A Wild Past
|Seeds of the Datura plant|
My village, Thattaguppe, has a history as wild and bitter as the poisonous seeds of the Datura plant.
My own past was borne from it.
My grandmother loves to narrate the story of my birth. Seeing me the way I am today, she thinks my story has a happy ending. She was the one who sternly scolded my father for rejecting me when he found out that I was born a girl. She often tells me with pride, “When your father wanted to throw you in the garbage pit, I gave him a piece of my mind.”
When a girl child is born, no kerosene lamps are lit to brighten the hut, no coconut sweets are distributed to the neighbors, and no meat is cooked to celebrate. Instead, there are only tears and quiet whispers on how to get rid of the baby. It was not uncommon for the midwife to be bribed with goodies of all sorts to secretly carry out the unspeakable – murder. A girl child is considered a burden to the family. She brings no wealth and the parents have to give dowry to get her married.
So, there was an easy way. The seeds of the wild, thorny Datura plant would do. They were to be crushed, mixed in milk and fed to the female infant minutes just after her birth.
But things are somewhat different now. Female infanticide is a punishable crime and I hope the fear of getting caught might make it less likely.
Luckily, I survived. And here I am to tell my story!