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With Family And Society Strangling Our Dreams, Should We Not Fight Back To Reclaim Our Lives?

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By Ojaswini Srivastava:

“So kid, what do you want to do? What do you wish to become? What are your long term plans for life?”

Not many parents ask these questions to their kids in our country. We have to become doctors, engineers or at least get an MBA eventually and make our parents proud and happy. Just say you don’t want to do any of it,  you have other dreams and your parents, the “society” and all your relatives will raise eyebrows. “What is wrong with you? What are you talking about? Duniya nahi dekhi hai tumne. Ye sab bacpana hai. Life me kuch aisa karo ki settle ho jao fir jo karna hoga karte rehna”, is what such children get to hear.

Indian youth

I am pursuing English literature, and wish to study mass communication as well as social work. But I am sure my aims will not be fulfilled. Two reasons-

1. Mass communication is not what my parents will allow me to pursue, since then I will not get a “decent job” and sociology too has the same issues.

2. I cannot pursue two master’s degrees. I am a girl. I have to get married at the right age, or the society will start talking about me and my family and their inability to get me married off. Also, I will be tagged as a defective bride. “kuch to gadbad hai isme tabhi toh itni late hogai abhi tak shadi nahi ho rahi hai ladki ki”!

It’s my life, it’s my career, it’s my marriage and it’s my dream. Why cannot it be my choice too? Why cannot I choose according to my happiness and contentment?

I must not be biased in terms of gender. I totally represent not only the fate of Indian girls but also the young Indian boys, I represent all the youth. The problem with our society is we have to do what they want. We have to act in predefined ways, and if we don’t we are social outcasts. If we don’t fit the bill, we are bad children and indecent people. And there are so many other things that we become only if we make our own decisions in terms of careers and marriage.

I don’t say that every child in every family has these problems. But I am sure that these problems are faced by a majority of the Indian youth.

I am studying literature and I am very happy and satisfied. I wish to study social work and media and communication further, I don’t understand why I will not be allowed to  study that. Why won’t it ‘lead me anywhere’? I am sure it will lead me to many things. Firstly, I wish to become worthy of being called a ‘well read woman’, secondly I wish to study all the subjects that interest me, thirdly I wish to become a writer and therefore explore several domains, develop perspectives and meet diverse people, and travel to as many places as possible. All these desires of mine will be fulfilled if I get to study all that I want. So, how will it not lead me anywhere? Because the society will see that I don’t get a corporate job? Okay, but I don’t want such a job. I want to work for the society. I want to write. I want to be socially useful. I want to travel and explore. My list of agendas is absolutely different from what shall be typically expected from me – a girl child in a conservative Indian family — study, get married, become a family oriented woman, reproduce, look after your kids and make a good wife, mother and daughter-in-law. This is all I shall do, and this is how my parents shall be proud of me? But what if I want to do other things and make my parents proud in other ways?

Going beyond my personal examples, I know so many people who are not doing what they want. They are only living the life their their parents wanted for them. No matter if they are not enjoying studying engineering, medicine or HRM, they have to do it. They have to do it to win the tag of “a good child”. My friend who is preparing for C.A. for example is least interested in commerce. He wants to become a model and actor. What is wrong with that? He has done a good number of modeling assignments, he has an amazing sense and knowledge of the fashion industry, but what he is doing is C.A. and not a course in acting or modeling. Why? Because his parents want it.

Another friend of mine is studying medicine. She wants to become a journalist. What is she doing? Why is she doing it? Because her parents want it.

My cousin wants to become an entrepreneur. He has wonderful plans for a business start up, but what is he doing? Studying engineering.

I am sure you too know many people like them. I am sure you yourself could be one of them. I am sure I am a part of this lot too. But sooner or later, we are not going to rebel. We cannot rebel, since we cannot be ‘bad children’. Our parents want the best to happen to us. They are experienced and wise. Also, being parents they naturally have the rights to expect from us. But, why cannot they also understand that after a certain age, after certain experience and exposure, we do grow up, we grow up enough to understand what our inclinations are, what we want to become and what we are best at. It may be unconventional, it may not be a very well paid profession (as in my case) but why cannot we just allow our children to be free, go ahead, take up what they want, determine their own aims and guide them through?

I don’t know how to shape my question and whom to address it to, it is the responsibility not only of the parent but also the child. It is the fault not only of the family but also the society. It is a problem that roots firmly, being nurtured with many factors for over a long time. There is no ultimate solution, but there has to be an ultimate revolution. I am only trying to figure out how shall it being? Where shall it being? And what shall it be? And I request you to allow yourself to raise these questions.

You must be to comment.
  1. adya00

    Love it!!!! Speaks out a harsh reality of India, where obedience to parents and elders means putting everything you have at stake for all whims of theirs.

  2. Neha Jha

    I absolutely agree with u. In fact, I am like u. I worked in a media company. My parents want me to be a professor. I’m ready to give it a shot, but, I also want to keep up with things I love. Its so difficult. But, u need to go ahead, be aggressive about it. My dad was very upset when I decided to study Humanities. But, I’m so happy doing that. I’m pursuing Masters now. I keep on resisting and fighting for my right to live my life my way. Its frustrating. But, the only solution is to develop a hard cover. Who wants to live their life with guilt? Not me! If I’m a bad child that way, so be it!! Someday they will understand!

  3. NANU GUMSAR

    we should change our thought and must b optimistic in our life ahead..sumtimes people are not dare to talking about people’s life ..in actualy our family member provoke and incourage socioty to comment about their personal life instead of create good environment in home atmosphere..we should take stand for girl child especialyy.

