Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Meet My Classmate Nina

Nina and I attended the same high school in the late 1960s.  Back then it was still a scandal for a girl to get pregnant before she graduated high school.  Considered unfit to attend regular public school classes (A loose girl in class might have contaminated the rest of us girls and given the boys unpure thoughts), the girl usually was shipped off to distant relatives or a home for unwed mothers until she delivered the baby.  Then she would return to school, the baby having been given up for adoption at birth.

Sure enough, it happened to Nina.  She cleaned house after school for a grown man with children, and he had taken advantage of the situation.  Terrified of how her parents would respond when she told them that she was pregnant out of wedlock and that there was no prospect of even a shotgun marriage, Nina enlisted my younger sister to be there for the revelation.  She felt that having an outsider present would increase her prospects of making it through the ensuing explosion safely.  They both made it through physically whole, but it still got very ugly.

After Nina returned from the home for unwed mothers run by the nuns, her body and her spirit had changed.  Her girlish waist was gone.  The nuns had withheld pain medication while Nina was in labor, telling her that she did not really need it and to stop making a fuss about everything.  Nina screamed until she broke her own soprano voice.  Nina had had a beautiful voice and had participated in all the musical events at school, but she did not sing again after she came home.

There was a hard edge to Nina that had not been there before.  With a flinty look in her eyes, Nina related that, during the delivery, she had been told not to look at the baby.  She was not allowed to hold it, either.  The baby was taken away for adoption immediately.

Nina had looked anyway.  That's how she knew that she had born a son.

Addendum:  Compare (broadcast on July 21, 2011):  http://www.abc12.com/story/15122992/at-mali-female-prison-many-accused-of-infanticide?clienttype=printable

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