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But being a mother of two kids was never easy. When they were kids, they were fighting for small things like “She’s got two chocolates and I have got only one”. She would try to convince the son that his sister was elder and bigger than him, and hence she could have more. When that doesn’t work, she goes to her daughter and tries to convince her that her brother is a small kid still, and she being elder needs to be more responsible and give things to her brother. Strangely, that mostly worked. She thought it was the mentality of elder brothers/sisters – they naturally feel responsible towards their siblings and are more ready to give up things to them. They are at least not as adamant as the younger ones!
Such small things never bothered her, in fact they were passed on as sibling rivalry and in any case this was much better than families that had two sons or two daughters – she thought the kiddy fightings in those families would give a headache to any mother!
Generally parents love their children – be it a boy or girl. For her, both the kids were same – there was rarely any gender discrimination – at least, when they were young. The first signs of such discrimination came when her daughter was about to get admitted in a college. Her daughter was always good at studies – she was always in the top ten ranks in her class. She thought that her daughter should take up computer science engineering, as that course was in demand. But their finances was not very good and they were able to save only enough money to educate one kid in an engineering college. This was the first time when she was asked to think ‘practically’ by friends and family members. Her daughter was anyway going to go away to ‘sasural’ – why would she want to spend so much on her education? And in contrast, her son was going to stay with her and if they were not able to spend for both, they ought to definitely spend for the son! She thought that was gender discrimination. But she had to decide upon something! So she spoke to her daughter –
“So, what do you want to do next?”
“Well, all my friends are taking up computer engineering….”
“Yeah, but the fees and the donations… they are so high for engineering, and me and your father were really thinking if we could afford it….”
“Wow. That’s great mom. I was about to say that I was not interested in such engineering courses. If it is ok with you, I would like to do B.A and M.A in French. I love the language and I really want to learn French”
“But, do you think that course has any prospects?”
“Well, its tough but I can always get a job as a translator. Actually I am not sure about the job prospects of it, but if there is some course that I would love to persue, it is definitely French. And don’t worry about the fees – the university charges very less for such courses”
She was both sad and happy – she always knew that her daughter’s decisions were right and responsible. But back in her mind, she was feeling guilty about the discrimination part. Maybe if they had enough money, her daughter could have taken engineering.
The second instance of such discrimination came during the marriage of her daughter. All her relatives and friends advised her that if she wants to find a ‘good’ bridegroom for her daughter, she better be ready to give a big dowry. This time, her son had finished engineering and got an admit to one of the colleges in the United States for his post graduation. They had to spend a fortune for sending him abroad, and had to even sell their house and move to a rented apartment. It was at that time that her daughter got a good match. This time again she went and spoke to her daughter.
“See, there is a good prospect in hands for your marriage – we just have some family jewels and we are not sure how much they will ask”
Her daughter was clear in her response – “Well, if the guy’s family is going to ask anything more than that, I am not going to marry”
She thought it was her luck that the bridegroom’s family did not insist for any dowry. They did not have much to give anyway. She was once again not happy with the discrimination that happened with her daughter. But some times, life doesn’t give any options and she had to choose whatever was the best for her family – at least that’s what her relatives told her.
It was after some years when her husband retired that she was able to feel the financial burden of all their sacrifices. He sure got some pension, and they had some savings, but the cost of living in a big city with having to pay a big monthly rent for the house was taking a toll on them, financially. Her son called very rarely, and told her that he till he gets a ‘green card’ he cannot help much. And she was unsure if he would take his parents to the United States after his marriage. After all, the youth of today want ‘freedom’ and their own ‘space’. It was at that time that she got a call from her daughter, who was employed as a translator in a big company.
“See, me and your father are planning to move to a smaller town. The rentals are getting higher every year. We are able to manage the other expenses but not the rent”
“Actually, I called to ask if you and father can move in to the new house that we have bought recently. Since we are already living in our own house, we may not need the other house. We bought the house only for getting the tax exemption and since both of us are earning enough we don’t want to give it on rental either. In fact, he asked me to check if you two would want to live there”
That was like a blessing from nowhere.
She was recently thinking about the age old societal practices, blind assumptions and equally blind myths when she was asked by a distant relative –
“So, how many children do you have?”
“We have one daughter and one son.”
“One minus and One plus?”
“No. One plus and One minus.”
The reply was instantaneous. She was wondering how life teaches the most important lessons the hard way. And how people pay with something more important than money for learning such lessons – Time.