Families are held together by blood, by obligation, by desire and sometimes, if you are very lucky, by love.”
Like it or not, our lives in India are bound in strange ways to our families. It’s like we come in a package. A lot of our decisions are made under the immense influence of, if not entirely by, our families. From the right time to get married to the right number of children to career choices, every aspect of life requires a nod from everyone, including distant tayajis and phuas. That is when blood and consequently obligation take precedence over everything else.
In this light enterprising kids have it really bad here. I’m not saying our elders shouldn’t have a say in our lives, of course their experience and wisdom count infinitely, whether they support of don’t approve of our decisions.
It’s just that life in India tends to follow stereotypical dictates where one is often compelled to bow down to filial desires and pressures. I remember how stressed some of my friends have been, year after year, after each of them took the 10th. Taking up any stream other than Science was out of the question, according to their parents. And these weren’t people who were contemplating; they didn’t see themselves doing Science at all. A miserable two years later, they’ve taken up law or social sciences.
I can say without the slightest bit of hesitation that all our parents want only the best for us. It’s just that their ways of defining the ‘best’ are possibly based on individual prejudices, desires and often unfulfilled dreams. In a chat I had with five friends from different parts of the country who are based in Delhi, three said their parents wanted them to take the UPSC. They didn’t want to, but were going to anyway. These were people who studied in good colleges and could do whatever they wanted to with their lives. And they’d have done well, I’m sure!
It’s not just about education or career decisions, though. Ranvir Shourey in the recently released gem, Bombay Talkies, for instance, wants his son to play football and doesn’t give the child a choice. It’s about being strong, and as the latent message suggests, manly.
These are certain stereotypes we live by; sometimes by our own will, sometimes by societal norms. We feel what our kids do is a matter of pride and prestige. Their qualifications, scores and later, salaries, are symbolic of how bright they are, how hard they’ve worked and how well we’ve brought them up. It just wouldn’t do to have people know they are studying designing or other such creative pursuits. People would think they didn’t get through IIT, and that consequently, they’d be able to make nothing of their lives.
That their children will not be happy doing what they want them to, that their heart will not be in it, and that it’s futile to expect them to do well at something they probably don’t have the aptitude for- these are things our societies still have to teach themselves. I’m sure it’s no delight to watch your child weep through two years of junior college studying subjects he didn’t want to. Every parent’s heart bleeds. It’s just that they need to stir themselves into acknowledging that their children are meant for other things. They just need to know what it is.
We love the package deal that we come in. We love the fact that our worlds are this warm and close-knit. We love almost everything about our families. But we could do without the packages of obligations, expectations and pressures that always tag along. It’s all about loving the family, but we could do without the pressure in making education and career choices!
Post by:Lata Jha