Wednesday, 6 May 2009

A Letter from a College Girl to her Mom - [EXCLUSIVE]

Dear Amma...........,

I’ve been
wanting to write this letter for a very long time, but either my emotions got so intense that nothing I felt could be put to writing or I felt so high and dry that I just felt like burying my head in the sand and remaining there. But today is my 18th birthday, (or so they tell me), and I cannot think of a better day to write to you. But first I have to tell you a little story.

On a cold January morning in 1991, a newborn baby girl was found in a garbage bin outside the Government Hospital in the city of Madurai. For all practical reasons it must have frozen to death and become food for
the many stray dogs that patrol the streets, as is the case most of the time. But by some good fortune, a milkman heard its weak cries. He found it wrapped in a shawl. He couldn’t afford another mouth to feed and so took it to a Christian organization which catered to disowned baby girls. The baby was there for two years till it was adopted by a childless couple in Bangalore. She was given all the love and affection that any girl could have asked for. Nor did she lack anything materially, her foster parents being rich real estate business people. She was an only child and so received all the attention she desired. She got a Public School education. She had no idea about her origins till she was 16 years old. That was when, for some reason, her mummy got it into her head to tell her who she really was. From that day the girl has had sleepless nights. At any rate, she graduated from Pre-University with an excellent score card and her daddy decided that she should get her higher education in his alma mater, the Madras Christian College, Chennai. It couldn’t have got better – she loves the college. But she still spends sleepless nights dreaming about her mother. She sometimes invades her sleep in some form of a bloodsucking rakshasi and she wakes up drenched in sweat and trembling all over. Sometimes she creeps into her sleep, a dimunitive little woman reaching out and weeping for her lost child, and she spends the rest of the night trying to sob herself to sleep. Isn’t it strange how a person you have never met can dominate your life? Amma, I am that girl.

Amma, like I said, I have everything I could have ever wanted. I hope that makes you happy. And yet I have nothing. I have a Mummy and a Daddy who love me and who will be hurt if they knew the thoughts that run through my head. But I don’t have my Amma. Do you love me, Amma? No, maybe that is too much to ask. But, believe me, Amma, I love you. I love you so much that you fill my thoughts day and night. That’s why I don’t think I can ever have a lover. You monopolize my thoughts. I like to think that you loved me at least then. Otherwise what would have made you wrap me up in a shawl? Did you have to crawl home cold and sick in the January chill because you had sacrificed your only piece of warm clothing for your child? Maybe it was that shawl that saved my life. I have that shawl with me and it is the most precious object I shall ever posses. The nights I’ve gone to sleep holding it to my breast/chest as if it could replace you! Do you miss me? Ever wished you could have me back? Or do you feel relieved that the burden that was me is off your back, or should I say your stomach and heart? What did you feel when you put me in that dustbin? Did you put me there gently like a mother lays her sleeping child in the cradle? Such gentleness only a mother can show. Were you weeping, Amma, like the woman who comes in my dreams? Or did you just dump me in there, so that you could be done with it quickly? Or was I plucked wailing out of your loving arms by violent hands and thrown there: another piece of garbage to join the garbage already there? Whatever it was, believe me Amma, I am not blaming you. I know you would not have done it if you had the slimmest way out.

I often wonder how I came to be around in the first place. How did it happen, Amma? Maybe it was a stolen moment of sweaty love and pleasure, when passion is the only goddess that exists. The gentle kiss or caress of love that let the demon of passion in? Or maybe the sanctioned couch of marital love where the mention of a female baby is taboo, where the mother-in-law stands outside the secret portals waiting for the victorious masculine cry, “It is a BOY!”? Or was it some sleazy side street where drunken animals in human form reduced a straining, struggling, pleading human being into an object of lust? Sometimes I hear the pleading and begging in my dreams and wake up screaming. Or was it a stifling, smelly room where men try to purchase the most beautiful of human emotions with greasy bank notes? A posh, tiled kitchen with a hurried liaison, forced or not, before the jealous eyes of the mistress were alerted, perhaps? And what was he like, Amma? What was my Appa like? Was his face the picture of love gone out of control? Or was it the face of an inhuman brute? Or, worse still, maybe he doesn’t have a face at all. Whatever it was, you were caught in the biological trap, Amma, and it was not going to let you go till it had run its course.

What was it like when I was inside you, Amma? Did I give you a lot of trouble? What did it feel like when I kicked out with my little feet? I know mothers wait for that feeling with joy, but you, what did it feel like to you? Was there a sense of foreboding doom? I often dream of the smile that must have lit your eyes when, for a few minutes, you held my little wriggling body in your arms. Those are my sweetest dreams when I feel my Amma was actually proud of me. What changed that pride to shame, Amma? Was it the fear of returning to a village hovel, to a raging husband and a vicious mother-in-law with the shame of having given birth to a girl child? A useless extra mouth to feed that meant only trouble and wasted money in the form of dowry? Where it is a sin to be born a baby girl? Did you think you were actually doing me a favour by sparing me the agonizing death of having raw rice stuffed down my tender throat? Was it the fear of being ostracized by an unfeeling society? Or was it just the fact that babies are bad for business? Would you have done the same thing if I had been a boy? My umbilical cord must have been really short if you could consign what you had nurtured within your body for nine months to a garbage bin so quickly. But, Amma, thank you, oh thank you so much for not aborting me.

