On being childfree

Draft from early 2015. I think I wanted to write about two issues that could be tied at some level. On one hand I wanted to discuss the quasi caste system as envisioned in the films below and on the other discuss the ethics of having children.

Even the most positive spin one could put on the caste system – something like it being just a template of categorizing humans in way that it’s easy for self-realization/actualization and to keep the society in equilibrium; the varna system being that macro template etc. – is still only fodder for dystopian futures for Hollywood films and rightly so.

Let us consider only a handful of them but suffice it to say that there are many more that could fit into ensuing analysis neatly. Let’s leave aside the intellectual depth of each of these films for they do not necessarily concern that larger critique – by drawing a parallel to the caste system – I’d like to present though the films themselves.

Some noteworthy films include:


Snow Piercer


On Reproduction:

I’ve written about being childfree before, but I think it’s perhaps important that I revisit it now – when I’m about to enter my mid 30s where my stand could be taken a little more seriously. Although ideally this author could well be dead and it’s the idea that needs scrutiny by the reader.
One of the most important reasons in this list is that the choice and individual makes in bringing another sentient being into this world – a system which may or may not be hospitable, its customs and believes accommodative or alien etc. – is fundamentally a gamble.

The irreversibility of the (possible) horror of childhood has to be the worst possible outcome. And I’m not even talking about children born into poverty or disability or even perceivably unfavourable conditions such as physically/sexually abusive households. As far as the argument goes the point is made already. What follows is just gravy.

It’s easier, perhaps, to start with my own childhood, but also would like to draw on those of Andre Agassi and Yuvraj Singh as they saw it well into their adulthood (I’d like to say “how they see it now”, but I’m fully aware that some of these assessments tend to rest on the fickle side of one’s mind than steady).

My earliest memory right now is the first day I was left in school by my father. I think I could recall a few moments prior to that, but it’s possibly quite corrupted by various accounts I’ve heard of since and some fully imagined. As with most children of the day I was rattled when my father left me in the classroom and started to walk away. I screamed and sobbed so much that I vomited whatever I ate that morning on the desk which prompted the ones sitting beside me to cry out as well. Not to be poetic and all but my reaction to day 1 was a sign of things to come: I wasn’t going to enjoy the next 14 years very much. (Actually, as it turned out, it was 18.)

Sparing the minutia and even some notable events, the pattern was set. I didn’t understand why I had to go to school or why I had to do homework even in the simplest sense -- which is that that’s what everybody does and you do it too or is it you do it otherwise you get the beatings. I got a hang of the beatings as a consequence of not doing homework sooner than the former. Because, I was slapped in the face with open palm (yes, I’m intentionally describing it the way it is in legal parlance vis-à-vis domestic abuse), slapped with a wooden ruler on my open palm, sometimes the calf and few knocks to my head. Usually delivered by the teacher sometimes a fellow students and myself at others (for some reason I took a lot of pride my in knocking myself hard)

Point: Childhood and something like racism or casteism have a lot in common. Much like white people who grew up in the ‘burbs without witnessing/trying to understand the horrors of racism or Brahmins with casteism, people who go through relatively uncomplicated childhoods seem to not understand the real horrors that are inherent to it. Much like the former, they too seem to believe that the system is benign and well intentioned and it’s only hands of a few bad people.


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