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Love’s labour

By Nickunj Malik - Sep 21,2016 - Last updated at Sep 21,2016

I am extremely delighted to report that I am responsible for our daughter’s intelligence. Just like my mother-in-law is accountable for my spouse’s brainpower and my mother for mine. And, dear reader, your mother for yours, because according to the latest research conducted at Cambridge University, children inherit intelligence from their mothers as the intelligence genes are located in the X chromosome. Therefore, since women have two of them, they are twice as likely to pass them on.

Now, isn’t that wonderful? I just love researchers who occasionally come up with such obvious findings. It makes the entire process of going through the excruciating labour pain and giving birth to a new life, somehow, worth it. For the mother, that is.

But when our daughter was born, on this very day more than two decades ago, I checked her hair even before I checked her intelligence. My husband wanted her to have straight hair while I wished her head to be full of curls. As soon as I pushed the bonnet that the nurse had tied around her little chin, I saw that her scalp was covered with a thick mop. Her hair was ramrod straight but for a tiny curl that trailed over her left ear.

She, on the other hand, examined me with unblinking eyes the moment the doctor handed her over. The other kids were bawling away in the hospital nursery but our daughter observed me quietly. She had known me for nine months from inside the stomach and now she wanted to match that impression from the other side of my tummy. I pulled the solitary curl over her ear that she was born with, to please me, I’m sure. She smiled in response. That toothless grin reassured me that she had inherited all my quirky traits, including smiling for no reason at all. 

When I was expecting our daughter, everyone told me that I was going to have a son because my swollen belly tilted towards the right, which was a sure sign that I was carrying a male progeny. But my grandmother knew better and kept knitting pink sweaters and booties for the baby. My mother also constantly looked for female names in the new infant catalogue she had bought. The women in my family not only had high IQ, they had great intuition too and their perception came true a few months down the line. 

Over the years, our daughter’s biggest grudge with me was that I did not praise her in public. I denied the accusation of course, like any self-respecting mother would. My own parents used to point out my mistakes, but left the praising bit to my teachers, relatives and friends. I ended up following the same example that they had set. 

But in this age of helicopter parenting where parents hovered overhead, overseeing their child’s life, paying extremely close attention to their experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions, one had to be more forthright with one’s praise, I realised.

“You were very articulate in the TV debate,” I told our daughter.

“Where did I fumble,” she asked.

“Nowhere at all!” I gushed.

“Are you alright mum?” she asked. 

“Eloquent, coherent, well researched,” I continued.

“Don’t scare me, mother,” she said.

“I’m praising you,” I protested.

“Be factual, please,” she begged.

There was a minute’s silence as we studied each other.

“Ok, happy birthday,” I pulled the familiar curl over her ear.


“Thank you,” she smiled.

233 users have voted.


"I love researchers who come up with such obvious findings...."... Very well said and I love the way you seemingly effortlessly weave such wonderful stories out of everyday happenings around us. More power to your pen and countless Blessings for your accomplished daughter.

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