FINGERPRINT (Part I) – Nancy Rempel
Mrs. Mahsud squeezed her 15-year-old daughter, Razwana’s arm like a vice grip as they hurried out of the mission hospital. February temperatures in northern Pakistan had dipped to near freezing, but their brows were wet with sweat.
The smell of delicious beef kababs wafted in the air as the pair threaded their way through the crowds of Al Marjan market. Bundled in several layers of woolen clothing, they kept their eyes down, imagining everyone knew their secret.
A tsunami of emotions and thoughts frothed inside Mrs. Mahsud as they scrambled home. How had they all missed it? Her unmarried daughter was 36 weeks pregnant, and she had to find out through a foreign infidel nurse? She had spat out Razwana’s future to nurse Anitra, “She will go home to her grave.” In the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, unwed pregnant girls are dead people walking. According to Islam such a girl should be killed to cleanse the honor of the family.
Anitra’s words, like a life raft in a storm, had trailed behind them as Mrs. Mahsud had marched her daughter out of the examination room, “Wait…can help…delivery here…complete secrecy.”
Razwana’s maternal aunt, Surat Jan, slid the chain off the inside of her door to let her sister and niece. She studied their faces and pushed them into a private room. Cossetted there, the three of them did what Muslim women do best. They schemed how to survive.
For two weeks, amidst lies and excuses, Mrs. Mahsud kept the rest of the family in the dark about the pregnancy and the rape. Paralyzed between maternal instinct and family honor.
With the birth imminent and Razwana’s blood pressure at dangerous levels, Surat Jan grabbed her niece and made a run for the life raft at the mission hospital.
Nurse Anitra spotted Razwana and her aunt in the patient lineup and ushered them into a private room. Any one of the locals could have identified them. Maybe already had.
Razwana was malnourished and terrified. Too exhausted to protest the prayers of the Pakistani nurses gathered in her room. Prayers in the name of Jesus.
After two days of deliberation and waiting, Anitra induced Razwana’s labor. Things progressed well during the first stage of labor but then ground to a halt. The baby was stalled in the birth canal. Anitra used Wrigley’s forceps to guide the baby’s head and body out of the birth canal and into the world. The tiny boy cried out quietly as if he too sensed the danger.
Razwana never looked at her baby. Tears welling up in her dark eyes slid down her cheeks when she had turned her head away. While Anitra repaired minor injuries to Razwana from the delivery, nurses whisked the baby off to a secret location.
Hospital staff prepared legal forms reflecting the family’s wishes to put the baby up for adoption. A staff member took Razwana’s right hand and rolled her index finger on an ink pad before pressing it on the line marked “Mother of Baby.” As the fingerprint dried on the form, Razwana and Surat Jan slipped out of the hospital compound, afraid to breathe. This drama had just begun.
“And looking at them Jesus said to them,
‘With people this is impossible,
but with God all things are possible.’”
(Matthew 19:26 NASB)
Picture: walking in shame and fear of the future