“I tried everything possible to have a son. I followed diets, rituals, conducted all Poojas for a son. But still, nothing worked. I have two daughters now.”
I watched my colleague from a distance, she was lost in thoughts, staring listlessly at her desk. Having recently returned from her maternity leave, I guessed it was the job pressure and the sleepless nights talking.
Moreover, this was her second- the elder one, I knew was just two years old. I could pretty much relate to her current situation. Been there, done that. Two little kids definitely isn’t a laughing matter.
“What are you thinking about?” I placed my hand on her shoulder.
She was jolted back from her thoughts and she smiled.
“Let’s go to the canteen, have some tea,” I suggested and she agreed instantly.
As we sipped our tea, she opened up. “You know, ma’am, I tried everything possible to have a son this time. There are so many videos on Youtube, so much information on Google… From the day we started planning our second, I followed all diets, every ritual, conducted all Poojas. All so that this one would be a boy. But then, nothing worked. I have two daughters now.”
“It’s all chromosomes silly. You actually thought all the diets, time and rituals would work?” I was actually irritated. “And moreover, why do you want a boy so desperately? In this date and age? Come on! You are too emancipated for all this.”
“You have no idea ma’am,” She retorted. “My devrani (co-sister) is due next month. Her elder one is a daughter too. If she delivers a girl now, I’m safe. But if she gives them a boy, I’m done for. She’ll give the family a waaris. And she’ll get a larger chunk of the family property and my husband will be denied his share. My husband was suggesting a third chance, we can afford it. But what if that turns out to be a girl too?”
“Chal yaar!” I responded. “Both of you are well educated, and you earn well. Your in-laws may be a bit conservative but why should you care? What’s this waaris stuff about, you don’t need any inheritance.”
“It’s not only that ma’am.” She explained further. “I will lose all respect in that family. My devraani will be valued more, they will shower all the admiration on her. And they’ll be pretty vocal about it all, especially in my presence. I’m just praying, uske ghar bhi beti ho!”
Sighing, I realised that this was worrying her. I honestly couldn’t believe what I had just heard. On one hand, I could understand that her parents-in-law were old school and her husband was under parental pressure. But my colleague? An educated, independent, new-age woman? She claims it’s hard to accept another daughter into her family .
When do we the empowered women break away from the shackles of patriarchy? And why do some of us still cling on to these shackles, and bind our daughters too?
A version of this was first published here.
Picture credits: Still from Bollywood movie Filhaal
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