Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Importance of Baby


I was reading this post on IHM's blog. Of course, I'm now well past that stage when people are advising me to get pregnant. I have delivered the Good News at long last, much to the relief of my neighbour in Chennai who was apparently doing japam to make sure that I got pregnant. If only she'd been born in the days of Dasaratha, there would have been no need for silly yagnas and mango divisions. The NCERT should seriously consider including her pious face in the chapter about reproduction in their Biology textbook.

But my neighbour is, of course, just one person. Even if we assume generously that something is mentally very wrong with her, there are so many others for whom other people's pregnancy is of great interest. I've had arguments about this with my mum many times. According to her, in India, it's not impolite to take an interest in other people's lives. So somebody being interested in why you are not yet pregnant is merely an extension of that interest. I asked her if people would have had the same concern if say, I suffered from Piles. Would my neighbour do japam for my Piles problem or ask my mum about the status of my Piles every time she met her?

People also take great delight in discussing the inability of somebody to have a child. In fact, this whole baby-making process is seen as some sort of achievement and if you fail in this department, you have failed your life's purpose. On the other hand, if you are some 90-year-old man who got his 70-year-old wife pregnant, you can come on the news turban and all and tell us that drinking camel milk every day is what made you achieve this brilliance.

Why are we so baby-crazy as a nation? Surely, it's not because we love children. I mean, a baby in India has it pretty hard. As soon as it's born, it inherits a bunch of mean relatives who will make an inventory of all that's wrong with it. Then the baby has to be pierced, head-shaved, fed leghyams and subjected to drishti-pottus and such like till it's old enough to attend Pre-kg tuition classes. After that, of course, the baby becomes disillusioned in life and no amount of moral stories it was forced to listen to will come to its aid. Baby's flat and out, y'all. Flat and out on a big fat book on Mathematics by RD Sharma.

I suppose this baby-obsession comes from the fact that most married people don't know what else to talk about other than their children. Since the majority of marriages in India take place with the bride and groom not exchanging a word before the wise elders have solemnized everything, it is not difficult to see why this is so. The baby becomes a common point of interest and the marriage itself hinges on it, more or less. For the rest of their lives, parents can discuss what needs to be done for the baby and what the baby needs to do. Baby, do engineering. Baby, get married. Baby, have a baby. Etc.

So no baby means, marriage falling apart for most people. Now you see why a Piles problem cannot be treated on the same sacred platform? I suppose this is why every time I arrived in Chennai minus M and minus a pregnant tummy, people assumed I was getting divorced. The baby is like an insurance in your marriage. Even if everything crashes on a couple's head, they can always stay together for the sake of the baby.

Phew. And to think my No.1 reason for having a baby was that babies are funny.


Shilpa said...

When my cousin got married and 2nd day after that,a neighbour mataji came to the groom's mataji to ask if the bride is 'ahem-ahem' yet. I was like, come on amma ji, they are sleeping in different rooms because house is still crowded with numerous guests, no baby news yet. LOL
That our India. Funny, weird, sometimes annoying but still funny.

sriraam said...

Very wise and true words.. I can't understand ,for the life of me, why anyone would be so nosy about someone else's married life..

The Bride said...

Your piles example was brilliant. You'd think piles might provide a talking point for couples as well, and could be even more disastruous for a marriage but I suppose it doesn't have the same ring as baby.

@Shilpa how is it even medically possible to know if a girl is pregnant two days after marriage? It take a missed period to know... so unless they're assuming the couple had sex before, it just doesn't make sense. Clearly proves people will ask this absurd 'good news' question in any situation, kind of like Ms. India's saying they want to be Indira Gandhi no matter what question is asked.

Swati said...

LOL..i understand what you mean :)

Blue said...

nice :) and true observation about Indian's and their obsession with other people having babies. hope your little one has it better

R's Mom said...

Awesome post GB..true..the pressure to have babies is just too much! and it just doesnt stop that that..after the first, it will be when is the second (its happening to me now!) and then of course since my first is a girl, the second HAS TO BE A BOY..after that they ask which school, which college..blah blah blah! in short its everyone's business about babies in India..hope the little one inside is doing well :)

rsubras said...

first timer here..from Sagittarian-Ramya's blog

true to some extent, yet harsh comments from you:)

Zarine Mohideen said...

'Baby, have a baby.'!!

vishesh said...

See everyone over here is also talking about babies only.

Anonymous said...

Since everyone here is talking about babies (vishesh - see I am not) - I'll talk about RD Sharma, Resnick and Haliday and Morrison and Boyd.

Funny as ever - liked the piles bit (bride - hehe), and the baby flat and out bit. Harsh comments on society!

Anonymous said...

but some babies turn out to be GB-ish..which is probably for the greater good of humanity. in which case good neighbor could claim they were very close pals of so-and-so.. once the baby shows promise of becoming nobel laureate etc.


Arundhati said...

