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India has a weird obsession with obtaining a PISS trophy, and we're not sure how to make the society get over it. But here's an attempt.
India has a weird obsession with obtaining a PISS trophy, and we’re not sure how to make the society get over it. But here’s an attempt.
Ladies and gentlemen! If your ears have ever been greeted by the sounds of “Mubarak ho! Ladka hua hai” or “Congratulations! It’s a boy!!” then you are the proud recipient of ‘The PISS Trophy’.
In case you are wondering what a PISS trophy is, then let me tell you it’s the most wanted, most desired and most coveted: The Prized Indian Super Son Trophy. And lowlies like me have to be contented with ‘The MISS Medal’, no prizes for guessing what that is: The Missed Indian Super Son Medal. Exactly!!
Yeah, yeah! I can hear the smug smirks from all the winners proudly holding on to their trophies. Congratulations once again! You just got lucky!!
For an Indian woman, the first hurdle to cross is finding a PISS as a husband. Have you crossed that hurdle yet? Yes? Good!! Now get ready for the next major hurdle. Getting to bear the child of the PISS. Have you stumbled at this hurdle like me or still stumbling?
For those who are still stumbling, all my prayers and sympathies are with you for you might be in the clutches of The BIN (The Big Indian Nose). Yes, this is exactly the sense organ that we Indians use the most, poking our nose in everyone’s business. Those who have crossed this hurdle with silky smooth ease and produced another piece of PISS at the first jump, then WOW!
If you brought another MISS into this world, then you have probably been through what I have. I had to stumble for four excruciating years at this hurdle, and guess what, I was awarded the MISS medal. When I got my first MISS medal, everyone around me wished me well for my girl, saying all good things about her. Mothers with only PISS trophies wished they could have a girl too, because it’s sooo cute to dress them up (this is what girls are good at, dressing up, right??).
But my mother was slightly disappointed. Well, you see, in this tragicomedy, my elder sister had already won the MISS medal twice. So, not my mother, but my other relatives pitying our situation desperately started using their BINs. The shape and size of my protruding tummy and spells of my nausea were constantly under scrutiny to determine the sex of my child. And it was unanimously, emphatically and happily declared that I was all set to bring out a PISS trophy. This is an unbelievable gift some Indian women possess and truth be told I was fascinated by their observations and conclusions. My mother was so set on believing that she would hold her first “naati”(a male grandchild) that she almost bought a sherwani for him. And that’s why she was so disappointed. Sorry, ammi, I couldn’t produce my sample of PISS, but I know how much you love my girls.
All well until now. But heck! Eight years had gone and I still hadn’t created my PISS. Now… that’s an emergency situation. Everyone around me, except me, started fretting and worrying about my condition leading me into panic mode and frequent meltdowns. But God was kind enough and I got the chance once again to bear the second child of the PISS.
Those of you who have one PISS needn’t bother because society has deemed that enough for you. Your sole PISS is equivalent to ‘Kuber ka khazana‘. Even if the PISS goes on to become a smuggler, thief, gambler or a rapist, he will always remain ‘Maa ka laadla’ (a mother’s beloved child). For Indian mothers, their PISS trophy is always ‘nirdosh’ (innocent). We hear this refrain quite often now on the idiot box from mothers of so-called rapists and offenders, don’t we?? Anyway, coming to my dilemma now. Wherever I went, I was blessed with “Allah kare, is baar beta ho!” (May God bless you with a PISS).
Aunts, cousins, sister-in-laws, grandmothers, house helps (from both sides), even total strangers just replayed the PISS blessing everytime they saw me. GOD! Now that pissed me enough not to long for a PISS!
It’s really overwhelming how in India, people around you are more concerned about your supposed well being than your immediate family. Lucky, aren’t you, swarmed by wellwishers? Without having a PISS, my khaandaan (family) just wouldn’t carry on further. How could I ever explain to them that it’s the genes of their golden PISS that are responsible for breeding another PISS and not me? Would they stop giving me those sympathetic and accusatory glances?
A family friend who had been blessed with a PISS at her third attempt narrated a tale of her acquaintance who wept on her delivery bed because she couldn’t get out a PISS even the second time. I was horrified, to say the least. But that’s history. She became a PISS trophy recipient after that. Lucky she didn’t contribute further to India’s booming population. I also came to know how a relative was desperately and feverishly praying for her daughter to have a PISS because she had missed it the first time. You could imagine my anxiety levels now.
As the D-Day approached, the tension in the air was palpable. Would I? Would I not? That was the question in everybody’s mind. They all waited with bated breath. But their breath went “phuss” (a flop show) and not “aah!” (a blockbuster). I had been an utter disaster. Even the nurse looked disappointed in me. My second MISS medal! Society was informed in mildly upset tones that it was not a PISS but a disastrous miss. But secretly I was thrilled, thrilled at foiling society’s attempts at dictating my life. Congratulatory messages soon turned into consolatory messages that how we were indeed blessed to have two daughters in our life. This, coming from those who had been hoping for a son all along.
