The strange twists and turns of life reveals itself to a gynecologist in ways we can seldom comprehend. Tripti shares a slice of life that strangely shows how important it is for a daughter-in-law to give birth to a male child. And she is just one of the many that adheres to the weird demands of a patriarchal society. An exclusive for Different Truths.
‘Badhai ho aapko ladki hui hai’ (Congratulations, you have been blessed with a girl)
A tinkling sound followed. She was laughing!
My hands holding the bleeding edges of her torn uterus stilled. I was about to ask the paediatrician to show the baby again when I realised that she was teasing her husband.
“Main mazak kar rahi thi. Apko ladka hua hai! (I was joking, you have been blessed with a boy).”
I was taken aback by her voice. There were many firsts about this. From a woman, who stammered and struggled to speak in front of her husband, here she was baiting him, joking with him, uncaring if he was getting irked by her untimely humour. A baby boy! He had instilled seeds of confidence where years of upbringing, first in her father’s house and later in her husband’s had failed to do.
This was a women lying on the Operation theatre table, under the effects of anaesthesia, of course it was spinal anaesthesia. The moment the baby was delivered and she was told it was a boy she had undergone a metamorphosis. Gone was the timid girl of the past few months whose voice I had to strain to hear. Lying underneath my rapidly working surgical hands, with an open abdomen yet to be sutured was born a ‘mother’ ready to sail with the winds. While a curtain prevented me from seeing her unless I tiptoed and peered at her she had frantically asked the OT technicians and insisted that she spoke to her husband. Normally they don’t oblige but there was something in her voice that the benevolent staff decided to indulge her. Like a scene befitting the advertisement of any mobile services he dialed her husband’s number.
“Papaji, always wanted a grandson!” She beamed. I was struck by the awe in her voice. And finally her voice had reached an audible level. The first time I saw her was a year back. A heavily ‘chura’ laden girl, she sat in front of me looking bored surrounded by a melee of anguished voices of a husband, his parents and his sister. She had a miscarriage. There were questions shot right left and centre by a disproportionately grief stricken audience. The ‘whys’ and ‘whats’ were understandable. But the victim was not given a chance to ask anything. She was just a medium to make their future happy. I asked them to wait outside. An abortion though unfortunate was not that tragic to a newly married, twenty four year old woman. For God’s sake they had their whole life ahead. And even medically they were just supposed to forget all about it! Probably they thought I was being a little harsh but somehow I would have been more sympathetic if the supposed ‘victim’ was more forthcoming. The husband as is usual in such households stood an epitome of sacrifice and obedience in front of his parents. In spite of the conjugal knots, the husband was yet to be born!
It took lot of rebuttals and disapproving glances, but finally the couple started coming on their own. The husband was quite a handsome guy. However, he was not less forceful. She, on the other hand, was just ordinary looking with large dark circles under her eyes. I would have never called her good looking but that was only till she smiled. The tender smile played into her eyes transforming her. She reserved this beauty for the rare moments when she was alone with me. She started having high blood sugars in pregnancy and had to follow a strict diet. Often she complained, “Maa’m, he scolds me a lot and doesn’t let me eat at all. You said blood sugar testing only once but he insists on doing it all three times.” I reprimanded him for being hard on the poor woman quite often but he was always anxious and somehow couldn’t trust his wife with the responsibility that motherhood imposed on her.
A ‘worthwhile’ journey had come to an end. Replete with a ‘newborn’ feeling of pride, the woman finally slept, exhausted after her months of turmoil. The ‘mother of a baby boy’ now, she had proved that she was worthy of love and respect in the eyes of her husband and his family.
Ironically a male brought back the respect that was snatched away in a male dominated society. I was happy for her but a tiny voice challenged, “What if it had been a girl?” She would have been lost! Then I looked at the tender smile still playing around the lips of the sleeping woman.
Strangely it hid the pain years of being a woman had brought. What a hypocritical society we live in!
The ecstatic husband and his parents waited outside the theatre for me. They were over the moon.
I smiled at them, “Badhai ho, aapko bahu hui hai!” (Congratulations, you have been blessed with a daughter-in- law.)
A woman was born. The celebration had begun…
Pix from Net.