Tale of a Female Foetus

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We count it a loss when a girl child is born and a profit when a boy is born.

“Where am I now? Is this the place in which I was destined to live? I am sure that this is not. Darkness is everywhere, and a foul smell comes out of the bed on which I lie. Flies are coming in volley. They are going to make me a feast. I do not like to give you the details of the surroundings, as it may make you vomit. I am the saddest one. My address is the dustbin. I am weeping here, thinking of what I was to be and what I am.” The female foetus was crying.

One of the flies felt pity for me and asked, “Who are you? Why are you here? I think you are a stranger among us.”

“You are asking for identity from someone who did not have, does not have, and perhaps will not have any. If you want to listen to my saga with patience, I will tell it in brief.” In tearful eyes, the female foetus said.

The fly said, “Then start.”

“What you have thought me to be, I am not. Human blood is blowing within me, but I am not a human being. Thanks to my parents’ wishes, I came into existence five months ago. Through agglutination, I developed into a zygote. Like any other parents, my parents too went to a doctor for a preliminary checkup. I can clearly remember the first interview between Dr. Sharma and my parents and their subsequent feelings of relief and joy.”

Dr. Sharma said, “Ok, Mr. Ganguly. I have made my first diagnosis. You are in the first phase of becoming parents. There is nothing to be afraid of. Keep me in touch.”

On hearing the doctor’s assurance, they came home. From my mother’s womb, I could feel how elated they had been then. I could realise a secret of human relationships. What was so far a lust between them turned into love. It is a child that tightens the mutual bond between couples. Being free from anxiety and fear, my parents began to weave dreams about my future from just after birth to as far as could be imagined. Human beings are lovers of fiction and haters of truth. They whiled away their valuable time to build a castle in the ear.

“What will you call him? Used to ask my mother.

“Sandipan”. Said a busy father.

“ No. not this type of name.”

She insisted on the suggestion of more names. The father suggested hundreds of names.

“The female has no existence in their world that is covered with many layers of prejudice, convention, and ignorance. A free creature has no place even in their imagination. A woman finds herself living in a world where men compel her to assume the status of the ‘other’.

“Human beings sometimes fail to understand that destiny does not work according to their will. This is the tragedy. My parents never thought that their proposed male name would not match mine. Gradually, I developed through the morula, blastula, and gastrula into a foetus.

“The more I developed, the more my family began to make future plans for me. I wanted to come out of my mother’s womb and join their discussions and express my likes and dislikes towards them. I thought myself fortunate that I was going to be born with a silver spoon in my mouth. This is the irony of my fate. To be a member of the Ganguly family, I have to wait on the shore of the Lethe for a long, long time.

“Next time, Dr. Sharma prescribed a USG. Accordingly, the USG was done. This technology in medical science may be a boon, but it turned out to be a curse for me. It made everything topsy-turvy. My father, with the report, entered the doctor’s chamber.

The doctor beamed at my father and said, “Mr. Ganguly, I am sorry to inform you of something.”

Father got startled and asked, “Sir, anything wrong?”

“Not so serious. The USG report shows that it is a female foetus.

“A female foetus! We are going to have a daughter!”

“There was a bolt from the blue. His face became faded with a squeezing of lemon. Ours is a patriarchal society. A girl child is unexpected. We consider it a burden and a liability for a family. My family was not free from such a taboo. After returning from the doctor’s chamber, my father was in a dilemma: to be a father or not to be.

They passed sleepless nights. Finally, they decided that I would not see the light of the world.

They again went to Dr. Sharma, “Doctor, we don’t want this female foetus.” Demanded my father.

“This is illegal. The government has banned it.” The doctor expressed his reluctance.

“Thus, the doctor at first refused, but when it was agreed that he would be paid a huge amount of money, he committed the most sinful crime of foeticide.

“Thus, this dustbin has become my address. This dustbin! Not the cosy bedroom of the Ganguly family. Brother Fly, this is the tragic end of my life. I had dreams that had been spoiled in the bud. My only fault is that I am a female foetus.

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Dr Joylal Das
Dr Joylal Das

Dr. Joylal Das is an Assistant Professor in English at Alipurduar University, West Bengal. He has done his doctoral thesis on Dalit writings from West Bengal. His area of interest covers Dalit literature, Indian writings in English and in English translation, local historiography, and literature and culture from margin. Besides academic works, he writes poems and short stories on marginal people, marginal culture, marginal society etc. both in English and Bengali.

He has published his Bengali book of poems, Britter Baire Theke. He has also authored a critical volume entitled Few Leaves from Tagorean Tree: (Re) reading of Tagore’s Selected Poems.

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