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When you look back, you may not always feel happy – it will be a combination of smiles and frowns. That is what makes ‘growing up’ special to all of us!
It was Father’s Day few weeks ago and while writing a post for Dad, I sat back thinking about all this. I have always had immense respect for the generation before ours. Born in the second and third decade after independence, they have come a long way.
The other day, we were seated at the dining table and chatting casually about childhood. Mom and Dad very enthusiastically were talking about theirs. Having five phuchkas on Sundays for one rupee, waiting to go to uncle’s house to meet cousins and play once a month.
Getting one new dress a year during Durga Puja, listing Kali Puja crackers in the last page of book under the pretext of studying. Competing with siblings to win ‘balloon throwing’ game in Holi, hearing stories about Independence war from parents.
Eloping tuition from their blind grandfather to play while he was still teaching, asking each other questions during exams. These are some of the happiest memories they recalled with sparkling joy in their eyes.
Being chased by a goat and throwing slippers at it, helping Mama enter the house stealthily on a night before exam after playing a cricket match and all getting beaten up by their father. Staying up all night in bed watching logged water go down in the ground floor they lived. These were all the problems they faced.
No mention of the excitement on getting the first smart phone, winning beauty contests, hanging out with friends, first waxing, first date, foreign trip, etc. Neither a mention of fighting tobacco, alcohol, drug addiction, random sex, rehab programmes, racism, feminism, body shaming, objectification, cheating, and lust . All they fought was with siblings for the biggest piece of fish! That was when I realised how different their world was from ours.
These early teenage years are very important for an individual as they form the base of some strong beliefs and principles one carries all their life. What a child grows up seeing, hearing and feeling stays with him till the end.
The question is not about how simple or complex life has become. Both sides exist in both time zones. It is all about time and embracing changes which are only a function of time. The way parents from this generation have adapted and come around is extremely impressive.
I doubt if our generation can do that if we ever had to retrogress. Few months of lockdown has irritated us to this extent that we want our older lives back. It is traumatic to stay home all day and depression is on the rise. This was the entire life of most a few decades ago. Imagine how steadily and actively they made an effort to become ‘progressive’ or ‘liberal’ or ‘modern’.
I have seen them offer the best to everyone with whatever available. And indulge in easy conversations with both known and unknown, while getting along comfortably with all age groups. Their keen interest in trying to understand what they don’t know mesmerises me.
Drawing a line between spirituality and superstition, they have idolised spirituality about doing the right at the right time. Staunch believers of certain ideals and principles – they have shown precision in calculation, decision making guided by logic and rationale.
They have been listening to and having faith in us all the time – hearing us out patiently every single time and responding with logic whether they agree or not. I have always lived with my grandparents and hence got an opportunity to closely examine the mentality and outlook of three generations.
My parents form a strong bridge between two generations with opposite mindsets. They have both – an orthodox and modern outlook. And the way they switch modes and toggle between responsibilities trying to keep everyone happy is something to learn.
They have seen heights of convention in their earlier generation and a rebellious generation ahead. It’s just amazing how they deal with both extremes, break the chain, not pass on the baton of convention and give us wings to think freely. No expectation, only duty.
Sounds similar to ragging by seniors in college right? Greatest epics like Mahabharata talks about change but it’s only natural to give way to doubts in the process. It’s not easy to believe every time. This act of giving us a childhood they probably never had calls for immense gratitude.
Well, this lockdown period has come with a lot of revelations for me. I left home with an adolescent mindset some years ago and since then I came back only as a guest to spend vacations. But today when I come back during lockdown after long, a different view dawns on me.
Probably these issues were already there but I chose to conveniently ignore or Mom and Dad shielded them. Now being at home all day and exposed to daily routines of all family members, I can see and realize various responsibilities and perceptions. Staying at home for a long stretch makes my mind wander back to my ‘growing up’ days during idle times. This is all part of adulting.
Whatever I wrote is purely based on personal experiences and from a personal perspective. There could exist multiple opinions each one of us can have. But from what I have seen, this is a generic opinion I hold on this matter.
Blaming parents for not trying to understand our issues and jumping to advice is all natural and part of growing up. They too have done the same, may not be openly always. People will say trying putting yourself in their shoes and vice versa but that’s rarely possible.
You cannot experience each other’s position unless you get into their minds. So at times it is fine if parents and children cannot understand each other’s problems and actions. Try to understand why – it is mostly because their version of ‘Growing up’ is very different from ours.
But it is important to let go of things with time. Time is the best healer and also the best teacher. When you look back, you may not always feel happy – it will be a unique combination of smiles and frowns. That is what makes this journey of ‘Growing up’ special for each one of us in our own different ways.
A version of this was earlier published here.
Picture credits: Still from Hindi TV series Yeh Hai Mohabbatein
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