Wednesday, October 27, 2010

More questions of whys from daughters


I think the question of gender equality will go a long way. Maybe it will never see an end. As far as I know, it began a long time ago and I can say, it has no beginning either. It is a pessimistic view, but some issues, of course, go on forever. And sometime, you don’t even know if it is even improving. But in the case of gender equality, I think it has come a long way and women’s place in the world has improved a lot. However, there are certain issues that we cannot uproot, because they are part of you like an inborn nature.

I’m writing this article in continuation to ‘Open Heart Delivery’, an article about parents’ role in the children’s life as they grow up. Since the growing up stage of daughters and sons are different in some fundamental ways, I thought I should write about questions daughters have in their growing stage and how we must attend to them.

For example, a boy will never ask question like, ‘Why do we have less freedom than girls?’ – Whereas, our daughters do ask, “Why do they give more freedom to a boy than a girl?” It is this question in the paper that I was given at the school that struck me how different a boy and a girl are and how differently they are expected to behave by their parents as they grow up.

Following are also questions that we were made to think of, to better address the issues our daughters go through as they grow up:

·         Why do they give things first to a boy and the used ones to a girl?
·         I think my father doesn’t trust me because when I talk to my classmates (boys) I think he gets angry.
·         Why don’t you agree with whatever I do?
·         Why do our parents feel worried when their daughters go out with boys?
·         Mom, why are you strict on me?

Not all of these questions may be relevant to all of us but we do need to know that despite the many education on gender equality, we still cringe at the thought of sending out our daughters at the wee hour of night like we do our sons. It is just not same. We cannot explain how. We must understand that, it just isn’t the same.

And if our daughters wonder why their parents worry about sending them out with boys, I think they are entitled to an answer. They must know that, boys and girls are biologically different. Which means, biologically, girls are designed in such a way that, they are at the receiving end of the fate’s cruel act. By this, I mean, if out of curiosity, a couple of teenager wants to try to have intercourse, more out of curiosity than need, and they do not know the meaning or the existence of contraceptive, girl would be the one who would have to see the tragic result it could lead them to. A boy can escape his innocent act and call it innocent, whereas, even a girl as young as 15 will have to bear the brunt of being innocent and carry on to become a responsible mother at a young age. Or worse, she might have to go through the trauma of not being able to tell her parents what went wrong. This is how sometimes, girls seek to end their lives.

I think if parents have the patience to listen to their daughters, explain to them how their body will go through changes as they attain puberty, how exploring curiosity could lead them to a mistake that will stop their ambition, I think, their daughters will understand.

And as parents, it is our responsibility to do so. A girl should never wonder why they cannot spend a night out with their boyfriends like it is the natural thing. Accidents happen. It is better to be safe than sorry. And in cases such as this, despite the many gender talks, women cannot say, we can make love to a man and run away free. Men never stand at a loss in this act. It is women who lose. That is one reason why a society like ours still cannot see men and women at par in this field. Men when sleeping with multiple partners is natural, whereas, if a woman is heard to be doing so, is a shame in the society. It will go a long way to burn this out. But I think it is only reasonable – because, it keeps women away from committing mistakes of haunting future.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

You are still the angel of my life


I’m heartbroken but I don’t want to appear so. I muffle all my emotions and I put a confident me as I walk up to my ex boyfriend. I say, ‘Oh here you are.’ And I pass a quick abrupt ‘hi’ to his girlfriend. Now, this is tough. Tougher than I imagined.

We walk in a shopping mall as if we have more business to deal with than we know. I walk ahead. When he insists that he takes my picture, I refuse. There is no reason why he must have my picture. He should possess nothing of me. I turn away every time he focuses his camera on me. He says, ‘You look sexy.’ But why should that even matter? No, he cannot play with me.

I wonder why I had to meet him this time. Oh yes, I know his brother. His brother put in my hands some works he wanted delivered to him. And it then became my business to see him. I could have said no. But unlike many relationships, our relationship somehow prolonged, the more severe pain in our hearts got. We both knew we had long said goodbye. And yet, we have been in touch all this time. We first decided to say goodbye to each other 5 years back. And yet, our correspondence never ended. The long letter I wrote with explanation as to why I cannot go on seeing him put a blatant end to our relationship. Heartache that ensued was unimaginable. I didn’t think it would put him in so much pain. I could have seen it coming but I always thought man can fight heartbreak without turning to alcohol, women and drugs. I was wrong.

