In the era where “Feminism” is the latest trend and we proudly boast of it, please allow me to show you the dark reality of our society. Please read on.
My baby was two months old then and I was still not over the thrill of being a mother. I was still not done thanking God enough for blessing me with a healthy bundle of joy. My world felt so complete.
‘Harshita, come here, Sarita aunty has come to meet you and baby’ I heard my mother-in-law calling me. An auntyji from neighborhood had visited us. I looked at my darling daughter, she was sleeping peacefully. I kissed her forehead, left her sleeping and went outside. My mother-in-law and Sarita Aunty were sitting on sofa chairs facing each other.
I went and touched Sarita aunty’s feet. She put her hand on my head to bless me and said, ‘khush raho, ab bhagwan jaldi se ladka de (may God give you a son soon)’. I was stunned to hear this. I had delivered a healthy beautiful baby just a couple of months ago and the first good she could do to me was praying for a male child for me. She did not ask about my health or my daughter’s well-being. She did not bless my new born, neither congratulated me on a woman’s biggest achievement. Still she thought of herself as my biggest well-wisher because she wished of a baby boy for me.
I was too shocked to react and so I didn’t say anything and sat next to her. I was waiting for her to ask me to bring my daughter from inside as she had come to meet her. Instead, she held my hand and started speaking; rather consoling, ‘It’s ok beta, don’t get disheartened. Girls are not bad either. See the positive side. Your daughter will ask you tea, will cook for you, she will take care of you. Consider your daughter to be your son. Girls and boys are equal. Raise your girl like a boy, and….’ She was still puking out nonsense when I gathered my senses and broke my silence, ‘Why auntyji? Why should I consider her to be a boy? She is a girl. A girl is a girl, and a boy is a boy.’ ‘I agree beta, but you should not think this way. Girls and boys are equal these days. Don’t worry. You will have baby boy next time’, she said.
I wonder how she assumed that I am not happy to have a daughter. I had not said even a word. Is it this obvious to be unhappy on the birth of a female child? ‘Auntyji, tell me one thing. Had I delivered a baby boy, would you still ask me to not to get disheartened and consider him to be a girl’ I asked. ‘Sorry?’ she got confused. I thought again before answering. I did not want to make her feel disrespected as she was my mother-in-law’s guest. I looked at my mother-in-law and she signaled me to carry on. That was it. I was feeling so annoyed and irritated that I could not be stopped then.
People like her think that they are doing a great deed if they talk ‘girls and boys are equal’ crap. They think of themselves to be very broad minded and good hearted to consider a girl to be equal to a boy. But they actually disrespect a girl when they consider her to be equal to a boy; not because the boy is inferior, but because the boy is not superior either; both are equally important, and so one needs not console himself on the birth of a baby girl by considering her to be equal to a boy. By this comparison, people actually say that a girl is inferior and so you need to console yourself by assuming her to be a boy.
In a tone as polite as possible, I continued, ‘this brings disrespect to a girl’. ‘How did I disrespect the girl?’ she asked. ‘Tell me one thing auntyji, if you visit someone who has had a baby boy, do you say similar things. No, right? You just congratulate them for having a baby. Having a baby boy in itself is a big reason to be happy and celebrate. Then why do you need to console me on the birth of a baby girl? Why is it not something to be equally happy about? Why do I need to find other reasons to be happy? Why should I be happy hoping that my girl would cook for me? Would I expect my baby boy to cook for me? Then why should I expect this from my daughter? Why would she take care of me? She is my child and I will take care of her. Why should I expect these things from a girl child if all that we expect from a male child is just to take birth in our home and study well?
And as of now, we have no plans of having a second baby. Our family is complete and now I want to focus on my daughter and my career’ I said. ‘What are you saying beta? At least one child is needed’, she said. ‘Child? I already have a child; a girl is also a child’, she was just making me more and more furious. ‘Aa….a… I mean boy. You should have at least one boy’ she tried to cover up. ‘Why auntyji?’ I asked. ‘What do you mean by why, having a boy is necessary, everyone knows this’ she said, frustrated.
Ok, give me one reason, one good reason in favor of your statement that I need to have a boy. And if you could convince me, I promise I’ll have another baby’ I said and she took it as a challenge.
Sarita aunty: You need a boy to take care of you in your old age.
