I trudged along the narrow pathway that led from the school to my apartment street. The sun was at its peak, I had to walk with eyes half closed to shield them from it’s piercing rays. Just as I was venting out some “not-so-nice” words about the weather to myself, hoping no one was near enough to hear, I noticed a crowd of young men with a few women among gathered at the dump site which bordered the fence of a medical centre.
They stood a few feet from me- some of the men were in a squatting position and two of the women were extending their necks in between the men’s shoulders to get a better view and then retreating to disclose the information to the rest of the women who stood eagerly waiting. My first instinct was, “Khadra, go home”, but then again, the gossipy side of me won as always and I found myself nearing towards the gathering.
Rather than force myself through the thick skinned men, I decided to stand beside the women, knowing well enough that they would willingly offer the information- all they needed was a listening ear.
I got to the gathering and upon sighting me, the back-standers motioned to me saying “Hina” meaning “here” and an opening was carved for me amongst them which led to the centre. One look at the sight in front of me and my God, even with three years of medical school, the urge to purge out my intestinal contents couldn’t be resisted. I thought to myself “breathe Khadra, breathe”. It took all the guts in me to swallow back.
I’ve heard about it and I know it’s as real as the oxygen I breathe in, but to think I’d have to see it. Lying at my feet with a group of squatted men surrounding it, were two infants, fully formed with thick black hair on their heads. Their placentas were still intact and their fair skin blotched in dried blood. Unclothed, their genitalia signified that they were females. Of course they were, they usually were the victims. But twins, I couldn’t wrap my head around it.
I realized why the men let me in, they thought I was a doctor from the medical centre because I was putting on a lab-coat. But no, I was just a 3rd year medical student whose naivety had been stolen by the sight in front of her. The rotten, pungent smell that rose into the atmosphere did little to hinder our presence. I arose saying “Ana maa doctor, Ana maa doctor”, “I’m not a doctor” and pushed myself out the crowd. There was little I could do anyway, they were gone, their lives snatched from them.
The people who did it, they’ve done it before, they did it now and they’d do it again. Bride prices are too expensive they claim, who’d continue with our family name? These are the lame excuses given to justify female infanticide. And those babies, just left to die. Flowers meant to bloom, now left wilted- they never even had a chance. I could beat myself up about It all day, but it wouldn’t change a thing. The people who practice these acts are deeply embedded In ignorance.
Making my way up the stairways that led to my flat, one thought kept recurring to me- those who do it, how do they sleep at night?