What are you like Amma? Is something wrong with me? Normal girls my age spend all their time dreaming of nonexistent husbands to be. And here I am, dreaming of a real mother who really exists but whom I’ve never seen. They say daughters resemble their mothers. I often look at the mirror and imagine an older me standing behind me. My friends say I have a lot of baby fat on me. Are you like that too? They say I have bright, mischievous eyes. In fact, my eyes are my greatest asset. I like to think of you as a cheerful little woman with eyes like mine. I wish I could see you, Amma, even if it is just for a few minutes. Will you come to me, Amma? I would go anywhere in the world to meet you. But I don’t know where you are. I am sure you will get this letter somehow, if not today, someday. Just come to me, show yourself to me. And say a few words. I want to know what you sound like. Do that, Amma, and I promise I will never disturb you again. You know where I am. Please, please come to me.

I’ve said some of what I wanted to say to you, Amma. The rest can only be felt when I rest my head on your shoulders and cry 18 years of my life away. When I can squeeze the tears out of your body with my, “I love you, Amma!” Now that I’ve said all this to you, I feel so tired. I have to go to sleep. What will you come in my dreams as tonight, Amma? Whatever you come as, remember, your daughter loves you, dreams of you, and is waiting for you to come to her. Amma, when I was born they forgot to cut my umbilical cord. You can never disconnect yourself from me and I can never disconnect myself from you. I shall hug my shawl and go to sleep with the happy thought that I have spoken to my Amma for the first time in my life.

Goodnight, Amma! Sleep tight where ever you are.

Your ever-loving, ever waiting daughter,

Natasha. (I wonder what you would have named me!)

PLEASE NOTE: This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance it may have to any individual or individuals, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

If you're curious to know who the writer is, and if you have any comments for her, mail


  1. Nice story! Indeed it's a strong case for the female infant who has to beat against the grain to sustain herself in the planet or rather accommodate herself in the planet called earth!

  2. Hi there,

    The oleander plant yields a bright, pleasant flower, but also a milky sap that, if ingested, can be a deadly poison. It's one of the methods families use to kill newborn girls in the Salem District of Tamil Nadu, a part of India notorious for female infanticide (as i read in a journal on asian studies).
    Though the government has battled the practice for decades, India's gender imbalance has worsened in recent years. Any progress toward halting infanticide, it seems, has been offset by a rise in sex-selective abortions. Too many couples - aided by medical technology, unethical doctors, and weak enforcement of laws banning abortion on the basis of gender - are electing to end a pregnancy if the fetus is female.

    Conversely, a daughter is considered an economic burden. Pressure to conform can be intense in rural areas, and some families borrow heavily to pay for the rituals prescribed for a girl - the ear-piercing ceremony, wedding jewelry, dowry, and presents for the groom's family on every Hindu festival.

    I personally feel that the only way to wipe out this evil is by an attitudinal shift. Educate a girl beyond eighth grade and encourage her to find her voice. That's wat the writer of your letter amply justifies, and i am quite proud of her.

    I also feel that she should stop yearning for her passionless mom and instead concentrate on her step father n mother who have had the love and passion(compassion) to bring her up and give her such a remarkable education.

    On the other hand, I personally feel that merely prosecuting mothers for committing female infanticide or blaming her by writing these kinds of letters will not help prevent the act. Will the persons who do not fear their conscience fear the law? It is true that the mother is as helpless as her female child, that is unwanted in the family. Longing for a baby boy is to a large extent responsible for the negative sex ratio in the country. Creating awareness among the masses and emphasising female education would help women know their status, rights and means. Enforcement of family-planning will also help, as children in smaller families get greater love and care. The role of NGOs and women activists in bringing about this sociological change is of prime importance.

    More to write, but i hope i'm not boring you,.... ;-)

    Awaiting your reply,

    Priya Carol

  3. Hello Sir/Madam,

    your letter (whoever be the author) is chilling in content and endearing in its appeal.

    FEMALE INFANTICIDE is one of the issues that is gaining much prominence from all quarters these days, but a recent report in one of the leading national dailies about a baby girl abandoned in a dustbin came as a shock…yet again.

    One tends to question, what effect do the media awareness programmes and different initiatives taken by the government and non-government organizations really have? Are they really effective in bringing about any change in the outlook of the society?

    If not, where lies the loophole?

    A baby girl tied in polythene bag and dumped in a public dustbin left to be torn away by wild stray dogs. An incident that took place nowhere else but in the very capital of our country.

    I Wish you pls read Gita Aravamudan's book on ‘Disappearing Daughters: The Tragedy of Female Foeticide’ presents a chilling and in-depth account of the growing practice of female foeticide in the country.

    Gender-selective killing or "gendercide" always show many other signs of bias against females.
    Women are perceived as subservient because of their role as carers and homemakers, whilst men predominantly ensure the family's social and economic stability.

    Your letter is an eye-opener for the supposed 'chauvinists' and also for those who go on a tirade against the fairer sex in the name of 'society and moral policing'.