My dad was 51 when I was 15. He had no reason to connect to a teenage rebel, no obligation to walk across the generation gap and hold my hand, but he did. Through the years he did his best to understand me and my idiosyncrasies. He led by example, and made us [me and my three sisters] honest, hard-working and compassionate. My mom is the smartest homemaker you can find. She is skilled in the sartorial arts and is an amazing cook. She stood by my dad through thick and thin, worked as hard as he did [may be even harder] and brought us all up smart, strong and ready for life. They are the best parents a child can ever get. I am what I am today because of them. The only fault I could ever find in them was that they care a little too much. My folks are a rare exception, and hence, the words that follow are not for them.
Parents, inherently, are bad people. When I say “bad”, I don’t accuse them of making mistakes, being wrong but unaware. No, when I say “bad”, I mean they are bad by intent; their actions are incorrect and they know. For example, they take your life decisions for you. No, they don’t help you reach your decision, they don’t equip you with the right skills to take decisions, they take them for you. Granted there is a huge chance that they are right, that everything they warned you about your decision will happen, and you will be proved wrong. But life is not about taking right or wrong decisions, it is about taking decisions and facing the consequences with all your strength and pride. [And mind you, I am not talking about simple things, no-brainers; of-course drugs are bad, they are supposed to tell you that and stop you from destroying your life. I am talking about those situations in life where failure is more fruitful than success because it teaches you invaluable lessons about the world around you and yourself.] They know it is good to learn the hard way, but they want to make an exception for you (you, their precious vehicle of gene propagation) to give you a head start in life. If it worked that way, vaccines would be 100% distilled water.
They are at a stage in their life when they have a lot of unfulfilled dreams. These dreams are withering and terminal. A majority of them were killed by life [ironic, eh?] and some had to be killed to give birth to a new life [ironic again, eh?], that, would be you. As if possessed by an unknown force, they shape your life around those incomplete desires. Your aptitude and abilities ignored and flushed down the toilet. [Sometimes I wonder if it is actually the dreams which act like a parasitic virus, abandoning a dead carcass for a new life to enslave and feed upon.]
And that’s not it, they commit another horrendous crime. They succumb to social pressure and try to look good at your cost. So you ought to score higher than Mr. Sharma’s daughter and be better at cricket than Mr. Gupta’s son. Or make it to an NIT at least (if not an IIT like our neighbor’s son) and get a better package than what’s-his-name. You are an investment that should reap maximum benefits and gratification. But their biggest mistake is, they persevere in a world where they don’t belong. They are from a time which is long gone. If you could somehow speak to Warren Buffett from a decade ago via a miraculous time-defying phone, would you be willing to take his investment advice? They exist in a different reality from ours and hence their experience and wisdom doesn’t really count for the reality that envelops you.
These problems are inherent to parenthood. The responsibilities and conditions involved makes one extremely liable to these mistakes. Moreover, it is very difficult for a parent to do all this and not believe that it is somehow for our good. But, like I said I have the best parents ever, then why am I blabbering about all this? Because in few years, I’ll be one.