This New York Times columnist is a revelation to me. His writings are smooth and provoke me to think emotionally. I happened to read two of his pieces, both fine ones, and it left me going back in time to look into my own life and my relationships with my father and sibling.
I have supportive parents. When I say supportive, I don’t mean someone who would go to the extent of sharing a drink with me, but someone who actually were available when I wanted to talk something or confide in them. May be that is what enabled me cruising through my troubled teenage without much of an issue. Even with such parents, I found his piece on his father relevant. I saw my life with my father when I was reading that piece. I will explain.
Fathers in many Indian homes are silent warriors. They strive every moment to ensure that there is food on the table and that his family is comfortable and not lacking anything. He might slog for long hours, do jobs that he doesn’t really like or having issues with his friends or colleagues, but we are not shown that side of his life. We are rendered blissfully unaware of those.
Growing up can do a lot of things to you. In many homes, girls grow up to move closer to mothers and boys to their fathers. This might be stereotypical and could even have stemmed from the set gender bias norms in our country, but that is how it worked for a lot of people I knew. This was in fact reiterated by my father when recently he called me up to tell me that until the age of four, I was extremely close to my father, such that I didn’t really fancy staying with amma. He mentioned this while he was trying to highlight that these days I am closer to Amma than I am to him. How I wish to tell him that nothing has gone wrong or it is not out of deliberation that I am closer to amma and that it was just how it happened. How I wish I could tell him that there are certain issues which would be better if discussed with someone of the same gender. Sigh!
There were times when I was told that my father had confidence and faith in me and my choices. Even if he did not highlight that himself, amma always ensured that she conveyed it to me. His confidence in me is what amazes me till date. Believe me when I say that I did not know it the moment when I was born. I took my own time to realise it and see it, all by myself. Till then, I had thought may be my father thought I was a dud head, who was confused about her life and who didn’t know the evil ways the society worked. He was and is a silent warrior. He suffers in silence and rarely speaks out what he is going through. That is how in fact we are cultured, isn’t it? Men are supposed to be macho and steely all the time while women are allowed the privilege to cry their hearts out. Men crying is seen as a sign of weakness. This generalisation actually is adopted as a vicious circle. Fathers don’t cry and seeing them serious all the time, sons avoid crying too. This goes on and on because, for any son, their father is their hero, their invincible emperor who is out to rule the world. My brother considers my father that way, I am sure.
I have a brother, who is like a baby to me. Even if he is 40 years old and I am 49, he would still be my baby. There are times when I have ruined his dreams when I joked about him being a marine engineer and a tea-master (Of course I did not know then that tea had strange strings of fortune with it). He has, in turn, made my life full of fun and laughter. I would have been a lonely, miserable kid if it was not for his presence in my life. We have tiffs even now. He seems to have a strange super power to gauge when I would be asleep and he could call and ruin my sleep. Hell breaks loose if I ignore his calls. Period. There is no appellate authority to plead to, for this heinous crime, FYI.
These write-ups, left me thinking if I would even stop to think about people and their actions twenty years down the line. The power of having an open communication channel, the significance of trivial bonds, the leniency that we are supposed to give our parents etc are usually under-rated. I wonder why. Is it because we are not afraid of losing these relationships? After all, it is our own family we are talking about. So what about the other working relationships? Are they working mainly because we put in that extra effort to maintain and nurture them? We could ponder over these issues for many a sleepless night, and I am sure we would be awed at the amount of taking-for-granted that we do.