A very ‘Happy Women’s Day’ to everyone reading my blog and/ or celebrating this day – today or always! Agreed that its unnecessarily commercialized and too much brouhaha. And why not? With one lifetime and amidst so much of stress that we all deal with, moments like this one, provide a momentary escape into the world of ‘Feeling good – about oneself or about those around you’.
My heart bled when I read about 19 female fetuses dumped in Sangli in Maharshtra. The same Sangli which boasts to be the native place of the two best singers, Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosale. Lata Mangeshkar has been awarded with the Bharat Ratna award and Asha Bhonsale with the Dadasaheb Phalke award.
The Central Adoption Resource Authority(CARA) is supposedly the nodal body for all adoptions inter and intra country across India. I have friends who have been lucky enough to adopt a child within a waiting period of 3 years with support from CARA. Between April to June 2015, child adoption centers across India received 1,241 requests to adopt a girl against 718 for a boy. Isn’t that fantastic?
But there lies the irony. While in urban areas, the mindset is broadening about a girl child, the rural areas are still under the domain of a rigid male bastion. While many couples in India are struggling with issues of infertility, Sangli could have offered many of them a ray of hope. Well, then, ‘Sangli’ is just a name…a name representing many places which are practicing the same thing.
My next question is to Rahul Gandhi. I have never been political or apolitical entirely. But what was that remark about Michelle Obama? Seriously? Had he featured in those stand-up comedian programmes on TV, probably a recorded applause would be all that he would receive. Will someone tell that M.Phil. (Development Economics) Educated at Trinity College, Cambridge University, U.K. to just put a finger on his lips. It reminds me, when I was in Kindergarten Section A and my friend, funnily enough, he was a ‘Rahul’ too….he was in Section B and every day he would return with a bandage on his lips. Punishment for talking unnecessarily. How I would delight myself, if R K Laxman was alive now and created a cartoon of bandaged mouthed Rahuls, Shobha De’s….and their entire clan!
Actually there’s been too much in the news..Kangana vs. Karan Johar, Virender Sehwag vs. Gurmeher Kaur. Tiffany Trump joining an elite law school. And amidst entertaining but sometimes irritating reads, we also read about an all-women crew flight that departed on 27 February for San Francisco and returned at the Indira Gandhi International airport on Friday after flying across the globe. Kudos!
Italy is giving all women free entry to the country’s museums today to mark International Women’s Day!
Am I a feminist? Maybe…or maybe not. But I am a celebrationist. I like to celebrate the parts of life that make me smile.
Meet Dr. Shekhar Gupta. He is a General Physician in Barauni. After giving birth to five daughters, his wife finally bore a son. A male protagonist for a Women’s Day blog? Quite unlikely right? Read on to find out why.
‘Thank God!’ He sighed as he looked at his ageing mother on the wheelchair with the five girls standing by.
‘Hope now you are happy.’
‘My son. God has finally been kind to us.’ She raised her hands in the air as a gesture of gratitude to the almighty. Then she turned around and twitched her cataract affected eyes to spot someone.
‘Buddhiya, go quickly and buy pedhas(Indian sweets) for the entire colony and distribute to everyone.’ She took out some money from her secret wallet that she carried with her wherever she went.
Buddhiya was the man servant-cum-compounder to Dr.Gupta.
Four years went by witnessing the loss of Dr.Gupta’s mother, the five braided girls growing inches taller and the eldest almost being eligible for marriage. Bittu had just celebrated his fourth birthday. The lamp of the Gupta family, supposedly the heir to whatever belonged to the family. He had to be flawless, he was a son.
‘How could it happen to Bittu? How could it happen to us? You are a doctor, can you not treat him?
‘Sudha, we gave Bittu the vaccinations …unfortunately!’ Dr. Gupta sighed.
Sudha Gupta wept inconsolably. She was surrounded by her five daughters, who just stood still to make their presence felt.
‘Did you forget to give the injections on time?’
‘No…’ Dr. Gupta knew that nothing he said could make the situation better. Bittu would not be able to walk like every other person.
He stood with his head bent low. His head stooped when he worried and thought of alternatives to tackle a problem. Could a physiotherapist help? Should I take him to Delhi and get him checked thoroughly? Myriads of thoughts bombarded his mind and head.
‘How can a doctor’s son have an ailment?’ Sudha was getting hysterical and that clogged her husband’s mind. He stepped out of the room to see Bittu sitting with Buddhiya and eating a Parle-G biscuit.
