“Why I choose to be childfree” – Suchismita Dasgupta

Posted: August 17, 2015 in Art, Children, Indian Women, Men, parenting, Women, WPrightnow
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Suchismita Dasgupta

Suchismita Dasgupta

“… I think that childfree by choice is the new gay. We’re the new disenfranchised group. People think we’re irresponsible, immoral sluts and that our lifestyle is up for debate.”

Suchismita Dasgupta wrote this on her Facebook wall a few days back. I was not surprised though. She is someone who has always spoken her mind and not always done exactly what society expected her to do. That is why Suchismita, though happily married, has decided not to be a mother.

In this post Suchismita, in her inimitable bold style, has penned her thoughts on being childfree in Indian society:

What’s a good reason to have a child?

Yes, it’s a bit tiring! I got married at 33 and have been hearing since I was 23 when am I going to get married? Then around 30, if I don’t get married now then when will I have kids? Then 7 years after getting married, I am still told ‘but you will make such a wonderful mother’ or ‘you will miss them when you are older’ or ‘it is so selfish not to have a child’ or ‘who will look after you when you are old?’. It has always made me wonder are these reasons good enough to have a child when you and your partner do not want one?

My masseuse came today for the first time. Yes I am 41 and till now didn’t think massage was important. Anyway coming back to the point, she asked me my age etc. and then children? When I replied that I don’t have any her next question was ‘naoni na hoyni’, literally translated it means, you haven’t taken one or it didn’t happen???!!!

How can a child just “happen”?

I find this word ‘happen’ extremely infuriating. In India everything seems to be happening to you. Marriage happens to you, child happens to you, misfortune happens to you and the list is endless. As if we are a bunch of reproduction machines, programmed to get married, consummate the same and reproduce. If you have not done any of them, then you are an irresponsible person bringing shame to the family.

Am I supposed to feel guilty for not having a maternal instinct?

I once had a conversation with a woman; she and her husband adopted a girl when she was about 40. This was soon after our marriage and she took it upon herself to tell me how important having children was. When I told her that I love children as long as they go back to someone else’s home, she said I was plain selfish, someone who doesn’t like children is not worth talking to. Now that suited me fine, I really didn’t care but it made me wonder how patriarchal and institutionalised this whole thought process was. I am sure there would be many (in my shoes) who would have felt guilty after this conversation for not having a lot of maternal instinct.

Suchismita in a Nextiles creation

Suchismita wearing her own design

It’s a well-thought out decision made by two people

In seven and a half years of marriage my husband and I both asked each other many times if the other really wanted a child and was not saying that because of the decision we took jointly and each time after a lot of discussion and deliberation the answer has remained the same. I still think to myself sometimes what if? But then I realise I am too settled in my life as it is right now; there’s no reason why I should change it! It might be for better or for worse but since I do not feel the urge to change it, I won’t do it and I don’t think I owe this to anyone either.

I think there should be a reason to have a child

Everyone should have a reason to have a child. A child should not just ‘happen’ to you because that’s the way you have known things to ‘happen’. Some of my friends and acquaintances have given birth to a ‘bandaid’ child; they gave birth because they think the child will save their relationship.

I feel instant pity for the poor child and the baggage it is born with. Added to this will be the pressure to perform and cope with the constant competition between the parents for attention.

A child is not born to fulfill dreams

Many parents want to fulfill their unfulfilled dreams through their children. I know someone who tells his two-year-old daughter that she has to become a doctor. I see parents treating their children like a talking doll. You go to their place, they call their children and ask them to show all the skills they have acquired. Who cares if the child hates to perform in front of strangers.

I am a doting aunt but can’t do this full time

I as an individual have no such personal crisis or future plans, in fact, I have no maternal instinct either (yeah go on call me a slut) and to be absolutely honest, I feel extremely settled and comfortable in the current state of being and I somehow don’t want to disturb that. My sudden motherhood rushes (like chocolate rush) are fulfilled by my absolute gorgeous nieces and nephews with whom I have a mutual adoration club. In fact, being a favourite aunt to many for the last 16 years, I realised, I cannot do it full time. So whilst being an aunt absolutely suits me, being a mother definitely doesn’t.

Why can’t a woman challenge social norms?

Our upbringing leads us to believe that women are the reproduction agents, who “must” look after children, home etc. We have enough books, films, television to support and coax you into that system. However the time has changed, we don’t think in terms of man and woman as genders anymore. It’s also about time we treat each other as individuals. I (a woman) as an individual may not want to give birth/adopt, breast feed/look after feeding, be woken up in the middle of night, or wake up the child in the morning to take to school. My choice, right?

Making a choice does not mean disregarding a system

Just like you don’t ask an individual (at least I should think you don’t), do you have a car? A bungalow? A pet dog? A Rolex watch? An M. F. Hussain painting? Don’t ask do you have a child? They are all pretty much a matter of choice and affordability.

