Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Parents Just Don’t Understand

Enough can never be said about our parents and their unconditional love. They are the pillars of our lives that have brought us up to be the upstanding individuals we are today. Children are raised to view parents as the closest beings to God and throughout our lives we continue to benefit from their instinct and wisdom. Yet, as Fresh Prince rapped it best on his Grammy winning album: Parents just don’t understand!

There comes a time in each individual’s life when the seesaw of knowledge begins to tip toward the person and away from his/her parents. Times and ideas change, as do society’s views and norms. However, parents aren’t always quick to catch on, and sometimes they aren’t even aware that there even was a catch! Still, parents aren’t ready to let go of the reins and continue to insist that they still know better. For instance, almost everyone has experienced the Uncle that believes he knows everything regardless of the subject. A NASA engineer could sit and dispute the Uncle’s opinion of Space exploration with an abundance of evidence to support his argument, and in response the Uncle (in the unbuttoned printed polyester shirt) will raise his hand to him and simply say ‘Arrey, Vat are you talking?’

Things are no better with parents’ and their viewpoint on their kids dating. Relationships are common practice in this day and age. Nevertheless, a majority of individuals insist on keeping it hush-hush. Part of the reason is to maintain their reputation within the society and the other is because their parents wouldn’t approve, especially the parents of females. What parents don’t realise is that everyone is doing it (yes, even your child)! Then there are the other set of parents that have taken steps in accepting that their offspring has begun dating however, they refer to it as ‘being friends’. To expect them to understand and accept what transpires in this ‘friendship’ would be unrealistic, as one mother who saw a picture of her son kissing his girlfriend on the mouth was heard gasping, ‘you exchanged the kiss of marriage???’ I guess its all about baby steps.

The ‘Speech!’
If nothing else, one thing that the fellow spawns can agree on is being victim to the ‘hard-times’ speech over and over again. This usually begins after a desire to purchase/spend is expressed, at which point we’re bombarded by something to the effect of:

‘You don’t know the walue of money. Ve’ve seen the hard life. In our day do you know ve used to get only one rupee! Do you know vat ve did with the one rupee? I used to buy your mother the flowers and then ve took a rickshaw to the beach and bought the ice creams. Then ve saw a picture in the cinema and then ve took a train to Pune to meet friends and then ve came back and still had change for Pakoras!’

Not only do parents have a knack for exaggerating but they also seem to lack understanding of society and trends. What’s worse is their limited grasp of inflation! On one occasion, a college student was planning to hit the clubs with his friends in London and asked his mother for money. The mother removed £10 from her bag and as she handed it to her son, she said ‘Don’t spend it all!’ The son looked at the bill. He then raised his head and responded ‘But the entrance itself is £20!!!’ It seems that to our beloved Sindh immigrants, any and everything today is far too expensive and they are unable to comprehend how their descendants can justify spending money the way they do. On one occasion a parent was heard saying; ‘Prada? You vant to buy the Prada shoes? Arrey in my day ve only had Bata! That vas our Nike but even then ve didn’t buy them. Your chacha and I, ve vent to school vith the white cloth shoes which we had to paint the night before to make the white. If they were not the white, ve got punished so chacha and I carried the chalk in our pockets to white the cloth shoes’

Even after having one’s prostate removed or suffering through menopause, to parents we will always be children. Owing to this state of mind, many of us have had to fight for every inch of privacy we have and will have to continue to do so. No matter how many times parents are asked to knock before entering our room it has no impact. The best they can do is knock and walk in immediately to put away your kachos and when you express your irritation, you fall victim to the ‘I carried you for 9 months in my stomach and this is how you treat me? Now, you have to watch Bhagban tonight!’ speech. To some this may be funny but there are numerous incidents where parents have walked ‘in’ on their daughter/son and their spouse as they are ‘expressing’ their love for one another, and believe you me, no one was laughing then.

Penny wise, Pound foolish
It’s no secret that our ancestors fled Sindh leaving behind their livelihood and wealth as they scurried across the border in hopes of saving their families. Even the wealthiest had fallen to levels of unimaginable poverty and had to rely on their natural business savvy to rebuild their lives. After enduring such an ordeal, it’s no surprise that parents have focused on saving their wealth. At times, however, their efforts backfire. As a result they waste more money rather than saving it. For example, when purchasing an appliance they’ll buy the most ‘economical’ no matter how much you rant and rave against it citing its inferior Chinese quality. In less than a week, you’ll be back at the store with your parent purchasing another unit and this time you just pray they listen!

Whatever our parents might not be, one thing they certainly can do is collect! Almost every Sindhi child saw the family’s collection of the little houses obtained on KLM or Emirates grow exponentially. Or in other cases, the piles and piles of complimentary bags received usually on business class that contain the disposable toothbrush, toothpaste, comb etc. 10 years later, the collection does nothing but collect dust and take up space so logically you suggest throwing it away only to hear ‘Beta ve may need to use it some day, vat if a guest comes and he needs it?’

Truth be told our parents didn’t have it easy and our grandparents certainly had it even harder. The trend is with each generation, life gets easier. Then again, that’s the wish and dream of every parent - a better life for their children. It seems that this trend will continue… at the end of the day, we’re headed in that very direction that we mock and criticise. It’s only a matter of time before we collapse on a sofa and gasp ‘Oh God!’ instead of ‘Hare ram’, and a witty young punk is writing a witty article about my parenting! But, until then, ‘Chungo Chungo, po tha galayoon’

Chandru Bhojwani

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