|Dimensions||30.48 × 22.86 × 2.54 cm|
HB Pencil on 260 g/m Strathmore Bristol Board Smooth.
She was named Nadira by her parents, the fifth child and the forth girl.
The village people shook their heads and could not understand why she was named precious.
The men sat around that night and avoided talking about the birth.
Some talked in whispers when within earshot. Sometimes knowing smiles were accepted as untold jokes on his masculinity.
Barakah, the father, knew he was being judged for producing so many girls.
Life, they were certain, will be even harder for this family.
Just the one boy to work, to marry and help them in their old age and to father children and carry the family’s name.
Perhaps, some thought, it might be better to not feed her and let her die.
Barakah, now 60, will not be fathering more children. The family, one of the poorest, was not expected to survive this blow.
The girls got older and although they were all long legged and pretty and worked as hard as the boys the problem of not having a dowery took them off the marriage list for any boy’s family.
Nadira was different. A tomboy she demanded respect. Punched out boys who tried taunting the family. The Missionaries had trouble with her forceful personality and tried to beat it out of her, but she was so intelligent they thought she will come around in time and be another unpaid teacher in the compound.
Her mother died soon after her birth but when her father died she just walked away without looking back.
3 weeks later she was in the town everyone in the village had talked about.
She got money by caring for children, a little prostitution and marrying an old man who showed her kindness. When he died, 6 years later, she used the little money they had to get to France. She was 22 she had flowered into a beautiful, long-legged, strong willed, focused woman.
She ran stores at night, cleaned houses on weekends and baby-sat whenever possible to fund her education. She never took lovers seriously and discarded them when things got too serious or they demanded obedience. Her one obsession was to be a doctor come hell or high water!
She is still the same girl today. Still unmarried but now, after experiencing the misery in many other neglected countries, is leading a team from Médecins Sans Frontières in her native country.
31 of age, fluent in 5 languages and 8 local dialects, she specialises in children’s diseases. She has been 3 weeks in country but she has finally managed to snatch
3 days for a personal trip.
This time it will take 3 days by car and in the opposite direction she had walked for 3 weeks that day she had started this journey.
She had 3 cardboard boxes. On the top of each was a name:
Kawkab, named after the comet that came across the skies when the first girl was born.
Tabassum, named for the smiling baby the second born girl was known to be.
Fajr, for the Morning Prayer, the time the third baby girl was born at.
With the dowery in these boxes the girls will be able to choose husbands.
For her brother, she has 200 American Dollars with which he can be the master of his own fate and the protector of his family and his tribe.
With her she has new traditional clothes of a peasant woman but brass and gold jewely to adorn the clothes to show her status to those who expected her dead.
Perhaps after this is over, she thought with a smile, I might marry for
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