A Little Girl Who Grows Up To Be A Friend

Posted: March 22, 2012

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The post ‘When The Issue Is A Girl’ by Priya Mani makes me want to travel all over again the beautiful journey that my wife and I have had in bringing up two lovely daughters – the elder one is employed in the UK while the younger one is an honours student in a premier college.

I have often been asked whether I did not want a son, and my answer has always been an emphatic no. My answer catches people by surprise, and I recall a close friend of my wife asking her whether I meant the ‘no’ or whether I was just trying to hide my unhappiness for not having a son.

As the father of two girls I am yet to come to terms with such unnecessary and crass questions, and my replies have always been rude. When I tell people that my elder daughter is abroad, the standard questions that I am asked are whether she is studying there, or whether she is married there. I do not recall a single instance when someone has asked me if she is working there.

Oh, but she is over 25, I am reminded by friends and relatives, when are you going to get her married? Well, I tell them, I am not going to get her married; she has to decide if she will or if she won’t. But what if she ends up marrying a foreigner? Her choice, I tell them. I smile to myself when I realize that no one can even imagine that she might not marry at all – foreigner, Indian or alien.

There have been snide comments about my ‘uncaring’ attitude about my daughters, and I have been told that all my ‘modern’ views will ultimately be meaningless when I will end up spending at least a ‘khoka’ per marriage – two daughters means two ‘khokas’. I did not know what a ‘khoka’ was, till a friend enlightened me that it meant a crore in the language of a certain north Indian community. It is another matter that people believe that a former bureaucrat like me must be worth at least a few ‘khokas’.

My elder one – once she moved to London, phones us every single day to find out how we are. She ensures that at least one of us visits London once a year – I was told even that was a sin – parents ‘enjoying life’ because their daughter wants them to. “Hamare yahaan toh beti se kuch bhi nahin lete…”  is a common refrain. She flies to India twice a year to be with us, and shares a special bond with her younger sister, who herself seems all set to finish her education and achieve her ambition of being a journalist with the BBC.

I had once told the elder one not to spend so much money, especially on us, and in reply she had sent me a very moving email. She reminded me that when she was in school she had told me she would marry a rich man and move to London. I had apparently lost my temper and told her that either she would go to London on her own merit or not at all. She ended the email by saying, “Dad, the biggest gift a father can give a child is the ability to stand on one’s two feet, and if I do anything for you, is just to say thank you. Don’t deny me that privilege.”

“We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons…but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters”: Gloria Steinem

I am a former bureaucrat, and have worked a lot on gender issues, disaster management

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  1. Paromita Bardoloi -


    My salaams to you

  2. Thanks for this.! Moved me.! The choice of “whether or not to get married” is given by a few Indian fathers.! oh my you’re one.! And I so much respect you for that.! And yes mydad of course.!

  3. That was a very good article. You are very good father. 🙂 Kudos to you!

  4. Really a Nice & Brave move Mr. Sunil.. I hope all the Indian Men will soon be able to digest this Gender Equality.

  5. Sounds just like my dad !!! Am sure ur girls are really prude of u !

  6. Proud* 🙂 Cheers !

  7. Amazing story. Thank you, sir. We need more parents like you.

  8. You should be proud for being the father of such a nice daughter. I liked your reference people asking you whether your daughter is studying abroad or married to someone abroad; no one asked whether she was working abroad!


    People should really salute you.

  10. I thank all of you for taking pains to read what I wrote. I am an ordinary man and an ordinary father trying to give the best to my children.

  11. That was such a wonderful read! Here’s to wonderful dads like you!

    And hoping that the coming generations will see more father like this!

  12. I bumped into your blog today. You are a happy and proud parent. I hope, I could raise my kids like u did. “Don’t deny me that privilege”-your elder one is a gem. I will come to back to your blog for more such pieces.

  13. Ever since I read your post “She must be …” wanted to go through the entire set of your posts.Today I finally got a chance! Hats off to a father like you, you remind me so much of my dad!
    “Hamare yahaan toh beti se kuch bhi nahin lete…” something I hear every other day ever since I married, and I long for the day when people can stop discriminating.
    The quote in the end is the icing on the cake. I hope I am able to bring up my son that way!

  14. Thank you all so much once again!

  15. Hats off……….
    That’s all I can say.

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  17. Beautiful post. I hope every Indian girl gets a dad like you 🙂 Hats off to you.

  18. I am immensely touched on reading your post, Sir. Hats off to you for giving your daughters the freedom to do what they really want to do in life, in spite of snide remarks from the ‘society’. Very few daughters in India get that kind of freedom. I really hope for more parents like you, who consider their daughters as ‘individuals’ and not as ‘just daughters’.

  19. Such a beautiful post!! This should be required reading for every Indian father. Hats off, Sunilji, and best wishes to you and to your wonderful daughters.

  20. Such a lovely blog. Many urban parents have expanded their minds to let their daughters live their lives and do what pleases them but very few have also in parallel, let go of the conventional shackles. It is heartening to read about parents such as yourself 🙂

  21. I am moved!! I dont know how I missed this post earlier!!

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  23. my poppy is the best….

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  25. such a beautiful artic;le! I dont even have words to express what i feel. I would jst say its great that there are men like you 🙂 God bless you and your family!:)

  26. Thanks everyone!

  27. I wish there more parents like you in our country. Thanks for sharing your story.

  28. the email made me emotional…I was raised by my father in somewhat similar fashion like you did..he always taught me to be independent,honest and educated…my parents never wanted an intelligent doctor or an engineer out of me but they always emphasized that I give importance to my studies cause at the end that’s what will help me be what I want to be,without depending on others!

    and today I can see the fruits of their lessons…thankfully my husband too comes from a family which carry the same thoughts…hopefully tomorrow when our daughter grows up,she’ll be able to say that more than anything else we gave her education and right direction to live life 🙂

    coming to the point of having daughters: When I had baby girl last year,people audaciously asked my mother in law if she was upset cause our daughter was her 3rd grand daughter in a row! what more could be said of this society?

  29. What a lovely piece. I wish more people would read this, and understand that daughters are not some “paraya than” meant to be “given away” but individuals in their own right.

  30. Also, my suggestion for all such parents (those who think of their daughters in that manner) is that please take the time to know your child, whether a boy or a girl – my daughter’s personality and tastes continue to amaze me as she grows up; I have realised that no one child is like another, and gender is not the only thing that plays a role in shaping their personality.

  31. Vikrant Bhuskute -

    Dear Sir, I agree with you when you say that you are just an ordinary man doing ordinary things. But it is the same wisdom and strength I would pray I get. I do not doubt myself, but I fear, what if I do not continue on the personal will to do ‘ordinary’ things which are the right things to do? I guess the fear stems from…sometimes ordinary men forget doing the ordinary things…they come under some ‘societal'(?) pressure? Who creates it ? How? Why? Not sure. But then start doing the ‘extraordinary’ things. I pray for courage, strength and wisdom to believe in myself and do the right NORMAL things. That is why all the salutes you are getting. Warm regards to all of you and may your life continue to be NORMAL and therefore natural, full of love and joy and care.

  32. i cant help being jealous of your daughters sir!

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