Two women and a baby

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Jun 15, 2018-

My mom loves small children very much and she has a capacity to befriend any child within a short while. She takes even unknown children in her lap and kisses them and plays with them. Maybe it’s because she lost her six-day-old daughter (my kid sister) many years ago. Once, she almost found herself in trouble because of her infatuation for children. My mom’s distant relatives had recently migrated to our neighbourhood from the hills. They had a baby who was a few months old. Naturally, my mother became fond of the baby and she started spending a lot of time in their house. The nursing mother often requested my mother to look after her baby while she was busy with her household chores. There was very good friendship between the two ladies for some months.

I also started going to the house to play with the baby. She was fair, beautiful and delicate. She used to smile and throw her arms towards me in a gesture that she was ready to be picked up. Her tiny, robust and muscular hands and feet were smooth and enchanting. Sometimes, she wetted her smelly spongy bed and I changed her nappy. We both started to like each other’s company.

One day, the whole situation changed. The family celebrated the baby’s second birthday and invited almost everybody in the neighbourhood to the party, but not us. We were surprised. The next day, somebody informed my mother that she had been suspected of being a witch, and the child’s mother was watching her closely. The baby had been ill with fever and loose motions two weeks ago. My mother had changed her nappy two or three times. When the mother took the baby to a village shaman, he had told her to secretly watch my mother’s activities around the baby because she could be a witch. Perhaps the shaman knew that my mother had lost both her husband and baby daughter and was taking shelter in her parents’ house.

We stopped going to the house and talking to the family. My grandmother also found out about it and scolded my mother for showing unnecessary attachment with the baby. I remained furious with the baby’s mother all through the years until we left the place after my SLC exam, but it was not good to talk about it anymore. After two decades, I feel a chill running down my spine whenever I read, hear or watch news about women being tortured and killed after being accused of being a witch. What if my mom’s parents were not well-off and reputed in the whole village? What if my mom’s brother was not an Indian army man known for his fierceness? Perhaps she would have suffered the same fate as many poor and helpless women in different parts of the country have suffered.

Published: 15-06-2018 07:36

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