To be sure, I fancy myself to be a person who has followed his parents’ principles to the dot for the longest amount of time. I have tried and kept schedules, tried to call every night when I was away from home, heck, I even tried to change myself and my faith to be more in line with my mother and father. Yet, there is an inevitable question that I keep asking myself: what did it cost?
Put another way, the atmosphere in Indian homes is not an atmosphere that fosters movement, just locomotion. We may know the way from A to B, but, whether B is a worthwhile destination, is a question that is, more often than not, suppressed. This leads to a dichotomous life of sorts. In one facet of it, we claim our talents to be our own to dispose of, and tell friends that if only our parents allowed for a bit more freedom, we could’ve achieved our goal; on the other side, we feel pride at achieving ambitions that were not ours, to begin with.
Self-hood itself is such an alien concept in India because of the way parents have been portrayed in India. One of our great mythical epics, The Ramayana, holds in its pages one man who leaves his life of luxury at the whim of his father, and another who carries his blind parents everywhere. We are expected to make these people ideals, instead of the more teenage-appropriate romances in the adventures of Ariel or Rapunzel, who defy their parents more than once.
To be sure, blaming everything on mythology is not a due course, but, establishing a base to this discourse becomes necessary since it controls most of our lives, yet seems to have little ground to support it. As suicides in Kota increase more and more each year, we need to acknowledge how the dreams of economic success that our parents see for us, sometimes are in direct opposition to our mental health. This keeps happening despite our re-iteration of the idea that their ideas on economic success are outdated, and need a lot of jolts to even function.
For example, the current hoopla about engineering students being unemployable does not come from the fault of the students alone. They are shown a dream of achieving all their fantasies through a job, which in turn can only be got through engineering. They follow suit, they walk through the flames, write the exams and, coming out of the university, have little to no passion left for studies. Contrast this with research-based institutions where people easily work the whole night sometimes, and follow their passions; or with passionate musicians practising despite discontinuing education.
The unity of these ideas of our studies and our passions must be achieved through practising selfhood and by voicing our opinions. As students, we are human beings, we fuck, we eat, we smoke, we shit, we do every single thing a human being does. The relationship between a parent and a child should not be such that our essence is to be defined by them in exchange for giving birth to us. That we are to have no independent thought.
Also, we have to remember, we love our parents, but, the nature of love itself is defined by us. The fact that they say that we don’t love them enough, and the fact that we say we love them most of all, may both be true, and there is no compromise to be reached here. Only abusive relationships are dependent on constant self-sacrifice based proof, and your parents would have you believe that they love you sans abuse won’t they?