Next week I turn one year older and I can’t help but think how lucky I’ve been thus far. To start with, I was born in Breach Candy, not Bihar (no offence, but it’s easier for an Indian woman to avoid rape in the former).
Luckily, I was born into a family that loves girl children (my father’s brother and his wife had five sons because they kept hoping the next one would be a daughter; eventually they had to make do with me). Instead of being thrown in the garbage or left on a local train as many girl children are in Mumbai every year, I got the privilege of parental love and education.
Balika Vadhu: Whose role model is she? Raj K Raj / Hindustan Times
My parents didn’t believe in tantriks, so there was no question of being raped by one when I was a minor. My father understood the responsibility of being a father, so unlike the two sisters in Mumbai who were in the news recently, incest was a faraway concept for me. At 8, I was not married off like Anandi in Balika Vadhu, that horrific television series that viewers have propelled to the top floor of the skyscraper that is India’s regressive garbage.
Growing up, school was the fun experience it’s meant to be. Around the same time Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and India’s fittest senior citizen L.K. Advani were exchanging political insults last month, 11-year-old Shanno died in school. At the convent school I went to, luckily, nothing like this ever happened. The most traumatic incident occurred in class II when my teacher asked me to extend my arm and hit me with a ruler.
In class IX, a beautiful and smart friend suddenly disappeared. Later, we heard she had gotten married. After class XII, many other privileged, urban girls like me disappeared similarly. Luckily, my education continued for many years after.
For a few years my parents bought into the Arranged Marriage myth and weakly tried to get me to meet Tokyo-based Sindhi businessmen. Thankfully, it was a phase that passed soon enough. The man I eventually married never asked for dowry and has never made me “bump into doors”. After marriage, there have never been any long nights spent weeping alone in bed, wishing my mother could rescue me from marital hell (think Preity Zinta in Videsh).
I can support myself financially; and, miracle of miracles, I’ve never been shot at (though I’ve been spat at) on my way back home from work.
So far I’ve survived nearly unscathed in this privileged cocoon that so few Indian women have access to—as girl children in this country go, I’m definitely one in at least a million. Luckily.
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