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For my unborn daughter….

November 29, 2014

 

Missing a daughter in my life really.

Would like to go back to 2000-2005 and get one if thats possible lolz

This is for the darling daughter I don’t have:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tx_kA5T8pc

A mother’s letter to her unborn daughter:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgoPEuXR0es

Parents’ love and ultimate dream of seeing their dear daughter’s wedding: always this song reminds me of my parents who never lived to see mine… because i remember them planning for it for years…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ERzxBw4ABM

ADOPTION OF BABY GIRLS

Two childless couples adopted 2 baby daughters this year. The girls are my friends. The babies were hardly 3 months but my friends were in queue for a while awaiting their turn. Got to see both the little girls during ‘Navrathri.’ Dolls, oh my what a gift! So precious! This year’s was truly the most meaningful Navrathri i have ever seen in my life. The couples; preference for girl babies touched my heart. It speaks a lot about the true sentiments of our population. Despite the rape and other violent crimes committed against women as reported in the media, there is still this respect and preference for a daughter always in our families, over sons sometimes which many might find difficult to believe.

One more senior couple adopted a baby girl 15 years back – they went for the darkest skinned 3 month baby by purpose. Today she is a princess to her parents, the epicenter of their very lives. The parents look very fair. Even in adoption, there are couples who have preferences for this and that. None can have a heart like these seniors.

Daughters are the ‘Mahalakshmis’ of our homes.

Daughters are celebrated, cherished. I was not fortunate enough to share many years with my parents – but my father was a man who would hesitate to look directly into his own teenage daughters’ eyes. Our families were like that. Dress code was strict and no going out without a dupatta – even though we were very young then. Now fathers hug daughters and all that, but back in our times we maintained a respectful distance with any male relative, even if it could be your father. I found the same fatherly gentleness in my FIL when I got married. I kind of miss that old worldly protective care. I am on my own since long and sometimes my heart aches for someone to take care of me…. 

Evening 6’0 clock was deadline in my home when my father was around and strangely my FIL was also a man who did not like us ladies stepping out of our home after 6 pm. The idea was not to keep us women in control, but to ensure that we stayed safe.  Even now I seem to subconsciously adhere to the timing lolz – wherever I go on errands, I make sure I am back at home by 6 pm as much as possible! Just like my father would walk me to my friends’ homes or bus stop,my FIL would accompany me if i had to go somewhere alone. I don’t need a male escort, i am pretty independent and can take care of myself, but i respect what the men stood for. Everything cannot be viewed in sexist/feminist angle. Indian fathers, brothers, uncles are unique, Indian male is unique.  By nature and by culture, our men tend to be over-protective about their women. Indian society continues to be like this even today.

EQUALITY MEANS NO SPECIAL FAVOURS!!!

My husband and son hold women in highest respects too and think of women as equals but they aren’t the ‘hearts and roses’ kind of guys. I have come to accept that. When you want equality, I can understand, you have to expect to be treated without any special favours in the first place! There is a world of difference between the generations i can see. My son was dropped home by a girl the other day – she was in the driver’s seat lolz. She drives better than my son! Girls come home alone by 10 pm sometimes but I have come to admire the girls’ parents for trusting their daughters,not fearing for their daughters, and giving the girls such an independence, unthinkable in my times. 

MALE-FEMALE HEIR APPARENT:

One of my relatives passed away last year. His 3 daughters wanted to do his last rites. None was pleased with their decision. But the girls, all married and in their 20s, were encouraged by their husbands and in-laws and even their mother in her state of grief. The girls went to the electric crematorium and the eldest one lit the funeral pyre of her father, not conceding the privilege to her elderly first male cousin as is always the custom if there is no son/male heir in the family. The entire relative circle, initially shocked, was avowed. First time in our family history.

In what way are daughters inferior to sons. I don’t think any parent would not want his/her daughter(s) to do the last rites for him/her in the present age. This is what education can do to us. Its equality in these areas i want for women. I want equal footing for men and women in our traditional grounds.

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I am lucky to be born in a family where physical or verbal abuse of women has been non-existent. I am also lucky to be married into an equally decent family where again violence of any form against women is unheard of. In both families, women are revered, respected, and women are the pivot, the driving force, the true concentration of power even if they may not be the chief bread earners. Women are the decision makers in our homes. Women are also smarter than men in our families – from both sides!

