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So she thought she would not touch the baby that was born to her, a female the second time too. When the first one came out she was unhappy, but thought that God would bless her, perhaps the second time round. And when this one came out, she asked her relatives if anyone was looking to take and raise a female child.

She did not feed her for over a month with her own breasts. She refused to see to her baby, refused to reply to the cries of hunger or abandonment. She was scheming, she knew she couldn't take another chance at having another child, another mouth to feed. She could only afford two she knew, and she failed. She signed her baby over to her closest female relative, an old lady, who was so blessed with two sons.

God has a funny way of blessing people, thought the old lady. She raised two boys, one who would run off with his wife to a different state, and another who would leave the village she raised them in, because his growing kids were not well situated. So she lived alone, in her small village home. Rain leaked through the roof, and she placed earthen pots to hold the downpour.

So when she heard Shanti was offering her last born, and a female too, she designed a rudimentary contract and hurried over to the bus station. She would catch the first bus to Mysore and take what only God could've given before any one else heard about the offer.

When she arrived though, she was almost embarassed to find the house spartan, with no one else but the inhabitants. And there was a gloom within the house. She was too smart to suppose a death. Being herself one of 27 children that her mother had bourne, and one of the five that survived, she'd learnt to recognize the silence of the dead. This was mourning too, but unjustified.

She yelled out to Shanti, and when Shanti came out, head lowered with a hot glass of coffee, the old lady pulled out her gunny sack, that she kept tied inside her blouse. She opened it and presented a pair of plain, round silver anklets and a wad of cash. One for the child, one for the mother. Both that smelt of sweat, both taken eagerly.

And Shanti quickly came out holding the baby, with the silver anklet slipped on. Accompanied by a bag of clothes that were given as presents and she handed the lot to the old lady. The old lady's dead hazel eyes glimmered. She quickly got up, thanked Shanti, and before she could change her mind, left the home.

Shanti sighed a breath of relief. She tucked her hair back, behind her ears. And smiled, looking at the door the old lady had gone through a short minute before. She could now try again, and maybe God would bless her this time.


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