I am blessed with two beautiful and healthy kids, a son and a daughter and I can never thank enough, the Almighty for bestowing me with his ultimate blessings in shape of these two bundles of joy. My wife and me have been enjoying the process of raising these two kids. The kids too have enjoyed the attentive patronage as they, being the only son and only daughter, have faced no major challenge to resources or to the attention from us. We have been able to impart good education to them till now and are happy with their progress, physically and in education.
But, off late I have been thinking that why did we (my wife and me) limit our family to just two kids? Why just two? Why? Why should we not learn from ultra glamorous Angelina Jolie and super hunk Brad Pitt, who are having and raising 6 kids. While having one or two might have been fashion statement of 80s or even 90s, it does not seem to be so ‘happening’ right now. We are not in China either, where state will punish you for having more than one kid and in fact ven they have evolved many relaxation clauses in hitherto strictly enforced two child policy. So why have we stuck up with one or two? Are we out of sync with the reality? What was preventing us from making life more meaningful and happening?
My parents had five of us, three sons including me and two daughters. Therefore, I grew up with four other siblings in a two room house in a typical unplanned middle class locality in city of Lucknow. My father being in an ordinary job in central government struggled to raise the family in a decent manner. He was particularly very conscious about the education we got and the targets we set for ourselves. There was a paucity of resources, but his perseverance matched by the lead taken by her daughters in raising the performance bar higher, eventually led to all five of us doing rather well. It has been a great satisfaction to him and ever since his retirement some twenty years ago, he has been living a life of contentment and satisfaction. The satisfaction of five kids doing well and with scores of grandchildren milling around him often, has been enjoying his life. This has in fact given him a moral and confidence boost to stay healthy and fit. He is still in a good position to take good care of us and he is very proud of that.
Now, entering into fifth decade of my life at 43 plus, I sometimes do wonder, if I have taken the right decision to limit my family to two? Was this the best choice I had? Why not ‘five’ like my parents had? What has led me to believe that hum do, hamare do was the only right decision? How the decision could be right if all five of us have got so much success with meager resources? Why my kids should not have the pleasure of being brother to another brother and sister to another sister. Have we not deprived our kids from the pleasure of living in a fuller family? Why did we really deprive them of something of which we cherish most- the pleasure of being five?. I have been pondering over this question for last few years but could not reach a conclusion yet and may be it is getting late every other day to become a father again. Really?
If I had five, then? By now my three sons and two daughters (no biases with number of sons or daughters, it can be three daughters and two sons or all five daughters or sons also) would be studying in the same school, where my two, study right now. They would have been like in class 9, class 7, class 6, class 5 and class 4. A son in class 4 when his father is 43? So what? I have still 17 more years of my government job and with the seniority and salary increasing every year, the oldest and youngest would have been taken good care, for sure. If 5 of us could get best education in Lucknow, the same would have been true for my 5. Best education is always not most expensive. We all know that if you have an army of just one less than half a dozen kids, most schools will give you great discounts and you can be availing almost attractive offers like buy(teach) 3 and get(educate) 2 free offer from the same school!.
Raising many children with small age difference only can be lot of fun and convenience too. The clothes of children particularly blazers and jackets can all be used and reused years after years, for the kids. If you decide to shop afresh, you can avail discounts at all shops when you buy a stockpile of dresses. You are most likely to get the thok ( lower prices due to higher volume) prices for any shopping you do, be it of cloths or of books. I still can recall memories of me and my elder brother wearing same print shirt and pants stitched by the same tailor in those days of limited ready-made clothing. When we ventured out and we did this quite often, the people from a distance could recognize that we were brothers. It was such a great sight to be be together and be seen together. The strength and confidence comes from numbers also.
Presuming that education is the big task and consumes a lot many resources, its equally true that too you can pass on the baton of books from one kid to next with precision and with precious notes. The books of the previous class of a senior student is always in demand and if you have 5 at home, nobody from outside would dare even to ask for the books of the family. You will saving thus, lots of trees too! The bigger families are greener families therefore. For travelling too, one can hire an entirely exclusive van or rickshaw for transporting kids, to and fro from school and avail the pleasure of having a family committed transport, with minimum costs. You can really maximize the benefit of having five. One has to just know the economies of scale therefore.