I am the first born daughter and sometimes people tell me, looking back at what all i have crossed in my life,that a son could have stumbled. Because we were 2 girls, we were stubborn, we were blessed with ‘good sense’ and we did not lose our way or get distracted like perhaps a boy could have.

HENPECKED HUSBANDS !!!

At the same time, I would like the girls’ parents to think of their daughters’ happiness and future and NOT ‘crowd’ and ‘congest’ their daughters’ lives with too much of unwarranted attention, complicating matters.  Unfortunately this is the scene in urban India today. Let your daughters live their own independent lives, dear parents.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Men%27s_rights_movement_in_India

http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/living/the-harassed-husbands-of-india

http://harassed-husbands.blogspot.in/

Sec 498a of IPC deals with Dowry harassment in India. There are times when it is grossly misused by some parties with personal vendetta. I am saying this because we have atleast 2 such false cases filed in our relative circles by the girls induced by their parents. If a man is booked under this law on written complaint filed by his wife with the police/law enforcement authorities (via FIR), the man can be held in the lock-up (pending trial), denied bail and sentenced upto 7 years RI. Not just the groom, even his parents (the girl’s in-laws) can be held under the provision.  Law heavily favours women over men in India. The onus of disproving any false allegation levelled against him or his family in a court of law, always rests with the Indian male. If a woman scorned wants to take out her wrath on her husband/in-laws, there is no better place on earth to do it than in India. Sadly this is the harsh reality.

GIRLS, WHERE IS YOUR COMMON SENSE?

Still there is a lot of sexual discrimination, harassment Indian women undeniably face everyday in life. As a motherless girl, i had to thwart off the offending hands of a friend’s father, someone’s brother etc. Worst is, you cannot even confide such a thing in your best friend(s). There are things buried deep inside my heart that I cannot share with any one, not even my husband. May be this is the reason the offenders are encouraged. In my experience, I learned in a very young age to preserve myself and avoid situations that would compromise my personal safety-security. Every girl I think should develop her own mechanism when it comes to her self-preservation. We need to be independent yet at the same time we need to be ‘wise.’

Girls are always vulnerable that way and when you lack security, you are in deep trouble. 

As a woman I feel, a girl/woman must trust her basic instinct under all circumstances. Its better to be called a ‘snob’ rather than be labeled ‘easy.’ A girl’s best self-defence is always her inborn intuition. When your mind sounds the alarm anytime, listen to it. The greatest gift a girl/woman can be blessed with is again ‘good sense.’ I have seen girls from some good families go astray.  Our life is in our own hands. Today we sisters are known to our old friends/relatives/neighbours as ‘Susheela’s daughters.’ Susheela and her husband practically had no role to play in defining our future to speak the truth. In a way they are total strangers to us daughters. They were nowhere in the scene. Nor did a cent of their fortunes help or matter when it was needed the most. What saved us girls was this heightened sense of caution, awareness and vigil.

A woman activist was blaming ‘Nirbhaya’ and her parents in the Delhi gang rape case. The entire media and public turned against her for voicing such a sexist view. But the truth is, in my opinion, it never hurts to stay alert at all times. You have to use your 6th sense. It beats me why ‘Nirbhaya’ and her boyfriend decided to board a private bus with window panes screened in that nightly hour. Parents have a responsibility too. I am a parent, and in case i had had a daughter, I WOULD NOT ALLOW HER to go out with her boyfriend to cinema (evening show) and return home late after 10 pm. Not because I am sexist, but because I would be worried about her safety. Our cities and villages must be safe enough for a girl to walk back home alone even around midnight, but has anybody been able to stop New York muggings? Or other crimes around the world. During my 4 year residence in Malaysia, almost every week there used to be a ‘rape’ report there in the newspapers. In Indonesia the crime climbed a steep graph. And Malaysia was supposedly a safer country than ours. Crimes cannot be prevented – or our ability/record in preventing crimes is dismal. So why not exercise caution. Why give grounds for anything untoward from happening, if you can help it….

So why do we safe-keep our valuables and jewelry in bank lockers, why do we insure ourselves, our car, our house, our other assets? Think of a woman’s safety, modesty that way. I refuse to believe there are no rape or other brutal crimes committed against women in the west.

