My mother, the oldest of four, strongly believes that she is the most fair of mothers when it comes to her children. In fact, my father, one of five, too has the same opinion. And for the most part, they are absolutely right. None of us has ever received more than the other. Growing up, there was always three of everything: shoes, clothes, games, books.
When it came to education, all three of us were given the same opportunities and thus, we all indulged in tertiary studies overseas. So yes, they’ve been fair. But in all honesty, it wasn’t and really isn’t all that fair. My mother pined for a son. Why? Because her life would be incomplete without one. So when he was born, a huge reception was thrown in his honor; after all he would carry on the family name. It didn’t end there. The countless times I was asked to give up something for my brother has surpassed me now. My grandmother would say to me in Sindhi, “He’s your brother. You only have one brother.” And with that one factual known statement, I forfeited an ice cream, a chocolate, a toy.
It doesn’t matter that for many years, it was us, the daughters of the house that would sit worried when mom and dad were unwell or worried. It also doesn’t matter that ultimately, we were the ones who made sacrifices on many levels. It just didn’t matter. He was our brother; only brother. More recently, my brother graduated with Honors from a prestigious Law School in the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, not all of us will be able to attend his graduation ceremony this coming week and so my father and sister will represent the family. On a phone call to my sister, my mother said, “Make sure you get lots of pictures at the ceremony. In fact tell your father to take a few professional pictures of the graduate so we can hang it up on the wall.” My sister went silent and then asked, “How come you don’t hang my graduation pictures up?” My mother replied, “But I have them in my drawer.” And with that, I made a realization: no matter how much a daughter will do, a son will always be appreciated ten-times more.
Listen I’m not a man-hater and most definitely do not hate my brother; he literally is my pride and joy. I just cannot fathom why a daughter is not honored as much as a son. As a woman, we make the utmost sacrifices throughout our lives and you would think your mother, also a woman who has probably made the same sacrifices, would understand that and thus, value her daughter. But it doesn’t work that way. We are told from a young age, “It is your duty to serve.” And we do. We serve as daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, daughter-in-laws and so on. But for what? To ultimately do exactly as our mothers did: yearn for a son. It makes no sense.
I could sit here and preach about how terrible female infanticide and every female reading this would nod their head in agreement. It is an awful act of shame that exists in India. But I ask you this, when we treat our daughters like they are not as capable or worthy as our sons, is that not too a type of infanticide? Look around you today. There is nothing your daughter can’t do that your son can. She can run her home and have a successful career. She can dodge P.T.A meetings and cook a full meal. So why the discrimination?
I know of a family that has no daughters and only sons. The only daughters they have come in the form of daughter-in-laws and you’d be surprised at how amazingly well they treat them. Never once have they referred to them as their daughter-in-laws. “Meet my daughter,” is a sentence often used in that household. The lady of the house said to me, “All I wanted was a daughter; a Lakshmi. But it wasn’t meant to be and I never understood why.” She prayed and fasted hoping the Gods would have pity on her and grant her a bubbly daughter. Little did she know she was going to be granted her wish in the grandest of forms. “Look at how God works. He gave me three sons and three daughters in the form of daughter-in-laws! And the best part is, my daughters don’t ever have to leave my home,” she gloated. Of course, I wasn’t convinced and decided to probe around. I saw her mingling with her daughter-in-laws, laughing, caring and doting on them. In return, they too respected her immensely and this was evident.
No, the moral is not to make sure your daughter marries into a family of only sons. The lesson is bigger than that. The saying goes, “A son is a son until he gets a wife, but a daughter is a daughter all her life.” Not to say that sons forget about their families once they are married but a daughter always feels her duty is dual. Time will pass, she will get married, have her own children but she will always worry about her parents. Simultaneously, she knows her duties also lie in fulfilling her duties towards her own family. She may lose her last name but never the feelings and really, that is what it boils down to.