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  • Yasmine

My dad is smarter than my mum

Updated: Jun 30

Or so I truly believed.


Both my parents are doctors. My dad works in his private practice

mostly and a clinic, he is an OBYN, he delivers babies, performs

surgery etc.. My mother is a microbiologist, at the hospital she works

in a lab, she also teaches at university. As a child, all I could make

from their work life was what they told me, or what I picked from our

environment. Being the kid of a couple who worked a lot, I spent a

fair number of hours waiting for them in their respective work places

to “just finish something, it will only take five minutes”. My father

specialised in helping people who have troubles conceiving. I was

witness to a lot of joy, happiness and gratitude around him. While the

bacteria that my mother dealt with, even though they had cool names

such as “Proteus mirabillis”, they were somehow less joyous, happy and

grateful around her.


I always thought of myself as one of the boys. This thought is worth

unpacking, but this is not today’s concern. The point is that I am not

entirely sure what led me to the conclusion that my dad was smarter

than my mum, but it was to me for a long time obvious, I never

questioned it. The people that inspired me were Richard Feynman, Mark

Rothko, Mistislav Rostropovich, Paul Verlaine. The whole picture was

consistent. It was consistent until 2017, when I became a mother, and

the consistency of the picture that I painted exploded in my face.


For the first time, I “saw” the crazy juggling that my mother did when

my sisters and I were kids. To be honest, I have no idea how she

achieved professionally speaking all that she achieved with the insane

schedule she was managing. And she did this with a smile and joy on

top of everything. Unless I was blind to her anger and frustration? I

do not exclude this hypothesis.


My new year resolution of 2019 was to read only books written by

female authors for a year. I broke that resolution around January 8

when I needed to check something in a physics text book. When I shared

this observation with a dear colleague of mine, they told me, maybe

you should do something about it then? How exhausting are these

constructive people when all you want is to complain and feel sorry

about yourself for a bit.


I did stick to my 2019 resolution for all other genres, fiction, non

fiction, poetry etc. This constraint that I imposed to myself worked

like a super lens, it brought into sharp focus the differences in book

shop displays or at the library. I could not ever again “unsee” this

difference with books and many other topics.



Is my dad smarter than my mum? Even if it did torment me, I decided

not to answer this question after all. Nowadays, I like to think of

people like complex numbers, there is no ordering relationship between

complex numbers. What I do try to do though is to constantly update my

lenses.



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