I was assembled from parts

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When I was a kid, for a long long time I thought that the primary requirement for two people to be married was that they should have the same last name. That was until my mom told me that her maiden last name was Dutta, and that it changed to Sinha after she married my dad. I didn’t say anything, but I secretly liked Dutta better, simply because I found Utpal Dutta a lot better than Shatrughan Sinha. Also, Dutta was a common last name, unlike Sinha. I already kind of disliked “Kokonad” because it was so uncommon.

But this post is not about that.

I was a kid with a wild imagination. When I thought of child birth, I was under the impression that two people have to lie on bed together and poof, a child just happens. I had no idea how close to being correct I was. But then my question always had been – how did the baby know the parents were married? I had wondered so many times how I got there. My dad often mentioned that I was in my mother’s stomach when they went to Darjeeling and other beautiful places with my brother (I held that grudge against him for a long time and also for the fact that he ate for five years more than me). So that negated the theory of poof-a-child-just-happens. So instead, the explanation I gave to myself was that I was assembled from individual parts. I used to think that I was put together by a very able doctor and then put in my mother’s stomach to ‘fuse’. As long as the assembly was perfect with the bones aligned perfectly, the final product is commendable. My dad also kept saying that “I was almost born a girl”. See, this recurring statement of his was the one thing that reaffirmed my faith in creation-through-assembly. I thought that when they were planning on having me, they made a last minute decision in telling the doctor that they wanted a boy, and the doctor added the necessary attachments. And then I was put in my mother’s stomach yada-yada. I was only three but I found the idea of ‘fusing’ quite credible. Anyway, as I was writing this post, I decided I must know why he used to tell me that. I placed a call halfway around the world to ask him what did he exactly mean by that statement. Amidst pure confusion of being asked this question from nowhere, he told me that he was hoping to have a daughter, and got a son instead.

Like any other typical Indian family, my sex education at home as I grew up was absolutely fabulous. Yes, I know most of you will agree with me how our parents carefully and painstakingly avoided the topic of the anatomical wonder that is man (or woman). When we used to watch movies at home and there was an “ahem” scene, we used to leave the living room to drink a glass of water from the kitchen. If Durex or Whisper was showing an ad on TV during the break at prime time news, we looked distracted while our parents slyly changed the channel to see what else is on. Thanks to all the sanitary napkin ads, an acquaintance of mine was under the impression that women had blue blood. And here’s an embarrassing fact about me – when I learned about the menstrual cycle, I called up a female friend to confirm it. We have vowed never to speak of the incident again.

And here’s something I had been thinking about as I was writing this post.