Tuesday, 16 December 2014
I never gave any thought to the matter of kids till my mid-twenties. As is usually the norm in India, it was understood somewhere at the back of my mind that they would come along at some point. Because they had to, and that was what you were supposed to do. Like you were supposed to go to school, to college, to work. Producing children is made out to be one of the principal reasons for our own existence.
Then I happened to go through a turbulent phase, triggered by the breakup of a long relationship, which threw up lots of actual existential questions for me. Questions that should have ideally come up much earlier surfaced now. What was my calling? What was the purpose of life? What gave me happiness? It was a period when I grew immensely as an individual.
I had not rebelled against it till then, but I had also never felt a pressing desire to have kids, even though most of my friends were marrying and becoming parents. As I discovered myself more and more, I realised this was also a question I needed to ask myself. Did I really want children?
From whatever angle I approached the issue, and kept revisiting over a couple of years, the answer was the same. Would I feel incomplete if I did not become a father? No. Did I feel something missing from my life? No. Would having a child or two hinder my independence, the thing I probably value the most? Yes.
I had seen my friends plan their entire schedules, actually their entire lives, around their children. The moment their children were born, they stopped living for themselves, assuming they had been doing that till then. They gave up the hope of doing what they had never tried, but had always wanted to. A different career. A long sabbatical. Travelling around the world. Living in a different city.
In nearly everything, the central determinant was the child, and that, for me, was the biggest issue. To give up control over several life-altering decisions for something I did not even want badly? That settled it for me.
I was prepared for the fallout. My mother warns me of the consequences of a childless (and helpless) old age. A friend even called me ‘anti-existence’. ‘What will you do with your savings?’ another asked. Some are convinced I have suffered some horrible trauma to have reached such an abnormal decision. Will I succumb to family and societal pressure? Not a chance.
There is no girl who will not want to become a mother, say many. Will I not find a partner because I do not want children? Who knows?