How do I begin to tell you what you’ve done for me?
There comes a point in your life when the tables turn and Children take on the responsibility of parenting their parents. That time is at the threshold of our lives now and before we switch roles, here’s my gratitude to you…
As a child I saw other parents, especially mothers, scolding other kids because we made their child cry or whatever. I never saw either of you do that. In fact the few times that I did come to you with a complaint against another kid, you would scold me. I learnt very early on that I have to either fight or resolve my own battles; you would not step in. At the time I was enraged by it. But now I know that that was one of my founding lessons. A lot of who I am today is because of that one difference between you and other parents. I can fight for myself, my beliefs and my loved ones. Some elders might call it disrespectful and some peers might call it aggressive. But that’s a lot better than being at the mercy of others.
Unlike many children, I have never lied to you about my drinking or actively hidden it from you. The people who do rationalize it by saying that when they know it hurts their parents, why should they tell them and hurt them. In our case, I know that you would be hurt when you found out that I lied to you about it. I want you to know me, every part of me – the good and the bad. Because I am a part of you. The most regressive thing in the world is to lie to yourself. I will not lie to you because I’m not doing anything wrong and you taught me to never apologize for a wrong I didn’t do. And I argue with you not because I disrespect you. On the contrary, I argue with you because I respect you and because your opinion matters to me.
I know a lot of people who refuse to accept that their parents made a mistake. Apparently that’s how you show respect to your parents. There’s a strong irrational belief that parents can never be at fault. As though there’s a switch that goes on when you conceive a child that makes you faultless. I’m glad you’ve never punished me for not believing that. I’m glad that you’ve taught me to acknowledge fault where there is and correct it and that you can make mistakes at any age. Parents are not Gods; they’re humans. And there is more power in being a human than in being a God. After all, God is only a figment of our mind but parents are the Big Bang of our universe.
I know that when your peers look at me they never put me in the ‘Good Girl’ category. And I shouldn’t be. They come from a generation that’s never known a girl who’s younger to them to be highly opinionated about matters beyond the kitchen and vocal about it too. I’m a new concept to them. I’m not the girl who will bend and touch their feet to ask for their blessings. I am not the girl who will hide the fact that I drink alcohol. I am not the girl who will fall over my own feet in an attempt to please somebody while I curse the person from within.
I am the girl who will have a multi-faceted personality and will not be ashamed of it.
I am the girl who will have strong opinions and will not be cowardly to express it.
I am the girl who will treat people with basic human respect and not spend my time pleasing them because I will not be dishonest to myself.
I am the girl who might not be the ideal Indian daughter-in-law but I will be the woman that my family needs.
Until the age of 10 or 11 I never understood what my gender meant. I knew my gender but I didn’t know the difference between the two. That is also thanks to you. You never told me that I shouldn’t do XYZ because I’m a girl, or that I should behave a certain way because I’m a girl. That was another pillar of my foundation. You taught me that I could do anything I wanted to and nobody but I could dictate that.
Last year I got really irritated when all these other people who have no familial ties to you would send food to our house everyday when you had just had the fractures. I was irritated because this was an opportunity for me to start repaying the debt I owe you. You guys have done so much for me and my being thankful for it isn’t enough. With this incident I got the chance to cook for you and care for you just as you did for me and these people came in and took away that chance from me. But what I realized later was that just like me, they also feel that they owe so much to you because you’ll did whatever you could for them whenever they needed it. And besides, can I ever repay this debt in our shared lifetime? I doubt it.
All the three of us have worked to make our relationship better. Relationships evolve whether you like it or not. Most often you don’t have control over what that relationship will become. Today most of my friends think you guys are such cool parents because I can be honest with you about travelling, drinking, dating, clothing, etc. It’s funny they say that because there was a time when this wasn’t the case. How did we get here then? Because all three of us worked towards it. We weren’t the best communicators but we did communicate about what was important to us and why. I had to be stubborn about some things that were important to me and so were you. It was because of that constant back and forth that today we have such an honest relationship. At times I had to fight with you to get the space I needed to grow and I’m grateful that you didn’t punish me for it. You become a parent when your child is born. You grow and learn just as fast and as much as a baby does. Both entities are interdependent for evolution. Thank you for growing with me.
Thank you for giving me your name. I promise to never give it away.