The prejudice lives on!

12 Oct 2007
Posted by Kiran

It has been a very long break for me. I guess I just got tired of writing for a while. I went into the old writer's block mode and did not quite find myself in the mood to write or even think about anything.

During this time, quite a lot has happened as well. The best of it was when Savi happened to me. Savi is the name of my daughter who was born two months back. She is a beauty, a princess!! (“Savi” means ‘sweet’ in my mother tongue – Kannada)

I have always wondered how it would be to have a kid. Another human being who is one part you – your creation! I know now. My life has changed after Savi. It has changed a lot and I don't regret these changes. Infact, I am enjoying them. Each day I spend quite a while talking to my wife about how Savi is getting along and what we are going to do for her. My personal life seems to now revolve around her and I am enjoying the merry-go-round.

When Savi was born, my wife and I were overjoyed, proud parents of a beautiful darling daughter. We were beaming and the joy showed. We soon had relatives and friends visiting us to see the new-born and I soon realized that not all shared the joy. While some of them congratulated us on our new bundle of joy, there were others who spoke only about the fact that we had had a girl.

It was only then that the realization struck home, the realization of how deep-rooted the prejudice against the girl child is in India. The whole idea of having a boy is so deeply ingrained in our psyche that we as a society refuse to feel joy on the birth of a girl.

My wife had just returned to the hospital ward from the delivery room and people there were already talking about our next child and how we could try for a boy next time! Next Time? Hello!! How about now? How about the fact that we had just had a beautiful daughter? It was as though my daughter did not even exist! It was, well, disgusting!

My wife and I were left wondering if it would have been the same if we had had a son. Would these folks then have spoken of how we could try for a girl next time?

Why are these people still living in an age old silo of male-dominated society? Why is it that we are still so male-centric? Why is it that it is the aunts and grandmothers who are so insistent that there should be a boy in the family?

Perhaps to a certain extent the root of this problem is in our religion; the belief that the son is the person who will show you the way to heaven. We are still living in a society which believes that you need an auspicious occasion just to step out of the house. Such is the blind faith in religion that even well educated people don't think about questioning those beliefs.

In our culture and society there seems to be very little room for logical thinking or scientific reasoning. To this day we remain a society that depends on auspicious dates and omens to carry out the daily routines of our life, and all that notwithstanding the level of education we may have attained.

How do you deal with such deep-rooted prejudice? My wife and I started with shocked disbelief, slowly progressed through to amazement bordering on anger and finally ended up with plain amusement! We ended up laughing our hearts out at these so-called civilized people and their shallow thinking.

Savi has a very bright future ahead of her. I am not saying that because I have all the money in the world (I don't, unfortunately); nor do I hold the key to some secret that is going to make my daughter's life easier. Savi, I am sure, is going to have her own fair share of trials and tribulations. However, what she will also have is an unprejudiced family right behind her, encouraging her and egging her on, every step of the way!

We will teach her that being a girl is no disadvantage; she can be what anyone else can be. The only thing she will need to do is work hard, work smart.

It is unfortunate that in today's modern, shining India we still have a mindset that a boy can achieve more. It only makes me more determined to help my daughter prove her aunts and grand-aunts wrong.

But I am also left wondering: When will this prejudice finally die?