All my life I have been hearing my grandmother spite my mother for the inability to bear sons. I always have been tried to rip apart merely for the existence as a girl. I appreciate my grandmother and my relatives challenging me. That has made me independent and strong, known to everyone:
No less than a son.

 

One of the earliest memories I have is of my grandmother castigating my mother in the adjoining room while I pretended to be asleep, listening but not understanding a word she was saying.

 


“You will regret not waiting for a son”, I remember her yelling, night after night.
Later I discovered that my grandmother had set a crusade against my mother as she had sterilized herself after giving birth to two daughters – thus depriving my grandmother of any future grandsons.

 


This attitude is not uncommon in Nepal. Sons are supposed to be the backbone of every family, the “pride” and the “priority”. Understanding this attitude was beyond my comprehension, but every night, as the conversation turned to full blown discussions, I was reminded of my own inadequacy.

 


“My daughters are enough for me,” my mother would calmly proclaim, while I would turn away red-facedly, pretending not to understand the diabolical comments and snide remarks. This continued for many months and the situation was tumultuous to say the least. I could see just how emotionally bruised my mother was. She used to wallow in self misery every day and get vulnerable to violent tirades. Unable to see my mother so fragile, I decided to show my relatives that believing in her daughter had been the best decision my mother ever made. 

 


The truth was I was weak at math and it bothered me. But I knew that even if math wasn’t something I could excel at, I had a knack for writing and photography. Every day, I would take my small little digital camera gifted to me by my aunt and take picture of everything and anything I liked. But it wasn’t enough. Society expected me to conform to standards of a “good student”. Getting good grades and topping the exam seemed to be the rule everyone followed. And I geared up for the challenge. “Is there anything one can’t do?” I would pose this question to myself.

 


When I reached the 7th grade, I ran for “Student Representative” and to my relatives’ surprise, I won the election. That day, I basked in the glow of my mother’s and my grandmother’s beaming smiles, and in the new-found knowledge that communicating with people and voicing my opinion gave me immense satisfaction. Then on, I started grabbing all the opportunities and didn’t blow a single chance I was given. I participated in, and mostly won, debate and essay competitions.

 


“You’re doing so well for yourself”, people would tell me. I was flooded with appreciative comments from my teachers, friends and yes, my relatives. My mother couldn’t have been prouder of the confident and determined girl I had become. 

 


Slowly but eventually, I even excelled in the one subject I used to miserably fail at: Math. I remember practicing it; so rigorously that I still wake up dreaming of sums and figures. Since then, my leadership and academic victories have increased and hopefully there will be no turning back. Today, people believe in me and congratulate my mother for her remarkable parenting skills.

 


“You’re lucky to have a child like her”, they say. I cast a glance at my mother and her radiant smile splashes waves of happiness onto my desolate shore.

 


“Maybe giving birth to your daughter was the best thing you did”, my relative utters loud and clear enough for my grandmother to hear. I wonder if it affects her at all. Will this change anything? Even if she is proud of me, will this change the mindset of the society in its entirety?

 


“Instead of getting demoralized at my relatives’ disparaging comments, I will take people’s cynical remarks as a challenge and discover my true talent”. This is what I would tell myself every day and it has got me to places I did not ever imagine being in.

 


The meek, frightened voice asking me to back off, give it up was only inside my head. Once I had the drive to prove, I did prove it indeed.

 


Today, I am here, independent and strong, known to everyone. Good grades and a talent that will take me places – I cannot thank my grandmother and relatives enough for stirring the passion in me to prove that I was no less than a son.