Shishir 2018, Short Stories -Debjani Mukherjee


The Third Baby Girl

By Debjani Mukherjee


Nowadays she can’t breathe properly. Her weight has increased a lot And her belly is huge. Walking is a problem but work doesn’t stop as hungry mouth needs food. Manjit pushes the soap trolley to the allotted rack. The manager Kartar Singh is a good man so nowadays she gets lighter trolleys to push and lighter objects to accumulate on the racks. Her trolley is filled with soaps, wrapped in different wrappers. Different fragrances rose, jasmine, Sandalwood, cologne - each carrying its own splendor. Fragrance often connects with people in unique ways. Sometimes entangled with people’s memories and nostalgia or sometimes with their admiration for a particular person or sometimes merely getting tickled with the feeling of romanticism. Every essence allures people is its own way, depending on the mood and melody of that soul.


Manjit needs rest more as her date is approaching. Here in her home she hardly gets any time to rest. Right from the morning she has to do all the household chores - and look after her husband, her in-laws and her two daughters Sony and Guddi of five and three. Then she needs to come and work in this departmental store which gives her 3000 rupees at the end of the month. Her husband Kuldeep is a sugarcane juice seller. His income is not fixed, sometimes it’s good and sometimes not so she needs to continue this job even in her advanced state of pregnancy.


But tomorrow to her relief she will be going to her brother’s house in the village for the rest of her pregnancy days and delivery. She has done this for the other two times also as neither her husband nor in-laws were ready to take the responsibility of the delivery. Manjit noticed last time her sister-in-law was not pleased with her arrival as her brother had to take care of the expenses of the delivery. She doesn’t know what will be her reaction this time. But she has no power to control her husband’s negligence towards the birth control methods while having sex. And she is again powerless when her husband says it’s your family’s responsibility to bear the expenses of the pregnancy.

So she is left with no option than to go to her brother every time and this time her mind is even more clouded as her husband and in-laws already warned her that they will not accept her in their home anymore if she again gives birth to a girl child. She never understood what on earth she could do to ensure giving birth to a male child! When her second daughter was born non from her husband’s family came to visit her in the hospital and when she went back home with her brother she had to go through extreme insult for her sin of giving birth to another girl child. Manjit has gone under different religious process this time to ensure giving birth to a boy this time. She really has no idea what will happen if she again gives birth to another girl child for the third time.

The Next Day, Manjit ’s brother house is in Goripur a small village in Kurukshetra district of Punjab. He is a farmer. Their father used to have a small piece of land, a portion of which had to be sold at the time of Manjit’s marriage to pay the dowry. The rest has come to her brother which is his only source of income. He stays with his wife and two children in a two roomed shanty with a thatched roof and a brief open courtyard in front enclosed with a mud wall and a wooden gate. Both their parents died few years ago.


Manjit’s bhabi (sister in law) Komal is preparing bread in the tandoor an oven made of mud for the dinner. Her expression of displeasure was clearly sketched on her face. Her brother Diljit was resting on the rope cot in his room. Manjit was sitting beside him, they were talking about the growth of crops, the bitterness of the cold this year, neighbors, the kids, their spouses almost anything and everything crossing their thoughts. The eternal bond of brother and sister is rejuvenated with the meeting after a long time. All the four kids, two daughters of hers and Diljit’s one daughter and one son is sitting in a row in the kitchen. Komal is serving them hot breads made of corn wheat from the tandoor and vegetable of mustard leaves along with a glass of sweet butter milk.


She was not very pleased with this additional expense of three plates both the time of the day as it would be a cut to the house hold expense later the month. But she has no guts to speak over her husband who has readily accepted this burden. Komal is absolutely disgusted with the fact that she and her children has to suffer even more economic crunch than usual as her sister in law had an unprotected sex with her husband. She prepared two servings in high rim steel plates along with high glass of butter milk and went to serve her husband and sister in law.

