Heart of darkness


His body lay squashed on the bridge that connected my hometown to the rest of the world – a typical dusty Indian town that stumbles on its own follies but never rises above them.

A monstrous 10-wheeler truck had run over the doctor leaving his bloody innards entangled with those of his bike. Dr Dinakar Shetty had met with his end on the same bridge from where he dumped black plastic bags stuffed with female foetuses and newborns into the rivulet flowing under—some poisoned, some smothered, and some throbbing soft and warm.

“See, I told you so many times. Such people don’t die a peaceful death,” my mother said relieving me of my sleepy little girl after a harrowing 400-km journey from Bangalore.

The town was all agog at the news. Some were relieved because their family secrets had died with him. Some others were at their wits’ end as they did not know which saviour they could go to next, where to find relief and how to hide their dirty secrets.

Illicit relationships often spawn female babies. Don’t they?

The bereaved family prepared him for the funeral. Rose and jasmine garlands could hide the chaos of his carefully rearranged body and blood oozing out from here and there. However, a bundle of incense sticks burning relentlessly barely outdid the stink of cheap scent sprinkled on him.

A procession of who’s who of the town, policemen, bureaucrats—some pained, some confused, and some rather relieved – led the doctor to his final resting place.

“He was such a simple man. I remember how he used to ride a bicycle when he came here long ago,” a male voice slowly rose above the din.

“But he progressed so much since then you see. He sent his two sons to America for studies, built a big house but never bought a car!” another replied.

The crowd threaded its way through a narrow, busy road where his clinic stood locked. Inside, a dusty white paper saying “sex determination is not done here” was pasted on the wall. Right below it was an ultrasound scanning machine—the one that never failed to throw up images of tiny, silly biological things floating and somersaulting in an enormously dark universe as if it’s their own. Next to it was a wooden cot with a stained mattress where all the dark deeds took place. Beside this clinic lay a pit dug years ago. When broken baby bones began showing up on the surface, the doctor started dumping them into the stream and let them be devoured by dogs and vultures.

No signs of the past. All safe and neat.

Spread over acres of barren land on the left side of the stream, this abandoned cemetery pinpointed one thing my benighted hometown had in excess: sheer callousness.

“7,000? Per day?”

“Yes, 7,000 per day. That’s how many female foetuses India kills each day,” I told my mother.

The crowd drew close to the curve leading up to our house. In an instant, my mother stood up, rushed to the door and slammed it shut. It was a day that had all her curses answered.

For a moment, I felt I could almost touch her kind, angelic soul that guarded six of her girl children—unwanted, unwelcomed by the rest of the world. I listened to her endless grumbling as she rocked my little girl in the same cradle I had slept in long ago.

6 thoughts on “Heart of darkness

    • Thanks Tejaswi. What’s frightening is sometimes even the wildest of imaginations are so close to reality. Don’t you think so?

  1. Dear Savita,
    I loved the article. Please visit mitukhurana.wordpress.com and savedaughters19.wordpress.com for a non fiction account of female foeticide. yes u r right in saying that “even the wildest of imaginations are so close to reality”

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