An beautiful poem I received from Sarbjit Kaur as part of this project.
Sorry they would say. Sorry that you had a daughter. Sorry. I will pray for your next one to be a son. Son preference. When a boy was born, women seemed happier and would be greeted with approval and envy by other women. Young boys seemed to grow up with a little more confidence than girls. I often witnessed girl rejection at the Gurdwara, through conversations overheard and first hand experience. Something didn’t sit right with me about this. I couldn’t articulate it then, it was just a feeling I got based on what I saw, heard and embodied. I am daughter number three. Three times the burden, three times the dowry and three times the responsibility. My mum cried when I was born. I am not sure why. There is so much mystery surrounding that part of my childhood, between my birth, and living in India. I think her heart was torn between love and duty. There was an alternative male name in case I came out a ‘baby blue’. Blue, like Krishna, Shiva and Vishnu. It is not as black and white as that though. There are other shades, like my Auntie’s chunni. Or like the chimney soot sumera in our eyes. She cried when I was born. Had I been a boy, I wonder if my parents would have given me up. At least, I was allowed to be born. I am sure they were torn between love and duty. At least I was well taken care of. Unlike other girls I knew, even if they were only daughter number two. Between love and duty. There are other shades you know it’s not just kala and chitta. Like the mitta suntra, I am holding in my hand. I was told that photo was taken before I had to leave the land of my forefathers. The look in my eyes seems to foretell this parting. There is no smile in my Grandmother’s eyes. I am not sure she wants to let go of that footstool I am sitting on. Three is a lucky number right? My mum called me lucky once. She said that I was special as she bore two sons after me. I am not sure how that was a compliment, but I believe she meant well. But she cried when I was born. I wonder if she knew, I cried too.