Four days later Manjit is admitted to the government hospital in Kurukshetra. It was her third time but the pain is still as unbearable as the first. Isn’t it ridiculous when women are considered vulnerable and weak by the people when the God himself has created them with such power to bear the bone breaking pain and bring a new life to this world? A woman’s body is a miracle of God’s creation a powerhouse of extreme tolerance but often underestimated by the world to be weak. Why the simple fact remains unacknowledged by the mortals that the power of tolerance is not at all weaknesses rather a sign of great strength!


Diljit called his brother-in-law to inform Manjit’s condition, but Kuldeep rudely answered “calls if only it’s a boy otherwise no need to call ever”. The belabor of the labour pain was less bearable to Manjit than this answer given by her husband. Her eyes spilled more for the pain in her heart than her body. Was this pregnancy her fault!! Didn’t she urge Kuldeep repeatedly to use protection to avoid pregnancy!! Wasn’t it he who ignored the importance of safe sex!!! Manjit screamed more than ever instigated with emotions getting twisted with the physical pain. Her body wanted to push out the element within her womb rendered by her husband, her stone heartened evil husband who doesn’t care a dime for her. In her core she is shivering with the fear of discovering the gender of her third born and continued to pray for it to be a son this time.

But God again blessed her with another girl child. Manjit burst into tears as it is no less than a death sentence. She started howling like mad and refused to touch or even see the new born. Her daughters Sony and Guddi stood holding each other in the corner of the hospital room witnessing the violent reaction of their mother. They saw the baby when the nurse was taking it to bathe. It’s extremely fair skinned and quite healthy with chestnut eyes. They wanted to hold their sister in their arms but have no courage to do so seeing the reaction of their mother. Diljit tried to console his sister saying “don’t worry I will talk to Kuldeep”. But deep in his heart he knew it won’t be easy to talk to that inhuman person to whom his sister was married to.

This is the seventh time when Diljit was trying to call his brother in law. He once picked up the phone but by hearing it’s again a girl he cut it at once and since not answering the phone. Manjit was brought back to her brother’s place as Kuldeep didn’t answer the phone. Komal was furious in her expressions called her husband in the other room and spoke vigorously in a high voice sufficient enough to be audible from the other room, of her non tolerance towards the burden of three other mouths to be feed twice every day. Diljit scolded his wife but within he knew she was not much wrong in her words as what he earns was barely enough to buy food for them four.

Diljit got ready very early and started for the Kurukshetra city to meet his brother in law and his parents. The cold is too harsh this year probably the harshest of all time, he had to wear two sweaters and then wrap a shawl on them to keep himself warm. He reached the city quite early as he wanted to meet Kuldeep before he starts for his work. But as soon as they understood it’s Manjit’s brother they denied to allow him into the house or even open the door.


But Diljit kept knocking and begging on the front door for long. The neighbours too gathered in his support. So ultimately Kuldeep had to let him in. Kuldeep’s mother insulted him like anything he listened everything in silence keeping his head low as his sister is the sinner of giving birth to a girl child for the third time.

Kuldeep was the worst of all he was adamant to break all relations with the wife who is no good to give birth to a son. What is the utility of a woman who can’t to give him a son!!! Diljit fell on his bother in laws leg and with folded hands he pleaded to take back his sister and her daughters back. Kuldeep kicked him aside and said “no way I am taking that sinful born to my house. Your sister can only come back here if she get rids of the new born.” Seeing no way out Diljit agreed to the condition helplessly and came back home with a heavy heart.

He had no idea what would they do with the baby girl. Life of a woman is believed to be a burden from eternity. The fruitless investment, one day to be handed to another family who will get the benefits of her labor. And more over the family will be squeezed out by the payment of their daughter’s dowry. What a waste indeed. Diljit heard of an old ritual of Gujarat named “dhoodh peeti” (feeding milk) where new born girl child were drowned in the milk to death. But that’s not much in practiced now days. Now a days the pre- birth sex determination and there after abortion of the female child is more in practice. But that is illegal too and very a strictly punishable offence. So doctors are not ready to do any such thing easily. Some very rare doctors who agree to do this demands huge amount of money which was beyond the economic status of the Kuldeep’s family. So they had to keep the child and give it birth. But now what!! What would they do with the girl now?

