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She cried in the labour room because she had given birth to a daughter. She cried again after she gave birth to her second child, a boy. Because now she would no longer have to face their taunts.
With every passing day, she was praying harder. This time it had to be a boy. God had to bless her no matter what. Never before had I seen her like this, at least not until she had her first child – a girl.
Motherhood hadn’t come easily to her. Many skilled doctors, expensive medicines and painful injections later she was able to conceive. The birth of the child I thought would bring back that long lost smile of hers.
I was wrong.
She was crying uncontrollably in the labor room. Yes, she told me that. She told me that when the doctor informed that she was now the mother of a baby girl, she couldn’t control her tears. She told me how the doctors and the nurses tried to make her understand, how lucky she was to have given birth to a Lakshmi. Little did they realize that the departure of the material Lakshmi some twenty – twenty-five years down the line is what her family feared the most. Both the families, her husband’s and her own, wanted a boy. Only a boy could carry the family baton forward. Only a boy could light the funeral pyre.
When she told me about how her speech was arrested due to relentless crying on hearing the doctors announcement, I asked her how could she be so unfair to her own child.
And she replied, “I cried thinking about the painful fate she is going to have because she is a girl. I cried because all the pain and suffering I have been through, is also going to be hers one day.”
When I told her about how her fears were unfounded, she told me “You do not know my family. You do not know the society I belong to.”
Three years down the line, her daughter is a smart little angel. She is proud of her. But this time around, again she is hoping for a son. The family is using every contact in every hospital, of every familiar city, to find a doctor who would help them determine the sex of the foetus. They are ready to pay any price (monetary, health, conscience…)to terminate the pregnancy if it happens to be a girl.
One doctor from another city finally agreed. She didn’t have to do this, I told her. Being the mother of a daughter she must have known by now how special daughters are. She said she was still going ahead with the plan. And that it was I who did not understand that daughters, when they grow up, are going to be at their in-law’s place, and that in the fag end of the parents lives it’s the son who is going to be by their side.
“Strange thinking,” I thought. Especially after all that education, the family’s sound social status and particularly in this age, this was something unbelievable, unacceptable. I informed her about the consequences if she was caught doing this. She was ready to take every risk. I asked her how she would be able to terminate the child she was fondly nurturing in her womb for the past many months. I got no answer.
The test never happened, and it was not because the better sense had prevailed. Somehow things did not work out for them, as the relative who had supposedly arranged for the doctor informed that the latter had backed out in the last moment.
A few months later she gave birth to a boy. Her happiness knew no bounds. Her family gleefully rejoiced and heaved a sigh of relief that it wasn’t a girl this time. She cried in the labor room, but this time the tears depicted her happiness. There would be no more taunts, no more obligations to bear a boy child again and no more insecurities about the future (and this when no one knows how the next moment would unfold!).
I thanked God for not blessing the family with a girl whose value they would have never understood. They certainly did not deserve her…
Editor’s note: Yesterday, 24th January 2019 was the National Day of the Girl Child in India. Let us think about these beliefs that need to be done away with.
Image source: shutterstock
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