Haleema was expecting her first child.Belonging to a Pathan family,she was married at an early age to her cousin,Naeem,who was ten years older than her.Expecting her first child at the age of nineteen was indeed very frightening for her.
The whole Khan family had high expectations from Haleema.She,being the wife of the eldest son of Mr and Mrs. Khan,was highly respected and taken care of,especially when the news of her pregnancy was revealed.Her in-laws were over-joyed and congratulated Haleema.However,Haleema got scared when her mother-in-law came up to her and said,''I always longed for a grandson and now my wish is going to be true.Haleema,the child better be a boy as i have already chosen a name for him and i will not accept a girl!'' Haleema was speechless! She could not believe her ears! She stared at her mother in-law in disbelief and immediately responded, "But Mother! That is God's will! If he wants it to be a girl, it WILL be a girl and that is not in my hands." But her mother in-law refused to reply and went away, wearing a stern expression.
Now, Haleema was in a great stress. As the months passed by, she became more and more worried about the gender of her child. Her husband would come to her and tell her about the names he had chosen to call his future son and her mother in-law would show her the clothes she had bought for the baby boy. Haleema thought. 'What ignorance!' She on the other hand, would only pray to God to give her a son as she knew her husband and in-laws would not be very happy with the news of a baby girl.
While peeling an apple for Haleema, her mother in-law said to her,
"Do you know Haleema, I am the third wife of your father in-law?!" Haleema was shocked. "But...why, I mean how?"
"Because none of his previous wives could bear him a son." Her mother in-law replied proudly. She added, "I am the proud mother of six sons, and now I want you to make us proud by giving us many grandsons. Don't let us down!" Haleema could not open her lips to argue any further.
Finally the day arrived! Haleema was in the operation theater while her mother in-law and husband waited desperately outside. After awhile a nurse came out and moved towards Haleema's family. Naeem and her mother waited exuberantly for the nurse to give them the glad tidings. As the nurse approached, she said, "It's a hermaphrodite!"
TO BE CONTINUED IN THE NEXT CHAPTER =)