(An inspiring story of RAZIA- daughter of truck driver; breaking the stereotype and changing the stigmas for the society)
Is being a ‘beti’ really the curse it’s made out to be?
Being the fourth daughter my parents were blessed with, I always used to ask them if they had ever wished I had been born a boy. I spent a lot of time wondering if, after having three girls, they were disappointed to see yet another daughter instead of a son. To make me feel better they replied no. They never scolded me for asking a question like this and building a discriminated society by gender in my head.
My parents never loved me less, but they loved my younger brother more. Maybe the reason I questioned them this.
Living in a society where sweets were distributed for being blessed with a beta and expenses being calculated on the birth of a girl, it wrenched my heart. I was part of a society where gender predictor tests would decide whether the parents wanted to keep the baby or not. The pain was meant for beti and the gains were only for the son of the society.
How people bashed me with the same question every time that how many brothers do I have and sympathizing knowing only one and four sisters. They felt it was a matter of shame. Luckily it was a matter of pride for me, yet sadly it was normal for me to come to believe that only boys could bring real joy to a family.
Consequently, I started to believe being a boy to be greater than being a girl. As I could not do anything about the fact that I had been born a girl, I then started calling myself the ‘beta’ (son).
Society taught me to accept these patriarchal ideas so willingly, I did not even realize that by calling myself a son, I was only setting the bar lower for my own gender. For some ludicrous reason, I thought I was being a man by going out, speaking up, having an opinion and taking part in discussions with the men around me. What I did not know – or rather, what society ensured I did not learn – was that everything I was doing under pretense of being more like a man was in actuality just a fundamental right of my existence. In my happiness in disguise, I kept calling myself the ‘beta’ of the house, as I kept doing completely normal activities under the impression that only boys could do them.
Growing up, I came across the reality of violence against women being endemic in our society. Rape, harassment, acid attacks, domestic violence and women being repressed by and large (a very common practice in my town) , all of it started to make me question why a female is deprived of her fundamental rights. It didn’t take me long to come to the realization that the rules women were forced to live by were all man-made. The “aurat” of the society is supposed to surrender herself to all those so called dominant men.
Slowly, this conditioning I had grown up with started to wear off. No longer wanting to live a life of suppression (call it life as a beta) , I started opposing the patriarchy as well as I could.
Each morning, I woke up and went to work, much the same as the men around me. I did likewise work, went to a similar work pace, and got back home in the meantime as the men around me. Thus, I was not comparing myself with them; I was just doing what individuals should ‘do to accommodate themselves. Be that as it may, in the wake of returning home, it was I who might go to the kitchen to get ready supper, while the men around me would sit inertly on the couch, one leg over the other, comfortable surfing through the channels on TV.
In the mean time I saw my sister delivering a baby, I realized the amount of pain a girl has to go through. What being a girl actually demands, how easily we have divided the society. I was awed to see to see her courage and strength, but it also made me feel ashamed; for we never seem to give enough respect to women for going through what they go through tirelessly and without complaint.
Women all around us are achieving phenomenal things, and yet our society remains stuck on celebrating the arrival of a boy, and mourning the arrival of a girl. I have heard many parents calling their girls ‘mera beta’ (my son), but never have I heard a boy being called ‘meri beti’ (my daughter).
The questions triggered my mind, why do we consider daughter as a burden? Why do parents think that daughters will marry and leave so it’s useless to invest in them. Why don’t they own them?
When I think about it, the only real difference between having a son and a daughter is our unfortunate mindset.
Thus, I have stopped calling myself a beta now. The reason isn’t the precedence of one gender over another, but simply because I am not a beta. In fact, and very proudly so, I am daughter.
I go out and fight to reclaim the spot taken from me and from many other daughters by an unfair system. I am a beti who is striving to fight against the stigma of gender bias, and who shall from now on continue to derive only strength from calling herself a beti.
“BREAKING THE STEROTYPES, I AM WHO I AM, A PROUD DAUGHTER AND A PROUD MOTHER OF THREE PRETTY GIRLS”