12th Oct. 2011. Just another date.

by shalinijena

The entire day had been a Swooning over Babies Day. Since morning, from the new Johnson Baby Soap commercial to the Huggies Jeans Diaper’s ad in the newspaper to the streets filled with 15 day olds, I have been awwwing over babies. This morning I accompanied my friend to the flower shop and was waiting for her on the other side of the lane, leaning over my bike when I saw a woman in a green silk saree standing a few feet away from me, cradling a small baby (!) in her arms. My heart melted on the sweetest sight of the day and I am not exxagerating when I say I was super excited. I went near her and asked if I could see the baby. I was so sweet and anyone could have complied to my simple request of touching him, but – not she. ‘He is suffering from fever’, she said giving me that I-don’t-want-to-talk-to-you look and turned away. As if I had not already lost enough of the self-respect (at least that is what I thought first), I asked her again to see him once and you should have seen her! Her arms flinched when I touched the baby’s head but I still managed to steal a good glance and a small prayer for his safety.

Are you wondering what is wrong with me? You shouldn’t because I answered that in the first line of the post.

I went for a movie in the open theatre club this evening and all the time, all I could concentrate on was a few month old baby in his dad’s arms who was so restless because he didn’t want to watch the damn thing and probably the booming speakers pissed him off! He kept on gibbering in his own unspeakable language and the doting father stood up and took him for a stroll every 10 minutes. I didn’t even see them in the last half an hour, I guess none of them had the patience.

When I came back home, I was about to return to all too usual routine of doing nothing when I came across this article on today’s newpaper splayed half folded on my study table. “Argentina’s missing children face hard truths”, it read. Now, I was curious because 1. I had heard about it long time back and never bothered to know more, 2. It had been 10 days and I had not touched the newspaper.

It started with a shock and ended with tears in my eyes. Even the thought of snatching babies from their mothers held my breath. “The abduction of an estimated 500 babies was one of the most traumatic chapters of the military dictatorship that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983.” As I read through the lines, I realized that the parents were not the only sufferers, where they? Just imagine – one fine morning you wake up but instead of a usual breakfast where you have a candid chit chat with dad, bickering with mom and sarcastic exchange of words with sibling, they tell you for all these years your real family was not your biological one. They are not your real parents and your bro is not your brother, your didi is not your sister. You are a child of some unnamed “subversives” who were killed in the “dirty war” and you were kidnapped in hope of a “better life” for you. All these years were built on the rocks of lies, betrayal and blood stained hands.

Even the thought kills me from inside. “This is a process; it wasn’t one moment or one day when you erase everything and begin again…”, says Victoria Montenegro who uses her first name given by her real parents who she has never met, who were killed just before she was sneaked out by one of those many couples who waited outside the detention camps to snuggle someone’s baby and claim as their own. It is so sick that I choked on my food when I read in one of the sites – “Babies born to pretty, white-skinned mothers were particularly sought after. Blindfolded at all times, the women would be taken down to special cells, forced to have caesareans and then often killed”. How can people be so ruthless? How can military training make them so insensitive and heartless? How can they think of starting a new life by sucking others, by abducting from them the very reason of their life, I guess death is a better option… Do read more about the “dirty war”. Its worth your attention…