As Prerana opened her eyes, everything around her seemed hazy. She could hear voices though as her heart skipped a beat and she wondered “Where am I?”. As she tried her best to recollect the incidences of the previous night, the nurse standing close by noticed that she is awake and greeted her with a smile, “Good Morning Mrs. Prerana. How do you feel now?” The nurse started adjusting her bed slowly to an angle of about 75 degrees so that Prerana could be in a semi-sitting position. Soon the haziness disappeared and she remembered being rushed to the hospital the night before, after undergoing an early labour. Handing the baby over, the nurse remarked, “Had it been a boy I would have asked you for gifts, but now that it’s a girl never mind!”
Prerana’s husband Arun, sitting next to her, retorted, “Don’t worry that you missed out an opportunity to make money. We are very happy that our second baby is also a girl and so we will give you what you ask for.” The nurse gave an embarrassed smile and started checking Prerana’s blood pressure.
Prerana held her baby in her arms, the couple were happy that their bundle of joy was healthy and they had not wished for anything more. Arun’s mother Malini, sitting next to him, was making an effort to disguise her disappointment by stretching her lips into a half-baked smile. She had visited a temple 200 km away to pray for a grandson and had also given Prerana the prasad which many people vouched for and which according to the priest was a sure shot way of having a son. Malini wondered whether Prerana had even eaten it. These modern girls do everything according to their whims and fancy, she muttered. Prerana could easily see through the fake smile and her heart became heavy. She looked at the child in her lap whose sparkling eyes and angelic face exuded warmth and love. “Can something as innocent be a cause of worry?”, she wondered, feeling sorry for the poor soul who was welcomed into this world with sad and heavy hearts.
Two days later the mother and the baby were discharged from the hospital and received a warm welcome from Arun’s father. Happy to hold his granddaughter in his arms, he exclaimed, “Her cries seem to be so musical, I want the little one to follow her Dadaji’s passion for music. She will become a singer one day!” Everyone around burst into laughter. Hours later two neighbourhood aunties came to see their friend Malini’s granddaughter, or this was what Prerana assumed. To her dismay, the women had come over to express their grief at the birth of a second daughter and to voice out their displeasure over Prerana’s unwillingness to follow the rituals that guaranteed the birth of a son. Before leaving, the ladies blessed her and wished that God gives her a son next year.
Tears welled in Prerana’s eyes, and the moment the ladies stepped out, an array of drops fell on her dupatta like rain drops on parched earth. Was it her fault that she bore a baby daughter? Why on earth are people treating her like she has committed a crime? These and many such thoughts crossed her mind as she sobbed inconsolably.
Prerana represents a vast majority of women across India who are meted out an unjust treatment when they give birth to daughters. It is indeed ironical that the cause of Prerana’s grief was women who believe that males are superior, that having a boy calls for an aplomb but having a daughter becomes a reason for grief and not worthy of a celebration. And if the second child is also a daughter, then it is a major cause of concern. Such unfortunate incidents are often dismissed at the coffee table conversations as the happenings in remote parts of the country, something which we don’t identify ourselves with. However, if you watch out closely, the cherubic girl next door who has turned grim and lifeless, since the birth of her daughter, may be going through a similar situation.
We at thehappywomen.com dream of a world where daughters are welcomed with “Badhai Ho! Beti Hui Hai!” and believe in being the change that we want to see.
Let’s join our hands together to celebrate the birth of a girl child, so that no mother is made to feel ashamed of giving birth to a daughter.