They were avoided like the plague.
Then the police came and they were questioned and cross questioned. After that the stares increased tenfold. Even the milkman kept the milk outside ….he wouldn’t come near them. The paper wallah kept a safe distance too. And she couldn’t speak to any maid to appoint one. She couldn’t understand it. And one day when she tried to catch the attention of a toddler , he was rudely whisked away. She kept to herself after that but she felt terribly hurt.
A week later the pains began. Slowly at first then faster and more regular. Her husband wasn’t at home. She did not know what to do. Her neighbourhood wasn’t a friendly one. Whom could she approach? The one mobile they had was with her husband.
The pain hit her in the solar plexus. She felt breathless….If she didn’t get help she would lose her baby. She opened the front door. The eyes hit her. This time more curiously. She wasn’t wearing her burkha. Her immediate neighbour looked at her.
“Please I need to call my husband” , she said hesitantly. The neighbour saw that under the ever-present burkha was a very pregnant young woman. And she seemed in pain. She swung into action…..
When she returned from the hospital with a bonny baby the stares had changed into indulgent, happy ones. And they all came to see the baby. She was part of a large happy neighbour hood. She did not probe into their behaviour, but she understood that the rumours and gossip about their community must be the reason.