Out tribe has now come to Bekaropur. The desert, a fuscous-brown, is the abode of many living organisms- lizards, snakes and human beings. The Sun was shining brightly overhead sucking out water from our bodies. My tongue was swollen without water and my throat felt as if it had been rubbed with sandpaper. We walked a few miles until the Noon was in sight. All the men roared in laughter for we had finally approached our destination. As the women of our tribe walked, they carried vessels for water in their hands and werequarrelling about what were Shantubai’s sons were doing. Some made their elder son engineer and other doctor while others made both of them lawyers, however, both happy go lucky enough. The women wore large bangles made of silver and wore a kurta pajama adorned with multicolored dupattas. They wore anklets in their ankles which jingled as they walked and their pure silver nose rings reflected a great deal of light. They wore heavy necklaces around their necks each of them made of glass beads.
We reached the banks of Noon where all men got down from their camels and the women came to a halt after walking miles in the scorching, golden sand. While the men took the cattle to the Noon to quench their thirst, all the women and I put down our vessels and set for our journey again. Bhaiya was to go with us too.
I could bear it no longer. I ran towards Bhaiya and asked him, “Bhaiya I want to ride the camel.”
“No darling. What if you fall, you will have scars on your pretty face ruining it.”
“But…” Before I could argue further, Bhaiya shook his turban and looked at me with bloodshot eyes which meant cold refusal. I went back, desolate, for now I was more anxious than I had been earlier. I looked towards my laboring mother who was about to give birth to my sibling. We were going to the hospital for an ultrasound to check whether my sibling was a boy or a girl.
I bent my head down looking towards the sand, pondering- A girl can never be equivalent to a boy for this society pulls it deep inside the Earth, ignoring how capable she was, she was fragile to ride a camel but a boy tough, a boy brings pride to a family whereas a girl- a black spot! Why only a girl to face these prejudices but I can’t help it.
What would happen if my sibling is a girl? I was lucky to survive death because all women of my tribe and my mother resisted the force of the men. This time too my mother was confident that her child would be saved for she was supported by the women who have always stood by her. This thought too comforted me as I threw open the hospital door.
©Rijak Kaur Sarla