To be a girl...

Modigliani could have painted her. Were she a few inches taller she could have walked the ramp. But little Mahajabi's mom was born in a poor Muslim family in India a land where little girls are not welcome, a land where they are often done away with, a land where they just go missing.

Their fate if they do survive is no bed of roses. Mahajabi's mom does not even know her age but seems barely out of her teens, but unlike her peers in well to do homes or other lands, she looks used and abused. She has five children the eldest 5 and the youngest 10 months. She must have been married at a time when girls are normally carefree and got pregnant soon after. Since, her life has been spent being pregnant and breastfeeding while caring for her ever growing family. In her world any form of birth control is sinful and blasphemous. As long as her body is capable of bearing children she will continue doing so. She has no choice. Hers is a life devoid of rights; just a string of duties defined by traditions and mores made and defined by men.

Her husband is a daily wage labourer and barely earns enough for his family. Mahajabi's heart condition has come as a bolt from the blue and thrown the family out of gear. And yet she is a mother and cannot remain silent so she has moved in with her parents till the child is attended to and healed. With a courage and determination well beyond her years, this woman who does not know her own age, requested her neighbour to accompany her to the hospital as the child was sick. She had dropped by to ask us for some proof she could show the doctors who had earlier refused to attend to the child as they must have thought that this poor family could never gather the required 60 000 Rs.

But they were unaware of the power of a mother's prayers and the ways of the God of Lesser beings who is beyond religion and faith. Mahajabi will have her operation and will be given a chance to live.

But as one watched them leave, one wondered how long would little girls have to wait before they were given their rightful place in society.