Khadijah stood by her 10-year-old daughter Aisha as the local Midwife carefully examined her protruding belly on the dirty wooden bed. Though scared, Aisha tried to appear strong.
“Mama, am I okay? Is everything okay?” the little girl asked, wincing with pain. Her words were barely audible due to her weakened state.
“Everything will be fine, I promise,” Khadijah reassured her, helping Aisha sit up gently once the Midwife was done examining her.
Khadijah could tell something was wrong from the Midwife’s expression. She seemed upset and confused. In their local dialect, Khadijah nervously asked about the results of the physical examination.
The Midwife’s words hit her like a ton of bricks. Her daughter was four months pregnant. Shocked and devastated, Khadijah fell to the ground, crying and screaming, feeling like her life was shattered.
The local Midwife, a 55-year-old woman, had no pity for Khadijah. She blamed her for being careless. If she had paid attention, such calamity wouldn’t have befallen her daughter.
Desperate to know what had happened, Khadijah immediately rushed toward her feeble daughter. “Who did this to you? Did anyone touch you? Who touched you?” she asked, suppressing an urge to scream.
Little Aisha was heavy with confusion. She didn’t understand her mother’s question, but she had clearly heard when the nurse said she was pregnant. Aisha knew that pregnancy meant a woman had a child in her stomach, but she didn’t know how babies were made. Growing up in a rural, backward, and small village, Aisha hadn’t been exposed to sex education.
“Tell me who touched you!” Khadijah screamed, jolting the poor little girl out of her thoughts.
“Tad,” the little girl blurted out, watching as her mother’s eyes widened in terror.
Khadijah quickly placed her hand over her daughter’s mouth and instructed her never to make such a statement again.
The mystery had begun four months ago. Aisha had fallen sick just out of the blue. She would constantly feel feverish and warm. Often, her parents had treated her with local herbs, and the symptoms would subside, only to return after a few weeks.
As the weeks passed by, Aisha’s stomach began increasing in size, fueling gossip among the villagers. Some of them genuinely cared about her and would often bring over some herbs for her. Others, who were superstitious, felt it was a spiritual problem and advised their children to stay away from them. Khadijah also believed that her daughter was suffering from a spiritual attack and took her to various traditional healers. Still, the little girl’s stomach continued to grow.
In a desperate attempt to uncover the reason behind her daughter’s ailment, Khadijah finally bowed to the pressure of some of her friends who had advised her to take her daughter to see a midwife. And the last, it turned out that Aisha was pregnant, something no one had seen coming because of her age.
Khadijah quickly bid the Midwife farewell, only turning back at the door to plead with her to keep her daughter’s pregnancy a secret. The Midwife promised to do so and watched as mother and daughter walked off, their footsteps heavy with worry.
As the afternoon rolled on, Khadijah nervously awaited her husband Ali, eager to share the distressing news with him. But with each passing hour and no sign of Ali returning from the farm, her worry escalated. By 7 pm, he was still missing, and a sense of dread settled over Khadijah.
Filled with anxiety, she stepped outside, leaned against the nearly broken door, and began to whistle a melancholic melody while waiting for her husband. About 30 minutes after she went outdoors, she heard shouts in the distance. The noise got closer, and Khadijah realized it was a mob of protesters shouting her husband’s name.
Worried for Ali, she hurried toward the commotion, determined to confront the angry crowd and shield her beloved husband. When Khadijah finally got to the scene, what she saw was devastating. The mob had surrounded her husband and was beating him, calling him all sorts of terrible names. They demanded to know what led him to commit such a heinous crime.
Khadijah immediately knew that the Midwife had not kept her word. Not only had she revealed that Aisha was pregnant, but she had also spread the rumor that Ali was responsible. She had clearly heard Aisha say her father was the one responsible for the pregnancy. Amidst the chaos, Khadijah pushed through the seething crowd, her heart pounding with fear and determination. Tears streamed down her face as she reached Ali, cradling his bruised body in her arms.
“Please stop this!” she cried out, her voice trembling with emotion. “He’s not guilty. Stop this, please!”
Eventually, the angry mob silenced as they were moved by the power of her love. They promised to return in four days to receive an explanation for Ali’s outrageous crime.
Many hours went by, and Khadijah and her family stayed in their small, stuffy room, afraid to step outside because of the angry villagers. They feared what might happen if they ventured out. Khadijah never asked her husband if he was guilty because he trusted him. Still, she needed answers. How did her 10-year-old daughter get pregnant, and why would she blame her dad?
Two days after the incident, something shocking happened. That day, the morning light streamed through the curtains, and Khadijah woke up to an empty bed. Confused and worried, she called out to her daughter and husband, but there was no response. Panic washed over her as she hurried through the house, searching every room, hoping to find Ali playing with their daughter, Aisha. But the rooms were silent, and her heart sank as she noticed a few clothes missing from the cupboard.
Suspecting foul play, she quickly opened their savings box, only to find it empty. Tears welled up in her eyes, realizing all their money was gone. Doubt gnawed at her heart, and she couldn’t understand why Ali would leave like this. Was he truly guilty of what the neighbors were accusing him of? Why would he run away with their daughter if he was innocent?
In a state of desperation, Khadijah raced outside and raised an alarm. The neighbors gathered, offering support as they combed the neighborhood, searching for any signs of Ali and Aisha. Hours passed, but there was no trace of them. Night fell, and Khadijah’s anguish turned into a heart-wrenching ache. She clung to the hope that they would be found safe. However, deep down, she was worried that her daughter was in trouble. Had Ali taken her away to hurt her? Khadijah felt terrible for nurturing such thoughts about her husband, but he had left her with no choice.
A few more days passed, and Khadijah was left with unanswered questions, wondering if she had made a terrible mistake by trusting Ali so completely. Then, seven days later, she got a big surprise.
That day, Khadijah was fast asleep when a sudden scream startled her awake. She hurried outside and was astonished to see a sizable crowd trailing behind her husband and
daughter, who still looked pregnant. What struck her even more was the presence of police officers guarding them from the seemingly angry crowd. Alongside them were a group of five nurses and doctors, all wearing warm smiles on their faces.
The police restored order among the crowd, and once things settled down, Ali spoke to them. He explained that the day he and his daughter went missing, he had snuck out with her in the early hours of the morning and traveled to the city. Ali explained to the doctors about the local Midwives’ claim about his daughter’s pregnancy and how the villagers accused them. He believed that visiting a big hospital in the city would yield the answers he sought, as the doctors there were better equipped to handle Aisha’s mysterious condition.
Fortunately, Ali received help from a compassionate female doctor named Amira. She took the responsibility of investigating Aisha’s condition and covering the medical expenses when Ali ran out of money.
After Ali’s explanation, Amira spoke to the crowd and revealed the shocking truth about Aisha’s pregnancy. The medical tests conducted in the city showed that Aisha was not pregnant but had a condition causing an enlarged belly due to excess fluid buildup in the abdomen. Amira informed the crowd that she and her team would treat Aisha in the village to involve the villagers in her recovery.
The villagers regretted judging Ali and apologized, and he forgave them wholeheartedly. Khadijah and her family also had a heartfelt and teary reunion.
In the following days, Amira’s team devised a healthy meal plan with low sodium to improve Aisha’s condition. She also received diuretics to help the fluid leave her body. Fortunately, these treatments worked, and Aisha didn’t need surgery to remove the fluid from her abdomen. After a few weeks of treatment, Aisha fully recovered.
The nurses explained that Ali’s quick action had prevented any damage to her liver. It’s truly heartwarming to see how her father’s love and sacrifice saved his only daughter’s life.