By: FHI Kolkata Volunteer Nabodita Ganguly
Grandfather came to see me three months after I was born. He never told me the reason behind this, and preferred not to speak about it.
A few months ago, with a very candid voice he told me the reason.
“You were the second child of my son and I wanted it to be a boy,” he told me.
“Why? Am I inferior?” I asked him.
He looked at me and gave a smile. His smile reflected that he desperately wanted to have a boy in his family. Somehow, his words stayed with me and I felt a deep grudge towards society because of the way we differentiate between two genders.
This month, we went to an organization called Deena Bandhu Trust in Kolkata (which provides free education to poor children). We were representing an NGO called “Fly Higher India”. This time, we decided to show the children a video on gender equality, and speak about the same to spread awareness about the same.
After showing the video, some of the volunteers spoke about the concept of sex and gender, and how equality should prevail between two genders.
“We are all same. Man is made up of emotions; both men and women have emotions which are similar. It is wrong to say that boys don’t cry or girls cry a lot because crying is a part of displaying our emotions, and it is emotions that define us,” a volunteer told the kids.
After we all stopped speaking, we asked the children to share their experience. While initially the kids were reluctant to speak, a child kept on raising his hands and desired to speak. He was a skinny child with big eyes and a constant smile on his face.
“What’s your name?” I asked him.
“Subhankar,” he replied.
“So share your experience about the topic, Subhankar,” I told him.
“I do not understand why we differentiate a girl and a boy. Both girls and boys are important for the society and we need both of them to flourish.
Women have succeeded in all fields, and I know they will in the long run. Think about Kalpana Chawla and the way she prospered in life.
I cannot comprehend why we create the difference when there is no distinction between us,” he told us with a robust voice.
As he spoke, I identified a pain in his voice which questioned the injustice in the society.
After we finished talking about the video, we asked the kids to perform a few dance steps.
“Who wants to dance here?” I asked the kids.
Once again, Subhankar raised his hands with a big smile.
“What will you dance?” I asked him.
“I will dance Mor Bhabonare( a Rabindra Sangeet),” he told us.
“Do you learn Classical Dance?” I asked him.
“No, I learn dance steps by watching some videos,” he told us.
“Alright. Best of Luck!” I told him.
As I started playing the song, Subhankar danced with grace, with passion and infinite amount of dedication. He went on smiling and danced with joy, euphoria.
There are times in society where a boy is criticised if he starts learning classical dance and he is considered as a “girl”.
In his life, Subhankar might be questioned for doing classical dance by society, but his smile reflected his capability to fight against all odds and go on shining.
Unknowingly, he taught me how to be brave and be bold, how to go on overcoming all odds with happiness.
We are all fighting a battle in our life. There will be times when society will criticise us, create differences between the two sex, chide our choices. However, the only way to face this is to celebrate life in our own way like Subhankar does and live with ardour.
“I want to become a doctor and buy a big house. After buying my house, I’ll make one room a dance academy and teach dance during my spare time,” Subhankar told me.
I looked at him and patted his head.
“I know you’ll fulfill your dream” I replied.