The Paradigm

Dating, boozing, premarital sex are the ‘in-thing’ these days. It has confused teenage girls, who have to deal with hormonal rush and peer pressures. A gynecologist, Tripti, recounts the confusion of a ‘good girl’ tossing between tradition and modernity; her parents who are obsessed with the family honour rather than the toxic levels in her body. A 25-year girl lost everything because of her need to have someone always. While one girl thinks something is wrong with her as she has no boyfriend at 19, others are cool about premarital sex. They’d opt for safe abortion instead. The author shall write a fortnightly column, Doctor’s Diary, fictionalising her experiences, exclusively in Different Truths, beginning this week.

“Doctor, I am a good girl. I will never do this again!”

A voice sobbed hysterically.

This was a young girl, brought to the hospital by her parents. She had been partying all night with her friends and was still in an inebriated state.

The moment I reached the triage I was taken to one side by her mother.

“Please, our izzat (prestige, honour) is now in your hands.”

Her father looked angry, more with himself than with his daughter. His eyes were strangely downcast, as if he had already lost it all.

“Can you find out if she has done something?” I looked at his folded hands. I knew what they meant. They were more concerned about that ‘something’ than the toxic level of alcohol accumulated in her body.

Once again we were interrupted by her shrill cry.

“I promise to be a good girl.” She broke into a hysterical laughter. “I have not sinned.”

I was at a loss. The ‘disconnect’ in the family stared at me. A young girl, torn between traditional parents and a peer group, keen to experiment!

“Come on tell me? What is that you took – beer, wine, vodka or something else?”

She nodded excitedly to all. I wondered if she had taken all of them but it was pointless to continue asking her anything in her present state. Date drugs, on a rise in party circuits, was another concern. It was guilt that underlined her outbursts heavily yet she was desperate to convince her parents to think otherwise. She looked pretty stable but it was very important to rule out any toxicity.

“Mummy, I have not done anything. Doctor, please tell her.” She cried again and her mother broke into tears while her father looked away, shame faced.

I could see that they would forget and forgive, provided she had not been amorous!

It was not within my professional jurisdiction to comment upon that, when the girl was an adult. It was neither my job to teach morality. I only intended to make people understand the consequences of their changing behaviour pattern. Looking at the number of young girls coming to clinics wanting to have an abortion, virginity did not appear to have the same significance these days.

A pretty girl appeared on the TV overhead, snuggling up to her boyfriend as he blabbed critically about people buying second hand goods. She reminded him candidly, “So what? Even I was a second hand girlfriend.” How effectively she silenced him. Of course, the boyfriend learned to appreciate the second hand scooter more!

The frank admission and the ease with which the present generation takes the previous relationships of their partners these days, is indeed amazing. It is no longer a sordid secret that threatens to spill from hidden closets. A decade back and one would go to surreal lengths to hide it away from their future life partners. Today, on the contrary not having one would raise some eyebrows.

Unwanted pregnancy was not the only thing that brought these young girls to the hospitals these days. Many of them wanted to be sure of not carrying a sexually transmitted disease spread by a Casanova type boyfriend. I appreciated that. But strangely there were very few who came for a contraceptive advice. To majority an emergency contraceptive pill that their boyfriends brought them, which they could easily pop in without making anyone suspicious, was what  contraception was all about. It was the complication they suffered later or the fear of being pregnant that brought them to our clinics. No wonder the age of giving HPV vaccine that prevented cervical cancer amongst women, a disease that was transmitted sexually, had been brought down to 9 years of age; a definite sign of society’s paradigm.

Sometimes back another girl, this time a twenty five year old, sat in my clinic and spoke through her tears. “Doctor, I am desperate. It has broken me, this intrusive desire to have somebody all the time. All my relationships go for a toss and this obsession has even made me lose my job.” She was a nervous wreck. The loss of self-esteem was another casualty. It had been especially hard reaching out to her. A gynaecologist could only treat the diseases of her pelvic organs, not the unfulfilled desires that the mind craved for.

Unmet needs were frustrating young people more often than before. Maybe it was the lack of an  outlet with hardly any physical activity. Most of them, for majority of their times, were hung up on their mobile phones and laptops. And sadly parents were largely unaware of the demons that were wracking the lives of their children, shut out as we live from each other in our separate rooms even in small flats. Probably it was the breaking down of the social system with poor interpersonal contact that was responsible for the present state.

Another unhappy young girl of 19, once sat in my clinic. “Can you please check me doctor? I think there is something seriously wrong with me.”