For reasons even he and I don’t understand, we are closer than we can explain. We hurt each other hundred times and we go back exactly where we were. It is like we are rubbers. We stretch as far as we can. We shout at each other. I curse him. And then, we cuddle each other with sweet words and affection. We cannot go back and call each other sweetheart and say we will get married never to part. We have believed that to love each other does not require possessing each other in the sense of getting married. This has put an understanding in us that we are free to see who we want. And yet, it is hard to see him with another girl.

Before I see him, he writes to me, ‘I’m seeing someone. But you are still the angel of my life.’ I don’t know what I’m to make out of it. I want to shout at him for forsaking my presence. I for some reason think that I deserve to have all his attention and time. To be rational, I know for the unwritten pact that we signed long before, he has every right to walk up to my door holding hand of another woman. And yet, I cry. 

That day after I see him at the shopping mall, I drive back to my room. I am tired. As I reach my room, I let out the pent up emotions in tears. And the next day, I’m more natural. I know whatever past we had, no matter how madly or truly we loved each other, I have no role to play in his present life. And more than anything else, this girl he is seeing has no fault. She must not suffer or get any pain just because our relationship is complicated. It is more imaginary than real. So I walk out the door. I walk out the door. I cry and in the midst of tears, I smile. I know, though he would be married to another woman, I would not lose him.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Dear Baby

I have not written to my baby for a long time. I have been busy. There have been so many deaths in the family of my close relatives and social responsibility has taken much of my time. So many times I wanted to write and yet, I gave priority to my sleep, for I always returned home tired.

But this does not mean that I have forgotten the baby I’m carrying, this soul, this person I’m going to bring into this world and want to see grow up into a very fine person. It is just like the birthday present you receive when you are a kid. You want to so open the gift you have just received and yet, you can’t. You want to see what it is that your friend has given you and the enormity of your curiosity and eagerness grows as the time prolongs. Just like that, I imagine the face of my baby, I even see myself holding hand of a beautiful girl as I wait to cross the road. Maybe I have failed to live in the moment, but I think it is natural for a pregnant woman to imagine herself with her baby, even imagine the beautiful moments, the joy its birth is going to bring and the many happy moments following the birth.

As I talk to my baby, I always begin by saying, ‘Dear Baby’ and I sign, ‘Mom.’ I write letters to my baby too. When I wrote my first letter to my baby, it was strange how it sounded to sign ‘Mom.’ I have never felt that tingly mixture of discomfort, anxiety and happiness. I was in the far east of my country – touring the country on an official work, two days away from my residence when I was told of this news.

 

Seeing New Meaning

A woman with regular period, who never really believed in using contraceptive, I waited for the fate to bestow me the gift when it deemed the right time. Not knowing that my fate would have chosen that period of time when I was travelling away from my office for months where, I would have to use physical strength and mirth to walk to the remote villages, I carried the sanitary napkin every day, only to find that my regular period had missed its time for the first time. 

Finally, after a month, I get to a clinic where a doctor is my friend. When her colleague who took my test tells her, ‘it is positive,’ I cried. I did not know how to react. I didn’t just think the right time was then. I wanted to receive news such as this in a perfect environment where I had my husband next to me, taking my hand and kissing me in happiness. But that was that. 

There was no sign of completing the task I was given. So despite the doctor’s advice, I walked to the furthest village in the eastern district, where I had to climb as high as 2000 meters. With luck, I did not have problem but I began to notice that my energy dwindled, my appetite faltered and I started missing home more than ever before. And it was not until my baby was three months old that I got to meet my husband.

Baby must be a boon for sure. I have heard people say so. It is usual for a Bhutanese to ask you if you have a baby once you are married. The first curiosity people have is whether or not you are married and the second is, if you are married, whether or not you have a child. With each new day, I feel that I’m becoming more ready to welcome this new soul in my life. And I find myself breathing happiness even as I sleep next to my husband and feel his hand caressing my belly. In more happiness than anticipation, I say, ‘Dear Baby.’ I haven’t got a name for the baby yet. It is not in the Bhutanese culture. But to me right now, talking to her and calling her baby sounds like the most beautiful words. I’m going to be a mother and there is no excitement about reading about how to be a mother or how big my baby must be at 7 months. I think it is all about natural instinct and I want my baby to know that, it doesn’t mean I love him/her less. Being pregnant isn’t comfortable. But the feeling you get is surely of happiness. There surely is something more you can look for and you find yourself planning life the way you never did.

(Dear Baby, I see you now as I write this and I want you to know that I love you.)