Issues · Women

The New Female Infanticide

Jim, that’s not the way to do it, Jim. I am not sure what they get out of it, is it peace of mind, dissolution of responsibilities,  or plain sadistic pleasure in passing down the injustice that was meted out to you a few decades ago. I see it happening everywhere, Jim. It is sad to see when people today use their mobile phones, their laptops, their social networks, their automatic cars and designer labels but still their minds and hearts operate in 1960s mode. It is as if they deliberately fattened up a pig for slaughter, right from the day it was born, it was fed, made to wear nice clothes, made to look good, was given minimal education, was showed off to kin and rest of the suburb, made to look good, made sure the onset of menarche was celebrated, made to look good, never asked what it wants or how it wants, made to look good and then sent off. I hate the whole process Jim, I mean why is the whole process so unfair especially during these times.

She was a good kid Jim. Yes, Jim, did you notice I used the past tense? Yes, she was a good kid. She is not a kid anymore. I knew her when she was a kid, Jim. She used to help her parents with all the chores at the fast food shop downstairs. Remember the house, Jim? They served some good stuff over there which I used to eat after I returned from college. I used to order them from the balcony shouting out in front of some fifteen customers all of them gathered around the mobile stall  and got them delivered to the house on the first floor, which was quite a deserved favor as we had given our premises for the mobile stall without collecting any rent. The kid used to deliver them more often than not. Sometimes her mom but I remember receiving the stuff from the kid mostly. She was a shy kid, Jim who used to call me anna and I  quite liked that. A pretty face that hid a lot of wit, Jim. The other time I used to spot her was at 7.15 am at the bus stop outside the temple. She would walk past me to her school, the shy permanent smile intact, a light school bag hanging behind her, while I and a few other guys would have gathered around discussing engineering mechanics, the latest Rahman album and the new girl in our bus that used to board at Ashok Pillar. She was a kid, Jim, she probably was in the eighth grade. Or the seventh? I guess eighth would be more like it, neither too low nor too high. Yes, she was in eighth grade, Jim. I hardly spoke to her, our conversations limited to questions regarding her school, or what I want from the fast food stall or what I want for dinner. Or rather if I approve of what was made for dinner. That went on for exactly a month, Jim. My granddad and aunt were away in California and I lived alone in that 4000 odd sq. ft house for a month. So lunch was taken care of in college and dinner was home cooked from their place. So she used to come home trotting, sharp at 8.30 pm, carrying my dinner carrier that had delicious Tambrahm home cooked meals. I used to take it from her and wish her goodbye. This was routine for one month Jim, between the 15th of July to the 15th of August 2005.

She was that same kid I met yesterday, Jim. I attended her wedding and probably I was the only one that wore a dull face in that sea of people, each one of them, happy and gay in their finest clothes listening to a third grade singer singing Malgova Mambayam so admirably well that he wouldn’t even make it to the auditions of Indian Idol 5. That kid could hardly speak, Jim, for she did not even know how to formally introduce her husband to all those unsuspecting people climbing the dais to wish her good luck in life, of which she needs plenty or maybe not with that small world her parents have chosen for themselves and herself. She just smiled and tried to do a formal introduction before the groom himself saved his face. This is what I did not like, Jim. Has she even attained the legal age, Jim? I would never know. I would never know what she did to deserve this and I did not like one bit of it. They refuse to let her grow up and see the world, Jim. How cruel of them?  And she doesn’t even realize. They kill the girl, Jim. They kill the girl before she becomes a woman. Yes Jim, that’s what they do.

(As you can see, am still suffering from a David Foster Wallace hangover and am not even done yet. A shameless attempt at imitation on an issue close to the heart)


28 thoughts on “The New Female Infanticide

  1. Timelining it with what you said, I’m guessing she is 17 as of yesterday. I wouldn’t have attended the wedding as a mark of protest.

    Adi: That’s all we can do, no?


  2. Ayyo paavam. Prepare yourself, cause you might just see her with a wailing baby in hand in less than a year. How many I’ve seen like this.. paavam.

    Adi: I know, my mom was saying the same thing!


  3. Very well written g.w!

    Most (traditional) Indian parents – and I say most – are afraid their daughters would be independent and have their own mind. They want to nip it right in the bud, just before they start to ‘rebel’ – get their daughters married early before they have a chance to think for themselves – lest they go against family beliefs/traditions whatever it may be. “what good are all these lofty ideas going to do?”However ‘forward thinking’ they think they are, once a girl is of the ‘right’ age, the deed has to be done. I’m not saying this after reading books or articles, but out of experience. A few of my girl friends have been married off the same month they graduated from college(at least it was not school). Only now that I am independent myself and taking my own decisions am able to understand why Indian society is like this.

