By Deepti Chaddha:
If I were a boy, would I be stronger? If I were a boy, would I be safer? If I were a boy, would I be more loved? If I were a boy, would I be happier? These questions run through my mind every single day of my life.
They say that we often think about things we want; it keeps running through our minds. And what I think about is how life would be if I were a boy.
Being born and brought up in a Punjabi family, I always heard, ‘Ladka hua hai, Mubarak ho’. And that followed by sweets being distributed to everyone, even by neighbours that you never talked to. And that boy was treated like a prince. We often hear stories about how the girl child has been killed even before being born. Luckily, my family loves girls. When my sister was born, and then eight years later me, my parents were on top of the world, because ‘laxmi ghar aayi hai’. Although my mother did worry about what my grandparents would say. My grandfather was disappointed because according to him, if there is no boy in the family, who will earn? My sister proved him wrong, by getting a job at 22 and earning a lot more than he ever did. My grandmother loved us girls unconditionally and never cared about how our relatives talked about our family not being lucky enough to have a boy.
But what about other families? Those who consider themselves unlucky because they have a girl child and honestly if anyone says that this used to happen in the yester years, and doesn’t anymore, I wouldn’t believe them in a million years because I have very well witnessed it even today. And living in a society where people do not want girls to be born, I would rather be a boy.
I have come across many girls who are deprived of basic human rights, one of them being education. A girl is married off as soon as she turns 20 and all her dreams are crushed. My mother’s were. She wanted to study, learn, paint, until one day my nana ji put a laddoo in her mouth and told her that she was getting married. My mother still paints and talks about how she feels she could have done so much more in her life. And it upsets me. Every woman out there who has been forced to stopped studying and get married is a future I would never want for myself. I want to earn, be known to the world. I would rather be a boy.
Why does every fight scene I have ever watched in a movie have a male hero or villain? And why does every mandir (temple) scene have a lady in a saree? Why do I see men going to work and women staying at home? Why do I come across scenes which include the husband screaming at the wife? Why can I not see a woman fighting and going to work and the husband sitting at home and chopping vegetables? I have faced the fact that I am living in a patriarchal world and that is the sad ugly truth. So I would rather be a boy.
I won’t say that men are not raped because they are. But, 90% of the time, it’s a woman. I do not feel safe coming back home alone at night from my class, I would prefer having a boy walk me home because I do not want to be looked at by men, ogling at the sight they see. I do not feel safe when my mother is not home and the plumber comes to repair a leak. I do not feel safe knowing that someday when I get married and I have a girl who will be born to this cruel world where women and girls are not respected. So spare me the misery, I would rather be a boy.
Another aspect is about us girls having to worry so much about how we look and present ourselves. We keep hearing things like, ‘Cross your legs and sit’, ‘go change your clothes, your bra strap is showing’. ‘Don’t wear that, it makes your breasts look big’. I want to be able to wear what I want, where I want, without people judging me. Because a boy can wear a top and baggy pants and no one would say a thing. So, I would rather be a boy.
Being a girl, I have learnt a lot. And I have had a bitter sweet relationship with being a girl. But today, as I ponder over it, if I had the power to bring about one major change in my life, I would be a boy.