I Was Separated From My Loving Sisters Because Of My Father's Obsession Of Making Us His 'Sons'
My story is nothing extraordinary. It may be similar to that of an average girl child born in India, in the late 80s or early 90s. I was number four. Fourth in the series of daughters blessed upon our parents. But my being 'yet another girl child', was not the only factor which added to my father's plight.
Let me take you a bit back in time. My father was the eldest of 4 sons and 1 youngest daughter, born to an obstinate, yet rich grandfather. You see, my grandfather was a man of varied tastes, except being the taste of an ideal father figure. Hence, my father assumed that role pretty early on in his life for the younger siblings. I never got a chance to meet my grandmother for she passed away much before my parents got married. But from what I know from my father, she was an amazingly dedicated medical practitioner, a wonderful mother, and a heart-broken wife.
Her life was spent in the corridors of government hospitals and in the villages where she went to impart her services. Amidst all this, my father's only sister was left to the care of the elder brothers. I guess some of my father's love for me stems from some unknown resemblance between me and my bua.
In all this mayhem of assuming the 'father-figure' role and deciding the best for all his siblings, I am not sure what happened, and how they all grew together, but my bua grew up to be the apple of my father's eye. He has some very fond memories of braiding his sister's hair and teaching her to ride a bicycle.
Some years later, my bua passed away in her 4th or 5th year of marriage. I don't have much context as to what happened, but to my understanding, my grandmother had passed away much before her daughter gave away her life to depression. The reasons behind taking her own life is not exactly clear to me, but it was partly because of issues in her marriage and partly because her dreams of being a painter died after she married.
My father is said to have become a changed man since these two big losses in his life.Share this quote
Let's move to another flashback. My father married early, gave birth to 3 girl children, and his first wife passed away carrying the fourth. Then he married my mother and I finally joined this big family.
My mother was an established educationist, and she was the 3rd sibling among 7. She was born to Granna, who had immense interest in sports. My Granna was equally interested in material luxuries. Granna was either on the sports field or working to the bone at home. But my mother had to watch Granna lose interest in life because of paralysis, and she also had the pressure to care for her younger siblings.
When it came to her marriage, she chose to become the unwed daughter of the family, who pushed the other siblings first towards their dreams, marriages, and better lives. My mom put the bread on the table and also involved her other siblings when she first opened her educational institution. Years passed by, and her siblings also moved on in their lives to different professions.Share this quote
My Granna was more rested since my mom took over. The most I have heard about him from my mom was about his hockey tournaments or his excitement for football seasons. I guess my Granna was also pretty comfortable with the thought of having the burden now shared by another grown up and I don't think it ever occurred to either of my mother's parents, that she was the 'Daughter of the house', not the proverbial son who was meant to be the 'backbone' of the family. I wonder why, but I think in their minds, my mom was nothing extraordinary and she was doing her due. My uncles never bothered to come back home unless they had failed and needed my mother's help for something or the other again. And my grandmother always favoured her youngest son and daughter, and never failed to showcase her favourite children.
Finally, after years of being sidelined, judged harshly, been on the receiving end of partial treatments, my mom broke down and decided to get move out of her house. Being a woman out of her home, she was left very few choices for ladies in those times. My mother was the rejected girl child and her insecurities probably led her to choose my father as her husband. She probably didn't understand what she was getting into.
And that is how my life began, as the youngest of four daughters, with 3 step-sisters. I am not very close to the eldest one, but my other two sisters were the best!Share this quote
My father, however, seemed to have lost his understanding of bringing up a girl child. He was angered and probably fed up by my bua's fate and her end, and all the more devasted to see the end times of my Dadi. In short, he was so lost, that each time a child was born, he expected it to be a boy. Not because he came from the age-old traditional thinking about one's family name being furthered by a son. But from the anger towards the unjust treatment towards wives and daughters he had seen.
So, we all became rebels. Except for the eldest sister, all three of us were dare-devils of our times. I was way younger than my 2nd and 3rd sister, so I was always the protected child. But these two young girls were astonishing.
