I was stepping out of the house when my dad shouted from behind, “Be back by 8 pm for dinner”.
“For everything he has to interrupt me. Like hell, I’m not a kid anymore”, feeling irritated instantly, I barged out. I felt suffocated in my own house, going through multiple transitions. I was nagged by my dad for everything under the sun.
He used to drop me to college in his old ambassador accompanied by his constant lectures, “Don’t talk to silly boys and waste your time.” I used to have an unvarying headache till my college gate arrived. Hustling out of the car and running inside to be with my buddies was my everyday routine. We all used to gather outside Miranda House and our gang would plan the daily monkey business. One day my dad saw me with my squad loitering around on the campus road and I got fired and grounded for a week. “You are good for nothing, just wasting my money and bunking classes.” I was blasted off by him again.
The only solace I found was in my grandma’s company, my chaiii ji, CJ as I called her. She made me sneak out from her bathroom’s door. She knew if I spent more time at home I would become dejected. Everyone needs a home to live in; my home was CJ. Her wrinkled soft hands on my forehead gave me so much peace. Her folk songs in Punjabi always had beautiful meaning in them. She was surely ahead of her times. I wondered how was my dad so rigid, CJ being so liberal especially towards me. My thinking differed from everyone in the family and I ended up in arguments always. CJ used to advise me, “You cannot speak butterfly language with caterpillar people.” As usual, I used to run out to be with my friends and spent time listening to music and chatting till long.
I had become a split personality. I still feel my parents don’t know the real me. I was so fake before them. When I was in school, I used to write poems in my diary. My experiences and whatever I felt was noted in it. One day my brother showed my diary to my mother and they were extremely pissed with me. My mother asked me if I had any affairs, to which I quizzically asked her, why she was asking me such questions that day. She started saying few lines from my erotic poem and looked at me angrily tearing those pages in front of me. I have no words to explain how I felt then, my emotions were torn before my eyes. My concentration while studying was very low, my mother would beat me black blue often but I had brazened.
I feel, children who are constantly suppressed by parents, lose their self-esteem and identity. Yes, there were few tough nuts to crack but that constant niggling, it does affect them. Then eventually my interest shifted to music and dancing. I was known in my school for stage performances. Thank god that was appreciated. The practices for every Friday’s activity at a friend’s place kept me busy. One day at a cousin’s wedding I performed on the stage. When I finished performing, I saw everyone applauding me including my mother but my father and my uncle (my father’s elder brother) were furious. My mother was told strictly to inform me that this was not allowed for girls in our house. So dancing went down the drain too.
I continued pursuing my interests but secretly. When the door is banged on your face, you start looking for windows. Everything I did, I started hiding from my mom and dad. I discussed my life with close friends only. I had become a sort of an anarchist, tried everything that was taboo. Smoke, alcohol, borrowing Mills and Boon from my cousin unofficially, friendship with boys which was a big no in our family, bunking college, kissing girlfriends in ‘truth and dare’ game, and what not. Back home, I was this sober girl living a simple life as her folks wish. I knew deep down I was talented and creative but no one was there to guide me.
After graduation, I put my foot down and persuaded my dad to let me do a diploma course in Public Relations. “You know their timings? People from what kind of family background are there with whom you would work? You know how many girls are raped in this city?” What the hell! I convinced him that I won’t do any job but just he should let me do this diploma course and till then to find a groom for me. He did find a groom for me during my internship. The guy, now my husband, has been very supportive.
During our courtship period, his genuine support like dropping me to college few times made me very happy but dad continued saying, “Why are you wasting your energy? Instead of this, learn cooking that will help you further in your family life.” Everyday fights and arguments took a toll over my health. So, I left it in between and got married.
Now I’m 40 and my husband has encouraged me to start my own blog and rediscover my creativity that had been dormant for so many years. The other day my elder son wrote an entry in his diary – some beautiful lines he wrote describing his classmates. I kissed him on his forehead and encouraged him to write whatever he feels like. His smiling face made me swell with pride. The younger one is learning Bachata in school and we told him it’s okay to closely dance with your partner and hold her confidently; be open minded.
Looking back, I wish my elders too filled these gaps of generation and hugged me, ushered me towards the right direction. All we need is love and acceptance in our own circle.
I still miss my chaiii ji, a liberal thinker like today’s generation. The difference of attitudes between people of different generations leads to a lack of understanding. But, she, my chaiii ji did understand me, my parents never did. My dad, who is a grandfather to my children now, is still the same. My husband is the chaiii ji to our sons.