A week ago, in the evening, I was sitting outside my house, having a chat with my mother and some neighbours. A female vegetable vendor was passing through the street and she stopped and got involved in our conversation too because we all knew her and bought vegetables from her.
During the conversation, she said to my mother, “Aapki ladki toh shaadi laayak ho gayi hai” (your daughter is of marriageable age now). Mom replied saying, “She is studying now, let her get independent now, and after her job, we will think of her marriage”. She instantly said in her local language, “areee gohar mai to aapan dui bitiyan ke shadi kr daye ho” (I’ve married two of my daughters).
Out of curiosity, I asked her how many kids she had. She told me she had eight children. I was shocked. I said, “Kyaa! Aapke eight bachche hain? (What! You have eight children?”. “Haan toh” (yes, of course, why not?), she replied.
I asked her the age of her youngest kid and she said it was 7 months. I was shocked, yet again. I asked her why did she have eight kids, how does she manage to feed them, educate them, facilitate them, if she had her own house, what her husband did and many more questions. She guffawed and answered every question of mine. She told me that she lives in a rented house with her husband and eight kids.
Then at last I asked her why she had eight kids. She again laughed loudly and said, “Ab bhagwan de diye to le liye” (Now that God gave us 8, what could we have done?). I couldn’t understand what she even meant. But then, we all departed for the day. I quickly went to my elder sister and told her the whole story. She was also shocked and not at all ready to accept whatever I had told her.
Next evening, I waited outside my house for her at the same time. When she passed through my street after selling out her all vegetables, I stopped her and asked my sister to come outside fast. Then I again asked her the same question to make my sister believe that she indeed had eight kids. My sister said, “Tell her about a condom. She might not be knowing, and that’s why she’s saying that god has given her eight children and she accepted them”.
And true to the fact, when I told her about a condom, she was unaware of it, had never heard about it!
After this incidence, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I realised how the poorest section of the society and people living in slums are totally unaware of condoms and that’s why they end up having so many kids. I think this is one of the biggest issues in our society. People of slums should be informed and educated about condoms, their uses, availability, prices and every piece of information concerning condoms should reach out to the poorest. condoms should be reached out to all slums and poorest people of the society who are unaware of this knowledge.
Jagriti Kasaundhan has done her MBA(RD) from Govind Ballabh Pant Social Science Institute, Prayagraj.