Day in and day out, one comes across horrible news of the murder of a girl child either in the womb or in full public view to protect the so-called "honour" of the family. Female foeticide and honour killings are the scary words to have become permanent entries in societal dictionary.
Girl child often is viewed as a burden. The day she steps into this world, she is "greeted" with barbs; her arrival lamented, and wings clipped. Her biological definition reduces her to a punching bag. Simone de Beauvoir, author of "Second Sex", says that "one is not, but rather becomes, a woman". Her sex determines her "role" and finally assigns her an inferior place in society.
She is caged in the net of cultural stereotypes; and is transformed forcibly to a "lifeless doll" that can hop, vibrate and breathe but within the parameters of "sacred patriarchal norms". The doll faces the collective anger of its fake custodians and is often crushed, if she ever seeks to cast off the bag of suffocating patriarchal norms she is supposed to carry without fret and fume.
It is said that man achieves true satisfaction in his life when he fathers a child, plants a tree and writes a book. Now, however, the cup of satisfaction of life has lost its original ingredients. Only a few push the pen, only a few plants saplings. Most of us rather rape them. Everybody wishes to father a child but only a few would like to bring a girl into this world. Brave and sensible people, however, still go with the cup of old ingredients.
My cousin, who happens to be a highly religious man, was blessed with a cute girl child after a year of marriage. Since the baby had a radiant face, like of a little sparrow, she was named "Asha", the hope. As providence had it, his wife again was in the family way. This time, the entire family expected her to deliver a son. It applied every trick in the book to please God. Then, one day, a close relative suggested to my cousin that he got the sex of the unborn child determined and aborted the foetus if it happened to be a girl.
The plea the relative gave for the need for terminating the female foetus was strange: that my cousin had a daughter already and the second would be a liability. And, to whose wrist would Asha tie rakhi? Calm, my cousin replied: "A daughter is an asset, not a liability. Secondly, I will be their brother, too." So arrived Kiran, another little sparrow in the courtyard of his life. He raised them to be free birds; and gave them the wings to fly. I salute him.