by Gauri Trivedi
“Are you sure?” he asked.
“Positive” she beamed.
“Hundred percent”? He was still not convinced.
“I mean it reads ‘positive’, even the second time around”. She was now over the moon.
“Oh.” that’s all he could say.
“And that is the exact conversation which took place between me and Daddy when we first came to know about you. I can never forget the look on his face even after so many years,” I smiled as I told her.
“So Daddy wasn’t really happy when he heard about me,” she sulked.
“No sweetie, that was just his initial reaction, he was kind of taken aback and in a shock. You have to understand, this came as a complete surprise to him,” I was quick to jump in defense.
“Are you trying to say YOU weren’t taken by surprise?” she asked, her eyes naughty and curious at the same time.
“Maybe not!” I decided to match her question with some mischief. “In any case, a mother always knows first – before she goes on to validate her instinct with the help of scientific proof and much before she shares the news with those around her.”
And it was true, his initial reaction may have been that of disbelief, but in a few minutes the ‘Dad’ collected his thoughts and sat beside me.
“What do you want to do?” his eyes spelled concern, the joy was to come later.
“I always wanted a girl,” I knew it even before I said it.
“It can be a boy too, again,” he spoke, he, the practical brain between us.
“I just know it is going to be a girl,” I insisted, my desire blinding all reason.
Why we were having this discussion was certainly not inconsequential. We got married at the age of 25 and became parents by the time we were 26. Since then, a whole decade had just flown by in frenzy. After all, raising twin boys is no mean feat, so we learnt with every passing day.
Some may say it might be too late to welcome a new arrival when you are 36, but I had never been more ready. This was primarily because I had my boys too soon. Even before I learnt to be a wife to the fullest, I was a mother. Secondly, I desperately wanted a girl in our lives! There was too much blue everywhere, a dash of pink was just what we needed to complete the family portrait! Now, at 10, the boys had become my hubby’s best pals. I was outnumbered and felt a little left out of their manly pursuits of sports and science. Though unprepared, I never regretted having my boys and love them to death, but I missed the kind of companionship they shared with their Dad. I craved for a daughter who I could dress up, indulge in all the ‘girly’ things with and pour my heart out to, once in a while.
“You must have counted days for the suspense to end, isn’t it? How exciting!” Her eagerness stirred me out of the nostalgia.
“Yes, sex determination wasn’t illegal in this country (which wasn’t the case in my place of birth) and the day we were informed by the ultrasound technician that it was going to be a girl, I thought I couldn’t handle the wait. Your father kept on worrying about my health and age and related complications but as weeks passed, he couldn’t help but catch on with my enthusiasm.”
“What about everybody else in the family? Were they waiting for me too?” she quipped.
For a second, I weighed being honest, but only for that one second. The truth would simply hurt.
As it had wounded me a more than a decade back.
When I had called my parents with the news, they were incredulous. “Do you really need a third child?” Mom asked as if she half expected me to get rid of it. My father went on to ask me about the weather and the twins’ soccer game, no mention of the baby that was to come and certainly no congratulations.
The in-laws were less direct with their disapproval. They enquired about my health and had the good sense to ask when the baby was due.
“Start packing your bags, mom,” my husband took over the phone, “your expertise will be needed soon.”
“We will have to see about that,” came the diplomatic response, “you know my knee pain gets worse in winter and there is also your cousin’s wedding here in the city around the same time. You have raised twins without much help; this can’t be as bad, I am sure it will be managed just fine without my help.” And this was my loving ma-in-law who would be willing to take the next flight here if the boys were to use their special “Grandma, we miss you!” voice even once.
A few of our relatives were more forthcoming with their expert advice. “You already have two sons by the grace of God; do you want to risk having a girl this time around?” Talk about being subtle.
That was perhaps the only day of my whole pregnancy that I cried, loud and lucid, enough to fill a bucket.
Born, raised and educated in urban India, never in my dreams did I think that boys were still more welcome than girls in the families in and around me, or that women themselves enjoyed the elevated social status conferred on giving birth to a baby boy. When some women say they would have loved to have a baby girl, they are more than happy with their sons but when a woman with a daughter says she wants a boy, she desperately seeks one, I concluded bitterly.
“Your brothers were thrilled and overjoyed and vowed to take care of you, even before you opened your tiny little eyes and flashed them a smile (which was absolutely the truth),” I replied to her earnest question. I could see she loved this part of her ‘birth story’.
“You came ten years after your siblings, but that doesn’t mean you were unwanted or that we loved you any less. And since you are now old enough to understand, I will let you on a secret,” I said and continued, after a brief pause, “You were not an accident or a surprise baby either. I craved for you, wanted you with all my heart and both me and your Daddy believe our lives would have been incomplete without your presence, my dearest daughter.”
Gauri Trivedi is a former business law professional who makes the law at home these days. A Mom to two lovely daughters, her days are filled with constant learning and non- stop fun. All of her “mommy time” goes into writing and finds itself on her blog pages http://messyhomelovelykids.blogspot.com/ and http://pastaandparatha.blogspot.com/ and if she is not writing she is definitely reading something!