<%-- Page Title--%> Reflections <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 150 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

April 16, 2004

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Born from the Heart

Sangita Ahmed

I first laid eyes on my daughter, exactly thirty months ago. She looked so small, wrapped in a yellow towel, sleeping peacefully. Feathery eye lashes resting on soft little cheeks, the colour of warm milk and cinnamon. As I took her in my arms, she pursed her lips in slight annoyance at being disturbed in her dreams.

Immediately, two tiny dimples appeared and went in a split of a second. No bigger than pin pricks, but enough for me to notice. I lifted the towel a few inches and touched her hair, soft as a duckling's down. I gingerly moved the towel a little further and looked at her fingers and toes. All twenty and perfect! I heaved a sigh of relief. I had gone through this ordeal twice before, at the birth of my two sons. I somehow dreaded these moments, maybe all mothers do.

My daughter looked beautiful. My husband softly said to me," She will grow even more beautiful with your loving care."

The baby was just twenty days old. We were told that she had been born premature. Just a little over five pounds. I gently handed her back to Dr. Dilruba. There were legal formalities to be completed before we could take her home. It would take another week. To me it seemed like an eternity!

The next week was busy. We had to buy all necessary (as well as some unnecessary, but too pretty to resist) baby stuff and accessories. It was fun.

At last, on the third week of September 2001, our daughter came home.

My husband and mother-in-law accompanied me to CTRDW (Center for Training and Rehabilitation of Destitute Women, House 2, Road 11, Pisciculture Housing Society, Mohammadpur, Dhaka) to collect her. Her (biological) mother was most probably still there but we were not allowed to meet her. We agreed it was best that way. Dr. Dilruba told us that the files containing her mother's history, were for our daughter's eyes only. It meant that when she grew up, she could go to their offices to learn about the woman who gave birth to her. We just knew that her mother was a young girl, abandoned by her husband and turned away by her stepmother, while she was carrying our child in her womb.

Dr.Dilruba, the main person behind this child care and foster placement agency says that, prospective foster parents often ask her whether or not the child was born out of wedlock. She greets such queries with a wan smile and explains; "Child bearing is not affected by marriage. The birth of a child is a biological function and marriage is a social entity. Caregivers play a much more important role than heredity in a child's development. Most of the time psychological factors override the genetic factor. It's the caring, discipline and love of a parent or care giver that leads a child into happy and successful adulthood."

Yes, we have had our fair share of sleepless nights, the anguish of helplessly trying to rock and sing away our daughter's colic pain, suddenly waking up in the middle of the night anxiously, to check if she was breathing properly, arguing on whose turn it was to change the nappies, trying in vain to somehow take away her teething pains and so on. The bittersweet pangs of parenthood, that flee by too quickly, long before we realise their worth.

My daughter has always been an early starter. She was born a month early, teethed at six months, took her first step at nine months and could express herself clearly before she reached two. Each stage of her growing up is like opening up a precious beautifully wrapped, surprise gift. The patter of soft little feet all over the house has somewhat helped fill the emptiness I felt, when my elder son left for the UK after his 'O' Levels. Even at this moment as I sit at the computer writing this article, my daughter is sitting on my lap and trying her best to distract me. The house is warm with the sounds of my two year old daughter and twelve year old son fighting fiercely and just as suddenly making up with hugs and kisses. Both my sons think the world of her; in their eyes she can do no wrong. Her grandparents spoil her rotten and she enjoys every minute of it!

Often when I come across a small child selling flowers or sweets on the road, my heart constricts with pain. Our little girl, who loves French fries and chocolates, could have been standing there with wide beseeching eyes, tapping on my car window.

A tiny life cell, created out of a mindless, loveless physical act. The desire burns out in a few seconds; a legacy of a lifetime is left behind. The burden of a thoughtless mistake to be borne on innocent little shoulders.

My husband and I have decided never to lie to our daughter about her birth. When she grows up we will tell her that she is special because God granted us the opportunity of choosing her. Now, when I say to my daughter, "Do you know where you came from?" She puts her hand over my chest and says "Ammu'r ar Baba'r Heart thekey".



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