Guest Column: Pigeon pair or two of a kind?
Change is the only constant. As I transition from the hustle-bustle of my residency in Bangalore to life as a consultant in a government hospital , I see change everywhere. A self-confessed Chandigarh aficionado, a particular pattern ticks me and compels me to write this piece.
Recently while on call, I was told that an emergency caesarean section had to be performed and the mother had been diagnosed with postpartum haemorrhage (complication of a placenta position). Being a paediatrician, I reach the scene, that is, the operation theatre, early to take history and ensure safe delivery of the newborn . The mother was a 28-year-old Kharar resident with two healthy daughters and no other complications. Our team, comprising an anaesthetist, a gynecologist and nurses, stabilise the evidently nervous patient. As the baby let out its first cries (the best moment for any paediatrician), the mother even more panic-stricken, kept asking the gender. Her disappointment was palpable when she saw the baby. Even semi-conscious, she kept mumbling that the baby needed to be a boy.
Confused, I kept thinking of the incident throughout my rounds. Later, I checked on the baby and ended up asking the inevitable: Why do you not want a girl child? I hear about the pressure she is under to provide her husband with a male heir. Saddened, I finish and head home thinking where are we wrong as a society? A lady gave birth to a healthy female child, in a OT full of female staff still feels vulnerable to these pressures?
Born in a home where my mother, an only child, had two daughters, and my elder sister also has two beautiful girls, I do not understand where this school of thought stems from. My mom, the driving force behind us, tells us that we are her entire world and that if there is a place for us with no entry or exit time, it is hers. Is a family not complete with two daughters ? We are the sugar and the salt of our family. My sister is known for her sound advice and literary skills and I for a solid vote, sharing a laugh and lightening the mood. The four of us neatly fit into each other’s lives.
Is this the norm in business families? It does not resonate, seeing as my nieces are the darlings of the family and my mother-in-law longs for a daughter. I sit down as a doctor, daughter, granddaughter, wife and daughter-in-law to understand why investment in ‘my clan’ is ‘zero investment’? Why right to breathe, celebrate and educate is a tribulation . Everything today is as an asset or liability but education, values and love to your girl is a long-term investment with 100% return. Equal division of tasks between children, irrespective of gender, in the south is responsible for their high sex ratios. With Punjab’s ratio being 895: 1,000 we are far behind states like Kerala.
Blame the government ?
Negative stereotypes surrounding the girl child make people do cruel things but organisations such as Nanhi Chhaanprovide basic education, healthcare and livelihood opportunities . With schemes like Mai Bhago for education and Bebe Nanki Ladli to curb female foeticide. Where are we failing?
My father says, “No one can love you in this world as much as daughters.” They are a ray of hope and sparkle of sunshine. From miles away, they can tell your mood is off by the way you sound. Carrying your legacy forward, your values to another household, they will make someone’s house a home, while still making yours their home for life.
So why stop them? Let them live, give them wings, and allow them footprints in the map of the world. Educate them instead of investing in dowry. Yet to start a family, I do not know whether we will have a pigeon pair or two of a kind, but we will value and cherish the healthy baby not the gender.
( The writer is senior resident at civil hospital in Mohali)