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You will always be able to count on me, Maitabi Banerjee promised her newborn daughter, thinking about all the things a girl child in India has to face.
The Indian girl child is told often enough that she doesn’t deserve better. That she’s nothing more than a womb. That she can’t possibly ask for more. Yet, women refuse to give up on the dream of equality, of seizing their place in the sun. Starting 6th October 2018, as part of the conversations we have at Women’s Web for the International Day of the Girl Child on 11th October, we present a special series in which a few of our best authors write about #GirlPower. Some write from their own experience as girls, some about the significant girls in their lives, and some even to future daughters – a rich tapestry of emotions that is woven with love, bravery, inspiration, hope, fear, pain, and so much more.
Maitabi Banerjee muses about the day her daughter was born, and how she made a decision that day to always stand by her, be one of those her daughter could always count on. For the world treats its girls differently…
I remember telling my husband one of those days, “something is not right with me. I feel weak. Heightened sense of smell, and a bit of giddiness is also there.” And he replies in his way, “eat well, you are reckless with such stuff.” I frown. He laughs. And, a few days later I test positive. I had conceived my second child.
If there was happiness, there was confusion too. Those were not the best days of our life. We were already struggling with an ailing child. But, then we went ahead. And after eight and half months ‘she’ was born.
I vividly remember that morning. My husband stood by my side as I was wheeled into the OT. I looked at my son anxiously. He was sleeping on the attendant bed next to mine. I wanted a girl, and so did he. We had told this to each other in the last several months. Why we pined and longed for a baby girl, honestly I don’t know. Maybe because I already had a boy, and a girl would have been just wonderful.
Within a few hours, I had her in my arms. A tiny bundle. Closed eyes. Wrinkled skin. Rosy lips. There ‘she’ was – my daughter. She cried aloud and few drops trickled down my checks too. Perhaps, we both had just told each other how happy we were to have our lives entwined now!
The next day, when I felt little better after the pain ceased a bit, I sat with her on my lap. A bundle of joy, really. She smiled. And, I smiled amidst the pain and discomfort.
Just then, my eyes fell on the newspaper kept on the bed. A rape case was reported out there. I looked at my daughter. And again at the newspaper. I could feel something inside me trembles. As if a snake had just coiled around my heart and body. I felt cold. Just then my gynecologist walked in. A beautiful soul with an even beautiful smile. She is a lady whom I deeply admired, and, still do. For everything she is. The warmth she had in her demeanour, her thoughts, and most importantly her compassion and kindness.
With my daughter on my lap, for a moment, I pondered: I was sitting between the two contrasts in our society. Here I had just read about the rape of a young woman, and how she was burnt alive. And then, here was a successful and immensely dignified woman who made it for her in life.
As a mother, obviously the latter was comforting. But, what about the thoughts that strike you like those unruly waves of the ocean? Which perhaps, you want to get hold of and throw far away, but, before you do, they run away. Far away. And, again strike you back. At times with more force and vengeance!
Bringing up a girl child in India isn’t easy. I know it. I have been through the dark lanes of childhood and adolescence, when you are vulnerable, yet ready to soar high. The way people look at you, even though hurtful at times, honestly doesn’t matter. But, no matter how much ever we shun this, the way your own people look at you, does. And, that matters the most.
For my daughter, I want to be one among those people in her life whom she can always count on. In good. In bad. Acceptance. I want to do that. I want to accept the way she is. She is mine. My soul. My love. My jaan. She has come out of me. I don’t want to put any conditions. I want her to live fully. I want her to love. I want her to see and understand the goodness life offers. I want her to emerge as winner from the dungeon of darkness. I want her to stumble and stand up again. I want her to be a ‘her’ in whatever she is. And, amidst all the hullabaloo life offers, I want to stand there for her. With her. In her. In words and in action. Accept her in all her imperfections.
Today as I close this piece, I pray that I have the strength, and enough of it to live by what I intend to do. Amen!
Read all the #GirlPower posts in this series here.
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An avid reader, a blogger, a book reviewer, a freelancer writer and an aspiring author.
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