The next one will be a boy!

I never, for even a millisecond, entertained any ideas of replacing any of my three girls with a boy. It wasn’t possible because that’s what happens when you fall in love with your child the first time you carry her in your arms. The bond is unbreakable - JAGDESH SINGH

Sadhana Kaur (middle), Jagdesh’s youngest daughter, at a football practice. Jagdesh is seen at the back – Photo / YM Lee

That sympathetic look always irritated me. It was as if it was some fault of mine or my wife. And then the patronizing advice or guidance to ‘keep trying harder’. By the time we’ve had our third daughter, I’ve gotten used to it. The old ladies in the Gurudwara or at family functions or at some wedding would still dish out those “I’m sorry” looks followed by the same advice.

“The next one will definitely be a boy!!”

Some of them were mere strangers, but mostly were relatives of near and far.

I understood why. Or at least I think so. Many of these ‘uncles and aunties’ come from a generation that have witnessed the practice of dowries in their lives. Many of them came from a generation that witnessed infanticide in their Motherland, where baby girls were killed to avoid being on the wrong side of a very old, inhumane and costly custom. And so, it was ingrained in their psyche that having a female child wasn’t a very good thing, never mind that they were once little girls that survived their parents’ ignorance as well. Never mind that we were taught by our Gurus the principles of gender equality, taught of the foolishness of practices like the dowry, taught that our girls are to be warrior princesses. Never mind. I think you can sense how irked I can be with this topic.

And I’ll be very honest. I’ve always wanted a boy. But it was never to shut these aunties and uncles up, nor was it ever about being acceptable in our society made of these aunties and uncles. I simply wanted a boy because I was fanatical about football, the sport I loved. And it was perhaps a dream of mine that my son would live out my dreams of being a very good and talented player. I wanted to experience that feeling of talking about football with my son, as how my father did with me growing up.

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But I never, for even a millisecond, entertained any ideas of replacing any of my three girls with a boy. It wasn’t possible because that’s what happens when you fall in love with your child the first time you carry her in your arms. The bond is unbreakable. And so, I didn’t lose any sleep about not having a son to chat football with. Life just went on at a rapid pace.

But life also, almost always, have a funny way to making your dreams come true. It’s just that they don’t come exactly as you dreamed them. Through some wonderful and inexplainable fate, my three daughters have taken to the sport I love. To my bewilderment, they’ve taken it like any natural boy. To my utter joy, they’ve become as good or even better than many boys playing football at their age.

I was swelling with pride, my tears I very carefully concealed from anyone who can see, the day my 2 eldest daughters joined me to play football with the group of grown men I play with in the nearby field. I walked onto the field with trepidation, asking my friends of young Malay men if my two young daughters could join us that day. This is unprecedented in a rural area deep in the Klang valley, where Malay girls were shunned to even hang out with their male friends, let alone play football together. They seemed intrigued and didn’t take any exception, to my relief. But when they started encouraging my two girls, 12 and 11 years of age, to be brave and fast, my heart swelled with so much more pride. Today, they know my girls by name and coach them as if both were boys themselves. It seems my dream has indeed come true.

This experience was profound to me as I recall back those looks of pity from the aunties and uncles.

Our girls, the same ones that grow up to be our strong wives, the same ones that grow up as our sisters that make us proud, and the same ones that become the mother to our children, are to be celebrated and respected at all ages. Just like how a group of young Malay men, strangers to my daughters and of another society and culture, showed respect to my girls, we need to wake up and do the same to our own warrior princesses.

Jagdesh Singh, a Kuala Lumpur-based executive with a US multinational company, is a father of three girls who are as opinionated as their mother

* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.

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  1. Not to worry, Sir.. Please ask those detractors to watch Dangal by Aamir Khan… Obviously, they are missing out on a lot of things in life.