I need to get my niece and nephew a birthday gift as they turn four.
My nephew knows exactly what he wants – A red remote control car. He could not be more specific.
My niece, however, is unsure.
My sister suggests I get her a doll.
And there starts the confusion.
Why shouldn’t I get her a car too? Possibly another colour?
Or am I letting her be defined by the choices of her twin, letting her be led by the brother. Is this how patriarchy sets in? A confused girl unsure of what choices to make.
Or should I just get her the doll? But am I boxing her into what girls should be playing with, dolls and kitchen sets? Or should I actually let her explore that space too. I too wanted a doll when I was little, didn’t I.
I don’t know the answer.
I sometimes wonder why I have to complicate everything in my head.
Probably because as we were watching Argentina lose the other day, Thomas told me how his uncle on a trip back from Muscat got him (a 9 year old), a pair of shoes. The shoe had Maradona written on it and with that shoe began his love for the football player and the undying loyalty to Argentina.
Probably, because I cannot wipe from my mind the red and white checkered dress my mom hid in the fold of her saree one evening before my birthday. I was in grade one.
Probably, because Yehoshua always remembered, who gifted him what and at what age. Even when I used to forget, he would tell me, ‘Ammachy, gave this to me’ or ‘No Mummy, Tinuma or Aiema did’.
To gifts are attached the memory of the people who give it to you.
And to gifts are also attached a possibility of love and discovery.
And the fear of cliches and categorising.