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Sunday, February 7, 2010

It’s a girl..No wait it’s a boy! Sugna delivers baby boy much to Maa-sa’s delight.

It is time for celebrations once again in Maa-saa’s family. First her daughter-in-law, Gehna, gave birth to the all important male heir and now her grand daughter, Sugna, has held aloft the family prestige by giving birth to a baby boy. As she held the baby close to herself, her face was infused with a warm glowing look. However minutes before she had worn a different expression-one of dejection, sadness and pain. The reason-the nurse had come out of the delivery room and had told the waiting and anxious loved ones of Sugna that she had given birth to a baby girl!

In a country where we worship women as Shakti, the Female form of power, the news of the birth of a baby girl received such mixed reactions. While most of the male members of the family rejoiced the birth of the little girl, hailing her to be Maa Lakshmi (Goddess of wealth); the women reacted to the news with shock and dismay. Maa-saa and Sugna’s own mother (most shockingly) appeared very disappointed. Maa-sa in fact even refused to go in and talk to her one and only grand daughter just because she had let down the family by bringing to the world another burden-a girl child!

As soon as she was convinced of the fact that Sugna had indeed given birth to a male baby, her joy knew no bounds. She was immediately up and about rejoicing in the birth, making plans for a grand celebration, thanking the lord for keeping her grand daughter and her son alive and well. The sheer unfairness of it all is a telling commentary on the still existing male child bias in India, be it rural or urban. Male babies are greeted with smiles and sweets, girl babies are welcomed with a sagging of the shoulder, a knitting of brows. On the one hand we try to propitiate Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth, on the other we call the girl child a financial burden meant to be lugged around for life. Such is the charisma and pull of the boy child that Sugna’s erstwhile in-laws who had disowned her after the death of their son (and Sugna’s husband) Pratap, has come back to lay a claim to the child.

Sugna’s news of pregnancy had been treated with disbelief and anger by her in-laws as Pratap and Sugna had not had the opportunity to live like husband and wife. They had called her all sorts of names and had even openly stated that she was not carrying Pratap’s child. The very news of a male heir and they are back before the blink of an eye, laying their claim to the new life. Would it have been the same if instead of a boy, a girl had been born? The answer is a resounding NO!

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