Thursday, April 24, 2008

Déjà vu

Funny how things come full circle. It's like that saying: what goes around--comes around (especially in matters of life). I'm talking about relationships here, specifically, the one that we (me and my sisters) share with my mum.

When I was a teenager, and going through hell--there was a time when I was sure that my mother was trying to be the worst possible parent that she could be towards me, and thus, I tried to be the worst possible son that I could be towards her. Of course, I never thought it as such; I wasn't being a jerk, it was she who had the problem.

Now, ten years down the line, things are so much more clear. I have two sisters--one who's two years younger to me (who's already happily married, settled, and is living out her dreams), and the other, who is still in the wings, desperately trying to carve out a space for herself in this world. She's eight years younger to me, and has just completed her graduation (Bachelors) and is going in for her Masters right now, after which she plans to go abroad for further studies (a bone of much contention in my house, between my mother and her).

Lately though, I've noticed a rift growing between them, something that I thought would not be possible. This girl was the same girl who would hold onto my mother's दुपट्टा when she was a tot of about 5 or 6, and would follow her around everywhere, screaming and spitting on anyone who would dare come near her to even suggest that she give her mother a break, and maybe sit with them. No, that was asking for the impossible.

When she'd grown a little more, she would still prefer to sleep with her mother (in-between her father and her, in their bedroom), and would keep one of her legs on my mother's back as a sort of a safety mechanism, to know that mum was there and wasn't going to leave her and go anywhere in the middle of the night. Dad though, always ended up getting the short end of the stick: a sore back from all the kicks that my sister would deliver in the midst of her sleep.

And then, one day, almost instinctively, she no longer felt the need to hold onto mom's दुपट्टा any longer. My little sister had grown up, or was in the process of at least, and I couldn't believe it. The nerve! How could she--when I had tried to do the same and was quashed so vehemently. How did she think she could take after my other sister like that, and so soon, especially since I was trying so hard to do it for myself. Where was my turn goddammit! And, wouldn't you know it--my mother and she had become as thick as thieves just like her and my other sister had, and I was left outside looking in once again. I wondered what it was that I would have to do to be accepted by these group of women. Did I have to become a woman myself, and if I did--I was prepared to--if it would only mean I could get the emotional support and understanding I so desperately needed.

This union lasted for a long time. Of course, they did have their ups and downs, which I would try and use to my own advantage (being the dog without a master, running to whomever called him first), and tried to be the good son and the caring brother which I thought I could be, but was always left with a sense of bitter distaste in my mouth when it was all over, and I was once again left to my own devices, neglected--stranded.

It took me a long, long while to recover from this bruising, and get back on my feet again, and even though I've not "completely" gotten there yet, I am on my way. But, there's been a slight twist in the tale. You see, now my sister has reached the age where she has become the rebel, and my mom and her are the ones who aren't getting along all that well. These two women who were practically inseparable a year or two ago are now at each others' wits. I see a lot of myself in my sister--that desire for self-recognition, to find out what she wants to do with this life, with whom she wants to be associated--and this of course has caused my mother great anxiety. She is worried, like she always has been, and for the first time I can see where it is that she was coming from for all these years. I still don't have the same perception of Parenthood that my parents do, and never will, but at least I've come to peace with understanding my father and mother a little better, and not judging them too harshly. They are my parents after all, and if I don't look out for them--who will.

So, I do the best I can, to try and balance out any of the friction between my mom and sis; this means always being the one who opens and closes the door and gate for her lately whenever she's taking the car out somewhere. Being the one who's the go-between between her and my mom to ask her what she wants for breakfast or tell her that lunch or dinner is ready. And, sometimes keeping a check to see why she isn't home in time, as my mother will call out to me from downstairs and ask me to give her a buzz and remind her what time it is.

My mom reads my blog. I've given her permission to, because I trust her enough that she'll respect my decision to write whatever I want, and even if she doesn't, I feel that now she and I are independent enough to respect our boundaries, as thin as they maybe. I don't feel the need to seek her approval at any cost, even if it means at my own detriment, and I think this is a good thing. I only wish, that when she does sit down to read this, that she realizes what a beautiful daughter she has (which I know she knows in her heart) and forgives her for whatever misgivings she's had with her. On the other hand, I can always ask my sis to read the blog and maybe make amends towards my mom instead. Or maybe ask both of them to give this a read? Well, this thing is becoming quite the family affair, isn't it. (That's India for you folks: we somehow manage to get our families into everything. Even our blogs which are supposed to be about India. Hope you don't mind too much. Thanks for listening. You're a wonderful audience.)


Anonymous said...

I'm sure your mother knows that in reading this she will see evidence of a mature, reflective and loving son.

I wish you all the best. I hope some day my 10 year old son can achieve something like this. As an Ssperger's child he really odesn't have the kind of insight into other's relationships that you show. So I can but hope that your Mother realises the treasures she has!

hadjiboy said...

You sound like a very caring father, anonymous, and I'm sure your son will always know how lucky he is to have a dad like you.

Take care. And thank you for the kind comment.