Hope this letter finds you in good spirit and health. I had never intended to write to you but because of the messages that I have been receiving from you lately, I could not resist myself from penning down this letter.
I have many things on my mind but the question is ‘where do I begin?’
Oh, let me start by telling you that I recently got married. My husband and I moved into a new neighbourhood that seems almost like the best place in the city to start a new life, and a family later on. The more time I spend in this neighbourhood; the more I watch the kids interact with each other on the lane during their evening plays; the more I catch a glimpse of the parent-child conversations, the more doubtful I become of your (society’s) capabilities.
Just the other morning, I read an NDTV report wherein an SHO from Ghazipur, Delhi-NCR said, “Go to a pub in Greater Kailash, South Delhi, where there’s free entry for girls. You’ll find those who want to do ‘it’ for a thousand rupees. They’ll drink and also have sex with you. But the day someone uses force, it’s rape.” My reaction after reading it was- Duh! Of course, the day someone uses force to have sex with you, it is rape.
But let’s get this straight. You mean to tell me that when my husband and I have children, we should NOT teach our son how to respect women. Because you would give him the liberty to be as reckless as you are. Or that when my brave daughter would slap an eve-teaser, I should slap her back because she would be in a sleeveless top or because she shouldn’t have got out of the house in the first place.
Wasn’t there a time when society was the place a person would run to for seeking justice because even if an individual fails you, a society will not?
Don’t they say it takes a village to raise a child?
But imagine how impossible it would be to raise a child in a village where parents inadvertently teach their kids about superiority of their caste or community, where kids have rarely come in touch with manners because somehow their parents forgot to teach them those precious things amidst lending them their motorcycles and cars to drive off, where elders are childishly stubborn about carrying forward their age-old backwardness of thoughts, and where the media barefacedly tags itself as neo-racists.
What do you intend to teach my children? And whatever happened to good role models!
Dear Society, you have failed me and my aspirations of raising a child in your ambit. And even though you have failed me, I still believe that my husband and I would raise good kids–kids with manners, and kids with confidence so that when they grow up and build a house and a world of their own, you would not have the might to fail them. I know raising kids is a tough job and I know you are going to make it tougher for me.
However, with or without your help, my husband and I would raise good kids–the kind I long to see on my lane.
Every child deserves a good childhood. A childhood away from insecurities; a childhood where one doesn’t mistake being ill-mannered for being confident; a childhood that would be about water fights and sibling rivalries, and not about fairness creams and iPods; a childhood that would be about gender sensitization and not about boy versus girl; a childhood about bogeymen in the closet, and not item numbers on the screen; a childhood about Santa Claus and Jingle Bells, a childhood about learning to ride bicycles, and not about ‘I want a mobile phone for my eleventh birthday!’.
And I will fight for that childhood for my kids even if you come marching with all your grown-up wisdom, telling me that it is impossible. I will fight for their childhood. There is no bargain here.
A Prospective Parent