June 9, 2017 09:17 AM NPT
By: Kalu Maila
I have been married for three and half years now and whenever my wife and I attend weddings, bartabandas and other social ceremonies, our relatives hover around us and begin their interrogation session regarding when we plan to have a child and make them all proud. Before I got married, the same relatives would follow me around during family gatherings and ask me when I would get married. Now that I am married, they still keep on harassing me and now my wife as well with their ‘baby’ remarks and queries.
I just keep quiet and look at my wife. She doesn’t know what to say to make the relatives keep quiet either. It’s mostly grandmothers and aunts who really want to see the face of our child before they leave the earth for the heavens. While I can feel for the grannies, I tell my aunts that they will be here for quite a while and that they can wait.
So, we both smile at the jury members and act like we didn’t hear their plea to save humanity by asking us to bring a child to this world. But my wife and I do have plans to start a family soon. She has just completed her Masters degree while I still have a year to go to finish mine. Maybe we will be ready by next year. But we both know that it will be a challenge and we want to make sure that we are prepared and not distracted by our studies or other stuff at least for the first three years of our child. If we have a son, my wife will probably name her after Salman Khan and if we have a daughter then I want to name her Devasena.
At a party we were recently at, I looked at the center stage and watched the lovely couple that was celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary. Well, if you get married in your early teens then you are more than likely to cross the 50-year mark but I know that my wife and I will consider ourselves very lucky if we even get to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. Yes, times are changing and with all the pollution, adulterated food products and stress, we might not live till the 80s like our grandparents.
The couple that was celebrating its 60th wedding anniversary had nice children. I looked at the great grandmother on stage, stood up, and mockingly saluted her. She is not only a brave woman but she must be the world’s greatest manager for being able to manage nine kids, a husband, her in-laws and the many cows and buffaloes in the village. Now, her kids are all settled in the city, are well off and lead successful lives. The couple still lives in the village because they don’t like the city life and only come to Kathmandu for family reunions and other social gatherings. After all, who really wants to live in the city where neighbors don’t know each other and the air is filthy and everything seems stale?
I tell my wife that we will have only one child or maybe two. My wife tells me that two would be fine but first let’s see how we are able to take care of the first one. Having kids need serious planning these days and we really have to thank our parents and grandparents for doing their best to raise us even with limited resources and opportunities. Sometimes, I wonder how our parents managed to save while raising kids and taking care of other relatives and still managed to build a small house in the city. Now, when I do the math, I realize that even if I save all my monthly earnings, I will not be able to afford to buy even a few annas of land in the city and then build a house. I tell my wife that we should buy one of those twenty-year-old mini buses and convert it into a mini-house and live happily ever after in the outskirts of the valley. Every time I tell her this, she gives me an incredulous look which makes me quickly realize that if I don’t stop talking about this ‘ingenuous’ idea of mine, she might soon serve me with divorce papers, or worse not talk to me for a week while living under the same roof.
But having a home is secondary to raising a kid and that’s going to create a big dent in our housing budget. When a child is ready to go school, we will have to worry about the school fees. A decent nursery school charges at least Rs 10,000 per month. And when he or she gets to first grade, the fees will double at the least. I tell my wife that we should either home school our kids or just let our child watch any YouTube tutorials that will help him or her win the Nobel Prize someday. Another incredulous glance and I shut up again. But of course, our relatives won’t be proud of our kids if and when they win a Nobel or two. They will inquire about school, college, career choices, before moving on to discuss marriage and finally it will be same question that has been haunting all newlyweds since the beginning of time: When will you have a baby?
The writer is a house husband who believes in changing, if not the world, the community he lives in one person at a time. Reach him at email@example.com