Very entertaining but unfortunately, all true

Need to tell these people... Baby may have been insurance in the past, with the clan pitching in with childcare. With couples having to cope without support, already shaky relationships seem to fall apart. Better take time and be sure the two get along and all that, before bringing a baby into the equation and world. AND enjoy the freedom!

p.s. - Babies are extremely funny, awaiting your posts after baby arrives :) Judging by the quality of the pregnancy ones, religious types may assume I am doing shayana-pradakshinam

p.p.s - Sorry, long comment!

Choxbox said...

Hey congrats! And don’t worry - babies *are* funny, don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise (see one more paati-like comment!)

Choxbox said...

And oh yes, you better hope its a boy so that the next time you won’t have nay tension - you can relax and not have to hope away that it should not be a girl again.

(Not my words, this was advice given to me multiple times - right from the stranger in the bus to my help to assorted relatives).

GB said...

@Shilpa- I echo The Bride. How can you know you are pregnant that fast?!

@Sriram- Some things in life will forever remain a mystery.

@The Bride- :D This lady's general business is to find out who's pregnant and who's not and also declare people medically unfit. What gets to me is how she thinks she's being so good-hearted.

@Swati- Sigh!!

@Blue- I certainly won't be asking my little one when it's going to make more little ones for sure. I hope to be in the Himalayas or some place like that when the little one is that old.

@R's Mom- Yup, it never ends. This is why I believe in being rude to such people right from the beginning. At least, you won't regret being nice later.

@rsubras- Are you married? If not, you might understand that such harsh measures are required when you do get married.

@Zarine- :)

@Vishesh- So? Why are babies so uncool? Were you a turnip at birth?

@Anon- If I were a sweet pudding, I'd be eaten up. I like being a thorny cactus.

@Anonfan- Aren't you the sweetest, eh?

@Arundhati- Amen to that!

@Choxbox- I'm going to buy a pair of boxing gloves right now.

The Visitor said...

Would my neighbour do japam for my Piles problem or ask my mum about the status of my Piles every time she met her?
*Rolls eyes*

You are incorrigible GB.

Ugich Konitari said...

Cracking post. Came here from Gunjan's posting about it on FB. By age (61) I probably qualify perfectly to ask you all these nosy questions. But I wont. I was asked these in my time, in what folks thought was a "decent" :-) way. I am absolutely convinced we have a nosy string in our DNA. And it never mutates .

Kookaburra said...

Heartfelt posts are always rocking good eh! :)
At some point I started wondering if it is because we dont have words to talk about sex. Is it because they cant ask "are you having a good sex life?" is that why they are asking "why no pregnancy yet?"
ME BEING A VERY PECULIAR case, have had some sort of fun, the question would go like "Dont take contraceptives - they are bad for you, are you taking them?" "No I am not" (six years into marriage!)
This suffocation of even well meaning people who cant ask "is you sex life good" is somewhat endearingly sad and annoying to answer the unrelated baby question.

I went through such craziness, that I remember very fondly the day my mom suddenly told me "I really hope you are happy, you know that happy, that kind of real happy, that is what is most important, I hope you are happy, baby is not important" and I got pregnant that year! :) 12 years after bring a bride! :)

But is asking about sex too nosy or too abrupt I dont know. But it felt alright when I opened up at the same tone with some friends too! :)

Anonymous said...

well, the religious well-wishers do japams for any problem in case you wonder.
A baby is nature's opinion that life should go on.As it takes two persons for ' baby making process' it is only fair the two bring up the offspring together.Hence the 'aayiram kaalathu payiru'.
If possible just see to that the baby takes RD sharmas on his/her stride.Then you or the baby wouldn't overlook the happiness in your lives that it is not yet a memory.
True, the importance of conversation in any relationship can not be overstated.An intimate marriage does not banish loneliness.Only when we are comfortable with who we are can we truly function independently in a healthy way, can we truly function within a relationship.Two halves do not make a whole when it comes to healthy relationship.It takes two wholes.
Babies are funny of course.Those tiny things can teach you the concept of non-violence, that happiness is not a matter of intensity, but of balance, order, rythm and harmony.Maths exams would seem like child's play!

rsubras said...

GB, yea I am a married guy wonly..., married for around 9 months now(yet to be blessed by a baby) i can understand your feelings, but imho not many ppl would be as nosy as your neighbour thatz why i told your comments are harsh :)

Anonymous said...

In my case, my co-sister (for want of a better word) who is a few months younger than me, but has 2 kids while I have none, offered to bear a child for me. I was apalled at how someone my age could speak like this in this day! But we have now turned it into a joke - in my (side of the) family, we call her the Product Manager ;).


Anonymous said...

There is definitely a lot of interest in babies in India. But it isnt true that the baby has to face a lot of ordeals when it is dhristi pottu.

In fact I would say it has to suffer much lesser than in say a USA where the baby is left alone to cry itself to sleep, or walk with a chain around its waist like a dog. It is all funny to write a blog like this and criticize indian customs, but the truth is far from this. Babies especially in india are treated the best and treated like gods until they are atleast 5 years old.
Besides, having a baby is just the progression of generation. To make sure life continues and you have something to look forward to when you are 50 years old. Better to have a kid than stare at the idiot box.

