The two kids roamed around for sometime and came up with the sharpest stone they could find. As they were giving it to the old woman Shyama asked “why the stone?“
“Look at the old woman asking questions above her age! Stop talking and give it to me” said the old woman.
She went into the house even as the curious girls sat on the raised floor outside the house and discussed what the stone could possibly be for. Within a few minutes came a piercing cry followed by a slashing sound of stone meeting flesh, a few grinding noises and then complete silence. The lady came out and met Rajan after ten minutes.
“You have a boy.” she told him point blank as the kids thronged around their father. As he handed a few coins to her she added “he’s mute” and left the place. By that time, the kids had gone in to meet the latest addition to their family, all noisy and chirpy.
Rajan did not have the happiness and energy one usually associates with a new dad. He was wondering, not about his son being born dumb, but rather how long he would survive in the cursed land; how long would they continue to suffer while the wasteful cities flourished exploiting places like his; how long the rest of his family had before they perished; how he was to feed them the next day; things which shouldn’t have occurred to a man at such an occasion.