For The Love Of The Male Child

Beggars on the streets freak me out. Maybe I am cruel and compassionless, but something about their wild, at the same time, dead eyes scare me to death. The way their skeletal fingers keep beseeching is terrifying. Over the years, I might have been approached by hundreds of them, varying from ages of three to maybe ninety. But this one lady stands out in my memory.
A couple of years ago, when I was in Pune, I was waiting at a bus stop when she approached me. She swore on all the Gods she could think of and said if I helped her, “Tujhe ek din beta paida hoga.”

I stood as far away from her as I possibly could. Then I wondered, why did her “blessing” specify a son? Why not, “Have a healthy baby”? Why specifically a “son”? Young as I was back then (just out of college) and as angry at such matters as I am today, I was in a foul mood for the rest of the day because no one my age seemed to care about such matters. They all gave the same advice, “Chhod na, yaar! She was just a beggar.” Hmph!
Now, this isn’t an isolated incident. When I was born (after a thirteen-year long wait!), the nurses looked at my mother with a lot of sympathy and said, “Oh… it’s a… girl.” Exhausted as my mother must’ve been, she could muster enough steel in her voice to declare a daughter is what she wanted, and she is proud that I was a healthy baby.
We knew a family, a long time ago, that had a string of daughters, because they were waiting for a son to arrive some day. They were disappointed with the daughters. The names of all their daughters meant “night” (I am not gonna specify the names) and when a son finally arrived, he brought the first positive name into the family. His name meant joy. Why the discrimination? They’re all your blood after all.

Why is a daughter a burden? A daughter is just too much hassle. There’s a question of nurturing her, protecting her, only to send her off to a different family along with all the savings that you have collected over the years. A daughter is dangerous – she has the ability to put the entire family to shame if not kept under strict vigilance. A daughter has no name – the family line dies with her. She belongs to another family, a family whose son is proudly carrying their family name forward. A daughter isn’t capable of working like a son. She wouldn’t be able to support a family like a son can. A daughter is vulnerable. A son, on the other hand, is a protector (almost invincible, one might say!). A daughter is worthless – to be kept in a dark corner, where a son must bask in the glory of all the light in the world. Why bother giving life to something that’s just so worthless?
A day will come when the sons will have a wonderful world to live in – a peaceful one and a glorious one – a world with no daughters. There would be joy all around, and the sun would never set. And night and darkness would be a part of half-believed legends.
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25 thoughts on “For The Love Of The Male Child

  1. Anil Krishnanunni December 3, 2013 / 8:35 PM

    I guessed that boy's name. 😀 and can also think of one girl's name with the meaning night :v

    Like

  2. Sreesha Divakaran December 4, 2013 / 2:26 AM

    🙂 Yeah I guess not a lot of Indian boy names mean joy.
    They had about 8 kids, just for this reason.

    Like

  3. Indrani December 4, 2013 / 3:04 AM

    This issue will go on till our society collectively decides to change it.
    Good read.

    Like

  4. Bhavya Kaushik December 4, 2013 / 4:59 AM

    This is an issue about which we have read and talked about a lot. Still I believe only a little has been done. A heartbreaking post Sreesha. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us 🙂

    Like

  5. Sreesha Divakaran December 4, 2013 / 5:53 AM

    No one seems to consciously do anything about it. It's no longer a question of education anymore, either. I know of well-educated families that believe a daughter needn't get a job or anything and are just married off to families that think on similar lines! How sad!

    Like

  6. Abhijnan December 4, 2013 / 6:00 AM

    When I was born, the nurse seemed disappointed.. She said “Oh no,it's a boy”

    Like

  7. Sreesha Divakaran December 4, 2013 / 6:44 AM

    Oh that's a first! But discrimination of any sort is bad. What did your mom say to her??

    Like

  8. Preethi Venugopal December 4, 2013 / 6:49 AM

    I believe there is a change happening around. These days couples are not so much obsessed about the male child as they used to be. I absolutely agree with your views.
    After all if no woman where will man come from???
    Let us hope for change.

