The sound of my pitiful crying grew fainter and fainter as I lost all energy to go on. The wetness of the sheet underneath me, the gnawing in my little stomach, and the feeling of abandonment all reached a zenith and I started howling once again; pitiful sounds which must have attracted some attention as I felt myself being lifted up into warm arms and carried away from my wet, cold and confined space. The room I found myself in was warm and bright, and I could hear the voices of many people talking all at once; who, what, when, why. While I tried to adjust to this new environment, I felt someone remove my wet clothes and wrap me in a warm, thick blanket. The warmth of the dry clothes and the comfort of being in secure arms lulled me and I drifted off to sleep despite the deep, dark feeling of hunger in my stomach.
I remember the day I was conceived; oh what a joyous day that was! My mother, only 17 years old then, had quickly dabbed on some lipstick and left her work early, telling her mistress that she had to go somewhere. My father rode up on a borrowed motorcycle and picked her up from the corner of the street, where she had been standing all veiled up to ensure that no one recognized her.
My mother belonged to a poor family who worked in people’s homes and earned just enough to keep the kitchen stove lit in their worn down home. Her father was a laborer who worked at construction sites all day, and had consequently become dark, thin and emaciated over the course of the tough years. My father instead belonged to a relatively more affluent family, and he was the lead mechanic in a large car workshop. He would see my mother walk to work each day and pass in front of his shop; after many months of intent pursuit and cajoling, they started talking till he finally convinced her to go on a ride around the city on his motorcycle. They rode around town for hours, holding on tightly to each other, till he stopped in a remote and vacant plot. Promising to never leave her and send his parents to her house to ask for her hand in marriage, he convinced her that their physical closeness was only a way of expressing his ardent love. One thing led to another, and I was conceived in a flash; created by the physical love of two people, yet darkened by the shadows of social and cultural norms.
It took a few months for my mother to realize that I was growing inside of her; this realization was followed by disbelief, fear and shock. She tried to contact my father to remind him of his ‘true love’ and his long overdue marriage proposal, but he was not to be found at his place of work nor was he responding to her desperate phone calls. The fear of being an unwed mother in a society who viewed this as a crime almost stopped her heart on many occasions, only to be revived back to reality by a study kick in her womb. Her stomach swelled more and more each day till the sinful reality became a loud scream for all to hear. Her parents beat her black and blue out of anger and shame, the neighbours shunned her and her younger sisters blamed her for their lack of future prospects.
The months passed with my mother staying indoors away from prying eyes, till one cold, winter morning I decided enough was enough, and I needed to get out of my confined space. My mother screamed and screamed till she was hoarse, yet I gave her no respite and pushed my way out till I slid onto a dirty sheet. I waited for the warmth of my mother’s arms and the comfort of her breast, but instead I felt someone carry me out of the warm room into the cold night. I tried to call out to my mother to ask her to save me from this stranger who was taking me way from her while the umbilical cord was still wet and oozing, but no one heard me. Very shortly, I felt myself being put in a cold, empty crib. I waited and waited and waited till I could wait no longer. The wetness of my clothes and the hunger in my stomach gave me the strength to start howling again.
As I mentioned at the start, I was picked up and taken in a warm room and changed into dry clothes. I felt the teat of a bottle touch my lips, and I clamped hard and sucked with all my little might till I felt full and satiated. Feeling more energetic now, I looked around the room and saw a row of small cribs all filled with babies like me. Young though I was , I understood that this was going to be my new home where all of us little abandoned souls would share mothers, blankets and bottles and pass through life never knowing where the other part of the umbilical cord had dried.