YOU CAN NEVER BE “NOTHING”

May not be the chime in rain drops,
But you might be the rainbow hidden in the water prisms,
just waiting for the beams to shine upon.

May not be the fragrance of freshly sprinkled earth,
But you might be the pot hidden in those particles,
just waiting for the hands to carve you.

May not be the breeze on a moonlit night,
But you might be the power of wind shattering the barriers,
just need the right direction for your flow.

May not be the apparent shine of gold,
But you might be the strength and value of a diamond,
just need fingers to polish and brush away the dust on you.

May not be everyone’s dream,
But you might be the music in someone’s life,
just need to usher the tunes of smile.

May not be everything you wanted to be,
But you might be something,
better and destined to be for you can never be “Nothing“.

SOLITUDE OF THE HEART

The heart alone knows its aching cry,
The cry of despair,
The cry that no one else hears,
Not even the one whose arm pulls you near.

When the world seems on its own way,
And storms rage at life’s bay,
You seem to be in dismay,
And do not know what to do or say.

The fierce tempests seem not to cease,
Putting you so ill at ease,
Yet you’ve got to smile,
And continue to walk the busy miles.

You look for comforters all around,
But all seem to push you aground,
The one you trust is so near yet so far away,
Ignorant to your heart’s aching cry.

The wiles of life appear difficult to bear,
As if your life is going to rip and tear,
And, you look around –
Alas! There is no one to hear.

Withdrawn into a shell,
You wish for all to be well,
As you marvel how alone the heart can be,
When all around so many you can see.

JOYS OF RAISING BOYS

“It’s going to be fun
For you have always gelled well
With every little one”
My dearest ones told me this
When I was blessed with a son. 

No, don’t do this,
Why don’t you try that.
Stop playing with the spices,
Go play with your bat.

Stop throwing a tantrum,
For I won’t give you my cellphone. 

Blue stars for every good deed,
Black stars for not paying me a heed.

I will reward you if you be good, 
Else will take your favourite toy and scoot. 

I tried and tested every advice,
Recalling that my class of 30 was amazingly nice.
I could handle them with perfection,
But my own showed no flexion.
It’s time to get him a sibling,
The new role will be fulfilling.
Another boy it was meant to be,
Sweet brotherhood I thought I’ll see. 

One year later I woke up from my dream,
There was a hard crust under the cream.
Screams and cries became an everyday affair,
Feuds became fights for me to interfere. 

Joys of raising boys is that you call?
Stress and yelling make my hair fall!
Girls are always caring I sometimes yell,
Get ‘Baby Alive Doll’  my elder one tells. 

Let’s send them to boardings,
For they’ll learn discipline and good things.
That’s the last resort we say,
But the heart remains in dismay. 

Hundreds of sorrries
Are oh-so-sweet,
The kisses during those worries,
Hugs and cuddles are my big treat.
These tiring years will soon fly, 

When I’ll realize these energetic boys are my only joy! 

GENDER IS JUST A BIOLOGICAL DIFFERENCE, NOT A WAY OF LIFE

I have a girl and I love her to bits, as I imagine every Mother in the world must do, regardless of the sex of her child. But even though my child is my everything, the centre of my universe, there was still a fraction of a second when I betrayed her and wished she was born a boy.

Did that surprise you? It surprised me too when it happened. When I lay motionless,  barely conscious in the operating room, and when the Doctor pulled her out from the gaping hole in my belly, she held her up for me to see her for the first time. I was overjoyed to see my baby finally, but right on the heels of that pure joy came that sickening moment which was the biggest betrayal to my baby girl. Because in that moment, however small it was, I wondered how it was that I brought forth a girl, when its a boy I had prayed for?

It’s true, I wanted a boy. People used to tell me how myopic my views were, how archaic my reasons sounded for wanting a boy in a family that was overflowing with boys. They accused me of being patriarchal and old-fashioned. They didn’t know the real reason, and I told no one because I feared a backlash if I did – I didn’t want another girl going through what women go through every day. To be specific, what I went through. If I bore a girl and brought her up only for her to be stared at, catcalled, or heaven forbid, touched or violated by some disgusting leche; or even to see her being mentally tortured or conditioned into believing that she was weak, that she had only one job in the world, or that she was secondary to someone, it would break my heart just like it breaks the hearts of millions of mothers out there who have daughters who have faced the ire of the world for being a woman. No mother would want her child to suffer through things like differential treatment, lewd stares, periods, leaving her home for another, dowry, domestic violence, family pressure for babies, and the list goes on…  But the heavens gifted me a girl, and now I wouldn’t exchange her for any number of boys.

But am I the only one who wished to have a boy for the reasons that I enumerated above? I suspect not. There are parents who have wanted a boy for reasons far worse than mine. And that’s why we have baby girls being killed off in India – a nation known for its reverence to its vast array of goddesses, yet infamous for little regard to the women in their own homes.

