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Life On An Eversilver Plate

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

A Duplicitous Life

Picture this. It has only been a couple of hours since I have had my first child and I am lying dazed on the hospital bed wearing a sleeveless night gown, looking around me, taking everything in through a haze of euphoria tinged with mild confusion and a definite awareness of ungobackableness. And I hear my mother apologise to someone, most definitely a hospital nurse. Oh no, I hear her say, we don't normally wear something like this in our house. She is usually more appropriately dressed. It takes me a small fraction of time to realise that it was me that she was referring to. And it is the fact of me showing off my armpit (freshly depilated - I remembered to shave even in the middle of my labour pains) to the world that was bringing forth the apologies. A note went into my mental filing cabinet, into the folder marked 'To Be Done Surreptitiously'.

Like most Indian children of a certain age (perhaps even now?) doing on the sly things that their parents disapprove of is nothing new for me. But somehow I assumed that going away to live on my own, getting married and begeting a child would mean that I would no longer need to pretend. Granted I would not rub it in their face, but I had thought I would not have to walk on eggshells for fear of disapproval. I had thought that perfectly adult behaviour would escape derision or scorn. But how wrong was I! What I did as an adult mattered just as much as it did when I was a teen and my shockingly short haircut earned me the privilege of not being spoken to for weeks on end.

Which is why when I was out for lunch recently with a friend and another who had brought her visiting mother-in-law with her, I was surprised to hear them discuss animatedly about which wine to drink and then order a glass of wine each. The mother-in-law came from a very conservative teetotalling vegetarian community and seemed very accepting of her daughter-in-law's choice to drink wine at lunch time (at any time really). But then what choice does she have, said one of the friends later, she either accepts it or risks alienating herself from her son and his family. She has chosen wisely to overlook the differences and to embrace them instead.

How refreshing is such an attitude! To not constantly measure your children by your own duplicitous, questionable standards but to accept them with all their choices, however hard it might be and however bad you might think it will make you look in other people's minds (here's a tip: no one really cares).

Indulging in a spot of
Skinny dipping. I was
Right. No one cares.
I had these thoughts racing through my mind while out shopping for furniture with a friend and stumbled upon a lovely Sekretär. My friend is an artist and has a keen eye for the aesthetic and promptly suggested that we turn it into a bar that would sit slap bang in the middle of the lounge and would invite guests, rather brazenly to partake of its bounty. But, but, but, I spluttered in my mind, what would visiting family think? Would they not disapprove of such flagrant disregard for good upbringing? Would the flasks have to be hidden away (that old trick) to make way for more acceptable bottles? But aloud I said, Great idea! Let's turn this into a bar!

I guess there will always be something about us that will rankle those that raised. Some mild disappointment with our comportment, some Major disagreement over decisions, some outright disapproval over choices but I have to realise that it is okay. It is absolutely fine to not see eye-to-eye on everything with a parent.  Looking back, I wish I had raised my arms, displayed my pits to the world and watch the onlookers stumble about in shock and consternation. Or watch them shrug their shoulders and carry on. 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

yay...you writing again....!!! I can vividly remember the horrified faces of great aunts who saw a 16-year old girl's deepavali purchase was a pair of dirty blue denim jeans!! Haha for small victories...