The blanket usually was warm enough for the kind of winters Calcutta had but today, it sent a chill down Savita’s spine. She took another sip of the green tea Mahesh had prepared for her, folded the newspaper she had been reading like a morbid performance of a daily ritual and flung it aside on the couch next to her.
Her hair was open, her skin pale yellow devoid of the wheatish glow and her hazelnut eyes were swollen despite a good sleep. Maybe it was morning sickness. Maybe it was a psychological, her hormones being in state of a constant frenzy. Her white colored satin gown that Mahesh had bought her during their honeymoon was now hugging her bodice, unsuccessfully trying to hide the seven month old baby bump.
She rested her head back on the vertical bed cushion and closed her eyes. Her thoughts raced back to the day before. “Savita, wouldn’t it be lovely if we have a daughter?? She would be as loving as you and will carry our family values forward” Mahesh had told her, his eyes gleaming with paternal love. “Daughters and fathers pally well, you will be isolated jaan.” he would pull her leg whenever he would spot a father daughter duo jogging together during their morning walks.
Savita knew Mahesh desired for a baby girl. He was almost convinced that it were girls who stood by their families in need. His own family was matriarchal and he comprehended well the role of a female in the society. During Durga puja, he would often mention, “Savita, it’s only a female who can assume nine different roles, she can be the Annapoorna: the caretaker, Laxmi: the provider and if need be, Durga: The destroyer.” He prayed to be blessed with an embodiment of the goddess for whom he fasted nine days during Navratras and went on to decorate their living room with soft toys, flowers and lots of baby posters in anticipation of his wish getting fulfilled.
She however, felt a gamut of emotions choking her whenever she thought of bearing a daughter. As a mother, Savita’s heart felt dark and dreary in the winter blues. She would close her eyes and a black and white documentary of
everyday struggles a girl has to face- Rapes, dowry, eve-teasing, suppression and then work harassment would play in her head making her feel pukish. She would for hours, stare outside the window in her living room and look at the girls passing by on the road, conscious, suppressed and sometimes playfully rebellious. She would play a mental game as to how her daughter would be a voice of empowerment and a strong female by imagining random incidents.
As every single day the newspaper screamed crime of another flower crushed, another soul trampled, another dream of a daughter shattered, her faith flickered like the unsteady candle flame on a stormy night. She slowly realized she might soon be reliving her mother’s nightmares. Her maternal instinct fought with her rationality of the current scenario.
Her heart raced like insane horses as the worry began to eat her peace of mind like a mite on wood. How safe will her daughter be in the world of heartless monsters? How safe will she be?
She shivered at the thought of her daughter’s life beyond her womb. In that state of mental altercation, she slipped into a deep slumber, unaware of the gust of air that blew into the room and flapped the page open to the news that was sarcastically juxtaposed and read…
# 18 year old raped in a moving train.
# Pratibha Patil is the first women president of India.