The Forbidden Daughter
When a young widow refuses to comply with her in-laws’ dictate to abort her unborn child, will her rebellion turn out to be the greatest mistake of her life, or a blessing in disguise? This is the story of one mother’s valiant fight to protect her daughters in a society that often frowns on female children, and the only man who will help her in her battle when the stakes become impossibly high.
THE FORBIDDEN DAUGHTER is woven around the hot-button social issue of vanishing girl children in contemporary India, where gender-based abortions and female infanticide continue to be practiced in some areas despite laws to ban the practices.
Oh, Lord, I beg of you.
I fall at your feet time and again.
In my next incarnation, don’t give me a daughter;
Give me hell instead . . .
— Folk Song from the State of Uttar Pradesh, India
“Your child will come at the harvest full moon,” the old man said.
Jolted out of her dark, melancholic thoughts, Isha Tilak looked up, and stared in astonishment at the man who had uttered the startling words. He was obviously addressing her, because there was no one else in the immediate vicinity.
His strange remark captured her attention, thrusting aside her private musings.
“It is called Kojagari Purnima. It is the night when Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and abundance, descends from her heavenly abode to bless her devotees,” he added, stroking his luxuriant salt-and-pepper beard that more than compensated for the total absence of hair on his large, misshapen head.
He was supposedly a sadhu—a sage or holy man. He was certainly dressed for the part in his faded saffron robe—typical garb for Hindu holy men. Perhaps because she continued to wear a baffled look, he smiled. The simple motion transformed and softened his austere face, creating deeper furrows in his gaunt cheeks. “Yours will be a female child who will bring light and abundance to the people around her.”
She shook herself out of her stunned silence. It took her a moment to comprehend his words. Then natural curiosity took over, prompting her to goad him, test him. “How do you know my child will be a girl?”
He ignored her question. Instead he said, “Your daughter comes as a gift from Lakshmi, so she will enjoy prosperity and many comforts in her life, and, being generous, she will share them with others.”
“But my in-laws think she’s a curse,” Isha informed him, the bitterness in her voice hard to conceal and the despondency in her tear-swollen eyes a testimony to her despair. “In fact, they have forbidden me to have this child.”
“I know,” he said, with a thoughtful nod. “I am also aware that there is something which some evil doctors use to eliminate female children before they are born. It is one of the many scourges of kaliyug. Modern society.”
To find out more about Shobhan Bantwal’s new book, The Forbidden Daughter, visit her website here or follow her virtual book tour here. If you would like to pick up a copy of Shobhan’s book at Amazon, click on the book cover above.