In the month of Navratri, I described to her the way we worship the girl as goddess for nine days. How we end the fast by idolizing young girls as female deities. A few weeks later, she asked me something I couldn’t answer honestly because I was ashamed to admit the truth.
I was born in a small town of Punjab and currently living in Delhi from last ten years. I run a small software company with a majority of clients from United States. My daily job consists of hours long Skype calls and video conferences. Sometimes, apart from the work we discuss personal things just to develop a familiar connection. That is our approach to feel like working together in the same office in this internet age. The conversation related to Navratri happened in March 2018 when I told her the way we worship women.
Three weeks later, My wife was in her eighth month of pregnancy. I realized that I haven’t shared this news with my associates yet. Because in my community, people tend to keep such news a secret until the end. I was chatting with the same lady, one of my client’s representative from Dallas, with whom I usually discuss all sort of things like hobbies, favorite movies, books and funny experiences of each other’s daily lives to lighten up the mood in stressful days. I shared the news with her that I am going to become a father soon. She was really happy and congratulated me.
Her first question was: “Is it a boy or a girl?”. I wasn’t expecting such question but before I could respond, for a minute, I was stumped on what to reply. Obviously, I didn’t know if it was a boy or a girl but I didn’t want to give her an honest reply. That would have arisen further questions on why I didn’t know. What should’ve I told her? That the Indian government has imposed a ban on sex determination of fetus because most people in India don’t want to have the girl child for various reasons. Isn’t it shameful that in India, up to 6 million babies have been murdered in selective sex abortions in just 2000s, which was three times more what Japan has lost in World War II including through nuclear bombs.
For those who don’t know, revealing the sex of the baby before birth is legal in the United States and the average female to male ratio is much higher than that of India. A few weeks back I was proudly sharing the Indian culture on Navratri. But then, to answer her question, I simply responded: “We want to keep it a surprise”. It was definitely a lie but the only answer I could give to prevent further questions filled with curiosity. I lied, because, for the first time in my life, I felt ashamed for the double standards our society carry and I didn’t want to be looked down. That day I truly felt the burden of two-faced values we carry where we worship the girls but we don’t wish for a daughter.
A month later, in May 2018, I was blessed with a baby girl and I was really happy. For me, it didn’t matter if it was a girl or a boy, it still doesn’t. But that day, even the nurses at the hospital talked to me like I got a better-luck-next-time scratch card.
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