The world I live in is divided into two kinds of people.
The ones that hate daughters and the others that tolerate them.
‘Where is the third kind?’ You’d ask. ‘The ones who love them.’
Well, to that question, I have two answers,
I know, and yes, I don’t want to confuse you.
In my world, very few people really look forward to the birth of a daughter, and it has been so for centuries. They are so less that you could count them on your fingertips. They are the celebrities who publish gender reveals and baby showers on social media.
But the book isn’t about them, although Naji did appreciate the first daughter, his second one too.
But there wasn’t a speck of empathy left for Nisa, his third daughter, for he had bestowed all he had on the other two.
I do not blame him.
He lives in my world!
Nisa, his third daughter, was born when he was sure his wife would bear him a son. Naji is a poor man, a daily waged carpenter.
A son would have changed everything.
But Nisa ripped him apart like a blunt knife would...
And hence she grew up in abject hate, in a family that would learn to ignore her because Naji wouldn’t have preferred otherwise.
The story isn’t just about Nisa; it is about the family’s struggles with life. It is about a father’s increasing hatred towards the third born; it is about a mother who refuses to accept her daughter. It’s about her two elder siblings with varying character traits, and finally, it is about the girl Nisa, who is willing to carve a place for herself in her father’s heart.
Does she succeed?
Does she eventually win over his heart, or does it end on a tragic note?
‘His third daughter’ deals with hatred, suicide, dark secrets, courage, failure, poverty, distrust, love, appreciation and spirituality.
I hope you appreciate my work.
“The third daughter is like a blunt knife. She tears more than she cuts,” thought Naji, looking away from the child’s face.
On the bed next to him lay his wife, Maryam, in a deep sleep after nineteen long and tedious hours of labour pains. He had expected a son for the last two labour pains had been like hot butter melting on warm toast, and both had been daughters.
“This child has to be a boy,” he remembered telling his wife the day before, and now his words hung like icicles on a frosty morning. He didn’t care to notice the look on her face as she went into a panic on hearing those words, and then labour had made her forget everything else. Daughter or Son, it didn’t matter as long as this terrible pain would just come to an end. She simply wanted it to be over.
The child, a mere four and a half pounds in weight, purred incessantly as she came out of the birth canal, ripping it at a place or two. And then the thick, twisted purplish umbilical cord detached from the seed where it had been sown nine long months ago, the reddish-brown placenta, which, maybe cats would eat up later on, and now she slept peacefully. Things would eventually sort themselves out in the next few days, and life would go back to normal.
‘A third daughter,’ Naji smoked fiercely as he lay down beside his wife that night. The other two daughters were with their grandmother, and the third one was here, on the bed next to him, huddled in a small blanket between the two parents.
“You could have been a son, instead,” he whispered, pinching a little white toe that peeped from beneath the tiny quilt. The child had just been nursed and was now in a deep sleep. She seemed not to care. Sleep was more important.
“That’s the problem with your gender. You don’t care, and we toil for you. We bear your burdens. You don’t deserve it; you don’t.” He added, a bit loudly this time. His wife sighed in her sleep. Her long hair was a mess, but she looked beautiful in the pale moonlight. The little baby was no beauty but had a reasonably light complexion and long lashes inherited from her mother. Her upper lip overlapped the lower and gave her the impression of being eternally angry.
Newborns aren’t pretty at all, he realised. But they turn out to be beautiful later on.
The other two had, despite the fact there wasn’t much to eat, and he was sure that it would be no different even this time. He had married a lovely woman. Beauty in a girl that belongs to a poor family is more cursed than anything else.
Naji drifted off to a dreamless sleep with troubled thoughts in his head and a half-smoked cigarette between his fingers.
Excerpt from The Third Daughter; A tale of hate , vengeance and remorse., Copyright@Henana Berjes