Thursday, June 2, 2011

Love, liberty and loyalties

My neighbours are in a tizzy. Their daughter, age twenty three, fair, beautiful, computer engineer, whose wedding was fixed to a age twenty six, handsome, only son, computer engineer, earning in six figures, when she threw a spanner in the works by announcing that she was in 'love'.The boy in question was some one she had known from before college. He was neither fair, nor handsome, and definitely not earning six figures. The worst of it was that he did not belong to their community ( yes, another one of those mismatches that young people seem to fall into!!) The parents expect her to make a choice between them or the boy.Talk about divided loyalties! Between all the pleading and threatening they reminded her that they had given her the freedom to study and make a career and she should not misuse it. Here is the question- 1) Is freedom something that any one can 'give'? 2) Once freedom is 'given' what is misusing it?

 These were not  questions that really bothered me ( as they  should have) when I was young and impressionable. I assumed that one did things within boundaries set by parents, family, society and the world at large. Any sojourns outside those boundaries were victories that were hard won - rebellion that worked! I believe most of us think that way brought up as we are on a heavy diet of 'parents know best' and  'I told you so'.When comfort on failure  is offered only when it is something that has a general approval. Try something on your own and should you fail, the world and its uncle ( or your uncle for sure) is there with the eternal 'I told you so'.

The young girl in love, has a fifty percent chance of getting her choice of partner, but she has to be strong in the face of dissent. Dissent is hard for anything, even careers. remember the movie, 'Three Idiots', when one of the protagonists Farhan ,played by Madhavan, has to convince his father about his career choice? A rather difficult thing, when we are conditioned to believe that our parents know best as they would never want us to come to any harm. They selected the right schools for us, then gently 'guided' us into the right choices for education and career. They kept us from the wrong company, so it seems logical that they would be aware of the right partner/ career/company for us too. After all more 'love marriages' break up as compared to 'arranged marriages' (I told you so) or engineers have more job security than photographers ( We know best/ Hamne duniya dekhi hai ).

 Not that earning good money is a criminal waste of time, but if we all look at money alone, the world would never have found Mahatma Gandhi or a Mother Teresa. Imagine a world without a Vincent Van Gogh or a Shakespeare!  Not that arranged marriages do not work.. oh they do...... but with a little parental support, even love might have a fighting chance.  As a parent, I know it is very difficult to stand and watch your child make a mistake and then go through the pain of correction. Having been a child though, I also realize that for their own sake, love and liberty deserve a fighting chance!!


  1. A very touching post. Actually I do believe in the fact that "parents know best", although sometimes they may come as overbearing, but they do seem to have age and experience and love on their side. But I also know that they are only human and hence not infallible. Even if they are wrong ( which in my case they seldom are), I think we ought to be respectful, because the same freedom and individuality bestowed upon us has been given to them. So they are entitled to an opinion, as biased/unbiased it may be.

  2. Hi Ankit, its great having someone looking out for you and trying to smooth your path ahead and parents absolutely do that. The question is whether one wants a smooth ride or an eventful one. Also, does respect mean unflinching obedience? As a parent I know that it is hard to stand by and watch your child walk into what you think is disaster... just as hard as it is to disregard a parent's warning.. It is never black and white I guess..

  3. I think it's parents' job to equip their children to make the right decisions, not to make the decisions for them. And yes, it is tough to watch someone you groomed from a little baby to adulthood walk into what you see as disaster, I guess it is tougher to live with the knowledge that you didn't really let your child learn her own lessons in life but were content to limit her experiences to your own. It never ceases to amaze me how parents in India still almost always make the tougher choice! I guess it has something to do with our preference for safety over adventure and predictability over uncertainty.
    True freedom is not circumscribed by a set of conditions and it comes with the understanding that you'd be completely responsible for your acts howsoever they come out in the end.


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