I will not go into the gory details of what female foeticide and infanticide are and what the stats say about them. If you wish to know that, please click here. I’m here to discuss the reasons behind it. And my own story is part of the perception that fuels this problem. I know that women, in general, don’t have it easy in any part of the world, but I can only attest to the situation in my own country. In India, a female child is unfortunately considered by many, an unwanted commodity, who has to be fed, clothed, educated only so that she can be the nurturer for someone else’s family. And even though it is this girl who is going to eventually perpetuate the family of another, it is the burden of the girl’s family itself to bring the dowry. Is that not the wrong way around? Forget that, why must there be a dowry at all for a ‘family member’, or for a ‘human being’? Is that how families should begin – by a barter of the boy’s hand for money or gifts from the girl’s family? Who’s genius, twisted and mercenary idea was it anyway?! But dowry remains the prime reason why girls are killed in a mother’s womb or right after their births in India. The economic strain of rearing and the eventual loss of a girl becomes the reason for their doom.

Where does the problem lie? I believe it originates from our beliefs that there is a difference between a girl and a boy, apart from the biological ones. We rear them up from infancy to think that they are bound to certain ‘roles’ in society because they were born with certain body parts. I also believe that the problems faced by Indian girls and women today have their origin, partially, in how we bring up our boys to consider themselves the ‘superior gender’; the other half originating in women themselves who think that a girl is a commodity, to be hawked away at a price. The problem of female foeticide and infanticide persists even in the modern era because of our skewed perception of what a girl signifies. To most traditional and pseudo-modern Indians, a girl signifies a freeloader. Like every freeloader, she is taken for granted and treated as secondary, in matters of health, education, occupation, even in marriage. Who wants a freeloader? No one. And so, no one wants the responsibility of raising a girl, but they only want the ultimate benefit a girl brings – the furtherance of the family name. What noble intentions indeed!

To be sure, there are laws, government initiatives, family planning programmes, free education initiatives and other sops offered to parents to deter them from sex-selective abortions and infanticide, but to eradicate the problem from the root we must teach ourselves that a gender is not a ‘way of life’… it’s only a gender, a biological difference. 

I bet if we were to bring up a boy and girl in isolation they would exhibit emotions and preferences conventionally ascribed to both their own gender as well as those ascribed to the opposite gender. It’s only when society and cultural influences come in, that the gender stereotypes begin to emerge in a child. My girl, for example, loves cars instead of dolls, she digs shorts, not skirts, she won’t allow her hair to be pulled into a ponytail , she won’t wear ballerinas, but shoes and has a morbid fear of headbands. She loves any activity that involves getting filthy and tumbling around, and her emotions are never tempered by any feminine restraint. And yet there are times when she’s affectionate, motherly even, and does not flinch from being a diva – like when she says ‘cheese’ for the camera! She’s at once, a girl and a boy, and all of that is because SHE IS HUMAN. 

Perceptions like ‘you must cook because you’re a girl’ or ‘you must be strong because you’re a boy’, may have originated in necessity, so that the man could forage for the family while the woman tended to the home, but those times have come to a close. We live in an age today when our technologies and our education afford both the genders the ability to be either the nurturer or the bread-winner, or even both. Then why must we doggedly hold on to the archaic beliefs about ‘gender roles’? Why should we as parents perpetuate those stereotypes? Why teach our daughters that they must be demure, pliant, understanding, forgiving and kind ONLY because they are girls? And on the contrary teach our sons to be fierce, strong, unabashed and sharp ONLY because they are boys? Are these attributes not human attributes? Why must they be divided to define only a type of gender? 

Being parent to a girl should not be a burden, but being parent to a human being, requiring the same amount of care and effort that one puts into the upbringing of a boy child. Even if our worries about our girls are founded in the loftiest of good intentions, it’s ultimately a way of telling our girls that they are somehow weaker than boys. If we are to breed stronger women, we must start by making them stronger at home, bringing the change in our families, our perceptions, cut off traditions that teach us otherwise, and only then can this become a nationwide, or a worldwide change.

But until this change occurs in the upbringing of every child, boy or girl, and every family member, there will always be an ounce of worry attached to the birth of a girl.

 

UNDERSTANDING SECONDARY SEXUAL CHARACTERISTICS

Dictionary meaning of the word Sexuality is “Understanding our sexuality is about the sexual feelings and attractions we feel towards other people, not about who we have sex with.“ For me, Sexuality is much more than just sexual feelings. It is that part of my personality that makes me a woman. It is what makes me different from a man.

Sexuality is a very complex topic, more so because of the rising awareness of homosexuality, trans-genders, bi-sexual and asexual. But in this topic I only want to limit myself to heterosexuality because homosexuality (and others) is another vast topic that cannot be covered in the same article.

