Whenever you have a doubt, share your thoughts with some wise men. I had to ponder over this yesterday.
I remember as a 12-year-old, I had an argument with my uncle. To put my point across, I raised my voice. My father who was in the next room rushed to the scene of altercation and gave me a resounding slap and said,
“Don’t you talk to elders like that!”
Right from that time, I have been conditioned to show restraint. These are the guidelines that I have been programmed to follow.
- When you meet elders, prostrate before them.
- Learn to say ‘sir’ to people who are even a day older than you.
- Always learn to respect professions – never call a doctor by his or her name.
- Keep your hands folded before the people of authority (including government servants of lower ranks) and never dare take a seat in front of them.
- Always respect your bosses and stand up when they enter the room.
Being brought up in this school of thought, I am aghast when my daughter who is a teenager refuses to stand up and bow down to authority. When asked to touch the feet of elderly people, she wants to check their competency levels. She even has the audacity to thump doctors and lawyers on their back and call them by their first names. She refuses to greet government servants stating they are the cause of ills in the society. Once in the High Court, she sat cross-legged even as judges walked past her while we stood with our hands folded and heads bowed, so as to avoid eye contact. Even in training programmes, she only sits and asks questions.
Somewhere in the deep dark recesses of my mind, I can hear my father’s voice say – ‘Give her a tight slap and advice her on how to respect authority.’ There is an urge in me to control her, tame her and show her how to live life according to the dictates of the society. But I show restraint.
Will my child be able to meet the challenges of the dog-eat-dog corporate world with my kind of a meek mindset?
If she has to study abroad, which she desires to – will my projection of cultural conditioning help her in her cause?
Will my child have to endure life with the thought that she was born as a woman?
Will she have to live life in the constant fear of not upsetting the ‘babus’ and pass through life as a non-entity like me, who could never speak up?
A part of me says beat the hell out of her and transform her into a typical Indian woman but another side cries out – Stop! Show restraint.
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