I have spent the most vital days of my life at Raisinghnagar, Rajasthan. Those were the days when my hands were full of colourful bangles actively engaged in the rhythm of life. I was 12 years old when I got married. By 14, I had a child. But unfortunately, it was a girl. And eventually the same happened to us, as must happen to a child and her mother if the first-born is a girl. I was condemned by the society for my ill-humoured conspiracy.
I and my daughter, both were treated badly. But life wasn’t ready to stop at that. Soon my mother in law wanted us to have a boy. Thus, the very next year I was expecting again. This time too, it was a girl. I am talking about some time during 1970’s. Those days no one wanted a girl. They were inauspicious and the load of a lifetime. So my second child was taken away and left somewhere away from the family, or maybe she was killed. I still don’t know what had happened to her.
I had to spend horrible days after that. My intentions were doubted, integrity questioned, each action criticized and life ripped apart. Not much time had passed when I was again forced to have a child. This time even I wanted to have a boy so my ordeal ended finally. For how long can I and my daughter suffer for bearing the wrong gender? And finally, it was a boy.
I thought that things would be fine now and my days would change. I thought I will finally be showered with love, my wishes would be valued and my words would be respected. But I was wrong. They wanted the son, not the one who brought him to the earth. Or perhaps they couldn’t forgive me for the disgrace and harassment I caused them with the first two pregnancies. It is quite humiliating for a family to tell the world that they have had daughters twice, consecutively. The accomplishment for being a boy’s mother could not take away from me, the shame of bearing a girl.
I and my first daughter always suffered. She never ceased to be a burden for everyone, even for my husband. Once she was very ill; so I told her to rest and brought her medicines. But my husband instructed her to get out of the bed and go for working in the field. He even denied to give her medicines. Whenever I tried to stop anyone in the family from misbehaving with her, I was warned that they would throw her out of the house as they did with my second child. To that, I always fell silent. Helplessly I watched my son going to school every day. A privilege that my daughter was denied. She too wanted to attend school and once she even gathered the courage to speak to her father. She requested her father that she would manage the work and studies both at same time and that she would even work extra hard so none would suffer. He shouted at her, abused her and told her to go and do her work. “Girls are not meant to study, all they should focus on is household work.” He opined.
Those days men were so dominating that we women could not even utter a word against them. I just shed tears in isolation. Sometimes I felt good though, thinking about my other girl. She must be lucky to have separated from her kin at birth. Dead or alive, she had struck a better deal compared to the one who was allowed to stay closer to me, with her mother witnessing her death every single day.
Story by : Raesham Verma, resident of an old age home in Mumbai
As told to : Ritika Jain