“The good news!” – The life of every married Indian woman
Here are the lives of 4 women who were constantly asked for “the good news”.
Tina- a tale of PCOS: A young woman of 25, Tina was a beautiful girl, talented, who worked as a recruitment HR in a big MNC. She had been married to Rohit for 6 months after a romantic 5 month courtship. Their marriage had been wonderful with both of them cooking together, watching TV shows together, having wonderful physical and emotional relationship, having lovely little fights and enjoying every single moment together. The lovely 2-bedroom was their heaven on earth. And then came another wedding in the family. Weddings are happy events and a big, fat Indian wedding is the one place where the entire family gathers and many “well-meaning” relatives try to offer “wonderful words of wisdom”. And that’s when the aunt-in-law comes up to the Tina, the bright, cheerful, dancing to the music Tina and asks “Hey Tina, you have been married for 6 months, when are you going to give us ‘the good news’?” Tina’s bright, cheerful face immediately lost its colour. She didn’t tell that she had been battling Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). She didn’t tell that she had been trying to get pregnant ever since the day she got married. She didn’t tell that during every skipped period, she had hoped for the two-pink lines on the pregnancy test kit, only to realize that it was because of the PCOS that her period had skipped. She didn’t tell the physical and emotional struggle she went through every single day. She just wished that people would stop asking her about “the good news”.
Ranjani- a tale of choice: The 35-year old dancer, tall and beautiful, slim and graceful, was running a successful dance school, along with her husband, Hemanth, another 35-year old handsome dancer. Life seemed perfect for this wonderful couple. Their school had over 300 students at any given time and their lives were revolving around these children. They travelled far and wide taking their talent all around the globe. The students always referred to Ranjani as “amma” and she loved it, no matter when they were little 6 year olds or grown 20 year olds. In her heart, she was indeed their amma. Ranjani and Hemanth threw a big party for their 10th wedding anniversary. Ranjani’s younger sister, Vanitha, had come from Germany along with her three kids, her twin 4-year old boys and the lovely little 1-year old girl. Ranjani was greeting her guests, when she heard hushed conversations amongst a group of people, “They have been married for 10 years now, still childless. Do you know women cannot conceive if they are over 35? She has been dancing since she was a child. I heard somewhere that too much of dancing makes a woman infertile. Why is she throwing such a lavish party when she doesn’t even have a child as a reward for their 10-year marriage?” Ranjani couldn’t believe her ears. The same people who had openly appreciated her dancing and who had expressed their happiness for Ranjani’s 10th anniversary, were talking behind her back with baseless beliefs about childbirth. She was so upset that she went over to Vanitha’s little girl and picked her up, in the hope that no one would see the pain on her face. Vanitha came over and said “Akka, you are 35 years now. You are very successful. Why are you not planning to make your life complete with a little bundle of joy? Don’t you see how my kids fulfil my life and don’t you think you need that kind of fulfilment? When are you going to give ‘the good news’?” Ranjani didn’t tell her sister that her life was fulfilled even beyond what Vanitha would imagine it to be. She didn’t tell that Hemanth and she had decided that they did not want to have children of their own, not because they could not, because they did not want to. Ranjani and Hemanth had 300 children who filled their lives with absolute joy. She just wished that people would stop asking her about “the good news”.
Preeti- a tale of miscarriage: Preeti was this 31 year old home maker, the eldest daughter-in-law in a joint family, living with 8 other people in the house. A typical soap opera family: with the grand-mother-in-law holding the reigns of the family, a successful family business, with the father-in-law heading it and the 2 sons following suit, a young unmarried college going sister, a doctor second daughter-in-law and 2 lively grandchildren. Preeti took care of the needs of the entire family, assisting her mother-in-law in day to day activities. Since her doctor sister-in-law was busy most of the time, Preeti had to take of the children at home. She was more like a mother to those kids and took care of their every need. Everyone in the family adored Preeti, however, never failed to tell her “Don’t worry Preeti. You are not old. You will have kids one day. You will also be happy one day”. Preeti was happy. However, she often wondered if she shouldn’t be. Preeti was married when she was very young, at 19. The family’s happiness found no bounds when she became pregnant within 2 months of the wedding. The first ultrasound was like magic to her. The heartbeat was like the sound of music. Everyone pampered over the young Preeti. But, within the next 15 days, something went wrong. She bled a little and was immediately rushed to the hospital. All that the doctor could say was “I am sorry. There is no longer a heartbeat”. Preeti cried for months. Her young heart couldn’t bear the loss. No one understands a miscarriage better than someone who went through it. The moment you find you are pregnant, you start feeling like a mother. And statements like “It’s ok. It happened within a few weeks. It’s not a baby, it’s just a fetus”, just kills the mother. And that’s what it did to Preeti. But months turned to years, and Preeti became pregnant again at 24. This time she was not joyful, she did not celebrate. She was scared. She was extra cautious. However, this pregnancy did not work out for her either. She miscarried at 13 weeks. Preeti didn’t cry much this time. She gave herself time for recovery and then drowned herself in family responsibilities. When her brother-in-law had the two children, she devoted her life to taking care of them. As she was packing lunch boxes for the kids in the morning, her young sister in law came in and said “Don’t worry Bhabhi. Very soon, you will be packing the lunch boxes for your own kids. You will give us ‘the good news’ soon”. She didn’t tell her that she did not want to try for another pregnancy. She didn’t tell her that was not ready to face another loss. She didn’t tell her that she had made her peace with it. She just wished that people would stop asking her about “the good news”.
Samira- a tale of infertility: Samira was a bubbly 29-year old baker who owned a lovely little bakery. She loved baking and had amazing spreads of cakes, pastries, brownies and pies. No one could walk past Samira’s bakery without being attracted in like a nail to a magnet. Azhar, her husband was a senior manager at a car showroom and Samira’s cakes were always a centerpiece at the showroom, for his colleagues and customers. Samira’s mom constantly stopped by her bakery, not to taste or appreciate her daughter’s cakes, but to criticize her inability to bear her a grandchild. Samira’s mother-in-law was not supportive either. She silently watched all the dirt thrown at Samira. Azhar was her only son and the thought of not having a grandchild made her very disappointed. Though she did not openly criticize Samira, she instigated Samira’s mother against her. It was just another of those afternoons when Samira was happily baking a cake for her cousin’s kid’s birthday while her mother in law sat at the back of the bakery, reading a book. Samira’s mom walked in on one of her usual visits and started her chant, “Samira, look at the two of us (pointing to her mother-in-law). Azhar and you are our only children. We both have been longing for a grandchild for the past 5 years. Why are you not going to the doctor? Why are you not listening to us? When are you going to give us ‘the good news’?” She could see her mother-in-law shaking her head. She did not tell them that she had been to the doctor. She did not tell them that it took her 3 years to convince Azhar to go to the doctor. She did not tell them that Azhar’s sperm count was low. She did not tell them they unsuccessfully went through two IVF procedures. She just wished that people would stop asking her about “the good news”.
Samira closed her store at 9:00 PM for the day and went in to her private lounge where she can unwind and relax for sometime before Azhar comes home at 10:00 PM. The smell of freshly baked brownies filled the air as the door opened. In walked her best friends Tina, Ranjani and Preeti. The 4 of them had their tales, but they did not share. They just understood. As they talked and laughed and enjoyed the tasty brownies, all they did was wish that people would stop asking them about “the good news”