Dr.Gupta tried getting his son re-diagnosed and getting the best physiotherapist to treat his son. But Bittu would walk with a limp. It was a fact that made him gulp, everytime the father thought about his son. It hit him more every time his wife passed it as a failure of his medical know-how.
The five braided girls got married and started with their own families. Bittu was in engineering college.
Dr.Guptas hair was all greyed now. It was 8.30 pm and he locked his chamber next to his house and left for home. Buddhiya had left 15 minutes before to help in the household chores.
Dr.Gupta heard a lot of noises and chuckles coming from his house. He stepped in to find that his third daughter Meena had come over for a few days with her baby.
There were the initial round of pleasantries followed by dinner.Post dinner, the family sat down in the living room.
‘Baba, please advice me on the vaccinations that I need to take for Chunnu.’
Dr.Gupta looked at his wife. He knew that she still held him guilty for Bittu’s vaccine and its ineffectiveness.
‘Err…yes. You settle down. You are here for some days, aren’t you?
The next day morning, Meena was cleaning up the shoe cabinet.
Sudha scolded her daughter for leaving the baby alone and doing such a trivial chore.
‘But, Ma, Chunnu is sleeping. And this is till my home, right?’
Meena’s eyes went to a pair of slippers. The right seemed worn only a few times and the left worn out near the heels, due to application of pressure by the foot.
‘When is Bittu Bhaiya coming home?’ Her eyes lit up at the thought of her younger brother.
‘I hope I can tie him Raakhi this time.’
Sudha’s eyes filled up tears.
‘Make sure you consult a good doctor for your child’s health, especially vaccines, don’t trust your father, you know why.’
Meena stood up and held her mother’s hands.
‘You know Ma, my mother-in-law makes fun of Bittu and says that I have a crippled brother. He is good for nothing and that money is being wasted on his engineering degree.’
Little did the two women realize that there was someone near the door, with tearful eyes and spectacles in hand listening to their conversation.
‘I told her that he is not crippled. An engineering degree does not require bungee jumping and hurdles and relay races. It requires an application of the mind. And my brother is an ace in that. Time will prove that.’
She tried wiping her mother’s eyes.
‘Ma, Bittu’s handicap is not Baba’s mistake. I never had the guts to talk to you about this before. No parent will willingly want anything wrong to happen to the child. You are a doctor’s wife and don’t you love and understand Baba enough to know that he would not do it?
There was pin drop silence after she said it.
Then the women looked towards the door, as if there was a sound of someone walking away from it.
A minute later when Meena went to see who it was, she saw that the lamp on the study table in the adjacent room, was on. The prescription pad was open and tear drops had moistened the top page.
The next few days saw a sea change in the Gupta house. The glum was replaced by joyful merriment. Bittu arrived two days later and Raksha Bandhan was celebrated with great fervor.
It was 8th March and the rail tickets were booked. It was time for Meena to return back. Before she left, she did a customary bow and feet touching of her mother first and and then her father.
‘You were a little girl, the other day…as you stood on the grills of this verandah and said Babababa…non-stop till I left for my chamber.(Pause)Thank you!’
He hugged her tight as if she had released a big burden from his shoulders. What he could not explain to his wife in so many years, his daughter did.
He pulled out a small drawing that Meena had made as a child. On top of it, he had scribbled ‘Happy Women’s Day to my wonderful daughter’!
‘Baba, what is it that you have scribbled? It is Amoxycillin?’
‘Ha..ha…ha..ha..ha..ha’ Dr.Gupta laughed as tears rolled from his eyes.
’You know they say the worse the scribble on prescription, the better a doctor he makes.’
He pulled out a paper but seemed hesitant to hand it over to Meena.
‘What is that Baba?’
‘Well, hmm…I had made a list of the vaccinations for Chunnu. Not sure if you would like to use it, though.’
She snatched it from him and said, ‘Thank you’.
For the first time, Sudha came up and stood beside her husband as Bittu started loading Meena’s bag into the car. She looked ahead, as her hands reached out for his.
They looked ahead together. Put bygones behind.
So, you see it took one woman to make another woman see sense, pick up the beautiful pieces of jigsaws and recreate the beautiful picture of life.
But most importantly, its not as often portrayed, that women suffer alone. Men suffer too. How would ‘Women’ be without ‘men’…it comprises them. Being a woman is not being gender specific, its all about being sensitivity-specific!