Friday, March 8, 2013


[A segment from my novel, “From the Desert"]


                                    Abhorrent!”                                    “Good heavens”                       
                                                 “Why on earth—?” 
                        “Keep your voices down, else the children …”
                                                             “Oh my, and a fifteen year-old!”
                   “Alas, the sadness of it”
                              “This is by no means an appropriate subject for—“
                                                                                      “How awful!”
                                           “Upon my word, I have never heard of a …”
        “You should most certainly not take part in the scheme”
                      It is best to accept that these matters are part and parcel of life”
                                            “Just think of the precious little—“

The root of this matter is rather simple,” the rosy-cheeks woman’s voice rose above the others; “as it is, women have been struggling to gain freedom and equality since time without beginning.  When with child, this struggle intensifies tenfold, as we are then viewed as a vessel for another life.”
          “An expecting woman inevitably turns into two individuals,” said the blue-eyed woman, “her former self, and this fresh one, which naturally renders her new responsibilities.  The problem arises when a schism forms between these two identities.“
           “My wife was carrying our child when she perished,” said the rosy-cheeks woman’s older brother with tenacity, looking at the woman, “and you are considering such an abominable act? As a woman of medicine, you are obligated to save lives!”
“It is also my responsibility to protect the life of a young women, a child herself, who sought my help,” replied the woman undeterred.  “If I turn her away she will in all likelihood end up hurting herself.”
“It is well known that while the rich hire licensed physicians to perform the procedure in secret, the poor put their lives in the hands of unskilled practitioners of folk medicine; or worse, use methods of non-surgical implements, too often with fatal results,” added the blue-eyed woman.  “We should face the reality around us, and not stand by our ideals alone.”
“In fact,” said her husband, “a friend of mine lost his sister to a procedure of that kind.”
“Nonetheless, it is outright hideous to be involved in such a matter,” insisted the older brother.  “The sanctity of life stands above all!”
“Pray, pay no attention to him,” said the rosy-cheeks woman, turning to the woman as well; “he takes after our father, who, though a benevolent man all his life, held strict opinions of women.”
“He treated our mother with the utmost respect,” admonished the brother, “and adored you from the moment you were born!”
“That is true,” agreed the rosy-cheeks woman, “yet when it came to matters of the fair sex, our dear father was by no means a person of liberal views.”
“An orderly society holds well-defined roles for its citizens,” retorted the brother, his face reddened.
“Times are changing, bro,” said his younger brother.  “Gone are the days when downtrodden folks accepted their fate in obedience.”
            The woman looked at the older brother.  “I do appreciate you remaining constant to the memory of your dear wife and your unborn child,” she said with feeling.  Mumbles of consent resounded around the table.  “And I empathize with your sentiments on this matter,” she added, “yet the problem is this:  By solving one dilemma, we are faced with a host of other quandaries.”  She let out a sigh.  I fear there are no good resolutions to this somber circumstance.”
          She walked home with a heavy heart; this was her first encounter with an impasse of this delicate nature.  Though the conversation stirred a heated argument—and her indecision remained intact—she was relived to have shared her qualms with the others.  And she was glad the man had not joined her that afternoon; else, she would have said nothing, knowing the subject would have upset him.  Though he never spoke of their loss.

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