Before I jot down what I really want to convey from this piece, I am going to describe two contrasting real-life situations. It was two years back when I was traveling with my mother to Mumbai. Our flight was only mid-way when the pilot had turned on the signs to fasten our seat-belts owing to the bad weather outside. A child, probably a year or two old, commenced to cry out loud. While her parents tried to hush her and calm her down, she wailed ceaselessly for almost half an hour.
My mother seemed worried and was constantly looking at the child who was sitting a few seats away from ours. I remember my mother exclaiming, “Oh, it hurts so much when babies cry. They can not verbalize what they are feeling; maybe it’s a headache or maybe it’s nausea or maybe she is simply hungry. But who can tell exactly what it is? We can only guess.”
Listening to what she said, for the first time, I, a person who doesn’t get along very well with kids, saw them in a different light. My mother’s compassion towards them proved to be contagious that day.
Last Saturday I was traveling alone from Mumbai to Kolkata. My adjacent seats were occupied by a couple with a small kid. Their daughter seemed to be some three or four years old. The trio were fast asleep when due to bad weather conditions the pilot had turned on the signs to remain seated. There was another family sitting on the seats in front of mine, with a young boy who seemed to be of the same age as that of my young sleeping neighbor in the flight. The boy cried for a couple of minutes, feeling uneasy before he was hushed by his father. I had caught cold so I too had a terrible headache. It delighted me to see that after a few minutes the boy was happy again and was jumping on his seat and humming a song a little too loud. I smiled at the kid and he smiled back at me (this happens very rarely with me that I smile at a kid and they don’t make a face or frown or cry).
To my utter surprise, the lady near me woke up and started complaining to her husband about the child. She turned to me and urged me to speak up. I, on the other hand, was amused at the fact that the child was enjoying himself even when it is so cold that I’m suffering from a headache. I liked it that he had stopped crying in pain and had learned to enjoy the boring journey. When the woman near me realized that I wasn’t going to say anything to the child she herself gestured to him to shut up lest he wanted a slap from her. The child, sitting in the row in front of ours, made a sad face and stopped singing and jumping on his seat.
This incident made me feel sad, not only for the child in question but also for the woman. She had a daughter of her own of almost the same age. Would she react the same way if in the place of that boy it was her own daughter? The kid wasn’t even as noisy as kids usually are. It reminded me of a conversation I once had with an acquaintance, ” I hate kids. But I have two kids of my own and I have no option but to love them because like it or not, I am their mother.”
Why is it that a person who doesn’t like kids should be a mother? It seems like almost a compulsion to get married and bear children. It is not considered normal when people do not marry or do not have kids. They are sometimes looked at pitifully. But what if it’s a choice they made? Many people can’t make this choice because of the most unreasonable reason – “what will people say?”. In such a scenario, the importance of the term “society” comes into the picture.
But do you think it’s better to get married and have poorly raised kids and be considered “normal” than to have no kids at all?
Whenever we describe the term mother, we relate it with divinity, love, kindness, sacrifice and compassion. No wonder, all mothers have to bear a lot when it comes to giving birth to a child. But also, it’s not possible for all women to have all the qualities. Not all women want to embrace motherhood. It’s a quality not every woman possesses. So when a woman doesn’t want to marry or doesn’t want to mother a child, how about we respect that decision and not compel her to do so? Or how about she herself speaks up for herself and not try to fit in the society or circle she created in her head? Sometimes a couple may not be ready for a child for a certain period of time, sometimes they may not be ready for forever. I’m not saying that if you can’t raise a child well you shouldn’t be a parent. Not everyone is perfect. What I’m trying to convey is that the decision should always be yours and it should not be biased towards what people might think or say. Marriage and children should not be a compulsion or signs that you are happy and successful. They should just be when they are needed to be.