Who is the real ghar ka chirag? A post-doctoral scholar may not be half as educated as an illiterate housemaid when it comes to deciding who is the ‘light of your family’.
Morning Meanderings is a musings column by Dr Santosh Bakaya. Enjoy her jottings with a hot cup of tea. 🙂
Once again, I was in no mood to go and embrace the morn, as the suffocating heat was a deterrent. Moreover, I did not want to be privy to a heated discussion about the comparative degrees of heat in Churu and Jaipur. Churu’s incredibly high temperature at 50.3 degrees Celsius and the wobbly-stomached Churu man’s proprietorial pride at its dubious distinction of being the hottest town in the world had proved too much for me.
My perpetually fertile imagination had become very feverish and the entire night I had found myself in deep conversation with the Churu man about the dangers of global warming, while the proprietorial glow twinkling from his eyes, had singed my five-foot frame.
But, habits die hard, so I ventured out after guzzling down an ice-cold bottle of water. There were less walkers today, but my eyes fell on two mischievous looking, pigtailed girls of six or seven years of age (probably twins), chasing each other with spurts of giggles, while their father watched indulgently from a bench in the park.
I stopped near the bench and started chatting with the pleasant, bright-eyed young man, my mind flying to Delhi and a cab driver, I had struck a conversation with, just a year back.
“Are you a resident of Delhi?” This is always my first question to any cab driver, the moment I hop into a cab.
“No, I am from Sriganganagar, but go there only occasionally. I came here hunting for a job.”
“I have also lived in Rajasthan all my life, although I hail from Kashmir.”
“Oh Kashmir! What a lovely place.”
“Yes, indeed, it is love, itself. Are you married?”
“Yes,” he nodded.
“I have twins,” he added, happily.
I craned my neck in his direction, to find him beaming. The beams could be only because they were boys, I reckoned.
“No, no madam, girls.” His beams had become an effulgent sun now, and they drenched me completely.
“How old are they?”
“Oh. Quite small.”
“One is one minute older and the younger one calls her ‘Didi’.”
“What have you named them?”
“We had named them Maninder and Milkha.” The pride in his words almost spilled out.
“But why boys’ names?” I spluttered, bewildered.
“Well, one of them wants to become a cricketer and the other an athlete.”
“But, why not girls’ names?”
“Yes, that is why, on second thoughts, we changed their names to Sindhu and Saakshi.” I recalled the proud twinkle in his eyes as he said it, and with that remembrance, the surroundings also brightened up.
“Sona, Mona, let us go home, mom must be waiting!” The father of the twins shouted from the bench, and both hopped towards their father. He scooped them up, planted kisses on their cheeks, ruffled their hair, and they deftly climbed on to his shoulders. From their swiftness, I guessed that they were doing it every day.
I waved out to the girls and smiled at their father, and headed home.
In this reprehensible scenario of misogyny and patriarchy, this came as a whiff of refreshing breeze, blotting out another incident when a colleague was distributing laddoos to the entire college because a chirag had been born in his family after three daughters.
Indignant, I had asked him, why he had not distributed any sweets when his daughter was born last year.
“Vo to ladki thi madam. Ghar ka chirag to ab paida hua hai,” the post-doctoral scholar had remarked, eyes twinkling in untrammeled joy. (They are girls. The real light of the family is born now.)
“You know, madam, my husband is very partial towards my daughters. He loves them more than my son.” This was Kanchan stepping into the house.
“Oh!” I remarked, following her.
“Yesterday, he purchased frocks for them from Ama…..” Unable to pronounce Amazon, her eyes beseeched me for help.
“Amazon,” I said.
“Ama..” she stuttered, but I noticed there was no stuttering, when she reiterated, “Ladka ladki ek samaan hain, madamji. Main to apni betiyon ko khoob padhaaoongi. Main to betey sey ghar kaa kaam karwati hoon. Kaam main koi burai nahi hai, haina, poochho kyun?” (Boys and girls are equal. I will make my daughters study a lot. You know, I make my son do the household chores too. There is nothing wrong in working, is there madam? Don’t you want to know why?)
I would definitely ask her later, but right then, I just took a few steps towards her, and swept the twenty-three-year-old in a bear hug, almost making her lose her balance.
But, my heart told me, that this illiterate woman would never lose her sense of balance and fair play, and I silently saluted her as she tried hard to figure out what made Madam suddenly jump at her with huge hug. Poochho kyun?
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Very well brought out. The boy-girl imbalance starts from the fetus and grows into disproportionate misogyny at the societal level. I have three daughters and never felt the need or absence of a son. Neither I say that they are as good since that would be admitting the fact that the son is the ‘chirag’ ! I always joke at home that the day I feel outnumbered with three daughters, one granddaughter, and one wife, I would rather go and pick up a male pup only for balancing out ! 😀
A well written piece in praise of gender neutrality and narrative is wonderful.
Very well brought out. The boy-girl imbalance starts from the fetus and grows into disproportionate