“Why do you say that?” An attractive girl, she looked perfectly fine to me.

“I don’t have a boyfriend!”

“You are only 19.”

“But you don’t understand what it does to a ‘high on hormones’ teenager.” Well it was not only teenagers who could be high on hormones, but she didn’t understand that. Her virginity had become a curse for her.

The sound of somebody sobbing brought me back to the present. Virginity was a prized possession to a pair of moist eyes that looked back at me. I seriously wondered if they would have gone berserk if it had been a son in her place.

A mother of two boys, I was not sure if life would be very different for me. I had an equally difficult task ahead, of instilling responsible behaviour in them. It was easy for boys to get carried away and then get traumatised.

“Boys are more gullible. They fall readily in love, even with the beautiful DP of an unknown girl on virtual space.” My husband’s laughter echoed in my ears. I smiled reluctantly. It was true. Girls were much wiser in their choice!

It was tough especially on doctors, with their weird routines and graveyard shifts. Leaving kids at home alone for prolonged periods at the mercy of an uncensored virtual world, had its own consequences.

“I have told my daughter to do whatever she wants but if she ever needs an abortion she has to tell me about it.” My senior colleague’s voice broke through my thoughts.

I knew what it must have cost her as a parent to say this.

“It is useless to pretend otherwise. We, as doctors understand the problem of unsafe abortions.”

Indeed we saw so many complications because of that. It was still a major cause of maternal mortality across the globe. Sex education and contraception was the need of the hour but it was still left on the immature minds to find it from the internet or from an equally uninformed friend. It would take another generation of parents to sit down and talk about it with their children.

She continued to brood, “Sometimes back when my daughter had just finished her class twelfth exams and the school was over, her friends had arranged a party at a farm house. She wanted to take liquor along with her. I was adamant in refusal. She decided to take the matters to her father.

Now my husband, who is a pilot, has always indulged her. His explanation was simple. If she wanted to try it she would definitely do one day. It was better to let her do that with our knowledge. He allowed her to carry alcohol but on a condition that we would drop her at her friend’s place. My daughter knowing that my husband with his airtight schedule would hardly make it, readily agreed. But on that day, coincidentally his flight arrived well on time and we were free to drop her. I could feel her stiff disapproval all the way. That got more aggravated when we reached her friend’s place. All we could see were girls sitting on the laps of lanky boys, all of who jumped guiltily before greeting us.”

“The drive back home was a torture. My husband kept consoling me, ‘This is a test of our upbringing. Don’t worry, trust her.’ I fumed but kept quiet at this male resilience that did not break. But there was not much I could do either.”

“Next day when my daughter came back, she was unusually quiet. We were worried but didn’t probe. A few days later she said quietly, ‘Mom, you were right. I shouldn’t have taken alcohol to my friends place that day. The guys were all high on booze. All they cared about was having more drinks and get physical with the girls.’ I smiled. My daughter had passed the litmus test.

We never needed to drop her again. She has guys in her life but then I do not behave like a distrusting parent anymore. I know she will tell things in her own time.”

It was always a joy to see your children spread their wings but it needed grit and optimism when they went about making their own nest. Even though it was sheer pain to remain detached, one needed to let go of accepted values and adjust to a new school of thought. Life of a parent had its own trials and tribulations! It was definitely not easy.

I remembered when during my senior residency days, I had moved to Delhi. I was not yet married but into a relationship with my husband and my parents had to leave me alone in a hostel knowing well that I had a boyfriend who lived near-by. I could now understand their apprehensions. I could also, now comprehend their eyes. Those were the eyes of trusting parents.

It was trust which we have in our children and in our upbringing that has carried us through generations and withstood the ‘wear and tear’ of growing up as parents.

The sky was overcast with grey clouds that thundered above. I smiled at the silver lining. I had found the magical cure to the ailment that had brought the parents of the inebriated girl to our triage today. I turned purposely towards the anguished family.

©Tripti Sharan

Pix from Net.

Dr. Tripti Sharan

Dr. Tripti Sharan

Tripti is a practising gynaecologist at BLK Super Speciality Hospital,New Delhi. Many of her writings are influenced by the pain and suffering she sees as a doctor.Her forthcoming book ‘The Chronicles of a Gynaecologist’ is being published by Bloomsbury India. She also has an anthology of poems,‘The Dewdrops..a journey begins’. She contributes poems and stories to many publications.
Dr. Tripti Sharan

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