Deprived? I never felt that way. Ours was a family where everything was shared. Happiness, sadness everything. Ours was a family where papa after mealtimes, would check which mango/es had ripened, then take out the knife and divide into five and distribute. When the going was tough, there were 3 shares for my sister, me and my brother and nothing for them-the parents. That’s the way it was. Never was my brother given more because he was a son, never were we given less because we were daughters. But then arrived a family in our street, a family with three children, same like us. Eldest the ‘prodigal’ son, the other two daughters. The best was always kept for him, the best fruit, the largest portion of food, the best clothes. No bother if he was doing badly at school and busy learning ‘goondaism’, no worries if he was already at 12 addicted to ‘Pan parag’. The other two girls excelled at school-studies, sports everything and came home to homework and housework and minimum food. Why? Because after all they were girls and there is always a risk in giving ample food and good food to girls…… they matured faster. That meant that there figure matured too and then that would mean better clothes and they would have to begin groom hunting too. And then care would have to be taken for their safety too. Such a bother isn’t it. Better to keep them undernourished.

The eldest girl was my classmate, she arrived one day when I was throwing a tantrum because the food was not to my liking. She saw me and said , ” Itna accha khana aur tu chilla rahi hain? Maa naaraz nahi hoti?” (Such nice food and you are screaming. Won’t your mother get angry?). For her a girl throwing tantrum for food was a shock.

This happened in the 80s. But for some girls in some families the situation still continues. When will we understand that girls are humans too?

However the girls did well, the last that I heard was that my classmate became an engineer, the younger one an IAS and the boy…….well he is somewhere in Bihar with a lath in his hand