My marriage was an inter-caste marriage. Living in a metro city twenty years back, it was not earth shattering event in the society. But then every thing has consequences and I have had to bear them. Good consequences and bad consequences. Of course that will be a topic for altogether a different story. So I will stick to this small incidence. 

My father-in-law was working in the ammunition Factory, Khadki and was at a reasonably good post. He is a well educated and a cultured fellow. A loving husband to his wife and a loving father to his children. He has no vices and is has lived and still living a straight forward and a simple life. 

My wife and me were sort of outcasts for a few years after marriage. In the sense that neither of our respective families supported us. Though they were quite antagonist initially my in-laws were more accommodating later on. Overtime the anger cooled down and the feelings changed slowly towards acceptance and later to genuine affection and mutual respect. 

Two years after marriage we had our first child a boy. We enjoyed watching him grow up, though we were not very well-off financially. Few years down the line we decided to go for a second child. Our son was 5-6 years old that time. The rationale for the having a second child was, that we were a bit of social outcasts in our respective communities due to the inter-caste marriage. And we had an idea that it would better that our only son would have someone to call his own after we were gone.  A random thought, maybe a bit irrational and impulsive. But that was our thought process at that time. 

During the second pregnancy we were in a better condition financially and emotionally and could enjoy it. Had already bought a house(apartment) on loan and were reasonably doing well in our respective career.

My wife who is a Pediatrician worked throughout the pregnancy up until the day she delivered the second baby. She used to drive to her Consulting with her pregnant tummy almost banging into the steering wheel. She used to work throughout the day, see patients and come in the evening by 9.30 pm. Tired, but happy. She used to carry out her household work along with her professional duties efficiently. During the pregnancy she had some medical problems, nothing serious and they were taken care of. 

We as a couple wanted a girl child first time but that didn’t happen. So throughout this second pregnancy we used to dream that we would have a girl child. We were quite young and naive. I used to tell my wife that i would like to have a cute girl like her. A beautiful girl. And an angelic girl. And we used to dream together about dollying her up and dressing her up, as she would grow into a beautiful girl. Whenever me and my wife were sitting together, the topic would invariably veer towards the sex of the unborn child and we would wish and pray that this time God should grant us a girl child. We even had short listed names. And we used to argue a lot about the names. Wow ! Those were the dreams and those were the days.

As the day came near we were busy in organising things at home for the post delivery management. One evening we had gone for a check up at our obstetricians clinic. After the clinical examination he told us that my wife needs to be admitted for the delivery tomorrow as the pregnancy was past the due date now. 

Next day admitted my wife in the hospital and I have a very hazy memory of the sequence of events as things moved on very fast. She was shifted to the labor room after some time and had a normal delivery. I was in the delivery room throughout the process. The doctor announced the sex of the baby which coincided with our baby’s first cry. I was expecting a girl but then God had different ideas. The second baby was also a male child. The new born baby was immediately wrapped up by the nurses as it was winter season and whisked away towards the Pediatrician who was waiting to do the check up.

I hardly had any time to think as I was occupied with my wife’s situation.  Everything went on fine and both the mother and the baby were shifted out of the delivery room to the room. 

Hardly had any time to think, as by then the process started. Feeding the baby. Cleaning the poo. My mother in law was there. And she did the needful. Took great care of the mother and the baby. I was only a observer and a handy man for small errands. Like buying medicines, buying diapers, etc,. And we were discharged from the hospital in three days. Life went on busily as busily it can be. 

Now this incidence doesn’t end there. After many days I don’t remember the exact time, my wife told me that her father was extremely overjoyed that we had Male baby. In fact he had gone and prayed to many gods in many temples. As is the custom in India he had prayed to God that if his wish is fulfilled then he would be offering something in return. I asked my wife, “But why?”  

The answer that she gave touched my heart and shook me from my roots both at the same time. My father in law had four daughters. Had gone through the grind of marrying them off. And he thought that a girl who is of a product of intercaste marriage, would find it difficult to find a suitor. And even if a suitor is found they might make undue demands(dowry). It was his plain and straightforward thinking which was based on the experience he had during his daughters weddings. He had gone through hell, as any father of a girl in India has to go through during fixing up and organising the marriages of his daughters. And he didn’t want his daughter and his son-in-law to go through that. 

It touched a nerve in me. I had no words to react with. Because the situation, even though one might think of as regressive is the most horrible situation in the country. Every girls father has to go through hell. I would not go into the specifics of it but finding a suitor, accepting the demands, arranging for funds, bear the humiliation and still be smiling throughout the ordeal has been well experienced in Indian households and is also a well known national secret. 

It angered me, that the socio-cultural atmosphere is such that a rational and educated person had his thoughts changed. Changed in the name of culture. Changed in the name of society and Changed in the name of caste. The reverse is also true. A perfectly normal men when arranging their sons wedding turn into impossible monsters. All in the name of the traditions and culture. 

Every body talks about economic development, education and technological progress but these regressive things are always quietly and efficiently brushed under the carpet. And as Robert Frost has said, “In three words I can some up everything I’ve learned about life: Life goes on”. He couldn’t have been more correct. Yes life goes on with some cosmetic changes here and there but without any significant change in the sufferings of the people.