    Like

  9. Abhijnan December 4, 2013 / 7:06 AM

    Mom pretty much said the same thing,I guess… 😀
    Actually mine's a family of girls…so I was kind of breaking the tradition…
    😀

    Like

  10. Sreesha Divakaran December 4, 2013 / 7:28 AM

    That's what I thought, until I delivered my son. A lot of people from my own generation (and social circle) said “Wow, you're so lucky, it's a boy.” As if I wouldn't be considered so lucky if it had been a girl! In fact, people have told me that too!

    Like

  11. Sreesha Divakaran December 4, 2013 / 7:38 AM

    Born rebel, huh? 😉
    It was the opposite in my case. My mother and her sisters had only boys. Everyone was waiting desperately for a daughter, when I suddenly arrived. Being the first daughter in a matrilineal society has its perks 😉

    Like

  12. Hiral Trivedi December 5, 2013 / 12:44 PM

    It fills me with grief when I see educated people beg for a boy. It will take centuries for people to grow. Plain shameful.

    Like

  13. Sreesha Divakaran December 5, 2013 / 1:42 PM

    Hiral, I hope it takes less than centuries. It's a really sad scene. And to have to wait for centuries makes it seeks worse…

    Like

  14. Tomichan Matheikal December 5, 2013 / 2:30 PM

    It's true that the girl child is still neglected in India. But that does not mean men are trying to create a world without women. Oh no, not at all. What will the men do without the “chicks”?

    Now, more seriously, the problem is simply the dowry system. Remove that. Give equal rights to girl children to inherit family property.

    Like

  15. Sreesha Divakaran December 5, 2013 / 2:59 PM

    Of course, they're not trying to create it; but that's what'll eventually happen if they kill all the girl babies.

    Like

  16. Sougata Khan December 6, 2013 / 7:53 AM

    Sad and true. Fact is that in India female foeticide is more prevalent among the educated and rich. Its surprising how hypocritical the “god fearing” Indian population is. Kill an innocent girl before birth and then go to temple and pray for a boy. I wonder if men abandon their parents in their old age as punishment for this.

    Like

  17. gangsofedathua December 6, 2013 / 12:50 PM

    Hi Sreesha,

    Waste no time and pls get hold of the DVD or watch this movie in Youtube :” MATHRUBHUMI” directed by Manish Jha. Its so bold that it will shake the viewer to the core !! It precisely deals with the “son never sets” scenario.

    The CSR (Child Sex Ratio) in India is falling falling and falling (from 927 in 2001 to 914 in 2011). Men in Haryana, Punjab and UP are learning it the hard way. They simply dont have women to marry ! The solution : they import brides from Bangladesh and West Bengal (IMPORTED BRIDES) !! Good thing: they have realised their folly now and changing !
    This problem is multidimensional: Religion (son to perform last rites), Technological (Ultra sound and female foeticide), Social (bringing up a girl is like watering anothers plant), Cultural (burden of dowry) and Geography !
    The country is alert now than ever coz a further fall would mean doom ! There is room for hope !!
    Pls watch the movie !!

    Like

  18. Sreesha Divakaran December 6, 2013 / 4:54 PM

    Yes, I have heard of a lady who went abroad to get the ultrasound done cos it's illegal in India. With that said, there are small hospitals in India, where they'll tell you the gender of the baby if you bribe them.
    And when you talk about killing a girl child, then praying for a boy, another very very minor example is – they eat only veg on some days citing religious reasons, then pig out on kfc the remaining days!

    Like

  19. Sreesha Divakaran December 6, 2013 / 4:58 PM

    I will check out the movie.
    There's also a brilliant book by Anita Nair called Lessons in Forgetting. It deals with multiple issues, female foeticide being one. The way it has been written shook me! It made me so angry that I couldn't even write a proper detailed review (on my other blog rainandabook.blogspot.com) that did justice to how good the book was!!

    Like

  20. gangsofedathua December 7, 2013 / 4:30 AM

    I will check out the book when I find time !! Thank you for suggesting !!

    Like

  21. sathish kumar December 15, 2013 / 10:55 AM

    pity that even women do not want girl baby… if everybody wants boy then who will bear the womb!! funny humans.

    Like

  22. Sreesha Divakaran December 15, 2013 / 1:33 PM

    Yes that's what really surprises me – when women think less of girl babies!

    Like

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