The newspapers and the TV screens become real life barriers in most homes because they serve as tools that maintain a façade of normalcy.
The undercurrents of bitterness, angst and pain are too deep and raw to be dealt with – so we choose to ignore them by burying our noses in the newspapers or switching off our minds and hearts by watching mindless Ekta Kapoor made serials only to regret it much later in our lives.
Yes, we have all the time in the world to keep ourselves updated about the latest news – sadly we have absolutely no time or inclination to even get to know our own neighbours or share some time with the junior or middle aged or senior most folks of our own families!
Time is such a rare commodity these days that most of us keep wondering how the years have simply flown past. One day seems no different from the other, this Sunday seems no different from the last one and the next one too will be a similar one. So embroiled are we in earning our daily bread and butter, that we forget to keep track of the things that matter the most in our lives.
Yeah – it is easy to give three bags full of woolly advice when you have a big enough bank balance in your account.
Try attending your cousin’s wedding when you have a report to submit, or you are wondering which fixed deposit to break up in order to pay your kid’s kindergarten fees! You will quickly sober up and get your priorities right.
This is the kind of whirlpool that we live in daily! Who does not want to go out there and enjoy life to the fullest? Who does not want to go abroad and interact with people of other countries? Who does not yearn for a break from this punishing tiring nerve wracking schedule? Who does not wish to spend some time simply inhaling the freshly brewed coffee and sipping it at leisure? Who does not wish to read the newspaper in a leisurely fashion every day? Who is happy with the ever widening communication gap between two or three generations?
We, the middle class Indians, can still consider ourselves lucky. Due to the difference in economic strata – we have some kind of domestic support to rely on – on a daily basis. So, women are able to go out and work with a stress free mind because they know that when they return home, it will always be to a clean home with everything stacked up in place. She then focuses on her children and their homework and thinks about cooking nutritious meals for the family.
People of other countries are not as fortunate as us. House hold help is expensive and it is the women of these countries that I admire and respect the most! I would salute the spirit and the zeal with which they manage and balance their work and home lives with élan. They will cook every alternate day to focus on their children and families. These folks are truly independent because they rely on no one else but themselves to take care of the homes, work life and family!
And such people are not emotionally, morally, physically or mentally dependent on others for any kind of support.
They are happy in their own company – know their own minds – know themselves well enough to be confident about their decisions – and make it their business to look after themselves as best as they can.
Not so in India. While the family bonds are strong – there is also a strange sense of dependency amongst its members. While domestic help is treated with respect and courtesy and paid well – we think it is beneath our dignity to do our own work or we deserve fresh meals three times in a day – never mind the time our wives, mothers and sisters spend slaving in the kitchen.
We feel that since we are taking such good care of them – they ought to be happy. Sadly we forget that they may have their own dreams, desires and aspirations that they keep postponing to some distant day for the sake of peace, for the sake of the kids, for the sake of the family.
This constant compulsory sacrifice and compromise that they are forced to make – because we simply take them for granted – creates a big rift within the family.
No discussions can ever take place in such a scenario – because it is always a one sided dialogue. The seniors set the priorities for the entire family – this has to be rigidly adhered to – this leads to disillusionment and unhappiness – which leads to a breakdown in communication. You say – I obey – I have no choice – so I keep quiet but my unhappiness is evident in my unwillingness to do anything for the family.
If the family as a whole cannot take care of each member’s deepest desires and aspirations – the entire family has failed at a structural level.
Everyone is entitled to lead their lives their way. Every adult knows how to shoulder their responsibilities. They may have different priorities at different points of time – but at a basic level – at an individual level – this statement made by my friend has helped me cruise through many phases of despair in my life:
We go out of the way to take care of our guests. We spend a part of the day – UNFAILINGLY – to read the newspapers, and watch the news on TV and discuss it with our colleagues at lunch.
Yet, we forget and overlook the fact that there is more to life than sheer drudgery – that we all deserve something better than our current scenario – in fact we deserve nothing but the best things in life.
And the best things in life – the things that truly matter – are truly free of cost – freedom to pursue some passion, exhilaration of doing something we love, satisfaction of creating something unique, quiet pride on earning a great salary for doing a great job, gratitude that we are blessed with a good education and the sheer bliss of a clear conscience and deep refreshing sleep because we know that we are using each day of our life doing things that we give us so much joy!
A family – as a structure – is made up of unique individuals. And each member should be allowed to pursue things that bring them so much happiness at such a deep and profound level.
Only if we allow and give others the freedom that they deserve – will we be able to make them happy. Women would love to cook for the family if they are allowed to pursue their passion. They know their responsibilities and will shoulder them willingly. The co-operation of the entire family is essential for this.
A man will happily set off for work – if he knows his wife and children are happy with what they are doing. A man will work happily when he is empowered at work and given some freedom to do it his way as long as he delivers what he is supposed to at the right time.
Empowerment, responsibility, freedom are all aspects that contribute to the happiness of any person. If any one of these aspects is deprived – it leads to discord and disharmony within the family – and barriers like a newspaper and a TV serial and polite civil cold talk will prevail within the family. There will be backbiting, hurt, angst and tears………which leads to that rift in the family.
Senior, middle aged, junior ….it does not matter which generation we belong to – we all have our inner calls that we need to pursue. We are all entitled to pursue it – and if we are able to do it in a responsible manner – may be a different manner – but responsible nevertheless – it will increase the happiness quotient within the family.
Before we keep a tab on what is going on around the world and what is going on in each serial that is telecast on TV – let us learn to keep a tab on whether all the members of our family are happy with the way they are leading their lives!