Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sex determination Indian style

'The gods would not punish us with childlessness,' Geeta said.'You must go and see the doctor. It is already more than three years since you've been married.' (P.108)

Childlessness in India is a big issue. The minute a girl gets married, people glance slyly at her stomach hoping to see it get bigger within days of the wedding! A year of Sneaky Glances later, the stares become quite obvious and after a year of Obvious Stares, people don't hesitate in asking The Question outright: How come you have no children?

It is strange how no one seems to think it inappropriate, rude, intrusive or even hurtful - the probing questions that a childless young woman is put through. Very often complete strangers come up to you and ask you this question and worse still give you unsolicited advice on how to put things right!!!!

They recommend doctors and charlatans without hesitation. Give you their own homespun advice on how to go about getting pregnant. They fix appointments with astrologers and soothsayers who will be able to predict your future and tell you how to get that longed for child and more specifically that Golden Boy who will carry your family name forth into the future.

So obsessed are Indians with the boy child that they automatically assume that every woman is desperate for one. I remember once visiting a shadow reader with a friend of mine. This person could foretell your future after measuring your shadow and we had visited him just for a lark.

After measuring out her shadow, the shadow reader made some calculations and picked out a sheet of parchment from a heap of papers.

"This is your whole life," he told her, " your past, your present and your future. And not onlyis this your present life but all the lives you've had so far!"

After telling her a whole load of stuff, he asked about her children in this life. My friend told him that she had two girls.

"Tsk,tsk,tsk," tutted the shadow reader."See you have some bad karma. Your second child was actually a boy but in the seventh month someone cast a spell and your boy became a girl."

By now, we both knew that this man was an absolute humbug and were about to leave when he said, "The next time, if you want a boy, you should tie a lime and three green chillies above your bed so that all the evil spirits are kept away. And then, when you conceive, you should go to the seaside in the moonlight and put three drops of sea water in your left nostril. That's how you will get a boy!"

Needless to say, we ran out before he came out with more mumbo jumbo.

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