Let me start with a very basic question that usually arises in the minds of every teenager – why are men so obsessed with the breast of a woman? If I go back to my biology class in school, we were taught about the reproductive organs and the only job of breasts was to produce milk for the little one that is born out of the woman. Then why are breasts considered seductive to an extent that in any culture throughout the globe, women with bare breasts is not considered decent.

Similarly, why are young girls so attracted to well-built boys? A good height, muscular built and deep voice makes a man popular among women. Again what is the relation?

Nature made us capable of reproducing just like all other animals and reproduction is second basic instinct of every animal (including humans) after the survival instinct. And all animals, including humans want to have the best and finest progeny. That would obviously depend on our own health and the health of our partner. So, now the question arises how we really know if our partner is sexually healthy and if we can have healthy babies with that person. To judge this, we are blessed with these secondary sexual characteristics.

When a boy looks at a girl and is instantly attracted to her, he feels a surge of emotions inside him – all of them make him feel that “he is falling in love with her; love at first sight”. Subconsciously, his mind is evaluating how strong and healthy their children would be. Heavy breasts and hips are a sign of high fat percentage in a women’s body.  A woman’s body needs at least 12% of body fat to have healthy pregnancy. Women with wider pelvis find it easier to deliver babies naturally. Women with full figure are also considered healthy enough to take care and nurse the babies after birth. For all these reasons, a woman with a full figure is considered a healthy mate by men. This is the reason that for years 36-25-36 was considered a perfect figure.  So, when a teenaged boy gets attracted to a girl of the same age with a full figure and falls instantly in love with her, we know that his mind subconsciously is evaluating the health of babies that he can produce with her.

What about girls? If you ask a teenaged girl to describe the man she would like to marry – she would mostly talk about his physical appearance. She would say things like attractive muscular body, a good height, a deep voice and many more. If you ask a woman in mid-20s to describe the man she would like to marry – she would talk a little less about his physical appearance than the teenaged one and will also talk about his earning capacity, his ability to understand her, be romantic and many more. If you ask a woman in her mid-30s to describe a man she would like to marry – she would hardly say anything about his physical appearance but more about his earning capacity, his status in society, his character and many such things.

Before the human civilization was formed, a man was considered a healthy mate based on his ability to protect his family from the danger of wild animals and other groups of tribal men. But now with money being the most powerful weapon of today’s world, a man is considered a healthy mate based on his earning capacity and his ability to provide for his family. Of course, in today’s world where women are as educated as men, earning as much as men – women have little to worry about her survival because she has earning capacity. But when it comes to maternity and giving birth to babies, even the most successful women need emotional support of a man and many times financial support too.

Teenaged girl still gives much importance to physical appearance of the man because she is still unaware of how this world works and in absence of that awareness, she goes by her natural instinct that is inbuilt in her. Naturally, women get attracted to men with decent height, built and voice because these factors determine the quality of his sperms. As she grows up and understands the world better, she begins to look for more practical ways to make her life and life of her future children more secure financially and emotionally.

This is about secondary sexual characteristics of human beings which partially explains what men and women get attracted  to and why, of course there are a million exceptions to this theory because each one of us is wired differently based on our upbringing, value system, genes and basically our personality.

More I think about our secondary sexual characteristics, more I believe that it is very important to educate our teenagers with this information. So, when a little boy grows up and finds himself staring at a girl’s chest – all he is told is that it is rude and you should not disrespect a girl by staring at her body like this. Why are we teaching our boys that their natural instinct is something so wrong? We should rather tell them that it is natural for you to stare at a girl’s body like that but since it is considered disrespectful to do that, he should not give in to the urge to stare at the girl’s body and instead respect her.

Similarly, when a little girl grows up to be a teenager and her body develops like one of a woman, she is told to dress in a certain way that would not expose her cleavage or her thighs. She is told to stay away from boys with whom she had been friends till now. And exactly when she has started liking the importance from boys, she is told that she would be considered indecent if she gets too close to the boys. We should rather tell the girls that it is natural to get this kind of importance from boys at this age but it is only short-lived. We should tell her that she should not be conscious of her own body.

Wouldn’t it be better if we got the girls and boys together and told them what is happening to their bodies and their desires are entirely natural? That doesn’t really mean that we tell them to give in to those desires but as adults explain them that even though their desires are natural, giving in to those desires has tough consequences which they are not emotionally mature enough to deal with. Also explain to them, these desires can lead them to trouble if they get involved with people having bad intentions. Of course, this is easier said than done.

Author’s Bio: Prabhjot Kaur Saini, is a Software Engineer and is      currently working in Bangalore. She is an engineer by profession and  also  a  thinker  and  writer  with a philosophical heart. She can be contacted at: ‘prabhjot.varsha@gmail.com.’ Read her Other Articles on this site.