    Adi: That was well put. Thanks!


  4. GW,
    Likes. :-)
    We see these things around us.Talk to your house maid and she will disagree with this post.

    But, as @maxdavinci asked Jim kaun? :|

    Adi: Jim was just to get a “spoken to” feel to it! Thanks!


  5. Excellent Post!!

    I think as you highlighted sometimes in certain sections of society they get married in very early age. Somehow parents see getting their daughter married is more important that her getting a career/job etc. I have seen closely for some they started looking out even before they completed studies. But it is slowly changing but then there are some who still stick to past!!

    Always wonderful to read short stories with a personal touch to it!
    This post is fantastic read!!

    Adi: Thanks man. It is slowly changing but at a very small part of the society.


  6. Ah! Good ol’ Jim to the rescue.. Hope he’s done saving the Universe from the gamma rays. Otherwise that would be a major distraction.

    Adi: Haha :)


  7. The priestwho solemnized by wedding had done ‘bala vivaha’ for his son who is 21yrs old. (meaning – he got his son married when he was puyt his poonal at 5yrs. the girl is in school now.).
    Nice post.

    Adi: :O Scary shit!


  8. You just reached a new level of awesome. ZOMG, awesome. If this was a movie, I would have totally whistled at the end of it. :D

    Adi: Whattay respect! Thankoo am humbled :D


  9. Excellent post mate! Looks like the girl’s parents have religiously followed the hallowed saying: “pennin thirumana vayadhu, 21”. Or was the girl even younger? hmm..

    Adi: Even younger would be my guess.


  10. very well written, Mr.Wolf.

    My Paati got married @16, things havent changed much in these people’s world probably from that time. There are girls in US or other developed countries who get married early as well, sometimes have kid before hitting 20 who are more along the lines of exception, ofcourse. They are aware of the impact as well.

    It is that whole picture of Pros and cons that isnt put in front of the Kid by the Parents who arent aware of it themselves/refuse to change with times. Silveranklets hit the nail. There is also another angle of the Girl being liability.

    Overa ezhuthiten.

    Adi: Lol, thank you. And I get your point. Don’t mind about overa writing! I’ve had it for a long time now. Comments have been bigger than the post.


  11. :(

    My maid’s daughter who will be 14 this October, got married this month.. I fought a lot with the maid, telling her that she is killing her daughter and that she will have kids before she is even legal to get married, but she wouldn’t listen.. :(

    Adi: I know :( only


  12. Brilliant post ! Very hard but true.And the buck does not stop here with the marriage and children.Recently read an article where in sample population in Rajasthan there are widows by the age of 16 whose misery is even worse .They neither get the respect nor acceptance from either families.On the contrary they are forced to go through all the horrbible rituals of a widow when they do not even realize what they are doing.I am talking about widows at the age of even 8 or 9 years

    Adi: Thanks! I know, it’s very very sad that this issue has not been given importance . It’s not violence that shows it’s face and present for everyone to see but is equally bad.


  13. so well written!! hats off!!!
    My maid used to argue that if they don’t get them married young they elope with all the wrong men! whatte logic!

    Adi: Thanks! Lol, I’ve heard that logic too!


  14. Great stuff – Extremely well written. This is the kind of thing that should make the blinded-by-industrial growth-numbers Indian realise how many roads we have to travel to call ourselves developed.

    By the way, is the frequent use of calling out Jim the hangover of David Foster Wallace you refer to? I haven’t read him and was wondering if that is perhaps the connection.

    Adi: True that. Yep, there is a longish segment in the book that goes in this vain. It’s all good to read but I haven’t reached the part where it is supposed to make sense.


  15. Hi, I arrived here from DesiPundit. This is a very well-written post. And, hey – you are absolutely right in equating child marriage with female infanticide!

    Wonder what it will take to change the mindsets of the masses. And by this I do not refer only to some obscure village in nestled in the dunes of the Thar desert. I also refer to (as @silveranklets pointed out in the comments); the otherwise “forward-thinking” populace who want to just get their daughters married off just as they are about to get a foothold!

    Anyways, thanks for this touching post. You’ve earned yourself a link :)


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