By Sumaiya Saleem
“Mommy!” I looked up at the two-year-old, who was standing on the threshold; he was simply adorable, with his unruly black hair, deep blue eyes and red lips, which were now trembling, as if he was trying hard not to cry. A closer look made me gasp in horror: his eyes were bright with unshed tears and one of his arms was missing. His shoulder was bloody, indicating that someone had ripped off his arm. He was no more than a baby: who could have been cruel and heartless enough to treat him like this?
As I was gazing at him, a clamp appeared out of nowhere; it seized his other arm and began tugging ruthlessly. Tears spilled down the child’s face, as his blood began to flow down his shirt, dripping to the floor in silent drops. Suddenly, there was a ripping sound, and his other arm was torn away as well. Both limbs lay on the floor in a bloody mess, and I couldn’t take my eyes off them. The clamp re-appeared, and, this time, took hold of his leg. I rushed forward to save him, but it seemed as if an invisible force was pushing me back. One by one, his other body parts were ripped apart, resulting in a heap of blood-soaked limbs and pieces of flesh lying on the floor, until only the face was left.
“Who did this to you baby?” I asked, tears pouring down my face, as I struggled to go close to him. The child uttered a soft sigh before replying sadly: “You did, Mommy!” Just then, his head was crushed by a blow to the skull. I started screaming hysterically, as the impact of his final words struck me.
My own screams jerked me awake; I opened my eyes to see everyone staring at me in surprise and disapproval at creating such a scene in a clinic. I swiveled my head to stare at the walls that had been spattered with blood in my dreams: they were clean now, and there was no sign of any of the horrors I had witnessed. “It was just a dream,” I consoled myself.
Ten minutes later, I was being ushered into Dr. Khan’s room; it was my second appointment, so I was at ease with her. Sitting down, my first request to the doctor was to describe the procedure I would have to undergo for the abortion. I had been affected by my nightmare, and it was an almost desperate attempt on my part to convince myself that I wasn’t doing anything wrong.
To my surprise, the doctor seemed strangely reluctant to explain, and it was only after a lot of persuasion that she proceeded to inform me that since I was already five months pregnant, she would be performing a dilation and evacuation procedure on me. It included sucking the amniotic fluid out of my body and then extracting the fetus with the help of a clamp. “Do you use a clamp?” I whispered, and when she nodded in affirmation, all the blood drained from my face. “We do require a clamp because we cannot extract the entire fetus in one part. We have to detach its limbs before the evacuation procedure. But don’t worry, Mrs. Ahmed, according to all the research I have done, the fetus doesn’t register the pain.”
“You’re planning to rip apart my baby and you have the nerve to tell me you don’t think it will hurt?” I demanded furiously.
“Pardon me, Mrs. Ahmed – I was under the impression that it was your decision to have your baby aborted,” she replied.
“I didn’t know. I never imagined it would be this terrible, this cruel,” I whispered.
“What did you think it would be? Do you think it’s easy to extract a live human being from the uterus, where it’s clinging, and not harm it in the process? It’s not easy for me either, you know. But it’s my job, and I only perform this operation when I get a request from the parents. I did tell you that you were too far along and it was unadvisable to have an abortion at this stage, but you insisted.” The doctor’s words, uttered in an icy tone, froze me in my tracks. I was quite willing to put the blame on her and had forgotten who had set the ball rolling in the first place.
I was the child’s mother. I was supposed to protect him. It was my blood the baby was thriving on. This child was the flesh of my flesh, and I had carried it beneath my heart for five months. If I could so callously decide to tear it from my womb and discard it like rubbish, how could the doctor pity me? “Maybe you need time to think it over,” Dr. Khan suggested in a softer tone, but I was disgusted at the idea of thinking over whether or not I wanted to kill my child.
Fifteen minutes later, I was home. The ride had passed in a blur, as I stared out of the window, unconsciously wiping away the tears that were rolling down my face. The fact that I had not known of the exact procedure did not absolve me of guilt. I should have asked for more information before taking such a momentous decision. However, I was so worried about my life being disrupted by an unplanned pregnancy that I had never thought of the being in my body as a living entity, a part of both me and my husband. I had viewed it merely as an inconvenience. My dream had opened my eyes to the realization that my womb held not just a lifeless clump of cells but a baby, who might have inherited my black curls and my husband’s dimple.
“Mommy, I is here,” the baby announced, and I turned to the door with a welcoming smile on my lips, throwing out my arms so that Ammar could run into them. I held him close, smelling the clean baby scent of him; it had been almost two years since my visit to Dr. Khan and my decision not to abort my child. Now, he was eighteen months old, a laughing child with ebony curls, flashing blue eyes, the cutest dimple and the ability to wind me around his little finger. He was the exact replica of the baby I had seen in my dream; as I listened to his gurgles and baby talk, I shuddered to think what might have happened, if I had not had that nightmare. It was Allah’s (swt) blessing that my son was here and not in a heap of bloody limbs in some gutter.
Every night since that horrific vision, I had thanked Allah (swt) that he had saved me from the Kabira (major) sin of killing my own child. The Ayat of the Quran flashed in my mind:
“And kill not your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them and for you. Surely, the killing of them is a great sin.” (Al-Isra 17:31)
Mother Teresa had once remarked: “In every abortion, there are two victims: a dead baby and a dead conscience.” I had been saved from murdering both my baby and my conscience.