Dry, howling winds drowned out the baby’s cries. It was two hours before dawn, but a mother knew her newborn would look even more hideous in the day’s light. An extra limb grew from the boy’s chest. It was deformed and possibly a hindrance to the baby’s breathing. The woman wept with her child and coaxed him to take her breast. It was a struggle that drove the woman’s man to flee from the thatched hut to clear his mind and gulp the dusty air.
The midwife had already informed the village head of the birth of the peculiar child. Word spread quickly and they finally arrived with inquisitive eyes and bated breaths. Men and women who had only heard of such stories but had never witnessed the dastardly truth themselves.
The mother didn’t take kindly to this rude invasion of privacy, and she shouted herself hoarse, cursing the ones who wished to gawk and stare at her baby. They all saw the malformation but none heard the pleas of a distraught mother, and fingers poked and hands groped at the tiny, delicate creature.
The man tried to intervene, but he was pushed and pinned to the ground. This disfigured baby could not be considered personal property. The boy was a gift from the goddesses, a distortion of nature, a god who would rid the village of ill luck and suffering. He had come to save the people from eternal damnation. His extra limb was a testament to his devout status.
So the child was carried away, passed around from one rough hand to the other, marked with red streaks of vermilion, smothered with ash from the pious fire of the temple. None thought to feed the child or quench his thirst. Gods were only cleansed and worshipped.
The boy died before the end of the blistering day. His death initiated a two-day mourning period. They beat their chests and slapped their thighs, bemoaning their doomed fates, not a tear shed for the lost life.
The mother sat wasted and silent. She heard and saw nothing.
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