December 6, 2020

Phal

(c) J. Singh, 2016

It was one of the strangest phenomenons ever observed in modern history. It began gradually, and for years it escaped everyone’s notice. But eventually, people started making casual observations, and more and more dinner conversations turned to the topic. And as time went by, it became more and more obvious. Local news stations and newspapers began reporting on it. And then the national media picked up on it, visiting schools and neighborhoods to feature in their story. And so it entered the collective consciousness of the nation, and then, seemingly overnight, it became the top priority in all political arena’s. The prime ministers office took notice of the issue, and within days, the prime minister himself was addressing the nation in a televised special. It was now being treated as a national emergency.

The scientists and anthropologists were involved in study and experiments. Everyone had theories, from the learned college professors to the layman on the street. And there was plenty of blame to throw around. Meanwhile, the numbers only kept increasing. And this was nowhere more apparent than in the primary schools. It was undeniable. The ratio of boys to girls was very, very skewed. And each year, it was becoming worse. At last measurement, there was 1 girl for every 1000 boys. It was a severe problem. It didn’t take a scientist to figure out that within the current generation, there would be major problems to deal with in terms of marriage and raising families. Everyone was very, very worried, from teachers to politicians. And most of all, parents of young children, who feared for the future prospects of their offspring.

In some rural areas, women began taking more than one husband. Some claimed that it had been an ancient custom that had fallen out of favor due to the rise of religion and the pressure of modern society. And now these villagers were now thumbing their noses at the city-folk and returning to their old ways. But even they were feeling the strain, as females continued to become increasingly rare. It was not unusual to see one woman with up to five husbands. The family dynamic was rapidly changing.

In a country like India, with a population of over 1 billion, it would seem that the cultural mores would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to change. But in the face of such a dramatic and sudden shift in the gender ratio, everything changed, and it changed rapidly. As females became increasingly rare, they were valued more. The dowry system was reversed. It now became customary for the grooms family to bring money or property to the bride’s family as part of the marriage ceremony.

Other changes also ensued. There was a sharp rise in violent crime, as more and more males vied for the same scarce resource - brides. Violence towards women also increased at an alarming rate. Kidnapping, rape and murder happened with such frequency that it had become a mere footnote in the daily news broadcasts. The situation had become so bad that women needed armed escorts to even be able to walk to the grocery store.

This also gave rise and a new prominence to the various religions that emphasized the feminine divine. People flocked to these temples, which grew and spread their teachings far and wide. It was the feminine that was now honored and worshiped, as the seat of creative power and that which births life. The feminine was seen as something not only to be desired, but something elusive and blessed. “If I am blessed with a daughter,” became a common refrain in many a household.

Along with this new religious focus, females began to enjoy a new status and power in the business world. They quickly rose to the top ranks of executive management, and were soon leading the top companies of the nation in all sectors, from health-care to technology. They began changing policies and regulations, and these had major impacts on the environment, on public health, on the infrastructure, on the well-being of families, and a whole host of other areas. All in all, the general consensus seemed to be that they were cleaning up all the messes that men had been making for the past hundreds of years.

As time passed, and the gender ratio only grew worse, many people became increasingly desperate. Many males who were unable to obtain a female mate turned to same-sex relationships. Unable to produce offspring, they employed technology such as in vitro fertilization, paying an exorbitant amount of money for donor eggs. The doctors would always inform them, as expected, that the children, sadly, would be male.

Geneticists and other scientists redoubled their efforts to study this phenomenon and determine the cause. They were grasping at straws, desperate to find the reason and to restore the balance of females to males. But, all their efforts were in vain.

Instead, the birth rates of males skyrocketed, growing exponentially. While the birth rates of females were plummeting. When the data was displayed on the graph at the Ministry of Health, there was a deafening silence in the room, along with a brooding sense of despondency. The general population was also losing hope, as was evidenced by the general mood in the streets. There was a sense of silent dread, and a palpable fear of a looming disaster. People could sense that chaos was coming.

Security became the most thriving business in that region of the world. Female impersonators grew in popularity for a variety of purposes. With the birth rate so low, females from foreign lands began arriving in India, in spite of all the risks, to pursue careers, riches, and even raise families. They had their pick of men, and each woman could literally choose from tens of thousands of well-qualified suiters. All restrictions and requirements of the female were dropped. Nobody looked at her skin color, her educational qualifications, her background, her family status, whether she could cook or clean, or how much wealth she had. The only single requirement that still mattered was that she was a biological female.

Within a decade, the entire face of the nation had changed. And nobody knew why.

Meanwhile, in the West, a rather different phenomenon had just started to be observed. It started out quite innocuously, just like it had in India. But in the United States and Canada, they caught notice of the trend sooner. Things like birth rates were already being meticulously measured. The National Institutes of Health, the CDC, and other organizations began carefully studying what was happening. The top scientists turned their razor-like focus and concentrated attention on this new phenomenon. They were not taken entirely by surprise, since they had been following the medical journals and the news of what was happening in India. But what they were observing in North America was just as baffling as what had been happening in India. And they, too, had no clue as to what the root cause was. In the West, the reverse phenomenon was being observed: for every 1000 girls, there was only 1 boy being born.

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