Recently my niece did her MBBS from Armed Forces Medical College Pune and studying in an army medical college paid no fees in almost 5 year. With army even travelling is free. So money is not the sin qua non for sure. It can be key thing however only when you decide to ‘buy’ rather than merit or ‘earn’ a seat for your son or daughter from some entrepreneurial business or medical college. With guaranteed Right to Education, one need not worry much, nowadays. The government here may not be as resourceful as French or Scandinavian, who encourage officially their citizens to procreate more, but is still ready to take a good care of us.
The fondest memories of our lives are when we were kids. The popular ghazal rendered beautifully by late Jagjit Singh- Yeh daulat bhi le lo, yeh shohrat bhi le lo, bhale chhin lo mujhase meri jawani, magar mujhko lauta do bachpan ki yaaden……woh kagaz ki kashti woh baarish ka paani celebrates childhood. We as five, fought often had these great memories of togetherness including when we fought too and got bruised even. The fights sometimes got bigger and caused even collateral damages sometimes like a missing tooth. But this also gave us the confidence to face the real world. We had seen all sorts of fights to be scared on streets. We were damn confident.
The revelry created in a family by presence of many kids is really awesome. At the time of festivals like Holi, one would really thank God for being with him or her in form of these little angels. When these kids come in front of you with all sorts of colors with their faces and bodies smeared in color, you can’t stop yourself from feeling like heaven. Same revelry and festivity can not be created by single or two children policy.
I have noticed, unlike us, today’s kids get frightened by the scene of even a pin prick blood. There parents panic even more. The reason may lie in complete lack of exposure to the realities of life. Parents blessed with just one or two can’t think of taking a risk. They become too paranoiac and too possessive and more often than not stunt kids’ natural growth coming from a natural ‘Charles Darwinian world’. And then, suddenly these kids go out in real world and have to share and even fight for best resources, may be like in a hostel, they panic. When you were the only kid in the house and had nobody to challenge your monopoly, you are bound to be culturally shocked to be in the real big world. The single kids, had no competition say for twenty years and now they face a country of no less than 1200000000! What a great reality check.
One more advantage we in multi-siblings house is that out of many siblings at least one or other at a time can live with parents. In many highly successful families you will find father and mother living comfortably but alone and without the social-familial support of their own kids. Only those with many kids can have the highest probability to enjoy the sunset years of their life with care and dignity in the company of their own kids and their families. Also, kids and subsequently their kids gain in the process and become the repository of accumulated family treasure of knowledge and experience. No Harvard or IIM can impart you, what you learn in the family management school. The accumulated knowledge which parents have and are eager to bequeath is surely one treasure which is not to be missed. Its a high premium asset and is more possible when you were five or may be even more.
To find more reason, during my government postings, I have been often bemused by one of very frequent sightings of a slogan written on employee Union’s flag- sanghe shakti kaliyuge. It literally means that in Kaliyug it’s the ‘number’ which gives you strength. This slogan used by unions is reflective of reality in a sense that if you have 5 siblings married and procreating dutifully, you are most likely to have a close knit blood related group of 60 to 70 persons. You can chose a successful son in law or a daughter in law as well. In this group, you may have doctors, engineers, lawyers, administrators, police officers, architects, fashion designers, contractors, interior designers and not to be ignored politicians. A baba or yogi is also a big hit. Believe me, you need them all, if you want to navigate through the needs of life, day by day and night by night. But this home made luxury is available only if you have done enough (procreation in your hey days!) to have this. Otherwise be prepared to bear astronomical costs of availing their services. Those who have paid for services of these very professionals, know by now that it makes more sense to spend on education and upbringing of your own five kids than paying these persons at market cost.
So, why despite these obvious advantages, we are not onto paths of having more in house talents. The hesitation and that what would people think of you and potential lack of resources may be big hurdles. But, interestingly, that very section of the society which can afford the education and upbringing of five or more, is more laggard or shy in having many children, than those who may have financial constraints and still have many. Therefore those who have it (literally) should rise to the occasion and contribute to the society and nation, before its too late. I need to act fast. Yeh Dil Maange More!
Is your dil (heart) too, demanding more?