Girls’ parents must advice their daughters prudence in such matters.  Personal safety and security of women is of utmost importance. Flouting your reasoning logical sense is foolish. If a girl comes home very late, I ask my son to drop her back home. The girl’s parents may be gutsy, but i am still old fashioned.

When we drive, how do we drive. Its not enough if we are good drivers. We have to anticipate others’ errors. We have stay alert and be prepared to swerve at the final crucial moment to save ourselves – if we have to, if situation is compelling. That is safe driving. When it comes to personal safety, this is what i want to tell young girls today.  Take care of yourselves. Expect the worst and equip yourselves to handle crisis at most inopportune moment. Be bold, but not careless or foolish.

Physical Abuse/Mental Abuse of women:

Physical abuse of women is there in the lower most strata of our society where financial constraints force men into committing violent acts against women. No denying that. Men being daily wage earners/blue collar workers and alcoholics take out their frustration on women largely. Only literacy and economic empowerment can improve their lot.

As women do well, the pressure is on men to perform. I am telling this to my son all the time. Girls are one step ahead of boys in every sphere. I have said this in many of my posts: if our men want to get equal and good life partners, they have to ‘prove’ themselves first. My city is bristling with very smart, intelligent and ‘no-nonsense’ women. My son has to work double hard like his father if he wants a matching spouse!

Mental harassment: Have faced this in my workplace for a couple of years. I am not sure if this is prevalent in today’s working atmosphere.

50 Shades: Story in real life:

I have a friend who is divorced. She left her husband for the reason the guy used to be just like the ’50 shades’ man all those years back. The family court judge asked her not even to seek alimony. When our friend started confiding in us girls what was happening to her, we were kind of bewildered. We were newly married ourselves and it was too early, too strange and frightening. Its years later we understood our friend’s condition.

On Marital Rape:

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/marital-and-other-rapes-grossly-underreported/article6524943.ece

http://www.indiaspend.com/cover-story/india-is-a-nation-of-violent-stressed-men-58583

2 of my husband’s best buddies lead a sorry life. One married the same year as us – in 1993 (arranged marriage). Within 3 months the wife conceived and the couple have a son same age as ours. That was the last the man laid a hand on his wife. For over 21 years now he is leading a celibate life, drifting from continent to continent. Such a genius. Minting in millions. The girl lived with her parents away from the man for over a decade. The man can have his pick, but coming from a conservative family, he cannot and will not. The girl’s parents have finally moved into the man’s house with their daughter yet the wife is unattainable to him.

Atleast this man has a son to carry on his name. Another friend goes childless. This couple attended the same university studying engineering together. The girl is a chemical engineer and continues to be my friend to this date. They married in 1996 after over a 10 year love affair. We stayed with them in Singapore for 8 days when both of them were working there. I was shocked to discover that the couple never slept together – because the girl was frigid. She told me she found physical relationship revolting (!) whereas in that age i recall we guys used to be over-enthusiastic(!) I think its natural for couples in late 20s and early 30s to feel the way we did. Young blood. The girl is sheer dominating, aggressive. I can’t believe these guys had a love marriage after a courting period of 10 years in the first place. We returned from Singapore totally dismayed.

The state of our friends’ lives very much disturbed us. But the marriages still held rock-solid! The idea of separation or divorce or remarriage or seeking pleasure elsewhere never crossed the men’s mind. This is India for you. Another facet to often maligned Indian Male Character.

One genius friend, the first one, lived alone by himself in his apartment while the other couple slept in 2 different bedrooms. It was not what we expected but my husband did indeed forewarn me. For me personally, it was too much to take. Both these men are my husband’s bosom buddies.

Both the guys were there in Singapore in 1999 during our visit. I felt so sad for both the men. The way the first one longs for love, companionship is heartbreaking. All he needs is a wife to atleast serve him food – but his MIL serves him his dinner. His own son is an alien to him, does not respect him.

The second couple have resettled in the city and live in a 4 BHK independent villa in the outskirts. I have an open invitation to spend any weekend with the girl but so far i haven’t. The man is a senior executive/vice president in an ambitious civil/structural national project. The pair travel abroad a lot, spend a fortune on shopping for clothes, etc. In short they do not know what to do with their money. Such a vacuum in their lives.

