''These days’ technology is so high and friendly that you can choose the sex of your baby.... why don't you have a son.’’, ‘’You already have a very intelligent girl. If you give birth to a baby boy, I am sure he will be more intelligent than this girl’’ ‘’ I think it’s already too late….’’ ‘’you just give a birth to a son and, I will take care of him’’, ‘’She is a career oriented women, she doesn’t want to lose her job’’, ‘’ Take this Chinese calendar, if you follow this strictly, you will get child of your choice, it’s a guarantee that you will have a son this time’’ ‘’she is a perfect daughter in law for our family, only the thing is she does not has a son‘’, ‘’I am not telling this for me it’s only for you and your future ‘’, ‘’one day she will regret and then it will be too late for her’’, ‘’ I think she has some biological problem’’, ‘’if she doesn’t want, why don’t we get another woman. Because we have to continue our family’’ these are the normal statements, that I started hearing after my daughter enter her teen age. Indeed, I am very lucky that there are good people who care for me, think for me and wishes for my better life and they want my complete life after birth of a son. But the belief of people and society that without son, the family is not complete……without son, the life of women is not complete……… that gets on my nerve and makes me very angry. The patriarchy that made a life of girl and women worthless in our society, is really very pathetic.
One of the sunny day in April 2001, I and my husband in a very determinedly made a joint decision that we will have only one child even that is girl or boy. Our commitment at that time was to take care of her/him whole heartily and to focus and give our best to the child for her/his betterment. We were very happy and waiting for this little one in our life. A precious day on 3 December 2001 at 10.10 pm (happy hour as the position of both hands of the clock was just in √ shape), my little princess came in this world without giving any complication to both of our health. That was the most precious day, I waited since nine months counting down the days and nights with lots of enthusiasm, joy and love. I lived and enjoyed each and every moment of pregnancy. That day also, I was fully conscious while giving birth and was waiting to see my baby, after some time a nurse showed my baby and asked if I am seeing my child? I said yes and requested her to put my Tika (it is small circle shape sticker made of velvet that is put in forehead mostly by married women) to her forehead so that it would be easier to recognize her and ensure my baby doesn’t get change. As I was seeing more than twenty babies were lying in the bed at the same time and everyone seems totally same for me. The hospital, I was admitted was quite big government maternity hospital and I have heard lots of stories that due to the negligence or sometime intentionally babies got changed. I was so concerned on this issue from the pre pregnancy period. Suddenly she raised her eyebrows, broke her laugh and said, it’s a baby girl…… I knew, I already saw my baby, however I only wanted to ensure. I could clearly see her indication that its baby girl and nobody will be wishing to take her. She further clarified and ensured that they have tagging system for mother and baby with same number so there is no chance of changing the babies.
I was shifted toward room after couple of hour with the help of a nurse and attendant, both of them were in dark silence while helping me over the time. Even they have not informed my family that my daughter was born and I have already sifted to general ward. I myself managed to breastfeed my baby for the first time. Now I wonder, how I spontaneously start breastfeeding my little baby without any shyness and guidance… I was only 21 of age that time and until then, I never seen/consulted to anyone even my gynecologist how to breast feed and how to take care of new born baby. I could see my neighboring new mothers and their family members who were demanded to give gifts, tips and sweets to attendants, nurse and helpers. They were congratulating and showering the comments on new born baby boys and giving/getting guidance how to breast feed, how to hold a baby and how to cope with the body post labour pain and delivery. After some time, my husband and mother in law came with sweets and offered to nurse and attendants. My family were overwhelmed to see a girl child born in my family after 65 years, but the strangers (nurse and attendants) were still feeling sorry for me, I could clearly feel their reactions with type of consolation and even feeling awkward to take the sweets. Few of them directly consoled to me and my husband and said that these days’ girl child love parents much so no need to worry and I should try again after two or three years for a baby boy. For the first time in life, I felt very pity to the society that doesn’t welcome a GIRL CHILD. Just because of she was a GIRL, she is not heartily welcomed in this world even by the strangers.
Second day, I discharged from hospital and came to my home with my little princes with big happiness, lots of joy. Friends relatives started visiting me every day, however I found most of them consoling to me that my next baby would be boy because my daughter seems bit a boy (even when my daughter was too young, people used to predict my another unborn child just seeing my daughter’s face. Later on when my daughter celebrated her fifth birthday, people start advising me for planning next baby boy. Since the decision was already made for one child, I used to share them that we will not plan for another baby. But people used to think that we will be planning after some time. Gradually the time passed and the comments from relatives, and friends became more and more stronger. All of them were compelling me and advising me for my secured life after giving a birth to a son. Yet, I am not tired to clarify them that it’s not a case of sour apples, we really love a daughter and we are happy with only child. No more babies for us.
It’s a real pity, why can’t they consider that a daughter can be the strength, pride, power of the family and she could also continue/contribute to grow the family tree. Why they don’t think that It’s not the sex but the equal opportunity that makes the human powerful, that makes a person capable and that makes a person to lead each and every responsibility equally as a son. A person is not just a son or a daughter, it’s a human and if they get equal right they can lead a life with same capacity. It’s a fundamental human right that each of them must get equal opportunity of right to live dignified life with equal access of every basic requirement. The craze of the boy will prevail, until the society practices inequality and uneven distribution of resources. The craze of boy will prevail, until the contribution of girl/ women are not acknowledged and valued as economic actor. The craze of baby boy will prevail, until the number of female feticide, honour killing and dowry cases are not lessening. But I also know that It’s also not them, it’s the tradition, it’s a system, it’s a culture those are being practiced since century. The culture and tradition which has set the role and responsibility according to thesex and not to the capability. But i am positive that all the tradition and culture are made by human itself for the human welfare. It can be practice and made contextual with the logic as per the requirement. It will take some gradual time for the change in practice and change in the mindset but the change will happen for sure one day.
Personally, the cost of my choice became a bit expensive to me as SOMETIME, I am considered, behaved, treated and valued bit less in comparison to my contemporaries who have boys. But I simply don't give a damn to the people who consider me on the basis of my children’s sex, but I can’t tolerate if my daughter or any girl/women is devalued, mistreated and deprived just because of her sex. I would urge hand to hand to all for the change of mindset in the community and take girl/women as an actor and their voice to be heard and contribution to be acknowledged and respected. The change begins from individual to family to community to nation to the world, so lets begin from you and me.