A look at the annals of human evolution tells us about the Age of Reason-Enlightenment. Alas, there was an age of reason. A casual glance around me makes me feel that our age is the era of tomfoolery. All the talk on (hyper)nationalism, social media giving us our sense of self worth, governments being run by Orwellian pigs (read Trump) and love making us blind.
This question of love. I’m not talking about the deaf, dumb, blind, mute and handicapped ishq waala love. I’m talking about the first love that we ever experience; the unconditional, irrational love of our parents. Their love for us and our well being makes them do things that not only border on the absurd but defy basic statistics (the first thing that comes to their mind if you don’t pick up your phone-the highly improbable event of your untimely demise). While its adorable when you have the privilege of thinking about these in hindsight, living through them is outright annoying.
Once again consider the inability to answer their call. You’re in the middle of something and decide to miss their calls. The first thing that comes to their mind: you have been killed. You’re in the middle of something and decide to cut their phone. Their reaction: Either you or your phone has been kidnapped. You’re busy and you decide to pick up and tell them precisely that and hang up. Their reaction: These kids, they never have time for their parents, or, “itne bhi kya busy ho?!”. Moral of the story: you can’t be busy if Mom decides to call; Dad so rarely decides to call that you feel like your long lost buddy is calling and must be something urgent.
Their concern for our physical well being is adorable. When I told my mother that I felt cheated that all this while when I had been fat she had misled me by saying that I was “just healthy” she promptly replied that in my current avatar I looked like a skeleton wrapped in skin and it pained her to think that after years spent in the kitchen preparing nutritious meals for us I grew up to look like a malnourished kid. No it doesn’t end there. Being thin is equated with being weak. So if I complain about pain in my shin or my back, well loss of weight is the culprit. The method of deduction is so cool that a single sneeze implies an infection which implies lack of insulating fat which implies an exposed immune system, which implies something else that eventually proves her point. Q.E.D. (And you thought it was antibodies!).
They often say that the secret for a happy marriage is that wife is always right. In the same spirit, I must add that the secret to a fulfilling life is that your kids are stupid (uttered to mean they are mostly wrong). From haircuts to life choices, the reflex (re)action is a look of bewilderment. From the number of garlands required to decorate the house for Diwali to the price at which we sold mom’s obsolete, ancient car, we just couldn’t have been right. It’s always a one-day-you-will-learn approach. Well we did learn to live with this reaction and to love it too. So once in a while when something meets their approval my instinctive reaction is disbelief. No, I couldn’t have done this. I had standards to maintain. How could I?
The conflict Indian parents face in raising a daughter! They raise us to be a warrior and then when we become one they lament on our inability to deal with imbecile men (implying our inability to get married). When I ask a seemingly innocuous question to my parents they take their time to ponder over it, all the while thinking “Where is this going?” The last time when I was home, in our pre breakfast chit-chat I casually asked them, “What’s the budget for my marriage?” Mom and Dad looked at each other because they knew this had to be a trick question. After listening to the lower bound of the budget, for a moment I stared at them and then went on to deliver an eloquent monologue that essentially summed to this: the amount that you guys have kept aside for my hypothetical marriage that will happen sometime in the future (which by definition is uncertain) if you could give it to me now, the interest on it would be sufficient to make me live a comfortable life, principal untouched. So you have your corpus as is and I get to chill. That definitely is a Pareto improvement. Needless to say this was followed with a lecture on the importance of family and taking things a little more seriously. If only I could convince them that I was serious. So here’s the thing with Indian parents. They would make their kid go through hell for spending beyond what is justified and yet are completely okay with spending a lifetime of savings on feeding random people who probably won’t even appreciate the food (we are vegetarians!). Societal pressure they say. Blah!
Parental innuendos are the best. “You look cute” basically means you’re wearing some bright floral colors which make you look like the kid they had always imagined themselves to have but then you happened and so you should probably just change. “You’re just healthy” means it’s time to shed those extra kilos. “I don’t know. Do what you like.” Don’t ever proceed. With some toil and sweat get them over to your side, get them to support you. It’s always worth the effort. “Talk to Papa” just means that you know that I know that he is the nominal head of domestic affairs (what the President of India is for the country); I am saying a No, so it is a No, and nobody vetoes Mom! When you’re late (in returning home or giving the good night call) a “So where were you” is short for “How the hell did you forget that you have two souls who worry themselves sick over your wellbeing and could be so irresponsible as to not even keep us in the loop regarding your whereabouts, which just by the way is way beyond an average human being’s!” As I said earlier, adorable with the benefit of hindsight.