Results of researches have telling effect on ‘spirited’ minds. If the researches have their origin in the West, in the Americas, in particular, their findings and conclusions are looked at with even greater awe––seldom questioned. “If a pearl of wisdom comes from that half of the world, it must a gospel truth.” This sort of reverence to things western doesn’t really matter so long as it moulds social behaviour favourably in other parts of the world. Now look at this one, which caused a little tsunami in the bar next-door yesterday and swept one away.
The three had got together for a usual round of drinks. It was a ritual they followed once a week; and each of them had the tacit approval of their better halves for it. They had barely downed their first small when the banner scrolling past on the large 55-inch LED screen caught Kapil Malhotra’s eyes:
“Women Who are Stressed During Pregnancy More Likely to Have Girl Child, Claims Study.”
He couldn’t but draw the attention of the other two towards the screen. They turned their heads and were all ears. It was science news. The news caster said with a straight face: “A study by researchers led by Catherine Monk at New York-Presbyterian/ Columbia University Irving Medical Center has concluded that women with high physical (or physiological) stress gave birth to four boys for nine girls, a ratio of 4:9. In case of mental stress, the conception ratio of boys to girls was 2:3. According to Ms Monk, wombs are an influential ‘first home’ for babies and conditions of the womb deeply impacted the sex and health of the foetus. Women who undergo stressful pregnancies are more likely to give birth to a female child rather than a male.” After a pause, she added, “The research brings out that traumatic events have been known to affect the male birth rates. President Kennedy’s assassination and 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City were cited as examples. The research has re-iterated the age-old wisdom that trauma sometimes results in premature childbirths and discontinuance of pregnancies, in extreme cases. Therefore, providing moms-to-be with adequate care and understanding in the families and workplaces was important for healthy pregnancies.”
That triggered an ‘intellectual’––if it can be called that––discussion.
Karan Juneja was the first to open his mouth, “I read in the Washington Post some years ago that overall, there are slightly more men than women in the world. According to 2015 estimates by the United Nations, there are 101.8 men for every 100 women, with the number of men rising gradually each year since 1960.”
He paused for a while till the other two absorbed what he had just said, and continued, “Does that mean that women are generally happy the world over and becoming happier by the day?”
It was time to order another drink. Each was for a ‘large’ this time, as the interest grew in the subject under discussion. Somewhere in the process, the ‘during pregnancy’ part of the research was left out. The correlation that lingered in the three minds now was between ‘women’s state of mind’ and the ‘sex of the babies.’ It was like: ‘Happy women give birth to boys; stressed women, to girls.’ Period.
For once, the three were on the same side, supporting each other with crumbs of wisdom. While the other two were munching peanut-masala and Uncle Chips and the barman was busy putting ice cubes in the third lot of drinks, Ajith Aiyar took time to quickly surf the net on his recently acquired One Plus Seven smartphone. He discovered that a map by the Pew Research Center with recent UN data suggested that men and women are distributed unequally around the globe. In former Soviet republics, for example, women outnumbered men. There are more men than women in Asia, Arab countries and Northern Africa.
“Women in Russia and the former Soviet Republics are the most stressed in the world because in those countries, the sex ratio favours women. They are happier in Asia, Arab countries and Northern Africa,” Ajith put forward his point.
More wisdom flowed out as more single malt flowed in. By the time they parted at midnight, Karan, otherwise so eloquent had become unusually silent. Something was playing on his mind as his thoughts ran way ahead of his staggering feet. He had drawn an odd extra conclusion, and taken a decision, based on the evening’s discussion in the bar.
He surprised a sleepy Sheela with an unprecedented warm embrace when she opened the door for him. “What had brought about that change in Karan,” she wondered, as she adjusted the blanket over their year-old daughter sleeping blissfully in her cot.