A SAD EVENING
It was a warm summer day in a part of north India. It was about 4.00 PM and the world was still enjoying its siesta. The birds were chirping happily in our little garden. Playing in the small puddles of water they were lucky to have.
I had just gotten off duty and had reached the gate of my premises. Always happy to do
that and I was looking forward to a nice cup of my dad’s tea to rejuvenate me. Just then
the phone rang. I scowled. Raking my brains to find out any unfinished business in the
hospital, I dug out my phone from the depths of my large heavy bag. No nothing. Saw the
number. A long lost friend. You know people, who suddenly appear and disappear in life
for no reason. Never a fan. “Hello. Hi! Good to hear from you. Been ages! How have you been?” I asked. “Hi. I am alright. It gets a tad busy once kids come along. Work and home are hard to balance. Anyway, are you at work?” She replied. I replied in negative and she asked me about my new job. We chatted on for a little while and then she asked me.
“You know, I called to ask a personal favour. Hope it’s OK?” She said.
“Sure, shoot!” I replied. I had an inkling, but I waited nevertheless.
“I need a medical opinion. It’s for my sister in law!” She said hesitantly.
“OK. Go on. I am listening” I said, my curiosity thoroughly aroused.
“Well, she is expecting her second child now. It’s her second month. Her first was a baby
girl, you know!” She continued. I recalled seeing a couple of pictures on social media. But there are so many pictures these days of so many people, that I had difficulty recalling.
“Yes OK. I hope everything is going well during pregnancy?” I asked tentatively.
I was now starting to wonder where this was going. But all my life, I have been badgered
about gynaecology cases despite telling people vehemently and persistently that I have
nothing to do with that branch. But people well, they remain people. But I digress.
“Well!” She carried on, “What I wanted to ask was this. Do you have a kind of medicine,
to ensure that they have a boy this time around? My family is kind of orthodox!” She
It took me a whole minute to grasp the horror of what she was stating. I was aghast.
When I did manage to speak, I told her through clenched teeth, that that was already
determined at conception and nothing could be done. Then I disconnected before things
got ugly. I felt like a balloon had deflated inside me. That gut cringing feeling you get after you hear of something that fills you with disgust for mankind in general. What was the almighty thinking when he conceived us? Surely not this. I felt really really sad and extremely despondent. What hope do we have for girls in a country like ours where mindset refuse to change despite centuries? They drove a Honda city and spoke (questionable) English. Oh! They were educated, if you can call that an education in any sense. They pretended to be liberal and progressive. And yet! Our roads remain unsafe, our houses remain unsafe and our minds remain unsafe.
Maybe it’s no country for girls!
Dr. Neetika Sahai
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