When Parents Go Wrong

You only can give birth to a child. You can’t expect to own them when they become adults— their bodies, feelings, desires, dreams, consent— nope. I’m sorry if this hurts to know but those things are not yours to control. And that is, of course, in spite of all that you have sacrificed for them or for all the love you have given to them. Don’t put your love on a bargain to emotionally blackmail your adult child. Your ego must not weigh more than your child’s happiness.

This is not how it works. Neither logically nor legally. Perhaps you are worried about the culture or the society around you, what will they say, how will we answer? Well, then, think of the answers. Find the right answers, instead of taking the easy way out- do what everyone else is doing.

Who is this society? Is this one person or two people? Why are you so desperate to be a part of it? Is this society giving you birthday surprises or kissing you good morning every day or lovingly buying you clothes with their first salary? Does the society call you to ask if you’ve had lunch? Does the society come with you to the doctor when you’re sick? Does it pester you until you eat the medicines? Does it push you for the morning walk? How many times does the society give you a hug when you need it the most? How much will the society cry when you are dead? Continue reading “When Parents Go Wrong”

How Not To Be an Ass****

How Not To Be an Ass****
We had been really good friends for years. This one day, out of the blue, he calls, “Can we go out for lunch? I need to tell you something.” I replied without any thought, “Yes.” He looked visibly nervous that day. What followed was at least twenty minutes of random talk. When I finally lost my mind owing to the curiosity, I came forward from my seat with a clenched fist, and demanded, “Dude, will you tell me what’s the matter?”

 

He took a pause and said, “I need to tell you something. Please hear me out and promise that this won’t affect our friendship.” This could mean a thousand things or nothing at all. I said, “Nothing will affect our friendship, I promise. Tell me.”  And he said those three words.

 

“I am gay.”

 

I heard those three words, took a second of pause and said, “Okay…Great…(pause, smile)…But.. why would you think this would affect our friendship?”

 

A smile broke out on his face and the nervousness instantly vanished.

 

“What? What did you expect me to say to you when you’d say you are gay? Something like ‘dur ho jao meri nazron se’?
(Laughter)
“Yaar. I just didn’t want to lose you.”
“When did you first come to know?”
“It’s been around 1.5 years. I soooooooo wanted to tell you but could not.”
It felt like a dagger in my chest. Had I not been a good friend? Why did he have to hide it from me? I must have made him uncomfortable in some way.

 

“Did I ever make you feel that I would be disapproving of this?”
“You have been one of the nicest friends. And I have wanted to tell you all this while because you’d be such a support! But I remember this day we went to Zen and you had casually joked about someone around, “I think he’s gay.” It’s silly, I know. It was casual and not even shaming but I didn’t want to lose you for this.”
“Oh. When was this?”
“Around two years back. This was the time I was starting to face my sexuality.”

 

My head almost touched the ground. My hands on my face. I was ashamed of myself. I couldn’t believe that such a “small” thing could have such a big impact on someone. Just for that, my friend had gone through the struggle of dealing with this without me by his side.

 

It’s been years since this incident. Since then, I’ve had so many friends coming out to me. I’ve consciously resisted making even casual remarks about sensitive things. It still happens, but I try. And I’ve tried my best to be the most supportive, not freak out, not gossip or spread rumours. Coming out, sounds like a weird word, to begin with. Why does someone even have to come out? That’s something only the person who has had to suppress their sexuality will understand. For heterosexuals, it would help to imagine, what would it feel like to be told that what they are feeling for the opposite sex is unnatural?

 

We make very quick judgements about gender and sexuality. If a guy is a little effeminate, we label them as ‘gay’ (as if being gay is a bad thing). While they might really just be effeminate and not gay. If a girl appears to be a tomboy, we label them as ‘lesbians’. While they might really just be a tomboy. And what if they were even gays or lesbians. Anyone that is a part of nature, with consent, is natural.