My father perhaps thought that bringing up daughters with intentional distance will make his daughters tough, and son-like. My mom was told to keep out of my step-sisters' lives! He would go to the lengths of first giving out unexplained sums of pocket money unnecessarily, and then denying basic stuff when we needed it. He would pick fights with mom who would try to teach or explain anything to the elder 3. But when he lost it, he would be more barbaric and resort to hitting us with belts, and using physical abuse to teach his own daughters a lesson!
In some twisted vendetta and for some unexplained reason, my father after being utterly disappointed with his progeny's gender, started picking his favorites too! Our eldest sister was and is his absolute favourite. I became the protected daughter, since I had not one, but two other stronger women to keep me under their wing.Share this quote
Years later, my father in his need to make his daughters stronger than ever, made extreme decisions for all the elder 3. What degrees to study, what clothes to wear, what hairstyle to keep. I once recall my 3rd sister receiving a slap, as she was dressed to go out in her friend's birthday party. She had washed her hair and curled them a bit to look pretty.
I was always the protected one, as I said. But years of this unexplained system in my home made me absolutely apolitical, non-feeling, and zoned out. Zoned out, because I was at peace in my fantasy kingdom where nothing of this sort ever happened. Ever since I realized that since I was too young to properly comfort my sisters who were twice my age, I withdrew myself from all unpleasant confrontations.
Years went by, the pressure of becoming a son out of daughter mounted on all the elder sisters, and I guess I got the hang of it way before puberty even struck me. The eldest sister eventually became so self-absorbed and heartless in the race to win favour from my father, that she started belittling, demeaning and sabotaging her younger sisters.Share this quote
My second and third sisters bore the maximum brunt of this hellish behaviour. And one by one, they took their lives, but not before they fought all-hearts in. The 3rd sister succumbed to my father's constant beating and for speaking her mind out. One day she felt she would fail in a national entrance exam for engineering. She swallowed pills to destroy pests in grains before the results were even out!
The second sister became quieter, but more reckless with her life. She had been the ideal girl, soft spoken, master of all trades, an amazing painter. And she rebelled with absolutely sh** boyfriends. She once told me, that my father had spit on her in a moment of rage, that he "wished his burden was lessened... 4 daughters and only one was worthy."
She left home against my father's orders, married a guy whom she had known only a couple of days, and within 5 years of their marriage, she hung herself by the fan, leaving behind two young kids.
My brother-in-law had fallen out of love with her, stopped seeing her for some time, even stopped financially supporting his own family, and she being the role model child ever, was still trying to manage everything to the best of her ability. I was lucky that she chose to connect with me some days prior to her death... and I am never going to be able to thank God enough for those times.
We were making plans to meet outside the house. Mom had managed to track her down and for the first time ever, my mom was taking the big step to bring a daughter back home. My father's wrath had lessened by then too. After all, apart from the eldest being married (against her wishes), the two other burdensome daughters had already left the nest.
But we never got the opportunity to see my third sister. A week after I had spoken with her, she took her own life. My brother-in-law was strong enough to call and share that. He had verbally abused her because her father and her family "were the lowliest of people". I was amazed and equally enraged by the balls of this man who was howling at the loss of his wife, yet telling us what had triggered her to take such a step!
Upon hearing this, my father went into his own world. He now blames everyone for the loss in his family. My mother, who was pushed out of home for trying to support the deceased sisters every time, me for being the one who added to problems, and rarely his own destiny.Share this quote
However, he has stopped adding to any of my pains. I am brutal, but the fact is, my gain came from the loss and immense pain from the daughters who succumbed to our family. We chat sometimes, but I have this huge void inside, in the place where my father's love used to be. But since I am the only cuckoo left, I sometimes feel the need to be there to at least try fulfilling the unspoken dreams of my parents of having a normal child with normal dreams.
I had no part in picking my gender upon birth, neither did any of the other girls in any of our families. But how does an entire family suffer because of one parent's prejudice? How is it easy to push a girl child to the point of breaking every time? Why is it easy for people to treat a girl child and a boy child differently, yet make unreasonable demands only from the girl child? How twisted and unreal this has been! But I have lived through it all.
I am sometimes jealous of happy girl-child empowerment stories.Sometimes I thank my stars for being in better position than the less fortunate. But I do understand that it's no easy business to be a girl child, not for Gen X or Y, nor for the millennials.Share this quote
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