The juiciest piece of Monday morning gossip on social media has been around Hardik Pandya’s announcement of embracing his journey to parenthood along with actress, model and dancer Natasa Stankovic. For the uninitiated, if any, on 1st January 2020 in the pre-COVID-19 era, the couple had surprised everyone when they announced their engagement, they were on a year-end vacation to Dubai then. Since the latest announcement by the cricketer, Twitterati has donned its most sanskari hats and started shaming the couple for getting pregnant outside wedlock. They want to dig out all information about the secret lockdown wedding and so on. And the buck doesn’t stop at that. Anushka Sharma is also getting trolled for failing to achieve this feat even after being married for so long to Indian Men’s Cricket Team Captain Virat Kohli! It is 2020 guys, let’s find new things to troll people for!

Also, if you are reading your newspapers, the couple reportedly had a low-key #QuarantineWedding in hometown Vadodara recently.

They are two consenting adults taking full responsibility for their actions. Why this obsession for marriage?

Hardik on Sunday evening announced on Facebook, “Natasa and I have had a great journey together and it is just about to get better! Together we are excited to welcome a new life into our lives very soon. We’re thrilled for this new phase of our life and seek your blessings and wishes.” I think that is a graceful gesture and a cute announcement. How does it matter whether they are married or not? They are two consenting adults taking full responsibility for their actions. Why this obsession for marriage? And it is stale news dear trolls that one doesn’t need to get married to be parents, it just needs to consenting adults!

Pandya had earlier been in trouble for his deeply misogynistic comments on a popular talk show on television. He was called out for the right reasons then. Even the BCCI was not happy with just an apology and the cricketer along with KL Rahul, who accompanied him on the show, were put under provisional suspension. It was wrong for him to make such comments from a public platform. But his choice to become a parent has nothing to do with his popularity, it is a personal choice and he is free to take this decision whenever he and his partner are ready for it. Also, he doesn’t have to wait for his captain to show him the way. And why should Anushka or Virat be dragged into this conversation at all? They have full agency of taking decisions about their personal lives.

His choice to become a parent has nothing to do with his popularity, it is a personal choice.

With the kind of obsession, we have for the game as a country, cricketers live a highly public life, compared to players of other sports but they are also human beings and deserve some privacy. Most players decide to share bits of their private lives and big milestones with us because they acknowledge the role fans and well-wishers play in their success. It is our responsibility to celebrate and encourage them and not be judgemental for just the heck of it. Getting pregnant and embracing parenthood are two different things. And both Hardik and Natasa have taken a conscious decision to bring in a child to this world and their decision shatters various stereotypes for which they should be applauded.

The views expressed are the author’s own.

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