Fatima is a mother with five children – a son, Aziz, and four daughters.
Her husband, Jalal Din, is a reliable man and a good father. He and Fatima are farmers and
they work hard together in the fields.
she is always critical and nags at Fatima. In fact, she talks from early morning until she goes to
bed. “When are you going to light the fire? It is broad daylight already!” And, “Wives should
obey their husbands.” Sometimes she criticizes Fatima for work not done, sometimes for
spending too much money. And she always complains that Fatima has produced only one son
and burdened her dear Jalal Din with one daughter after another!
way, she is a very dutiful wife and daughter-in-law. But she did do something in secret last
month – well, it was a secret between her and Jalal Din – that they didn’t tell Jalal Din’s mother.
Fatima started practicing family planning. The big reason she made this decision was that
she wasn’t feeling very well. As you know, having 5 children in 9 years can make a woman feel
unwell. She has a backache and she is tired most of the time. But she has so much work to do
– finding firewood, carrying water, preparing food, washing the family’s clothes, working in the
fields – when can she rest?
eldest daughter, Zarin. She is the first child and a lovely little girl, a joy to everyone. Zarin goes
to school along with Aziz. Every afternoon she brings her exercise book home and proudly
reads to her mother what she has written. She is so happy in school! But Fatima knows that if
she has another baby, Zarin must leave school to care for the new baby while Fatima works in
the fields. There is simply no other way all the work can be managed. In a way, Zarin knows
this too, because she has seen this happen to her little friends. Almost all of them no longer go
to school, but instead care for younger brothers and sisters.
Today there is a terrible scene in the house when the family gathers to eat. The old woman
is wailing and pulling her hair. The family is alarmed and gathers around her where she sits on
the floor. Between sobs, she finally tells them. At the village well this morning, she talked with
an old friend who told her someone had seen Fatima at the family planning clinic.
“You are very bad!” she shouts at Fatima. “And you will pay! You will pay for such wickedness.
Now you will have no more sons. And who will care for you in your old age? Aziz is a
good boy, but he is only one. A family needs many sons. Think of our name. Who will help Jalal
Din in the fields? Who will take care of me, if God forbid, something happens to Jalal Din?”
know what to do. Zarin is also looking at Fatima. She knows what this is all about – at least