Thanks for letting the anonymous comments being posted. That ways you wont judge me.


tpj said...

I have been trying to figure out whether the Anonymous above is a he/she...

"... walk with a chain around its waist like a dog."

Wow. This is new to me. I've never heard this one before. Does this Anonymous live in the U.S??

I have several good friends who live in the U.S - they are Americans and not Indians who live in the U.S and none of them treat their children like Anonymous here states. They care for their children just like we do, for goodness sake.

Anonymous seems to have missed the point of the post entirely.

"...having a baby is just the progression of generation. To make sure life continues..."

Wow. So people have sex and make babies for the greater good of humankind. To ensure life continues on Earth. How noble. Why am I reminded of Baba Ramdev (the guy who says he can 'cure' homosexuality with yoga)...?

" look forward to when you are 50 years old...Better to have a kid than stare at the idiot box."

Wow. Just wow. Entertainment value, eh?

"That ways you won't judge me."

Dear Anonymous, was that 's' after 'way' a typo??

Kindly read -

G.B, if more people read Gibran, the world would be a better place don't you think?

P.S: I do think Anonymous is a 'he'. Yes, this ways I'm judgings.

chandrima said...

You are hilarious GB!
Keep going.

indianhomemaker said...

Love how you make your point while we are rolling on the ground laughing :)

Harish V said...

Looks like someone dosent handle criticism too well.

If mr anonymous didnt understand the post well, someone could have told the same.

Instead they try to give a "comeback" answer for each line.


GB said...

@The Visitor- :D I'll be mailing you your gift, Mistah. Was on vacation the past few days.

@Ugich- Allo!! Celebrities and all visiting my blog! Too muchu.

@Kookaburra- Haha. Well, even if they are interested in your sex life and not in the baby per se...why the hell are they interested in it?!

@Anon Amma- Please don't tell me you believe our neighbour is so glorious...I know you don't for a fact :D

@rsubras- I've been asked this question by neighbours, relatives, colleagues, and other assorted categories. Maybe men don't get asked about it as much or you live in a particularly civil circle :)

@Anonymous: :O

@Anonymous- Everyone's free to express their opinion here, but be open to some judging as well :) I also happen to think that having kids because you think they will be some sort of insurance in your old age is the worst reason to have them. But that's my opinion and you are free to judge me!

@tpj- Thanks :)

@Chandrima- Thank you!! When are you back??

@IHM- :)

@Harish- Are you saying that TPJ doesn't handle somebody criticizing me well or are you insinuating that I posted a comment pretending to be someone else? If it's the latter, let me assure you that I've spent the last few days running in the hills very far from my laptop.

Also, if you have been reading this blog, I don't censor comments and I'm not afraid to voice my opinions anywhere, particularly here.

Meg V said...

Haha I love it...I'm at that stage where everyone family or otherwise is praying for anything to grow in me!

Blogaholic said...

I just stumbled upon your blog and needless to say, I am literally rolling on the floor laughing! I love the way you talk about important issues in life with a dash of humor. Congratulations on the pregnancy! Will surely drop by here for more updates! =)

rsubras said...

yes... got to agree that... men are not grilled with such questions (atleast in the first few years).... and of course.. our neighbors dont poke as much :) relatives too... to an extent...

Srinivas said...

Sorry for the belated comment on this one, GB. Didn't read it earlier! As usual, a strong post that reflects reality as is :)

In the home - or is it family? - my sister has married into, the daughter does not have a child. So every one was liek, "unga thanga vara veLayaavadhu avangaLukku kozhandha porandhaa... etc". I mean asking a woman constantly about the baby itself is annoying to put it mildly and to think there are people who link one girl's wedding with the possibility of another getting a child... bah, I don't understand!

I am sure there are other similar cases. Since this was recent and closer to home, I cited it. I completely second your thoughts in this post.

apu said...

"Baby, have a baby" was the best :)
But seriously, this obsession with making babies is killing. and what kills me is that women my age (30s) ask me such questions, not just oldies! I honestly don't know what sort of answer people expect to a question like "why no baby?" Do they want the details of the contraception one is using or a medical problem that one may be facing? Sometimes, I think this is just our equivalent of the English talk about the weather!

Pixie said...

LOL!! how true.. babies in India have it hard!!
yup, my mausi back home is praying too - that at least in a phoren land with no job, I will become pregnant immediately!
That is the only thing she asks me and as soon as I say - no, she loses interest in the conversation! :P

Annoying relatives, weird neighbours showing interst in our lives - we have it all don't we?! :P
babies are funny and thats a good reason to have them! :D

PS: I love your blog and your writing! I'm so glad I hopped over!

Anil Singhal said...

good stuff. I can related to all your bloggings :)

Phillips said...

See everyone over here is also talking about babies only.

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