Me: Really auntyji? What is the guarantee that a boy will take care of us and a girl will not? Look at your immediate neighbors, Mrs. And Mr. Mehta. They have two sons and one daughter, and still they are living alone here. Their elder son is settled in Singapore and the younger one in Bangalore, while their daughter lives here in Delhi and visits them every month or whenever needed. Should I quote more examples? This is an age old concept which lies in the times when girls were married off in distant villages and they could not visit their parents frequently due to lack of easy commutation; and sons used to take over the family assets and looked after their ancestral farms as they had no other option, so they had to stay with their parents; that was a default set up. Now the scenario is completely different and so this concept has expired. Today, children, be it girls or boys, fly away for education and work. And a son and daughter-in-law may choose to not to live with the parents. And even daughters and sons-in-law can and do take care of the parents if needed.
Sarita aunty: mmmm… but… you should at least have someone to burn you after you die.
Me: this is the lamest argument I’ve ever heard. Why should I be worried about who will burn me after I die? How does it matter who does? Even if nobody burns me, why should I be worried? I would be dead. People will be disgusted of the smell of the dead body, not me, and so someone will surely burn me. Now your next argument will be about heaven and hell. Auntyji, we get heaven or hell according to what we do when we are alive and not based on who burns us after we die. Having a baby, whether a girl or a boy, is one of the biggest decisions of one’s life, and it should not be based on something as stupid as who will burn the dead body.
Sarita aunty: but who will carry forward your family name after you die.
Me: Hmmm… and why should I worry about my family name being carried forward? Who are we? The Great Mughals? Or dinosaurs, that if I don’t produce enough offspring, our species will extinct.
Sarita aunty: But you should have someone to remember and take your name after you die.
Me: auntyji, I am a girl, and I know my paternal as well as my maternal grandfather’s name. And my children will know their grandfathers’ names of both sides, and will not know their great grandfathers’ names of any side. See, your names are known only to next two generations, irrespective of the gender of your children. And we do not need a son and then a grandson to keep our names alive. Grandchildren will keep our names alive only for two generations and that too within the family, but we have made our names known to this world for next several years. Both of us are researchers; we write and publish papers and books which are read across the world and will be read for the decades to come. If someone is so desperate to be known for generations, they themselves should achieve something for which they can be remembered. Becoming a father or a grandfather to a male child does not make you respectable enough to be remembered, not even by your own descendants.
Sarita aunty: But your daughter too would like to have someone to play with.
Me: very right, and that someone can be a sister, a pet, a friend in neighborhood, or a girl adopted by us as our second daughter.
Sarita aunty: Second daughter? You seem to be mad. Whom she will tie rakhi to on raksha bandhan? She will really be sad if she does not have a brother to celebrate raksha bandhan with. See, this is a valid reason.
Me: Raksha Bandhan? She has cousins to celebrate raksha bandhan with. And even sisters can celebrate by tying rakhi to each other, a daughter can tie rakhi to her mother and father. Feelings are what matter. And raksha bandhan comes once a year. My daughter will not be emotionally so weak to define her happiness and sadness by one single day. She will have more meaningful things to do all round the year. Also, one should not decide to have a second child just to celebrate ‘raksha bandhan’. One should look at the bigger picture. We can consider second child only when we are capable of giving both of them the world’s best education, be it Harvard or MIT.
Sarita aunty: ok, so you will have a son when you earn enough for MIT. Right?
Me: we might plan a second child, but what’s the guarantee that we’ll have a boy and not a girl.
Sarita aunty: of course there is no guarantee, but there are tests…
Me: tests? What tests?
Sarita aunty: I mean… you can check if it is girl or a boy…..
Me: and what after determining the gender? kill her if it is a girl?
Sarita aunty: yes… I mean.. no.. but.. yes.. you can…you know what…
Me: hmm… then why not to kill my first daughter, and give birth to the second one. The first one would have lived atleast 4-5 years of her life by then, she would have received her parents’ love. We would give this chance to the second one by killing the first one.
Sarita aunty: You are mad. How can you kill your own daughter?
Me: exactly, how can I kill my own daughter, born or unborn.
Sarita aunty: you are so stubborn. This world will not let you live if you do not have a son.
Me: auntyji… my parents do not have a son. They only have two daughters, me and my sister; and no one in this world could stop them from living a happy contented life. They gave us good education and good values; and they are the happiest.
Sarita aunty: Fir bhi beta (sighs)…. Ek ladka to hona hi chahiye…
Dear readers, this story is NOT entirely imaginary. This is a combination of my several experiences that I had after becoming mother of an amazing daughter. I hope most of the mothers will be able to relate with this story. If yes, please share your views with us in the comments.
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