A small village town – the farmers walk around and carry their tools on their backs. Little boys and little girls follow the fathers and mothers about the busy village. Women clutch their babies near their chests with their bright cloths wrapped tight around them. I take a deep breath and I feel the spot where I know my baby will grow. I know because I have already had one baby. I have a girl, holding my hand and staring up at me, she is staring up at me as I have my head down in shame. We are going to my Aunt Jun’s house. Downtown – see the crowds walking the streets. Hear the noise of feet walking and bikes squeaking. Not a very loud group. A non-verbal, non-opinionated group who go about their daily business. I stop and I watch the people work, they go out and into the shops, to buy and to sell. We walk up the back alley stairs to Jun’s apartment. “Hello! Come in, come eat.”she tells us. My little girl runs to eat the doughnuts on the table and I set down my bag. Jun smiles and offers me a doughnut and I take one. “How are you?” she asks.
A tear falls.
I look down. Jun looks down with me.
I touch the spot.
I see her eyebrows raised and mouth tightened. “How soon?” she asks. I shake my head and whisper only two months have passed. “What will you do when it becomes public?” I know in my heart I must keep this baby, though I don’t know how. Jun says the midwives will deliver my baby and not tell. She says the baby may be a girl, and I could give it away. She says I could go get an abortion tomorrow. She says we could get a permit if it is a boy, but that she doesn’t think my husband and I have enough money. She’s right. It is more than my husband makes in a year of farming. We can’t afford another child. We aren’t allowed another child.
But what can I do?
I wonder about my next exam, they’ll ask about my cycle. They might do tests. They’ll see the difference.
My daughter and I walk home and I wonder if this baby is a girl or a boy. I wonder, if it is a girl, if she will look like her father, like this one does, holding my hand and smiling.
Two months later– Warm wind wisps my hair into my face. The gray moist clouds roll over the hills across the sky. The men and women haul wheat out of the fields. I step outside and hold my little girl’s hand as we head for my mandatory exam, I am getting a new job. We need more money. The woman at the office told me I needed to go for a physical exam if I wanted the job. We need more money. I don’t know what I am going to do. I don’t know what the doctor is going to say. I don’t know what I am going to say to the doctor. I just hope the doctor will leave my chart empty by some divine intervention.
August – I step outside and the day is hot. It is bitter here. The streets are dry and the people are busy. They hurry here and there for their shopping. I dress my little girl and we walk quickly. She clutches my arm as she holds my hand. We are going to the midwife. Jun said this midwife lives in a little house outside of the village. We find the house with no difficulty, as it looks different than the village houses. I knock. “Hello! Welcome, you may come in!” she smiles at my little girl. I watch her eyes move over me and rest where my child is growing. I can see it very well now. My neighbors see it very well now. The midwife sees it. The doctor knows. The doctor wrote it on my chart and told me “You do not have a permit. We can schedule the procedure.” Jun said this midwife will deliver this child. “How long have you carried this child?” the midwife asks. I tell her five months. “Will you deliver this child?” I ask her. She looks at my little girl, sitting on the floor, playing with a fast-food toy. She puts her hand on the spot and then nods. “Yes. Have you been seen by a doctor?” I nod. “Have they scheduled a procedure?”. I tell her they want to. I tell her the office woman who interviewed me sent me to a private clinic. They did an ultra-sound.
“It’s another girl.”
She asks if my husband knows it is a girl. I tell her he does. We are not rich. We are not foreigners with no laws binding us. This is our second child, our second girl. It is not a boy. My neighbor, I tell her, knows someone who will buy girls for his business. “Do you want to do that?” the midwife asks. I tell her no. I want to keep my baby. “Do you know how you will do that?” she asks. So many questions. I clench my fists and turn my head to look at my little girl in the corner. I don’t know. I don’t know the answers to all these questions. I must kill the child growing inside me? Why? I don’t know. If it was a boy, why would that make a difference? I could pay a fine if it was a boy. Why does that make a difference? I want my child. I want this baby to look like me. I want to watch her grow. Maybe one day she will be rich and have many, fat, beautiful babies.
September – Rough wind rushes around the village. The silent quick moving, mothers and fathers, are all closed up in their homes for the night. The few people out might as well be locked in too. I know this because I am crying and they are not listening. They are not listening as my husband yells in frustration, as my little girl holds my hand tight. Very tight. I grip it as hard as I can. But they grip my hands too, harder than I can grip my little girl’s hand. It’s making me weak. I shout in pain. They called many times this week, but I didn’t call back. I didn’t know what to tell them. I didn’t want the procedure. I want my baby. They pulled me out of my house when I told them I would not go to kill my baby. They tell me they are going to take me to the clinic. There are other women too. And their cries are unheeded as mine. My husband and my little girl cry. I don’t want this. But these police are taking me against my will, they are law.
Early Morning – Its cold. The smell nauseates. I hear the sounds of rushing people as they go about their work… Not a very loud group. A non-verbal, non-opinionated group who go about their daily business. I feel the spot where my baby grew. Empty. My husband sits on the bedside, tired red eyes, tears. My little girl holds my hand.
I wonder what she looked like? I wonder if she’d change the world? I wonder if she’d hold my hand? If she’d dance? If she would be quiet and timid? I wonder if her cheeks would be fat and happy? Sunshine, dresses, laughter, playing with her sister, learning how to speak. If she could sing – how would it sound? If I could hold her, how would she feel in my arms? Would her father caress her face? We would run. We would play games and smile. Her hair would grow long. She would learn new things that I don’t know. And she would make me a wiser woman. Maybe she would go places I have never gone and teach people things they didn’t know. Maybe she would tell stories. Maybe she would paint. She would make people laugh. She would work hard, like her Father. They would work together. Planting winter wheat. They would be smiling in their labor. She would make him proud. I would be glad. A husband. She would have babies. Chubby cheeked babies who cooed. I would be happy. I would have joy. If she could have dimple-cheeked children. She would have many children. Beautiful and happy. I would make them food and teach them stories and they would listen. I wonder if I would watch her walk with her children’s hands in hers. If she would feel the joy and pleasure in it. If she would know the love of a mother. Such a great love. I would hope that she would never know pain. Just joy and happiness and pride. Just husband and children and mother and father. If she could know it, I would be well. I would die old and happy. Fulfilled. I would hold her hand as I went. Smiling.
But where is she? Where did they take her? Why did they take her?
A chart lies on the bed, on top of red stained sheets.
It reads everything I already know. It tells me that I am an abortion patient. I had a procedure.
Married mother of one female child, thirty-two years of age, second pregnancy; terminated.
She was a girl.