Both these nicest men have not strayed, have not taken another woman or have not even been with call girls or as such (that’s what my husband tells me) because we belong to this strictly conservative society. Imagine 20 years of married life as a celibate. Only a Madarasi man will not divorce his wife under the circumstances. Its fashionable today to discuss ‘marital rape’ everywhere in the media. Does anyone bother to listen to the male point of view.

Some of my husband’s buddies, if they ever come home, never show signs of leaving. A particular guy (the first one)’s eyes get misty even if i serve him a simple meal. That is all he is asking. The man simply dotes on my son over his own.

The second couple also now look at my son as their own. They recall the Singapore days. Yet I don’t see any regret in them for the wasted years – atleast not in the girl. The man shows some slight feelings.

Whenever I read about marital rape reported in our media, I think of these 2 men – 49 years today like my husband. Loaded with money – not been with a woman other than their wives for more than a couple of times. AND THAT IS ALL. By accident, the first man’s wife conceived. Otherwise imagine his fate.

Unbelievable quite?!

This is what some parents can do to their daughters – make them make their men’s life miserable. Chennai is now full of such sad stories. Parents please don’t do this to your daughters. I am bothered because i am the concerned mother of a young man too… If this is what Women’s Lib is about, I don’t want it!

SUSPICIOUS WIVES: There are girls/friends/relatives who routinely check their husband’s phones, mails etc. These women make their men’s life hell. One does not even allow her husband to talk to his parents. If he does that, she threatens with suicide. The man secretly visits his parents without his wife’s knowledge during office hours. Not spoken to his parents in public in 2 decades.

I realize the value of family because I had none in my growing up years. Even in my 40s, i long to have a parents’ home to go to. 

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One more exam to go for my son – and his school gang is already here because he says its a very easy paper so he can afford to spend some time with them. There are 5 girls and 6 boys right now in his room apart from him. My MIL kept opening the doors – and you have to look at her face as she frowns at the shorts and minis of the girls. ‘Girls parents must be slapped first’ she tells me in private lolz.

Went and said ‘hi’ to all. The girls have super GRE scores better than my son and an even better GPA from 6 concluded semesters. They are all applying to super universities for MS. Top 10. Such a close proximity the girls are sharing with the boys, sitting so close to them. I have learned to say ‘Ram Ram’ and gulp it all down but my MIL still finds this difficult to digest! ‘Let him work instead and we will get him married in our own circle’ she bites into my ears! ‘Is there a single girl left in the world these days with shame?!’

Very nice girls really. SUPER SMART. I love them all and respect them so much. They enrich my son’s life in ways we parents can never I know.

Every coin has 2 sides. Before writing on male-female scenario, our bloggers/columnists/researchers should take into account the prevailing urban conditions and ground realities. Equation is fast changing between men and women in India. A very skewed analysis is done by statisticians and sociologists when it comes to studying  man-woman relationship in India which is not correct. You only need to consider the IT girls in our metros before passing any judgement on so-called ‘violent’ and ‘stressed’ Indian men.

In my life, in my personal experience, I have seen a lot of men/husbands harassed/henpecked over women being subject to physical/mental abuse by men. My mother was a working woman. She held her own to my knowledge and memory and she used to be a pretty independent woman. She was yet traditional to the core conforming to the society’s prescribed standards.

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My father was widowed at a young age – none bothered to ask him whether he wanted to remarry. Our society is like this. But now that i am in that age, I have a husband who’s been through that age, I know how lonely it can get for men in ’40s. My poor dad who withered away in loneliness… I wish he had remarried…. Who knows, if he had had, he might still be around today… Depression killed my father.

Statistics may not always present you the true picture. Home to home, we have a variance in India. What we see in rural India is not what we see in urban India.

There was a time in India, like upto our generation, when girls’ parents would worry about the kind of husbands their girls may get. Now the reverse is true. In the present times, its boys’ parents who are concerned most about the kind of girls their sons might marry. There is no difference whether its arranged marriage or love marriage. Both are one and the same once couples marry.

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I decided to write this post on behalf of some aggrieved men who are our friends after seeing a volley of news reports on crimes against women. Not to counter the allegations but to present another dimension to the issue that remains largely undebated in our midst.

 

 

 

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