In the chilly winter night as I walked past the forest, I heard a feeble crying of a baby. I shivered in my warm clothes.
The snowcapped fir trees lining the forest looked like ghosts in the moonlight. Was I hallucinating? No, it was clearly a baby's voice. I tiptoed towards the sound. As I inched closer, the weeping became clearer. In the moonlit night, I saw a small basket among the trees. As I moved forward I slipped on the black ice and fell with a thud. My head struck something- a stump? My vision blurred into complete darkness.
A sudden glaring light jerked me out of the total blackout and I saw it again - the memory that will haunt me forever.
He was standing there on the stairs- quite drunk. He pulled me towards him. Given my state, I didn't want to give in to his lust. I tried pulling away but it only infuriated him. He kicked me hard and even though I grabbed onto the rails, the kick was too strong. I rolled down the stairs as he stood there jeering at me.
'It serves you right, you bitch!'
He staggered towards the washroom.
Somehow I dragged myself to my neighbor's home for help. By the time we reached the hospital, I was bleeding profusely. I kept praying. I was immediately rushed to the ICU. I could only see the outlines of the doctor and nurses' masked faces. Then I passed out.
When I regained consciousness I saw a nurse. My hands automatically moved towards my belly. My stomach was aching and I felt a kind of nausea.
'Is the baby okay?'
'The doctor will be here shortly. She will be able to tell you.'
A lady doctor entered the room. She looked at me affectionately and held my hand.
'Is the baby okay?'
'It was a bad fall. The placental abruption caused too much bleeding. We tried to save the baby but it was too late.'
I was breathless, my whole body was shivering. I couldn't breathe.
'Look, I know it's hard and I am sorry. But you need to calm down dear,' the doctor whispered softly.
The nurse pushed an injection. Slowly I fell into deep oblivion.
As the darkness slowly faded away, the cries of the baby made me come back to the present. I rested my hands on my stomach. The muffled weak cries worked like magnet. Somehow, I managed to drag myself to the basket. I touched her lovingly. She looked at me with those sweet tiny crinkled eyes. I thanked God for keeping my baby alive.
The clouds drifted away slowly with the gentle breeze wafting through the air. A cluster of fireflies started dancing among the trees. Everything was quiet and peaceful. Tears flowed.
I took the baby in my arms.
Tasneem Hossain is a multilingual poet, columnist, op ed columnist and training consultant. She is the director of Continuing Education Centre, Bangladesh.