“Remember, B stands for bad,” my maternal granddad said as he underlined the subpar math grade on my report card with a ballpoint pen.
I gazed at the floor and clenched my fists. My eighthgrade self refused to cry.
I expected my Nanaji to commence with a lecture, something about working hard and all of that other stuff that children of my age would have to listen day in day out about ambition and achievement . Instead, he asked me for my last homework assignment. We spent the rest of that Saturday reviewing all of the questions I answered incorrectly.
Throughout the years, my parents and grad parentspushed me to work hard and exceed the expectations I set for myself. My schedule was jammed with everything from schoolwork to helping the women of the home with the household chores. In my free time, I would bring out all my multi coloured threads and begin with my ‘cross stitch wall hanging’, trying to master the swift, fluid nuances of embroidery. We, the girls of the family, were forbidden from dating or really, anything that could have deterred us from a spot on the honour roll. My family’s encouragement motivated me to cultivate dreams, establish career goals, and expand myself.
Ironically, my brother’s daily routine was a complete contrast to mine. All he had to do was study and enjoy sports whereas even at the age of 16 , I darted from task to task in the kitchen as a cacophony of pots and pans provided background noise. I was the one to pour chaifor guests and mixed in milk that swirled like a delicate tornado. I scrubbed dishes and hummed to old Punjabi and Hindi songs as my fingers shrivelled. I too was equally talented and intelligent as my brother yet I had to pick a course at my local college rather than attending the far away university. It didn’t matter to me then because all I had in my mind was to outshine in whatever course I chose, to prove my worth and skills. I was well aware that if I lost a chance to study then, no opportunity would knock my door again. Today, I am able to manage and balance my home and work with ease. Unintentionally my parents raised me as an all-rounder ready to take up any challenge andcross any hurdle that life throws my way. In their own way, unknowingly, they ended up making me bold and independent. No amount of physical or mental pressure scares me. Unthinkingly, my brother being ‘The Laadla Beta” was kept away from the kitchen and wasn’t allowed to participate in the mundane household activities, stands handicapped and dependent at the home front today .
And we thought we were biased towards the so called ‘weaker gender’… and we thought we were doing a favour on our sons by spoiling and pampering them and raising macho men by guiding them to stay away from all the “larkiyon wale kaam”. Hey!! Have you as parents realised that you need to stop this jaundiced treatment towards your sons to make them able and complete humans to stand at par with your daughters. Ironically, your love and discipline has made your daughters unflinchingly valiant where as your sons are still at the mercy of females be it their mother, sister, wife or daughter, to look after them…..