Manjit listened to everything silently and said “you go and sleep brother. Tomorrow we will be free from this trouble”. Diljit couldn’t understand what on earth his sister will do in a night that tomorrow things will get better!! But there was something on her face which terrified him to his core. Something as dark as a moonless night as vicious as an evil shadow of a ghoul. Without uttering a word Diljit went to his room and closed the door.

At the deep murk of night when everybody of the house slept Manjit took her new born daughter in her arms and carried her out to the open courtyard. The cold is biting through the bones. Just like a ferocious hungry wolf which is ready to devour every soul around. Manjit waddle to the middle of the courtyard and lays her two days old daughter on the ground. The infant instantly cried out loud as the chill got through her ribs. Manjit one by one started opening the layers of clothes from the tiny body. Slowly bit by bit she ransacked all the layers of cover from her daughter’s body without leaving a thread behind. The tiny body turned red at once and the baby voice screamed with all its might to be rescued from the frosty bites of cold. But who will come to save that unfortunate soul whose own mother is the one who is rendering death to her fate!

Manjit left her daughter, her unwanted third born alone on the floor and lumbered to a side of the courtyard and sat down clutching her knees to her chest resting her back on the mud wall hugging the courtyard around. The baby girl cried and cried as Manjit kept watching her without a drop of tears in her eyes. In her mind she keeps repeating “Die baby die . This world is not for you. This world is not for us. We are women the curse of God given to the unfortunate mortals who always want us dead but keep us alive for their own selfish reasons. We are here to clean their houses, cook their foods, comfort their physical needs and yet we are a burden of a lifetime.


Die my princess die so that you don’t have to die a thousand times in your lifetime. They come every now and then to butcher a part of our soul out of our body and gift us a bit of death. Every time they attack with more brutality more intensity of sadist pleasure. Die my baby love die so that you can live in your next life. May you be a bird and fly free in the azure spreading your wings in ecstasy. May you be a deer flinging your body in the air running miles in the wild with joy in your heart. May you be a tigress roaring with all your might bringing down the entire jungle on their keens in front of your invincible power. May you be anything my baby than this loathsome creature called women.

The babies’ sounds become inaudible and God knows when without realizing Manjit dozed off to sleep. In the morning her eyes opened with the chipping of the birds. She hobbled to the baby being sure to find it dead by then. But to all her surprise she found the baby still breathing. The little body was blue and cold as a piece of rock but beneath her ribs the little heart was still beating life. The fire within her skin is still pumping blood. Manjit’s eyes flooded with tears and she at once wrapped a blanket around her baby. If a baby of mere two days can fight with death for a whole night and make it to the sunrise then what could possibly stop her from fighting against the world and saving her won daughters!

She holds the tiny body close to her chest and went back to the room. She packed her things and woke up her two daughters. And they all walked out of the house before anyone wakes up. “Where are we going mommy to papa?” Her elder daughter Sony asked. Manjit took her little hand close to her lips and said by kissing it “ I don’t know where we are going my love but I promise it will be a better place for all of you. The sun shines bright on the sky spreading its warmth on all the four female who were now in their amours of war.


Debjani Mukherjee from India has an MBA in applied management has a passion of studying human life and put her observation and feelings into words. She can write in English, Bengali, and Hindi. Her poems, articles and short stories are published in many international anthologies and magazines. She is a regular contributor to the magazines like GloMag, Destiny Poets, Different Truths, Tuck magazine etc.Her short story “The Summer Moon" won the summer contest of the USA based magazine, Academy of Heart and Mind.


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