Thursday, November 15, 2012

Nirad Chaudhuri and the cost of bringing up children

The acerbic, scholarly and always entertaining and impressive Indian writer, Nirad Chaudhuri, was invited to to give a lecture at the University of Stirling in Scotland in 1978 (if I recollect aright), when it was my honour, as one of the few Indians at the university who was interested in literature, to be able to ask him to my room for afternoon tea. At the door, as he was leaving, he said, that as a fellow-Indian of my father's age, he had the right to ask me a personal question, and I of course concurred. "How long have you been married?", he asked. "Well over two years", I replied. "So why don't you have children yet?" Well, I was a student and so, embarrassedly and apologetically offered, "We can't afford it". At which, he raised his hand (he was of rather short stature) all the way up to my shoulder, turned me around to face him, and retorted "Afford it? Afford it?! Since when can anyone AFFORD children?. No, no. You either have children or you don't. Forget about "afford"!". I can't say that that was the only reason, but my wife and I did have our first child after that - and it was when we still couldn't really "afford" a child! It turns out that, according to the latest research regarding the cost of bringing up children, Niradbabu was quite right. The cost, in the USA anyway, is close to US dollars two million! What such calculations leave out of the equation, because such things simply don't compute, is the joy (and heartache! and therefore the maturity!) that children bring - and not only to parents! And, of course, eventually (too soon!) children grow up and, in most cases, become contributors to the family and to the world. Sphere: Related Content


Srutyananda Dakua said...

Sir, do you check these pages? I am from West Bengal, India and am trying to build up a detailed annotated biography of NIRAD C CHAUDHURI. Could you please care to allow me the detail of this visit to Sterling University? Nowhere it is documented. But Sterling is the earliest to recognise the brilliance of NIRAD babu.

Srutyananda Dakua said...

Nirad babu's visit to Sterling is documented nowhere. But Sterling University is the earliest to recognise NIRAD CHAUDHURI's brilliance institutionally. Could you please let us know the detail of it? I am from West Bengal India and am trying to redo the biography of NIRAD C. in detail. His volumes are of less use to know him. Would you please? We need it.