"When are you planning to have a child?"
"You're almost 30. You don't have much time left."
"SoAndSo didn't plan. Look how long it took her to finally conceive."
"Have a baby while you still can."
Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock.
Many women who've spent upwards of one month or so of being married, have probably heard some of these questions. Or variations of them. Mothers, well-meaning aunts, nosy neighbours, relatives thrice removed who are confused about how-to-small-talk, and even couples who accidentally got pregnant a few months into their marriage - you are a target for everyone.
Which is weird, and awkward because what they're essentially questioning is whether or not you're having sex regularly. For a country that sweeps sex under the rug the same way one sneakily sweeps a dead bug that shows up when a guest is around, isn't asking a couple if they're having sex rather odd?
Once you're above 25, people want to get you married. Once you're married, becoming a baby vending machine becomes your first and foremost duty. Nobody asks couples whether they want kids.
Maybe they do. Maybe they don't. Ask, maybe?
Yesterday, Jennifer Aniston, Rachel Green to F.R.I.E.N.D.S. fanatics, penned a blog titled 'For the Record' stating that she's not pregnant. This outburst came after years and years of tabloid speculation over every weight gain, every loose-fitting tee, every photo-op where she didn't have a flat stomach.
Because women only allowed to gain weight when they're about to pop out a child, right? That a 47-year-old woman would want to focus on her career and not have kids as per the paparazzi's schedule doesn't seem to have gone down well with some in the press.
This morning we woke up to the news that Rajdeep Sardesai has interviewed Sania Mirza on India Today TV, also simultaneously proving that the sexism issue in India is no different. With his foot firmly lodged in his mouth, Sardesai asked the Rank 1 doubles tennis player:
"Amidst all the celebrityhood, when is Sania going to settle down? Is it going to be in Dubai? Is it going to be in any other country? What about motherhood... building a family... I don't see all that in the book, it seems like you don't want to retire just yet to settle down."
She's the top ranked WTA doubles tennis player in the world. She has 37 WTA doubles grand slam wins under her belt. This phenomenal woman writes an autobiography, Ace Against Odds, and you want to talk to her about family planning? Jeez.
Thankfully, you don't do what Sania does year in and year out without being an absolute firecracker of a human being. Sania's response was: "You don't think I'm settled?"
On behalf of all married women who don't appreciate society clocking their reproductive system, thank you Sania.
But like that persistent nosy neighbour who cannot take a hint, Rajdeep carried on.
R: "You don't talk about retirement, about raising a family, about motherhood, what is life beyond tennis is going to be..."
S: "You sound disappointed that I'm not choosing motherhood over being number one in the world at this point of time. But I'll answer your question anyway, that's the question I face all the time as a woman, that all women have to face - the first is marriage and then it's motherhood. Unfortunately that's when we're settled, and no matter how many Wimbledons we win or number ones in the world we become, we don't become settled. But eventually it will happen, not right now. And when it does happen I'll be the first one to tell everybody when I plan to do that."
Ashes and dust, and red-faced meme-status embarrassment - that's what Mirza reduced Sardesai to. Slow though he may be, Rajdeep finally understood the point she was trying to make: back off. Apologising, he admitted meekly that he'd never ask a male athlete such questions.
True that. You wouldn't. No human would, in fact. For working, married men rarely get hounded by the make-a-baby-brigade. Think about that. All that talk about equality, liberalism, empowerment leads to just one thing - choice. And that's the only thing we're settling for - the right to enforce our own personal choices.
To have a child, or many, and when to have them is a couple's prerogative. To not have a child is also our choice. Get your collective heads out of our biological clocks. We don't care if it's ticking.
Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock.
Edited by Abha Srivastava