At this point, I must apologise to some of you who might have been upset by the points I have picked up. That definitely wasn’t my intention. To me/us children have always been a matter of choice; the likes of us don’t believe that we must condone a system if we didn’t want to.

My choice comes with huge responsibility

To me this world has lost its story; and I must say I don’t think that this world deserves another new life, definitely not someone I will be bringing up. So let’s go back to the matter of choice. We all have a right to choose, like you choose to have a child, I choose not to have one. And to be honest this choice too comes with a huge responsibility. One day may be we will learn to respect that. Till then I live with hope.

About Suchismita:

If you have been raving about Sujoy Ghosh’s short film Ahalya then you should also know that Suchismita was the dress designer of the film. Not only that one she was the designer for Kahaani, and some of her designs were used in Parineeta. She was the winner of the Best Costume Award at Madrid International Film Festival 2013 for her work in the Bengali film Koyekti Meyer Galpo. Till date she was been the costume designer for more than two dozen films and one of the noted recent releases is Kadambari.

(From left:) Radhika Apte, make-up artist Aniruddha Chakladar, Tota Roy Choudhury and Suchismita on the sets of Ahalya

(From left:) Radhika Apte, make-up artist Aniruddha Chakladar, Tota Roy Choudhury and Suchismita on the sets of Ahalya

Growing up in Kolkata, Suchismita Dasgupta felt the need of creating comfortable yet exclusive garments using the traditional textiles and techniques. Hence, she formed Nextiles in 2004.

Nextiles focuses on the most important aspects: fabric, fit, and tailoring quality. Working closely with the weavers, embroiderers and printers from all over India, Nextiles’ main focus is to translate the traditional handwork into styles that suit the urban needs.

Nasseruddin Shah, Sujoy Ghosh, Soumik Sen, Swastika Mukherjee, Paoli Dam, Sahana Bajpayee, Aniruddha Chakladar, Ananya Chatterjee, Bidipta Chakraborty and Aparajita Ghosh are celebs who swear by Nextiles.

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Comments
  1. Suchismita Dasgupta says:

    Thanks Amrita 🙂

  2. kanchana says:

    as I woman who couldnt wait to have a baby, my husband and I chose to terminate a pregnancy as we were clear that we wanted only one kid. i respect women like you who know what she wants and what she doesn’t want and stands by her decision. i think it’s the biggest and worst mistake, a crime..to have a child and not take good care of the new life.
    lovely read amrita.

    • amritaspeaks says:

      Thank you Kanchana,
      Yes I have always believed that a child is a choice that two people should only make when they are ready because bringing up a child is the most difficult job. I was looking for someone for a long time who would be so vocal about this and I am glad I found suchismita. I have known her for years though but as i told her it was this FB post she made that made me realise that she has a voice that will go places so I asked her to write and her post has gone viral 🙂

      Cheers
      Amrita

      • Anwesha Kar says:

        Hello, Ma’am. I am working on a research project where I have to interview women in Kolkata who have chosen the childfree lifestyle. I am finding it extremely difficult to locate such women. Would I have the pleasure of talking to you about this? Please contact me if you feel you can help me regarding this.

      • amritaspeaks says:

        Dear Anwesha, you can email me at amritamuk@gmail.com we can take it up from there.

  3. habibilamour says:

    I love your design! And tbh parenthood seems to enforce the patriarchy…no amount of paid maternity leave or subsidised childcare changes who does the pregnancy and breastfeeding. That is why in Australia we need to look past gender and see people as individuals too.

    • amritaspeaks says:

      Thank you for your comment

      Cheers
      Amrita

      • Rajashree Samaddar says:

        Hi,
        I totally disagree with you , Have you ever thought that if everybody starts to think like you ( may be few more people like you) then our generation will be the last generation and the whole world will actually end. Why some people like you can not see the beauty and only talk about the ugliness. If you really want this world to end then why not now? Why not imminently? Why you want to live in this ugly world anymore?
        I am Rajashree Samaddar a proud mother who has sacrificed her career just to take the best care of my son and make him someone who will be able to make this world a better place to live for our future generations.

  4. Bipasha says:

    Nice read. I absolutely agree that everybody is entitled to their own life choices.

  5. Janie says:

    I agree with what you have said. I dont think not wanting to have a child will make you a bad person or even a selfish person…its a matter of responsible decision making…choosing what you think that is suited for your life rather choosing to be a parents and yet irresponsible just to serve the normal norms of society…

  6. Yamini says:

    Awesome, very well written!! Thanks for voicing out many thoughts that were only reeling in my mind for a long time..

  7. Sunny says:

    Amrita,

    I stumbled upon your article. Thanks so much for your insight and personal experience. It made my day! I have such a fulfilled life without children and I want to continue to 🙂

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