Tuesday, June 28, 2011
The Discrimination Begins Early!
There is a little creature in most homes who winds herself around your heart, with a winsome smile and makes your knees go wobbly with the power of her charm. She gambols around like a puppy, eyes filled with mischief, and deep secrets yet to be explored. Her hair flies about in wild disarray, her lanky limbs move with coltish grace. She is a piece of your heart; when around, she tries your patience to the maximum, but the moment she goes out anywhere, you miss her desperately. She is as elusive as the pot at the end of the rainbow, and infinitely more precious. She is the girl child.
However, the girl child is still looked upon as a burden, a curse, a commodity with a limited guarantee, even in this enlightened age. The delivery date is awaited with great trepidation. The parents-in-law hover over the hapless girl, vultures waiting to swoop in case she commits the grievous sin of delivering a daughter. The husband is all set to prove his manhood, and god save his wife if she proves him wrong. The fault is all hers, despite the various messages flashed on television. The ‘Y’ chromosome turns into the ‘WHY’ chromosome, since matrimony is often a matter-of-money, isn’t it?
Does anyone pause to think of the young woman who has gone through the agony of labour to deliver a bonnie wee lassie? The birth pangs are no less, and if anything, they are compounded with the realisation that her troubles are only starting! Thoughts of dowry are already in place. Luckily the ‘laddoos’ have not been ordered.
Newspapers scream of mothers strangling their babies, drowning them, poisoning them, starving them... in luckier cases, girl babies have been left in baskets on the steps of orphanages.
The discrimination begins early. “Meena, fetch a glass of milk for your brother. Look how hard he is studying,” orders her mother. Meena obeys, with a fire smouldering in her heart. How does her brother wear good clothes, while she herself walks around in cast-offs? Why does he get an education while she stays at home doing the housework? The major difference between homework and housework comes into play here. After a whole day of back-breaking work at home, why is she expected to take a glass of milk to her brother, who has done nothing more strenuous than studying and playing? But of course, he is the son of the house, the apple of his parents’ eye, the one who is going to raise them above their poverty one nebulous day in the future. Hope lies eternal....
Meena, in their eyes, will only graduate from unmarried drudge to married drudge and live her life in abject slavery.
Isn’t it time for young men to brush away the cobwebs that have formed silver strands across the minds of their parents, and for parents to think of their own daughters when marrying off their precious sons? Retribution has an uncanny way of descending on guilty heads. Cast out the belief that once married, a girl ceases to be part of her own family.
Imagine the plight of this delicate creature who has bloomed from a playful teenager into a beautiful woman. Let us reverse the trend and care truly for our girl child. Get a man to bear a baby, and doubtless he will pray to the deliverer to deliver him from future deliveries.
The New Indian Express
June 28th, 2011