She’s become my life ever since I held her first. She’s the reason I am. Her smile fuels my day. Her welcoming giggle is the reason I run back home. Seeing her snugly sleeping in my lap is the biggest comfort in the world. A slight discomfort to her is enough to leave me sleepless. She’s the best thing that has happened to me and my husband. ‘I love my daughter’ would be a lesser phrase to sum up what she means to me. And ‘m grateful to God for blessing me with Hiyashaa.
Hiyashaa, is the culmination to two Hindi words – Hiya (Heart) + Asha (Hope). With this I come to the title of this post – Confession. Confession that she’s is not my Hiyashaa. She’s not the hope of my heart. She’s not what my heart desired. Yes, I didn’t want a girl. My husband most eagerly did. And am glad, God said yes to his ‘Hiyashaa’. The reason why I didn’t want a girl isn’t because I hate girls or that I propagate gender discrimination.
Many would think that I am just playing with words trying to camouflage my desire to have a boy for “obvious” reasons. But being born to parents who have always been proud of having two daughters, I could never even dream of choosing or playing favorite to a gender. My mom tells me that other moms in the family often refer to us saying, “If daughters are like Charu and Rupali (my sister), we ll be happy having daughters.” That’s precisely because of the way our parents raised us – with equal opportunities and hell lot of freedom to grown into responsible and sensitive women.
But despite having parents, who were proud to have daughters 29 years back, I didn’t want a daughter for myself. I didn’t want a baby girl because I was afraid. However, this wasn’t my ‘Hiyashaa’ the day I got pregnant. A happy and healthy child was on my mind on that day and thereafter, though my husband always wanted a princess to pamper. It was long that I had forgotten what I had gone through during my growing up years in Delhi. From being groped in crowded places, being rubbed and felt in the infamous DTC and Blue Line buses to innumerable inappropriate touches. I remember my 10 years old cousin trying to convince her mother for not going to India International Trade Fair (IITF) at Pragati Maidan, ever in her life. She was too young to explain that she was molested but her mother understood. They never visited Trade Fair again, which was otherwise an annual picnic for the family. But could that mother keep her daughter home-bound always? No. All of us went out and fought our battles. Sometimes kept quiet, sometimes taught the perverts a good lesson. Finally, we grew up, the nightmarish buses gave way to my Alto, college ques were replaced by comfy office premises and Delhi was replaced by Mumbai. A lot changed, which was enough to make me forget the shit that we had to face.
It was in the beginning of my second trimester that the news of a gang rape in Delhi flashed everywhere. My husband did his best to shield me from the news considering my sensitive pregnant self. Fortunately or unfortunately, thanks to the information overload, I ended up following Nirbhaya’s case closely. Was their a choice? I’m sure every woman in India, must have been doing the same. Add to it sudden spurt in news coverage of rapes of all kinds (young women, 60-year old and even 2-3 years old girls) kissing headlines everyday – it was then that my subconscious mind started praying for a baby boy.
Was I wrong in wishing that? Reading about a school girl raped by her bus driver or for that matter reading what happened with Nirbhaya will give shudders to every would be mom. Soon, Hiyashaa came in to our lives and I forgot everything once again. Blame it to human tendency, we get too comfortable, too early. All was well till I was on my maternity leave. But all good things come to an end. Soon, I had to join back work and we had to take a call on leaving my daughter with a maid at home or at a day care. Fear struck again. Right now I have my mother taking care of my daughter and I’m diligently working in office. But soon she’ll go back. What then? Will I be able to leave my daughter among strange people at the day care? If not, then how would I leave her alone with my most trusted maid, when we have the doodh wala and laundry guy knocking at our door everyday. My building has a swanky security system. But can I trust that security guard? I doubt. I’ll quit work, is what we have decided. But just like my mother, even I won’t be able to hand hold my daughter forever. It is sickening to think that the state of men in India is as grim today as it was during my growing up years. It’s worsening,
perhaps! I’m sure!
I remember a male friend moving to Mumbai after he got married as he claimed that Mumbai is much safer a place for women than Delhi. But what happened a few days back with a journo in Mumbai is enough to tell that it’s not about the city but about the “citi-zens.”
Now, you tell me – was I wrong in wishing for a boy? After all, having a boy I could have got a chance to raise a responsible man, who would respect women. Now, that I have been blessed by a girl, I’ll have to teach her about touch (good and bad), pepper sprays, self defense, caution, clothes, look, safe-unsafe places and of course men of all kind (pedophiles, perverts, rapists) – Oh there’s so much! Whereas, being a mother to a boy all I had to teach him was just one lesson – respect women. Isn’t it much easier?
That’s why I didn’t want a girl.