THE MALE CHILD

I saw them crying, I felt their pain but I was unaffected with all of that. Was I totally numb to all that? No, I did feel the hurting heart of my pretty daughter who felt cheated by me. They were all saying that I had rushed and left way too early but I had questions running in my mind. Did it actually matter to them even if I was there?I reflect back upon my life as it has come to an end now.

My birth was a much awaited moment. My parents, the very hard working couple were not so happy at having one daughter after another. Everyone who met them, looked at them with sympathy that they had two daughters and no riches. Dadima(my paternal grandma) had learnt of some totem that once practiced would result in my mother giving birth to a male child – the heir to the family. May be my parents too were very anxious to have a male child finally, so they didn’t mind following the totem.

I was born finally in one of those winter months. Everyone seemed very excited at hearing the news of my arrival into the family. ” Ah! Finally Lakhu and Jamuna have a baby boy. At least now they have the heir to the family,” they would exclaim. Whoever saw me was taken aback at a glance. The male child they so expected to be a bouncy, beautiful baby was just the opposite. I am told I was dark skinned, very weak and cranky. Yet surprisingly, I got all the adulation from all around me and my sisters who were much prettier and fairer than me were being ignored for the fact that they were girls.

My birth was celebrated with distribution of sweets. My hard working parents who struggled with getting new pair of shoes for my elder sister Champa, suddenly found some hidden wealth I guess, for they gave out kilos and kilos of sweets to friends and relatives. My Childhood was also like a celebration where I got special treatment at all times. ” Hari, Come and eat Halwa. I have made speacially for you” dadima would call out and feed me while Champa and Gayatri would look at it longingly. My elder sisters were made of metal I assumed, for they never fought for what they yearned for, they never demanded anything. Rather they accepted everything that was going around because they were the girl child.

I once had a slight cough and I was rushed to the doctor and given the cough syrup immediately. I must have been around three years and obviously would have had no memory of that age. But now that I am able to reflect back on the earthly life, I can see the whole life chart passing through my eyes. Wait a minute, what is this bias? I see Gayatri coughing to a stretch. Her cough is so severe that she passes out urine in her pants. I can clearly see her teary eyes but she is deprived of medicine for it is too expensive an item to be spent on the female child. Mother simply crushes some herbs to boil and gives her the decoction.

Being a pampered kid, quite addicted to the Royal treatment from mummy, daddy and dadima I soon became unruly. I had my way around things and soon my parents realized that if things continued such a way, their precious heir might not be an obedient one. I started playing with the unruly lot of boys and started dressing shabbily. I had left all the grace and dignity to Champa and Gayatri. They somehow would always understand the pains and hardships my parents went through yet I remained oblivious of their struggles.

Then came the moment that changed my destiny forever. My uncle Inder on one of his several frequent visits decided that I no longer needed to be in that atmosphere. I was the future of the family, hence I needed better education. I was sent to Russia to be with my other uncle Jaswant. In a sway, my childhood was swept away without any notice. The royal treatment I was so addicted to soon turned into a nightmare as I was forced to eat foods which I wasn’t used to. I had to polish my own shoes, tie my own shoelaces and oh! how I hated wearing that necktie to school each morning.

I cried silent tears each day for uncountable days, months and years. I had finally adapted to the new life but I missed home. I missed mummy and daddy. I missed dadima. I missed my loving sisters Champa and Gayatri who I used to boss over. I made silent promises to myself that if I were to return home, I shall never trouble or tease my sisters, for I had now understood their love for me. I made promises to myself that I would one day return  home to be with mummy and eat her deliciously cooked meals. I longed for her simple cooked meals which seemed far better than these rich looking meals which lacked her touch of love.

Oh! Mummy! why did you do this to me? I often wondered, if she also cried for me the same way. Did dadima ever miss me? I was told after I left, daddy had become a very bitter and angry person. Did that mean, he missed me too? Did mummy shed her silent tears like I did? There were several questions which I lived through with each breath.Why couldn’t my parents rule over Uncle Inder and let me remain with them. Did uncle care for me more than them? Alas! the questions remained never to be answered.

One fine day, as I finished school without much celebration, I was sent to Nigeria. Oh no! it wasn’t for any higher education, for I never liked studies. I had to start working at the tender age of 16. Life took yet another turn for me. I had lost the childhood. I had lost playing and gossiping with sisters and friends. I had lost meeting dadima as she died while I was away. Yet, I made a pact with my new life with the hope of earning something huge and returning home to my dear mother. Champa and Gayatri were now married and had kids. Mummy and daddy were alone back home and ageing gradually and I worried for them.

Then the lightening struck into my soul. Yes, indeed my soul was injured, when I got the news of mummy succumbing to an illness and leaving me an orphan. Did I become an orphan now or did I become an orphan the day I was separated from her? Did she ever benefit from my education abroad? She must have yearned for me too like I did for her. Why did I never speak up and go back to earn in homeland?

They said she had great desire to see me married. Were her desires only to be fulfilled by others that an uncle took charge of my affairs? Of course, i am grateful to Uncle Inder having made me capable of what I became but then he too left us one day and orphaned me once again. Now I was left with a wife Ramya, two sisters and daddy to call as my family. Life had made me a strong person yet I was mellowed by circumstances and could never decide where I stood in life. I often wondered  if anyone loved me at all. All I could sense was expectations from relatives far and near because I was an heir to a family. No one understood my expectations of them.

I sensed that all their pity and love for me after mummy’s death had suddenly taken the toss of a coin once I was married. From the day of marriage, I was supposed to be more responsible and so was Ramya. We both tried to bond with each other and found the Love which I was lacking in my life. Ramya provided me with comfort when I needed but never understood my family. Champa, Gayatri and daddy loved me dearly but couldn’t express any fondness for Ramya.

Now, that I have left my physical body they have gathered to cry over me. I wish to tell them that their life does not get affected at all and they shouldn’t cry. I am finally at peace with myself. I have been reunited with mummy and now it is Ramya’s turn to play the family cards. My little daughter is quite young but I am proud of giving birth to her. This girl child of mine will be the heir of the family. She will one day look after Ramya as well. She is the future and I am now just a past.

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