Preet is a 36-year-old teacher in Shimla.
My husband was the only child in his family, so everywhere we went, his relatives kept asking us when we were going to have children. I'd often be told that my body clock was ticking so we should hurry.
We would normally not pay much attention to people's advice. But it was different when his mother brought up the topic of having children once in a while. We had been trying to conceive since a year, and his mother raising the subject would trigger a blame-game. And we'd end up fighting.
Longing for a boy
In the sixth year of our marriage, I conceived. I was so happy and my husband couldn’t stop smiling. It was almost as if not having a child was the only reason for our marital problems. Now that it was resolved, we were back to being blissfully happy.
As the news spread, everyone – neighbours, relatives and friends – wanted to know the sex of the baby. All I could think of was, “Does it matter? I will be a mother soon and that’s enough.” But my husband kept saying, “Ladka hoga ji, ladka!” (“It will be boy!”)
On deaf ears
I asked him why he was saying such things. He replied, “I just know it. After all is there something wrong with me that we can't have a boy? A boy will take my name forward, he will complete our family and we will never need to be embarrassed again by questions about our fertility, even if we don’t have a second child.” This left a bad taste in my mouth.
I thought of speaking to my mother-in-law so she could talk sense into him, but she seemed to want a grandson as badly. I tried to take a stand that we had wanted a child and not a girl or a boy but no one was listening to me. It fell on deaf ears. I should have foreseen what happened next but I hadn’t and it changed the course of our marriage.
As soon as it was safe and possible, my husband arranged to determine the sex of the baby at a private clinic. I wasn't told about it and when I did find out I didn't know how to react. Why was it so important for him to know the gender? I really wanted to make my husband happy and it seemed like having a boy would make me the best wife, daughter-in-law and woman in the world. I spent my time praying for the result to say that it was a boy.
I seemed to be giving the biggest exam and no amount of preparation from my end could change the result. Every time the phone or the doorbell rang, my heartbeat went ultra fast. I still remember the evening the results reached my husband. He came home gloomy as if it was the end of the world. He went straight to our room, closed the door and broke down. He was angry, sad and very disappointed.
Beginning of the end
We did not speak for days at end, his mother’s taunts became bitter while he wouldn’t react to me or eat what I cooked, our sleeping arrangements changed and my husband just ignored my very existence.
After a few days, he asked his mother to tell me to return to my parents’ house. He never came to visit me or called to enquire about me or the baby. My little girl was born and he sent me the divorce papers that very month.
Brand new life
My baby is nine years old now. I teach at a school nearby and we have built a nice life for ourselves. It had really hurt a lot then, when I had realised that I was just a means to an end and my husband didn’t even love me enough to want to try looking for alternatives to our “problem,” if you could call it that.
Of course, my parents' support and my baby’s love have helped me heal. At times, I think it’s good that my ex-husband left me. At least my girl knows full well that she is wanted and loved, although I often find myself questioning whether my ex-husband ever really loved me.
Do you think Preet's husband was right in leaving her because she was having a girl child? What should Preet have done? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below or join the discussion on Facebook.
This article was first published on 31/03/2014.