“I’m going to the swings”, my four year old son announced as he ran away to play. We were there at his school to attend the parents-teachers meeting. Pretty little girls stood confidently, displaying daughterly love as they held to their parents’ fingers, while most of the boys were all out in the playground. The few that remained seemed uneasy, sullen and shifty eyed. I was suddenly reminded of the old Irish saying- ‘a son is a son until he gets a wife while a daughter is a daughter all her life’. About a year ago I was searching a name for my daughter to be born, in ‘Durga Shaptshati” and other hymns for the Goddess. Our eyes would invariably turn to the girl’s section when rummaging for clothes for our son in the cloth’s shop. It seemed strange that while the dresses for the girls were of so enchantingly varied nuances, those for boys look all alike. Similar would be the feeling in the toys shop. While there were only guns and cars for the boys, the girls had an umpteen choice in dolls of various hues, besides of course other toys. Was this related to the mental makeup of the two genders, I wondered. The reaction of a female is emotional while that of a male is of resentment and irritation to a situation, it is generally believed. While he tends to break away, she clings and supports. The presence of a lady ensures sanity and discipline and makes a house a home. It effervesces grace, cheerfulness and warmth as opposed to either stifling sobriety or uncontrolled boisterousness in a male dominated house. The sister is the best medium of expression of her brother’s feelings as the boys get taciturn when emotions are to be expressed. She is a confidante of both her father and brother. No wonder it is this special relationship with the father that she judges all men by his standard. And, as the bard said through Cordelia in King Lear- “I cannot heave/ My heart into my mouth”, the relationship is inexpressible.
“He or she?” my trance was broken when the class-teacher asked, lovingly pecking on the chubby cheeks of my one year old in its mother’s arms. ‘He’, we sheepishly grinned, and she immediately lost interest in the baby’s charm and started recounting how naughty her pupil has lately been.