The saga of the second girl child makes the case for some wilful introspection by all and sundry in these heady times. In scores of low to upper middle class households, this second-person-singular happens to be the most unsolicited intruder into the peace and tranquility of the delicate domestic air.

Her arrival many a time unsettles the delicate balance of equations in households to the extend that fathers go gloomy, mothers end up cursing themselves and the elder sibling, though happy, yet unhappy over the prospects of dwindled future shares. Yet, despite the ominous presence of utrasonograms and deceitful in-laws, the second girl child makes her unpleasant mark in the households of uninspired, yet benevolent parents, even though to be eternally chided, perhaps unknowingly, over the slightest of pretexts. She is the bad omen of the ever-wavering modern middle class, not to speak of the classes lower to it. She arrives mostly at the most inopportune time when the family, after experiencing the perils of and coming to terms with the not-so-pleasant event of the arrival of the first girl child, in all desperation pins hopes on the next progeny, is all eager and hopelessly poised for the revelations of the cruel and impassionate ultrasonogram.

As the female doctor, always in hushed guilt-ridden tone, reveals the news, the father braves a smile that resembles an unshaven premier of a failed country and the mother yet again in all sobs, wilfully taking the blame for herself and future generations. Yet like in all magical societies of all banana republics, the girl survives, consistently crushed by the weight of her legacy, that is never to leave her at the least till she had set up her own household to perpetuate it still further.

Betrayal

And, alas, the egalitarian society too, the illogical legislative musings of which incidentally is the cause of this piece, despite all the rhetoric, betrays her in every significant way that law could lay hands on. Ironically enough, in the name of the girl child, it crucifies the second sibling of the same sex. Laws of the egalitarian land shamelessly stipulate that the sops for the single girl child, if ever any, vanish the moment the second girl arrives on the screen. Unlike China, where single child norm is in practice, this country has not as yet made one family one child a norm. Yet, to those who brave the irresistible temptations of ultrasonograms and intended misconceptions, life is even made harder, for the crime of deciding to opt for the hard way of the second girl.

The hapless parents are constantly at a loss to fathom why on earth the alms for single girl child vanish the moment the second sex of the same feather is born. Is it not politically correct to double the benefit when the next girl arrives at least to clear off the stigma of her birth and to offset the unbalance it creates? If, for the argument that the parents who sacrificed the benefits of a could-be male child by sticking to one girl sibling only must be compensated through law, then much in the same breath can it not be argued that the parents of the second girl child must be more vigorously lauded for resisting the temptations of female foeticide? Are not these sops for the single girl child indirectly abetting the termination of the second one of the same gender? Are not the visionaries formulating such politically correct laws not privy to the common sense that single children growing up in lonely surroundings end up problem children more often adding up staggering counselling costs to the society? Can a step in the right direction make the distance twice further? All these and more are questions that make the saga of the second girl child all the more poignant and also a true indicator of the yet another paradox of the times we are in.

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