 

Most people also confuse gender with sexual orientation. Gender is Male, Female. Sexual Orientation is Heterosexual, Homosexual, Asexual, etc. Facebook has introduced an option to select from 63 genders. It’s understood that this is quite confusing. But we live in a world that’s increasingly becoming complex because we are not ready to accept the people coming out. There are people who are GenderFluid: A gender fluid individual does not see themselves as male or female but may identify as one or the other depending on the day. There are people who are gender non-conforming: Gender Non-conforming is a person who either by nature or by choice does not conform to gender-based expectations of society. This identity goes along with a lot of the ones above. Learn More here.
 

How To React When Someone Comes Out to You

 

  1. Acknowledge: In a world that we live in, it is actually a big deal if someone comes out to you, especially if you not homosexual. There are a hundred fears attached to saying those three words, and when someone does that, the least you can do it, take a pause and acknowledge. Keep it a secret if they want to.
  2. Do Not Joke: It’s not funny. If you don’t understand how it feels, do not speak but try and not crack ugly jokes.
  3. Resist the Questions: You have heard different things and you have all sort of fantasies about homosexuality (how to you really have sex, how to get attracted, etc) but resist asking all sorts of questions right then.
  4. What to say: To begin with, say that you love them. Say that it doesn’t matter who they want to sleep with and it will not affect your love for them. The nicest thing to say is, “I’m glad you shared this with me. I just want you to know that I love you. And this doesn’t affect our friendship.”
  5. Do not Freak Out: When you freak out, you ask mean questions like, “Omg, what will you do now?” Would you say that to someone who’d say, “I am passionate about Math”? You won’t. It’s that simple. Nothing is to be done about it. The person is just sharing it with you.
  6. Do not be Awkward: There’s nothing awkward if the person if of the same sex as yours. They could be a friend/brother or sister. But you don’t need to creep out. Don’t think that they “like you that way” just because they are homosexual or queer. Just like every heterosexual person doesn’t like you! Do not run away from them.

The list is unlimited. It’s a sign of a really good person if someone comes out to you. It means that you made someone feel that comfortable that they could tell you such an intimate detail about their life. Yes, sexual orientation and gender are complex matters. But just because you don’t understand something, doesn’t mean it is wrong. You don’t know how to fly a spaceship, do you? So, do not be an ass****.

Is It Okay To Feel This Way?

In a revealing essay by Abigail Matson Phippard called ‘Staring at the Ceiling’ from the book ‘I Call Myself a Feminist’, she talks about her experience of working with victims of sexual violence and how she linked them back to the violence of her past. She shares about how heartbreaking it would be for her to listen to some atrocious stories. What she interestingly points out is that it was a common thing in women to be confused about violence. Abigail says,

I didn’t always want to do it everytime he wanted it. I found it difficult to tell him because he would get angry and upset and take it on his ego. Instead, I would just lie there, stare at the ceiling, I would disengage, offering myself as a hole for them to use.

Image Via Wikipedia: How to Say No To Sex: http://www.wikihow.com/Say-No-to-Sex

Women often wonder if it is okay to say ‘no’ when in bed with their partners. This confusion comes from the fact that we are never empowered to make sexual decisions. Whether it is seeking love or giving, we are to be the ones who are ‘shy’ and ‘can’t speak’ or ’emote’ our feelings about sex. It goes to such greater extent that we forget; that it’s our decision in the end. Cases are worse when it is with your husband because, in a patriarchal society, husbands own the wives, and she should be ready anytime she wants it. Continue reading “Is It Okay To Feel This Way?”

How Society Measures Ambition With Money

Just about when a child first begins going to school (these days: play school), we begin asking them, “What do you want to become in life?” The child is bewildered. “I thought life is just going to be as much fun. This was a trap! I will have to “become” something.” The child begins wondering. The easiest answer is fed into them. Either they should become something like their father or mother or someone ‘great’ in the family.
In middle-class families, generally, the one who has a lot of money is revered. At first, there are a lot of questions about ‘how that money is coming in’ but very soon the display of money shuts everyone up. This reverential character, unfortunately, becomes a role-model for the parents of the growing kids in the family.

