders must decide what to do with the ‘thing’. Well, the decision was not the hard part. It was the next steps. The father was not entirely comfortable, but them-were-the-rules. He did not say a word and it was decided.
Funny thing about animal instincts- no one knows about the trigger. They just kick in.
Giving birth, even though a process perfected and documented since the evolution of time, and across species, continues to be a miracle, albeit a tiring one for the mother.
Simar had barely opened her eyes and dragged herself to the pitcher of water next to the window. But when she overheard the elders pronounce the fate of her newly born, her eyes bulged out. A shiver went through her spine, but in almost an instant, a natural calm descended her being. She sat down at the edge of the bed, took a breath, and knew exactly what she had to do. She had never seen, as clearly, the next steps that she must take in her life.
She quietly changed into fresh clothes, pulled out whatever little jewelry she had in her closet, put them in a red backpack her father had gotten especially made for her wedding almost a year ago. The backpack had a flight of white birds, from the little one to the leader of the pack, taking off from one corner across the bag. She also threw in some bread, change of clothes and swung it over her back. The ‘little one’, who was yet to be named, was wrapped in a sling and took the prime seat in her front.
Next was to navigate the flight of stairs, quickly yet quietly, into the passage along the courtyard, where everyone was opining on the fate of the ‘little one’. At the end of that passage was the side door that opened into the side lane, one end of which opened in to the main street and other end, into the narrow, cobbled back street. Even though longer, darker, and most definitely unsafe for girls at this time of the night, the back street might be a good option for the same reasons, she thought.
She took the plunge. She took her first steps and then disappeared into the night. The village would never see her again, she muttered under her breath.