Monday, December 7, 2009

Letter to an Unborn Child

On 5 December 2009, the London Independent newspaper carried a full-page advertisement seeking donations to the Bhopal Medical Appeal*. Nothing extraordinary about such an ad, you might say. However, what is unusual about it is the fact that it takes the form of a ‘Letter to an unborn child’ (in large type across the top of the page). I won’t give the entire text of the letter, but here is a short extract:

Dear child as yet unborn, I am your mother. I have not yet seen your face, or held you, but I can feel you alive in me, stretching, kicking, impatient to be out in the world. I pray it will treat you kindly. My darling child, I am sick and despite all that the doctors can do, I will not live long after you are born. … I write this so that you will know that I love you with all my heart and always will, even after I am gone, I will love you until the end of time itself.

Child, I pray that you will not be born sick. So many babies in this Bhopal of ours are born with twisted limbs or a damaged brain, and no one knows whose child will be next. If you are one of those suffering ones, please forgive me. We cannot kill the children in our wombs just in case they are damaged. But if, as I pray, you are born whole, with all your senses, and grow up to be a fine tall man, or a lovely woman, then you must look after the others, who were not so lucky as you.

*Bhopal is the town in India where a deadly gas explosion in a chemical factory in 1984 caused death and disfigurement to thousands of the local people. The effects of the explosion are still present, even in children born today.