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We are Soni & Noorie Grewal - identical twins, born and bred in London, UK

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Grewal Twins

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A few days ago my boss became a grandfather for the second time to a baby girl. He sent me a picture of her the day after she was born which read ‘We are overjoyed to announce that our beautiful princess has arrived’.

My boss, Terry Gough is the the Head Gardener for Hampton Court Palace, UK. From the moment he found out his daughter-in-law was pregnant, we had countless conversations about how much he hoped she would be having a girl. As you can imagine, I was totally amazed and in awe of this. In fact, everyone in his family had their fingers crossed that the newborn baby would be a girl.

Naturally I shared with him the dismay some South Asian families feel when a baby girl is born in their family. Although mindsets towards baby girls are changing, more so now than ever before, there are still pockets of individuals and families that promote the desire for the son, nephew, grandson. Thankfully, the diaspora are making conscious efforts to educate society and those around them, that the sex of the child bears no relevance anymore.

Certain statements in our exchange of conversations have really stuck with me. For instance, my boss has two sons who are both married, one of whom is the parent of the baby girl. My boss would tell me how he desired a daughter for his wife, for the sake of her happiness. On the contrary, in our culture I have heard how women feel inadequate for not being able to provide their husband with a son, and I understand how this sense of inadequacy would be born from the fact that family members and the community might be adding that extra pressure. Terry told me, ‘It’ll be nice to have a little granddaughter. You know, for my wife.’ I remember a look of sorrow in his eyes when he relayed this thought with me. When his granddaughter arrived, he said he felt his family was complete. These are comments we are used to hearing when a boy is born.

I for one am pleasantly surprised to hear how the arrival of this baby girl in this particular family has been eagerly anticipated, and her arrival has been met with so much joy and relief; feelings that are associated when a baby boy in the South Asian culture. I hope that one day in the near future, such comments and conversations become the norm across the world, because clearly, the fact that I am writing this post means we are not quite there yet.

- Noorie