Marriage and Babies


Spicy Saturday

Selected Spicy Saturday Pick in BlogAdda for 13-11-2010

In India, everyone (well, a lot anyway) seems to think that having a girl baby is a huge burden. There is the trouble of making sure that no one ogled her during her growing years, worries about whether she’ll get a ‘proper’ husband, then finding a proper husband for her and negotiating with the ‘proper’ husband’s family for her dowry.

You’d think that the family’s troubles are over once she is married and settled at her husband’s home. But that’s a far cry from the actual situation.

Almost from the very next day after a girl is married, all the older relatives think……no, let me correct that…they believe that it is their prerogative to enquire whether the girl is pregnant. And if she is not pregnant within the first year of marriage, then may God help her. She’d be bombarded with questions from every ‘well-meaning’ relative about the inappropriateness of being childless after one solid year of marriage. Add a few more months to that, and relatives will now be changing their tune, and giving subtle and some not-so-subtle hints about the various treatments available nowadays :-) All this hullabaloo even after the couple vehemently say that they do not want any kids for a few years. And if the couple turn a deaf ear to these relatives, then they head straight to the girl’s parents with their ‘anxiety’ over a 1-year old couple living childless.

Time passes by, and the girl becomes pregnant. Once again the tribe descends over her and pass remarks about the shape of her belly, how it is supposed to be shaped in case it is a baby girl, and how not for a baby boy. Every single female relative has a sure-fire way of predicting the gender of the unborn baby. And the grandmothers usually bless the couple with – ‘May you have a baby boy (always and forever, Amen!)’.

When I was pregnant, my mother took a look at my pregnant belly along with her sisters, and passed a comment like this – “I think it is a girl. In my days, it was customary that a pregnancy carried high and shaped like a ball was supposed to be a boy, while a low one without much protrusion was a girl. However, nowadays, it is the other way around.” And my mother was seconded and thirded by her sisters. Mine was low and rather shapeless and my mom voiced the thought of her generation (that is was a girl), but had all bases covered by saying that the new generation had it differently. So, in the same statement, she managed to convey that she was clueless about the gender of the child :-D.

Choosing names for a baby-in-the-belly is a non-fun activity. First off, there’s the uncertainty whether the kid is a boy or a girl.  Unlike in the West,  India has banned foetal gender determination due to the high incidence of female infanticide. Add a dash of well-meant predictions from every Tom, Dick and Harry about the baby’s gender, and you are ready to tear your hair out.

For some reason, every couple I have met seems to have loads of names lined up for a daughter. However, when asked about a baby boy, they are stumped for names. Names for babies are usually determined by the currently popular movies in theatres – when ‘Taare Zameen par‘ was released, ‘Ishaan’ was a hot favourite. ‘Auro’ became a runaway hit with its debut in the movie ‘Paa‘. The Twilight saga saw names like Edward, Victoria, Bella and Isabella soar in popularity.

Now the mom-to-be is at the hospital as per schedule for her delivery. But the predictions don’t stop even at this juncture. Some say that girls prefer to come out early, and others think boys would love to stay behind for some more time and needs to be kicked out of their cozy nest. Finally, after all the predictions and waiting, the little one pops out, and smiles that wonderful smile. Who cares if it is a boy or a girl now? She is HERE! :-)

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