It was december 20th.. a dark, cold friday morning, low lying fog surrounded us as she went into labour.. The mother had some bleeding and the baby's heart rate was dropping, we were all worried about the situation but after some struggle and an assisted delivary, a beautiful baby was born, loudly protesting at the uncermoniuos way that we had welcomed her into the world..
After ensuring that the mother n child were doing fine, I handed the baby over to the nurse instructing her to initiate feeding and left..
That evening when i met the new mother i was surprised to see her quite low..I asked her what they had named the little darling, for which one of the relatives rather disinterestedly informed me, that they hadn't decided yet and asked if i could suggest one.. I named the little one 'lakshmi' explainig to the family that since she was born on a friday she would bring properity to the house..
The next day, i found the mother weeping her head off, my first instinct was to check to make sure the baby was ok and i was happy to find her peacefully asleep.. For the first time since her arrival, there was no relatives surrounding her and i slowly asked her what the problem was.. In response all i got was another fresh burst of tears.. Nothing i seemed to say or do seemed to help, finally after about an hour i left making a mental note to myself to call one of my psych friends and gather info on post partum depression and if it could present like this.
The situation din't improve over the next few days, till i finally told the nurse to inform me the minute any of her relatives turn up as i had to speak to them urgently..
Around noon i walked into the ward where the young lady sat with a women who from the family resemblance i infered to be her mother. I asked to have a word privately with the older women, and that is how i came to realize the issue.. it was a GIRL.."It's her third girl child" said the grandmother, "her in-laws are not happy about it, they are still deciding weather to take her home or not "..
"Doctor can you please take this child, vl just pretend it was never born, anyways if it grows up with u, it l have a good life.. let it be ur fees"
I had heard of people having such notions but had never really seen it, my idea of discrimination was at the level of how can you let him travel alone but not me simply cause im a girl, that in itself was way too much discrimination for me to accept.. I was shocked, dumbstuck..
I heard myself saying "Im a girl, im a doctor, i earn as much as any guy, i support my parents, wat makes you think its bad to be a girl" I knew they weren't saying anything against me, but instinctively i felt it sting like a personal insult.. So many years after independance, education, fight for equality... my glass house was shattered, i realized how much improvement my country needed, how much the mindset of people had to change..
I did all i could for that little girl, i called in the husband and in-laws and spoke to them,counseled them for days.. I don't know what happened to that family after they left the hospital... I would like to believe that i changed the mindset of atleast one of the million families, atleast for the sake of little Lakshmi...