Saturday, October 18, 2014

Radhika Part 2

It is fashionable these days for parents to write letters to their children articulating what they want their kids to know at some point of time in life. I consider myself to be extremely fashionable and hence....

Every parent would want their child to be academically brilliant, would want the best for them, would want them to be successful in life, want them to be aware of our culture and possess a system of values which they believe would hold their kids in good stead. The definitions of what constitutes academic brilliance or successful or culture or values varies is entirely another matter of debate. 

I want my daughter to be or have all of this. Yet I know for a fact, that the odds are stacked against her. And it would not be because of her. It is unfair to expect our children to be better human beings because of us. If they do succeed, it would be inspite of us.

Academic brilliance for example. Would we be fine if she is unbeatable at social science and average across the other subjects ? Most of us would find it horrifying if our children are not good at science and would probably go into a state of depression if numbers do not appeal to our kids. By virtue of being descendants of Aryabhatta, we believe its in our blood and from the moment we are born, we will start counting. 

We claim we are a lot more liberal than our parents. Yes, we are. Yet if our kids were to come to us some day and profess their love for someone of the same sex, would we be able to accept ? Not that they would care. But our true test of tall claims and openness are yet to be tested. And believe you me, it will be.

Values - this a word I love. For no other word hold in itself such diametrically radical consequences. The person who leers at a woman because she wears what we perceive as provocatively dressed, does so out of a moral value which he feels he is right in believing - that women should conduct themselves in a certain way. The value of expecting women to do so is questionable and condemnable but may be harmless if it is overridden by another value of respecting the boundaries of civility towards all humans. It is out here that, we as parents, are most likely to fail. Because even before the child charts his set of values to subscribe to, we have by virtue of our actions and attitude have already influenced his.

So my dear Radhika, I hope that when you turn an age favourable for you to think and act, do go back all the way and question us on everything we are about to teach you over the next decade or so. When I say everything, I may not mean everything. So be sure to remind us, that we did say 'everything'. Remind us that you are entitled to your stupidity and utter foolishness as we were in our youth. If that age does not come to you, then life will teach you all that is required. It is not a path one wishes for his progeny, but better than not learning it at all. And in turn, I will give you one legacy to live with. I will remind you every time, not to put up with nonsense, irrespective of whoever it comes from. Even me. Because that is the only lesson, which I remember my father teaching me.

As a woman in our country, probably, the only lesson worth remembering and pursuing in life.

Good luck & may you learn to respect merit and not experience !

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Radhika : Part I

When you read this years on, if at all you do inculcate a habit of reading, I am sure you will not fully understand what a father or parents go through once they become one. You will be far too young. Too juvenile (a phrase which used to irk me no end when my girl-friends used it on me!) and fairly lacking in understanding what this all means. Trust me, at your age, your father was no different. And for that matter anyone else's as well. 

This is not a post about how your father was. Or rather what he was. By now, you would have figured that out. And it would not be a surprise if the opinion is not one worthy of a mention. All children look upon their parents in their teens as been clueless about their dreams, desires, life in general. I will not put up a defense but merely let time work its way in letting you know how wrong you were.

This post is about you and how you changed us in your first year.

We were warned that our lives are going to change in ways in which we cannot imagine from the day you were to be born. So, your mother diligently went about preparing for it. Books were lent from friends, websites surfed to give her a false sense of being ready. Your precocious father refused to do both in his ever so familiar prudish outlook stating that 'learning on the job' was his tried and tested success recipe. Then you came in. 

Too much hair. A blunt nose. Beautiful eye-lashes. Lovely eyes. Hardly a perfect creation, totally expected from an imperfect set of people. We had heard people being delirious with joy, ecstatic and amazed at the arrival of prince or princesses and going berserk on espousing the 'unbridled joy' that is parenthood. We assure you Radhika, nothing of that sort happened to us ! We were happy but scared. We were not king and queen and hence did not expect you to be either a prince or princess. Furthermore, I already had one in my life before you came in and to this day that has not changed. And in the first 21 days, the most emphatic feeling we had was one of dire helplessness and sleeplessness. Superlative adjectives expressing joy were a far cry. 

Our lives had indeed changed. From being people with avid interests in multiple things, we got down to learning about our parents. We understood what is meant by a 'bond between a child and a mother', we appreciated the efforts our parents made for us, we realized that without being a parent, our lives would have been incomplete. We would not have known why we are the way we are. We would not have known ourselves completely. 

My initial doubt about your ability to cry loudly on the day of your birth was put to rest in the month to come. You would just refuse to stop crying. Your mother and I had no fucking clue (Yes, we did use such words and some more of the choicest ones when we were young !) And you would not negotiate. Either 'my way or the highway' was coined probably keeping you in mind. But you smiled. Only when you shat ! Then, it started getting better.