Those of you who have been following my adventures and escapades here for the past some months will remember me confessing to being a Grade 1 unadulterated male chauvinist pig. You will also recall me scale down from those exalted heights when this happened to me! And you who have been keeping my company in recent times will agree that whatever may be the scales of misogyny I display when it comes to my wife and other womenfolk who pepper my life, I am by far the most gender neutral person in this side of the hemisphere when it comes to my daughter. Another confession that I will remind you of now, the last for the day I promise, is the one about the beginning of the demise of the MCP in me the day I realized to my horror what if my daughter is treated the way I treat my wife!
As the ruminations above would have told you I have tried to bring up my daughter as an equal citizen. Equal in her rights, equal in her freedoms, equal in pampering, equal in mollycoddling. As equal as my son. Maybe more as at the time of going to press the junior is still very junior to her! The point being she has had no ‘special treatment’ meted out to her only because of her sex. In the parlance of the prevailing social scenario in our country, I have tried to bring her up like a ‘boy/man’! Though I find the last line offensive and sexist, I use it to ease your understanding of the context that I/We have imposed no discrimination on our daughter vis-à-vis the rights enjoyed by our son. Random discriminative suggestions or ideas propounded by my better half out of a sense of concern or worry for our daughter’s safety or future were mostly discarded by us for what they were, discriminatory in nature albeit well intentioned.
We fed her along with the morsels of thacchi mammu the fact that she was second to none in the world just because the chromosomes decided differently. We tried always, sometimes successfully or sometimes not so, to make available to her the opportunities that she deserved. We loved her, spoilt her, disciplined her or put restrictions on her as the situation demanded for her own benefit or betterment but never because she wasn’t a ‘he’! Suffices to say the treatment would have been the same had she been a ‘he’! And hence never did it once cross my mind that she was a paraya dhan whom I would have to one day ‘gift’ away to some so called knight in a shining armour. Yet..!
YET! Despite all the above bravado never could I reconcile to the fact that one day I will have to say good bye to her as she goes on to decide whatever is good for her. For her career. For her marriage. For her life. All the above gyaan has still not prepared me to the fact that my baby girl will one day leave my house for another man! I don’t know whether this thinking would pass muster and camouflage this as my sense of concern, loss and worry rather than as an acceptance of a practice which is totally patriarchal. The thought does cross my mind and despite all the conditioning that I have done to my grey cells that it is her life, her choice and it is her decision that is paramount but try telling this to the father in me!
I am however reassured that no calamity was in the offing as we are sure we are trying our best to equip her with all the knowledge, skills and experience which we can provide, buy and share with her so as to enable her to take educated and informed decisions on matters relating to her life. I was also fairly serene given the fact that such a parting would still be a decade or so away given her age. Imagine my consternation when like a bolt from the blue, the decade under discussion seems to have melted away and here we are on the doorsteps of exchanging hugs, kisses and tears of parting! My darling daughter is going away!
Was fate giving me an opportunity to reconcile to the pain that I would have to encounter in the future? Was it helping me prepare better for the blow that will fall on me? To prepare and equip me to help digest the sweet sorrow of parting that is in store for me? Now I know why those fathers shed tears when their angels get into the doli or drive away in the car decorated with flowers for their honeymoons. Now I do! Thank you fate for giving me the dress rehearsal. Thank you for grooming me up so that I am not left wanting when the D Day arrives. However I promise you this! Despite the rehearsal, I will shed tears when that moment arrives! Tears of concern, tears of worry, tears of love and tears of happiness. I don’t know when that eventual day will arrive but today on the day of ‘mini’ parting I make do with the song sung by millions of Indian fathers rooted to Bollywood, with slightly modified lyrics!
Khushi khushi kar do bida, Ke Rani beti raj karegi.
DU main admission mila, Ke Rani beti raj karegi!
PS: My Daughter In Delhi has always been my worst nightmare. I hope and pray my fears about Delhi are as exaggerated as the exaggerations is spin about my nightmares!
Thacchi Mammu : Curd rice in Tamil babyspeak
Paraya Dhan : Property belonging to others
Gyaan : Lecture/Knowledge
Doli : Ceremonial palanquin in which the bride leaves her father’s house.
The song reads “Send her off with a smile for She the Queen, will rule wherever she goes!”