After the outcry over the BBC Documentary 'India's Daughters', many men in India felt they were all being 'tarred with the same brush.' Obviously not all men are the same or hold these outrageous and dangerous views about women in society, demonstrations in major cities, postings on social media highlighted their abhorrence of the rape culture in India. Recently I was scrolling through Facebook generally being nosey! I came across a post on a friends page, who lives in Bangalore. I really enjoyed it so I went further rooting on his page, luckily it was open! Read this Letter 'From a Father to His Unborn Son.' Barry O'Brien is a writer, a father of three daughters and has given me his kind permission to publish his letter.
"Why does the mere thought of being a father of a son in India send a chill up my spine?" Barry O'Brien
A Letter From a Father to His Unborn Son
(by Barry O’Brien) ( Facebook)
My Dear Son
The day you weren't born 21 years ago, when I was coming down in the lift having seen the angelic face of your eldest sister, an elderly and highly educated relative saw the tears in my eyes, put his hand gently on my shoulder, and said, ‘Don’t worry… next time you will have a boy!’
The poor man had completely misjudged my tears of unbridled joy, as many others would have in the country of your ‘almost’ birth. I wanted to say: ‘Uncle, next time too, I’m not going to have a boy…or a girl – my brave wife will! She will carry the baby inside her for nine whole months - I’m the wimp who worries even if I swallow a plum seed and it doesn't come out in nine hours! It gives me the creeps as I wonder how big it may have grown and whether I should take a laxative to flush the bounder out!’
I wanted to tell him that your mother and I wanted your sister more than you. She had her reasons, I had mine. Hers had to do with how nice girls are and how much fun it is to dress them up; mine had to do with dads being spoilt by their daughters and being given undue preference in Parents’ Love Ratings.
I wanted to tell him…
But since the birth of your sister had me on a high no whisky in the world could have matched, I simply smiled at him …and felt a little sorry for him!
Two years later, when your mother broke the news that she was pregnant again, they all concluded that we were trying for YOU, especially since your mum wasn't ‘glowing’ this time. Apparently, when a pregnant mother glows, a girl is on the way, and if she doesn't, it’s a boy! I wonder why women in India should glow when they know what India’s daughters are up against!
Once again, you were slow off the blocks, and yet another sister grabbed the umbilical cord while you were asleep.
Frankly Son, after that, the odds of your being born at all were as low as Afghanistan winning the World Cup. Your mum and I, like so many modern-day mums and dads who play half-God, had decided exactly how many children we wanted, and when. Thankfully we weren't bitten by the bug of playing full-God, and even deciding the sex of our babies!
(Don’t worry, you’re safe – it is as unlikely for male foeticide to happen in India as it is for Burkina Faso to win the World Cup!)
Four years later, when your mum and I realised that she was pregnant yet again, we were a trifle embarrassed when close friends asked us if they should buy us a TV for ‘our entertainment’. Others, more predictably concluded: ‘I’m telling you they are trying for a boy!’
We didn’t bother explaining to them what we believed: that once in a while God does have His/Her way, just to remind us that He/She is around!
Well, once again a girl won the chromosome race and you were left behind – you lazy fellow!
I’m sure you know that all three of your sisters are doing well in school and college, conscious that they are women only when they are walking, talking and grooming themselves. For the rest of the time - when they are thinking, competing and winning – all they are conscious of is being human, not man or woman!
So, I’m sure you’re a happy and proud brother, though unborn!
But sometimes I wonder WHAT IF….what if you were born…what if you were born in a country for men, of men and by men?
To satisfy your curiosity about the country you were fortunate enough not to be born in, as part of the privileged half – more actually - here’s a little about it!
We always refer to this great nation of ours in the feminine -it’s Ma or Mata, She or Her; never He or Him; if you cross your heart, you back it up with Ma-kasam, never Baap-kasam; the language you speak at home is your mother-tongue, not your father-tongue; and before you leave home on a tough assignment, it’s Ma ka aashirvaad that matters more than anyone else’s.
We have successfully got the world, and ourselves, to believe that we do this because we genuinely care for her, as any son should for his Mother. Truth be told, we are fooling the world, and ourselves, big time!
Here’s why: the most popular burning ghat for women in our country is still the kitchen, particularly if they are guilty of the deadliest Double D crimes in this great nation – too little Dowry and too many Daughters! And for that, the law of the land always finishes a poor second to the ultimate law – the law of the in-laws! After going through the tamasha of newspaper ads, shaadi.coms, kundlis and star positions, parents find the best match in the whole wide world, only to see her go up in smoke by the simple lighting of a match!
Here’s why: acid is used by stalkers on the street as often as it is by chemistry students in a lab, and killings that bring ‘dishonour’ to the human race are glorified as ‘honour killings’ – all this, in one of the most rapidly developing nations in the world!
Here’s why: a woman is raped every twenty minutes – and those are only the statistics of the cases that are reported! Most aren't, simply because ours is an Incredible India, where the victim could actually be blamed for getting raped. She could even be blamed for causing her own death for resisting the rape – what a silly thing to do! The logic being, if she didn't resist the generous monster he would have been considerate enough to allow her to live - to tell the tale!
I could go on and on, Son, but let me get to the real reason for my writing this letter to you. Ever since the 16th of December 2012, I have been wondering: what if you were born!
Just the thought, sends a chill up my spine!
I know you must be saying to yourself, what’s wrong with Dad? He should be worried sick: the father of three daughters, one in college in the rape capital of the country; one studying on Park Street bang opposite the police station where cops on duty may end up inviting the victim for a beer; and the other in school – gosh, even that isn't sacred enough ground for these monsters to lay off!
I know, Son, if you were born, they would have said, ‘Congrats! Now your family name will continue!’
If you were born, the salaams and smiles on the faces of the bearers in the nursing home would have been bigger, as may have been the size of their bakshish!
If you were born, you would have the support of many a politician who would absolve you of rape by blaming it on the way your victim was dressed, or the lateness of the hour that she was out on the street, or the mortal sin of seeing a movie with a male friend.
If you were born, you would not have had a problem finding a defence lawyer to stand up for you in court, stating, on record, that he would have poured kerosene on her if she was his daughter, and burnt her alive in his garden house – and he, mind you, would have been an educated, clear-thinking lawyer practising in the capital of one of the most rapidly developing nations in the world!
So, why I am so relieved that you weren’t born, and why does the mere thought of being a father of a son in India send a chill up my spine?
Here’s why, son!
The other day, I saw the fathers of the men who gang-raped and killed a girl most brutally, looking away from the camera, distressed and disturbed ….overcome with a sense of shock and deep shame!
The other day, I saw the father of a girl who was gang-raped and killed most brutally, looking straight into the camera - his head held high, as he spoke with pain, grief….and pride!
I asked myself, who would I rather be: the father of a son who had raped and killed most brutally, or that of a daughter who was raped and killed most brutally?
I know that I would probably not recover if that was to happen to any of your sisters, but, like the father of the girl who was raped and killed most brutally, I would look straight into the camera, with grief and pain…but no shame!
But, God forbid, if you had been the monster who had done the brutal act - I would have hung my head…and died….of shame!
Thank goodness, you weren't born, Son! I now only have to live with the fear of being the father of three daughters, not with the anxiety and worry of ever having to hide my head in shame…and dying every day that I lived!
I’m happy you are where you are! Sleep well, Son!