The sound of mourning and wailing rose from the inner quarters, where the women folk lodged.
Haji paced the outer yard, his face grey. Not a young man, he looked far older than his years- far too old to be a father who had just lost his newborn infant.
The tenth? Twentieth? He had lost count. They all died. Girls, boys. None of them survived more than one or two days.
The best tabeebs and hakims had been brought in – to no use. He had bedded young glowing virgins as well as widows and divorcees who had already proven their fertility. Getting them pregnant had never been the problem. But it was Allah’s will that he remain childless.
Safoora, his first wife came towards him, holding a tray. Come sit Haji, rest with me. It is kismet. We have to accept. What else can we do?
After comforting Haji, Safoora returned indoors, to her place. It hadn’t been her child who had died and she did not join in the wailing and weeping, although out of respect for her eminent husband, and her position as his first wife, she wore black.
The young mother was inconsolable. Safoora game her a bitter triumphant look. Fool, who thought she could supplant Safoora, with her full womb. Not as long as Safoora was around to ensure no baby survived. Safoora was infertile herself, had never even got pregnant. She knew the mother of a thriving child was a danger to her, and it was only logical to ensure there was no child in that household.
She murdered them by plunging a long thin sewing needle into the soft spot in their head as soon as possible after they were born. It left no trace. She assisted with the births and it was easy to find the right time to attack. The baby died very soon after.
As long as Safoora lived and reigned in that house, there would be no children there.