Dearest mom and dad,
In just a couple of months, I’m about to turn 25.
Yeah! It’s been 25 long years. I can’t imagine what I would have been or have achieved if it weren’t for you. Actually, I wouldn’t have been there in this world without you.
In all these years, you have provided me with resources and things (which you’ve never had for yourself as a kid) despite the middle-class hardships and economic constraints we faced. Loved me like no one can ever do. When I look at some of my peers, I realise how fortunate I am to have you. You’ve set a standard for parenting, which I don’t think I’ll ever be able to meet with my kids. And a thank you would never suffice for your sacrifices, care, and love. But still, thank you a lot.
I want to take this moment to talk to you about certain things – issues I’ve been thinking about for awhile. Thoughts that have been stuck in my heart. If I were to summarize those into two words, they are: liberty and freedom.
These words may seem familiar and insignificant at this moment. Trust me they aren’t as trivial as you think, and are actually critical and crucial in today’s life.
We are the generation that has witnessed some of the most radical shift in norms, ideologies and thoughts that the world has ever experienced in its history. The generation of informed, native digital immigrants, who had experienced and seen through the life in an entirely different perspective than you or any of your predecessors did.
Fortunately, we grew up with respecting parents more out of love than fear, like most of you did. Unlike you, we are the generation with strong political beliefs. Our liberal views may seem a little radical and anti-establishment to you. And thanks to your parenting, we are also that generation that believes in loving, respecting, and caring for our parents, because we want to, rather than have to.
The world of 70’s, 80’s and 90’s in which you grew up is not even remotely related and is completely different than what it is right now. The patriarchal structure in which you grew up in, isn’t an accepted standard anymore.
Today things like gender equality, the dignity of labour, racial discrimination, sexual harassment and pursuing your passions aren’t merely confined to books. I understand how difficult it is for you to let us question your perspectives that are built over a very long period and change them all of a sudden. But you have to accept the new norm because it’s the definition of the term ‘evolving’.
The careers and professions that didn’t even exist at the beginning of this 21st century are the drivers of the economy right now. So please don’t pressure us to pursue the traditional choices of becoming an engineer, doctor, CA or go into the management field, because there are professions beyond and bigger than them.
A professional hairdresser, stylist, photographer many others which might seem unconventional to you, actually earn a lot more than you could think, make a better living and are happier than the majority of traditional ones. So please don’t stereotype or criticize or discourage the path we’d want to pursue. Give us the liberty and freedom to make the most critical decisions in our lives – such as ones related to our careers – and guide (not pressure) us along that journey.
I’m sure you want me to be as religious as you are. You want me to follow the beliefs which you’ve stuck to. But the knowledge and wisdom I gained with my education and life experiences had taught me something else too.
It taught me to question!
When certain customs and rituals of our religion or society are fundamentally flawed and in violation of basic human values and dignity, we are left with no option other than to question their existence. Just because certain things are accepted as the societal norm, we are not bound to accept it. Remember how not till long ago, customs like sati and child marriages were proudly followed, accepted, and performed by the same society, which tries to preach us the morals. So it’s absolutely fine for both you and me to use our intellect and question any those practices and reject them. Or have the liberty to disown it entirely and freedom to choose another one.
You raised me with your guidance, your affection, your love. The world’s best parenting. I know and understand the founding values, culture, and priorities upon which our family is built on. When I share with you, about a person, who not only shares the same kind of principles as ours and but also understands, respects and loves our family and me, I request you to give it a thought.
Remember those random times when you casually said: “I trust my son”? I want you to hold on to that trust and respect my choice. I understand everything can and will have both pros and cons. What I desperately need is the guidance of my best guide, i.e., you. I want you not just to think as a parent but for once step into my shoes and understand what I’m asking for.
I grew up with having a hundred reservations in choosing a partner to share a room for a year in the college hostel, and think about how it works when it comes to a life partner. Remember, even when I was a kid, you would always ask whether I liked the choice of clothes you were buying? Don’t you think the choice of my lifetime partner deserves more respect than my choice of clothing? I hope you understand what I’m trying to say.
And no, I’m not trying to inculcate or promote what some might call ‘westernization’. Even if you consider this as the adoption of the so-called western values, don’t you think it is as western as the pizza and denim we got into our lifestyle for our taste and comfort. Because we are evolving. That’s what humans do. And trust me, these aren’t any radical, anti-social things that I’m trying to talk you into. I mean, why and what has caste got to do with my life choices (Anyway, neither you nor I am into the occupation, which it asks us or gives right for us to do).
We are tired of you letting down your child, because of your (un)hidden fear of “log kya kahenge/sochenge (what will people say/think)”. We don’t want to listen or think about what any Tom, Dick, and Harry has to offer or say about our lives. And we don’t even want you to give any significance to those meaningless things. For once, we want you to realize that in this 21st century, ‘We live in the society. Not for the Society’.
If you really want to us to live for the society then make us join an NGO or ask us to contribute to an organization actively. But please don’t let that senseless, invisible and, unuseful social barriers be any contributing reason for the loss of your dear one’s passions, happiness, interests, and love. Don’t let that be a hindrance to the ever growing love to my dearest parents
Despite all these existential crisis issues, we love you a lot (maybe not as much as you do). You are terrific parents. You are our superheroes. We idolize you on a lot of issues. We care about your happiness just like you care about ours. And also while trying and balancing to stand up for our individuality, after all, we too have grown into adults. And in the struggle to balance out between you and us, most of us are left with nothing else but compromise and sacrifice. Some with their passions, others with careers, love, some with themselves and few with their lives.
So please don’t let your son/daughter fail. At least not because of you. That image and feeling of failure is not the thing you wanted or the thought you had in your mind when you brought us into this world.
If you really want to make an effort to help your kids, love them more, and wish to see them happier, then please start by opening the gates of your hearts to break these social barriers and stereotypical thinking, maybe one at a time!