Continue reading “How Society Measures Ambition With Money”

Memoir: The Day I Grew Up

Memoir: The Day I Grew Up
It’s a long period of years until this little angel that roams around your courtyard grows up into a girl or a woman. Most people think it is puberty that makes a girl grow up, it is not. It could be much earlier. I was 14 the day I realised I had grown up. Something had changed. I didn’t realise it, I was told that I had grown up. But how does someone grow so quickly?

 

We celebrate birthdays as if the person has actually grown up in 24 hours. People don’t. But I had, and it wasn’t even my birthday.

 

Until 8th grade, there were always limits and boundaries to how far from home we would travel. But with the advent of tuition classes, we used to travel a little farther in our cycles.

 

I grew up when I was 14. This one day when we were coming back from the tuition class, the three of us friends riding our bright, peppy coloured cycles, this man (looked in his 20s or something) slowed down his scooty and whistled, then he drove close to us and said,

 

“Would you like to be my friend?” We were dumbfounded. We didn’t stop, we kept cycling. Looking at our faces and no response, he added, “I need friends like you… you know? Why are you running from me? Talk to me. Come closer. I won’t bite.” We could hear his laughter while we paddled our best to go away from him.

 

This was not a secluded road, this was a busy street and broad daylight. It was funny in the first instance because the guy seemed lunatic but after it all ended, we realised how creepy it was. Forget telling parents, we were even shy to discuss within ourselves, what had happened.

 

Recurring thoughts came to our head. Why did we run? It was a busy street. We should have just stopped and told someone. For most of us, this is the point we grow up. We are told and made to realise that our bodies are special things to protect, that it is our duty to try and avoid confrontations, or even put ourselves in situations that can lead to eve-teasing.

 

Your uncles who have played with you while you were a toddler, now must not see your legs, so no skirts or shorts for you.
There are said and unsaid lessons on how to walk, what to wear, whom to talk with, whom to stay away from and when to be back home.

 

I have never seen cases where parents teach guys not to eve-tease, harass or bully.  Parents of boys like to shrug their shoulders saying, “Oh..it’s the people from the minority communities who do such things or people who are poor who do such things.” While the reality is that guys from all kinds of homes do these things.

 

On the other side, sometimes the most unexpected guys turn out to be a real help and are understanding in such cases. They know what is wrong and they know what is right.

 

Writing such things sitting in Ahmedabad is another level of privilege, they say. They ask us to compare it with Delhi or UP. But why? All of us have the same problem. It’s not a state’s problem. It’s the mentality and absolute disregard for the law that needs to change. They must be stopped. Our freedom must not be restricted.

 

I read an article today in the Indian express today about the “life of a girl on the streets of UP”. It was terrifying. The Anti Romeo Squads are more of Anti Lovers Squads than actually nabbing the eve-teasers. Basically, you are stopping consenting adults in the name of Indian culture while the loafers live with pride.

 

“Don’t wear sleeveless or skirts because then you’re asking for it. Don’t talk on the phone while on the streets or in an auto because it means you have a boyfriend. You are asking for it.” Another page says a toddler was raped in Valsad, Gujarat. Was she asking for it?

 

Every day, we ask such rhetorics out in the open. What kind of precedence are we leaving for the guys out there? Is this the Tom and Jerry show we are playing here? Do what you can for saving yourself from Tom.

 

We are told, “Girls must not raise their voices in front of their elders (even when they say such conservative bullshit in 2017).” And we are told, “Don’t ask too many questions. The government is also an elder. So are the moralising hooligans. Either these are the people who are party to the wrongdoings or they think it is okay for such ugly acts to be a part of a civilised and cultured society. Choose your side.