Now comes the best part which amuses me so much. I am sure most of you have come across this. “Beta ho jaata to family complete ho jaati aapki” (a PISS would have completed your family). I was doomed with a broken and incomplete family! God have mercy on my fractured family! (what with both my sister and sister-in-law missing their PISS trophies too!) I still cannot wrap my head around how a PISS can complete a family, HOWWW?? At family events and gatherings, freshly awarded PISS recipients would parade past me, casting pitiful glances all the while brandishing their trophies. Even after three years I still get regretting remarks like “Alas! If only you had a son!” But they are still hopeful. They seemed to have spotted a ‘Baby Producing Machine’ crown on my head.
Even if you have failed to bag the PISS trophy, don’t worry. You have another PISS to take care of, yes your husband. After my marriage, I was advised by all and sundry about how to make this PISS happy. I am sure most of you have gone through this routine drill.
Instructions were laid out on how to be always ready and dolled up for this PISS, especially when he comes home after a hard day’s work. Even if this piece of PISS is a mess, you should always look attractive. And yes, finish all the kitchen chores before he comes home. No need to get all sweaty and smelly. Doesn’t matter if he’s smelling like a fish market. And oh yes! Never let this PISS hold his progeny at weddings or parties. That’s so beneath his stature. But that’s a guideline I hardly stick by. At functions, I can only take care of one thing at a time. What if I fall in my saree/lehnga and harm my child? That would be more embarrassing, naa?? One more important rule, never ask him to let the clothes out to dry especially in full public view. NEVER. That’s so “tsk tsk”! But I am really really lucky, I have a golden PISS as a husband and he has gladly thrown away the rulebook.
Parents of PISS trophies, you have one very important thing to take care of. And that’s advertising your PISS when he becomes an eligible bachelor. I am so so glad I will not have to do it, ever!
I recently came across a sample of this advertisement at a matchmaking setting when the clan of the PISS came to see and judge one of my relatives. And boy! Were they disappointed in her! The poor girl (who is quite attractive) sat with her head bent down for ten to fifteen minutes without a word being spoken to. And the mother and sisters of the PISS kept staring at her and judging her. Apparently, she was no match for their PISS. And then the mother started to speak without any break. Her speech was a song of praise (of her PISS), how he was so “aalishaan”(fantastic), “gaon ki shaan”(the pride of his village), and that he belonged to a hi-fi “khaandaan”(family). And how could she not? After all, she was a triple awardee of the PISS trophy.
I was too fascinated to speak; here I was watching a live specimen of a prospective MIL (Monster in law) at work. Who needs these saas-bahu serials anyway?? Reluctantly, she did slip on the engagement ring on her finger but with the WARNING to change herself in the future for her PISS. I think she was half expecting her to get a plastic surgery done. Luckily for the girl, her parents called off the engagement. This piece of PISS was just not worth striving for.
Jokes and humour aside, what’s really striking in all these threads is the role of women in promoting and advocating patriarchy. Women are equally and at times mostly responsible for glorifying the patriarchal society. Sad, isn’t it?? We clap and cheer for the ‘Dangal’ and ‘Chak De’ girls, but we silently or loudly keep pining for a son. I am not against sons and boys, what I am against is the differentiation. Let a child just remain a child, not a beti (girl child) or a beta (male child), but your child. Note how consciously or unconsciously, we usually address even our daughters as ‘beta’.
Raising a child is a matter of dignity and honour, not a son. Teach them everything you would teach your daughters to do, cooking, washing, sewing, cleaning… everything, so that when your daughters-in-law leave them at home for a few days, they can manage just fine. And you wouldn’t have to bother your DILs with frantic phone calls to return and take care of your PISS trophies. Give your sons some credit, they are worth more than you make them out to be. And please don’t raise your boys to be PISS trophies, they are not trophies and lotteries to be won in competitions. If there’s anything to be won, then let them win hearts!
Finally, I would like to make it loud and clear for those who are still hoping and praying for me… “ I AM NOT DYYYIIING FOR A PISS!!!”
(PS: Taking inspiration from Mr Tharoor, the above account is not a farrago of lies and distortions. It reflects types of PISSs and parents of PISSs who inhabit our society, and not society as a whole. Any resemblance to a PISS or a parent of a PISS is purely coincidental. I am absolutely sure there are many wonderful folks and sons out there who have relinquished the PISS trophy with pleasure and gladly wear their MISS medals).
Published here earlier.
Image source: By Naoll (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons, for representational purposes only.
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I recommend reading Manjiri Indurkar's Origami Aai alongside her memoir to have a fulfilling and enriching experience of telling one's story with grace.
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