When i was little and money was the answer to all my questions and its absence the root cause of all my problems, i wished i had a different set of people as my parents. People who had loads and loads of money, people who would nod their heads in affirmative for the growing list of demands such as books, games, CDs and Picnics, people who would offer me my favorite street food every single day, people who would praise me for every single grade i earned than questioning me for every single one i lost. People who would buy me new clothes for every festival, People who would drop me to and pick up from school in a car. I would often fantasize about waking up in a different house - a house that had everything my home could not afford. Alas, it never happened. Every day i woke up with my same old parents. I wallowed in self pity for a few years as i met my friend's parents - Upper middle class to rich, well educated, soft spoken and well groomed. Then out of no choice I accepted my parents as they are! I bragged about it, put myself on the pedestal to think how effectively i was coping with them and what a favor it meant to them!
15 years later, 22000 miles apart, i miss them irrespective of the money they never had or their disciplinarian nature that never changed. Past 2 years in US have been stagnant as far as my career goes but i witnessed so many shades of human nature that today, after all the freedom i have to do whatever thing i want or after all the money i have ready to buy me every little thing i ever wanted, i value nothing of it. I have (finally!) come to value my Aai Baba like nothing else!
I however feel ashamed for the way i thought about them during my formative years. I feel sad for all my outbursts at them. Outbursts - out of the growing frustration of being stuck in a middle class set up for life, out of the irritation of wanting to grow wings and fly away but not getting around to actually do it. I feel repentant for every single time i have hurt them with my words and/or actions. I feel grateful for all the punishments, angry words and the pain that comes with it that they inflicted on me, for its them that i could face challenges in my life without as much as batting an eyelid. I feel thankful for all the values and principles they imbibed in me, for its them that i can still connect to my roots in a foreign land. Temptations to overstep my boundaries do not affect me despite of the freedom US offers me, thanks to them. Their faces flash in front of my eyes every time i so much as think about doing something i know they wont approve of. I particularly am so thankful to my Baba for stressing it early on to me that there is no shortcut to success other than honesty and hard work. Smart work is sometimes over rated for some things in life do need lot of sweat and sleepless nights.
I am so thankful to my Aai for showing me the joy of sharing, for letting me understand the happiness you can offer to people in small acts done with love, care and best intentions. I could have easily been pampered as the only child for the first 10 years of my life before Kiran was born but she never allowed it to happen. Even if it meant just a bowl full of curry, she shared it with all our neighbors. Everyone was welcomed at our small place. Sometimes, that would mean no place for me to study or play but i grew up around people, all kinds of people, that made me ready to face life, accept people with their not-so-pleasing habits. It also made me aware that not everyone has your best intentions at their hearts and you have to keep away from such people, embracing only those who were genuine, who loved you with no hidden motive.
Both, my mom and dad, worked very hard to fend for our family. I have seen them going out of their ways to help people, to make them happy with small but thoughtful gestures - and all this without making a whole scene about it. I have also seen those very people back stabbing my parents. What however has always amazed me is my parent's ability to forget and forgive. That is one thing i could never learn from them. To let go off people, To let go off your expectations from people. I still get hurt and swear off people who back stab me but again my parents showed me how to move on and i did and felt much better.
My dad never repented the fact that i was a girl. My gender never stopped him from choosing an ambitious career path for me while, all along, he had an option of marrying me off but he still waited for me at 11 PM, every night at deserted Dadar TT Circle to pick me up from where my company bus dropped me so that i did not have to commute alone in the dead of night. My good grades brought tears in his eyes and a huge grin as i stepped on stage to receive numerous scholarship awards or trophies and medals for elocution, singing, memory quizzes or essay competitions but he never tolerated me bragging about those to anyone else. He is the man who showed me the difference between possessing a bad attitude and being grounded and down to earth!
Me being a girl has never forced my mom to drag me to kitchen to stop studying and learn cooking but she always taught me how being a girl, a woman to be, i had the power to make or break a family. When i would eventually grow up to be someone's wife and someone's daughter-in-law, how my little adjustments would mean peace of mind for my family. How the good old spanking at correct time would mean my children would learn to toe the line. How respecting elders in the family and agreeing to their reasonable demands never means a hit to your well educated self and ego fueled on professional success.
Today when i see people around pass me an incredulous look for the things i say or do, when i sometimes find myself underestimated or unaccredited for certain things, when very often i feel others finding my company utter boring, uninteresting and lackluster, when i am being judged based on the most trivial things, i feel heavy thinking about how my parents tolerated me all these years. How their patience never ran out. How their love saw no dearth for me. How only they could see as a diamond and not as apiece of coal like so many others do. It seems so funny now that ever, in my delusional mind, i had patted my back for 'accepting' them. The reality has now dawned on me that they are the ones who had to accept me for the way i have sometimes been - argumentative, indifferent, standoffish and very insensitive to their needs. They are perfect, have always been.
We never shared a relationship so formal for me to be able to say sorry but i hope God would allow me to be with them, to do something for them that would make them tremendously proud of me and enormously happy.
I think a huge Thank You is in order to God as well. He surely gave me poor parents but He compensated by making them just so perfect!!