  4. jeeka krishna

    For the first after a very long time..an article has been written by a girl here without being sexist about it.(lollz can’t blame them really, Delhi mein mahaaul hi aisa hai aajkal)…..She appreciates and acknowledges the fact that these problems are also faced by boys and called all of us as “people” and not as men and women….for this reason alone , i m ready to wait for her..even if she turns 40 to marry me..i just loved it!! society kuch bhi kahey..Bad Indian Culture.

  5. sai

    Great article …. I completely agree with the fact that in India young people are under the hammer of their parents always.I initially wanted to be an enterprenuer but my family background and my family are not ready to accept that so i completed my engineering and searching for job which i am seriously not interested in.I mean parents are not ready to accept the fact that we only get setttled early or look to be in that direction until or unless we are into the stream in which we are interested in,Its Not the culture thats bad but peoples perception towards their children lives are just over protective in our country…

  6. Pragmatic_Dreamer

    Most of us were created to satisfy the society & then are meant to live as per their expectations…

  7. Prashant Kaushik

    Agree with whatever you said, but one plain observation to add here-

    Indian youth have a long way to go before they can claim their ability to take a really independent decision. Most of the so called ‘different thinking’ characters which I have met, if allowed to skip parental pressure, will take their career decision, but heavily influenced by peer pressure, vague assumptions, false notions and fairy tale concepts about life.

    Baring exceptions, Indian youths even in Graduation and Post Graduation courses feel free to depend on parents for all their needs(esp financial) and suddenly if parents advice something, they cry about the missing freedoms.
    So all those who are blaming your parents or your society, first learn to be independent and to be secure on your ownself, thereafter you can go after any thing which you want how so ever crazy it might be..!!

    1. ABC

      Oh, really?? I thought in India parent-child relationship was sacrosanct and money shouldn’t matter! And being independent meant earning money, so money is everything that matters! wow! You pay my fees and I become your robot for the rest of my life without being assertive about my right to live the life I want to. Wish the shastras and Dharmas since time immemorial had ordered human beings also to leave their children by themselves after a certain age like how animals do! Then, even our education system wouldn’t be this way, it would more job oriented!

    2. Prashant Kaushik

      Did you even read what I said before striding your comment ?

      You cant have double standard. Call a relation sacrosanct while extracting money and later dump it all together to chase your dreams.
      There has to be a slow transition where growing kids start realizing through their own experience what it takes to earn money or how it pains without a penny before proclaiming the ‘ i don’t care about money attitude’.
      I really feel sad about those parents who do double shifts so that there 20 year pubs can play with latest gadgets and out of love if they advise them about life and goals, they are being tagged as ‘intervening’.

      Sitting in cozy comforts of your guardians lap and crying foul about their love is by no means justified.

    3. Mahitha Kasireddi

      Okay, so we should give up our dreams for the sake of a bike and a laptop. And let me tell you there is a hell lot of difference between advising and forcing you to pursue one particular thing. Imagine the plight of a below average kid who cannot do maths and physics but loves to read literature. Just cause parents give him pocket money it does not mean they can manipulate him to achieve those things which they could not when they were young. It is unethical and a sin and also infringement of rights. Who gives you right to live your child’s life? If you want to pressurize him, emotionally blackmail him, make him guilty of the money you spend for him, then you better not give birth to children at all cause you don’t have the right to play over someone’s life. 1,00,000 suicides happen in India and a larger percentage are committed by those between 15 to 26 years. You can reprimand your child if he puts your hard earned money in drugs or something, but what’s wrong with helping him in starting his own company?

      If parents love their children they should actually teach them life lessons, tell them right from wrong and caution them in their moves in which ever field they are but not push them into something they don’t want to do or reject their dreams all together.Parents should be flexible. Tomorrow your children should curse you for the dissatisfied life they are living, but they should remember you as someone who let you be what you wanted to be. If the entire thing about being parents is to give your child a wonderful life then the purpose isn’t solved if you are conditioning him/her.Life is short and you cannot expect to satisfy both your dreams and your parents dreams in the same life time, we all need a chance to live our dreams and nobody should snatch away that from us, nobody should be forced to adopt someone else’s dreams, its an unexplainable mental torture anybody can go through .Only if you know what I mean.

  8. ruchi

    What you wrote is the dilemma of every Indian student.It is sad that our true value is judged by the degrees we harness that make us look like a hotshot.People tend to forget that there is life beyond being a MBA, MBBS ,CA etcetra.All our life we are forced to follow a curriculum that is job oriented and to delineate from a professional degree is a crime.We may love Shahrukh Khan on the big screen but would never allow our child to follow those footsteps.
    What we need is broadening of our thought process to acknowledge every child’s true potential.

  9. Amita Jain

    Beautifully expressed and written!!! I can relate myself with this article to a certain extent. We can convince our parents and it is not a difficult task. Most of this kind of problem which we face is because of society.

  10. Amita Jain

    Our patriarchal system may give a woman the liberty to follow her dreams, but not the space to chase them. But it would take a lot more women with passion and conviction to change this. From education to voting rights, we got it all for ourselves. We have always been multitaskers; we just need to fight a little harder to make our place. Remember : it’s never too late. We know this – Women are the world’s most underused resource.

  11. umesh pherwani

    sadly this is true , but the youth should take proper guidance on the path chosen by him /her .He /She should not later in life miss the perks and lifestyle that come with conventional corporate careers and be self satisfied with his/her choice.When the youth is clear on this , then it becomes easier to convince their parents to accept their choice.

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