We are all born into a family and married into another family; then, we are expected to build our own family while we balance the other two existing families – and with that, welcome to India’s never-ending cycle of family drama. While on one hand, we boast about our family values and culture, on the other hand, thanks to our television serials, there is no one here who would be alien towards the various dramas associated with family. Let us explore a typical person’s life from a kudumbam angle.
Birth is the very first aspect in our life over which we do not have any control, and this sets in motion a never-ending list of other uncontrollable decision areas. Your doctor decides your birth date and time, or your mother’s pain else, maybe even by an astrologer.
Then comes another major decision – your name. If only we could have told our parents not to start our name with an ‘A’. But since we were busy crying and nagging for weird stuff, we left essential decisions to our families and sometimes even ended up with our great-great grandparents’ names. This is followed by other decisions – clothes, games, food etc. While our brains took time to mould themselves, our family’s conviction that they know what is best for us solidified further. Well, can’t complain because we genuinely did not have the sense to make decisions for yourselves at the toddler stage.
From A B C D to Graphics/Anatomy
Even before we start crawling, some of our parents would already have charted our whole life from what to study, where and how to study. Once we somehow scrape through schooling, we are given the big bang option to choose from engineering or medicine. If you take a chance to voice out your choice of arts, sports, music, dance etc., then be ready to hear a list of losers from your family who chose their passion over career. Also, throw in some emotional melodrama of how much your parents suffered to give you a good education and how you ignore their efforts and go on a wayward path.
While the guilt-stricken us choose a life of tools (Computer or a Stethoscope), our parents beam at us proudly and proclaim to the neighbours how studious we are – when the college seat has been paid for!
The noose around our neck – ID card
The next important step in a sharaashari individual’s life is a career. If your heart strives to do something different such as set up your own business or join a start-up, then be ready to face your family’s disappointment. To a degree, it is easy to handle disappointment, but when it aggravates to the level of karachil, pirichil etc, we decide to bow to our parents’ wishes. Regardless of what Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs says, in every parent’s book, the ability to meet basic physiological needs is forever more important than achieving self-actualisation.
Once caught in the trap of having a gleaming ID card around our neck, it is time to showcase our achievements to society. While we are just one among the lakhs of employees in an MNC, our parents introduce us to the naatukar as the whole and soul of the company. Sometimes they conveniently ignore your real company’s name and take your client’s name because Facebook or Google is way cooler than Infosys or Wipro, right?
The commercialised sacred vows
Once we finally come to terms with our work life and save enough to live independently. Then comes the mega pressure to ‘settle in life’. And how do you achieve this milestone? By marrying a stranger chosen by your family. God forbid if you have a lover, this would set in motion high-level emotional atyachar mostly involving a common topic of who is more important to you: lover or parents?
Finally, after all the battles and associated scars, you will find yourself on an elaborately decorated stage surrounded by hundreds of unfamiliar faces who have come to wish you good luck while simultaneously complaining about the food. Suppose at one point you realise that the cost of the decorations, ornaments, garments, and catering adds up to more than you may earn. In that case, this is one step towards achieving self-actualisation in India. Marriage is solely the union of two people is an unknown aspect in India. Here it is an opportunity to showcase a family’s wealth, and privilege and to please the naatukar.
It is show time
Are you even a man if you don’t have a baby within one year of marriage? Why did you even get married if you cannot have a baby? If you don’t have a baby, who will look after you when you get old? A baby is essential to complete a family. Well, guys and girls, once such questions begin, we have no choice but to showcase our ability by producing a baby to carry forward our family legacy.
If the medical field fails to help you bear a baby, our family will have many religious and homemade solutions which can leave any man of science gasping in astonishment. And once you have the miracle baby, it is time for you to step into your parents’ shoes and continue the nostalgic lifelong saga of Kudumbam.
Indian parents and their way of parenting are famous worldwide thanks to the trolls and memes on social media. While we all watch it and laugh our guts out, how many of us are brave enough to acknowledge that maybe what our parents are doing is not right? Is it right for your parents to influence your decisions, from your education to your marriage to your children’s marriage? Are they wrong in asking for this privilege? After all, they sacrificed a lot to raise us. Quite a confusing dilemma.
As a parent, when you are in charge of shaping a human being, it is an essential requirement for you to be informed. When you guide your children, it should not be based on prejudices. Give your children the space to understand themselves, give them information about the various choices available, and try not to make decisions for them. Let them make their own decisions, and maybe they will fail, but surely one day, they will learn to pick themselves up rather than cry out to you for help every time.
We as children should also stop putting our parents on a pedestal. They are normal humans but prone to make mistakes and are sometimes even toxic carriers of stereotypes. It is important for everyone to be not blind and question their parent’s thought process when it seems illogical. Also, normalise going against your family’s wishes if it does not seem right. Creating your path in life is not always a sign of arrogance but rather a sign of self-realisation.