The Story of an Ordinary Indian Parent - Common Sense Living Newsletter
 
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The Story of an Ordinary Indian Parent

Retirement
Life
Jun 01, 2016

The Story of an Ordinary Indian Parent 

Say you are a taxi driver. Ply the streets of a busy, hot, sweaty city twelve hours a day. Beyond the mess of traffic, the unending symphony of honking, the millions of people poised on the verge of falling onto your path...you see the home you left behind. Your farms that you tended till your skin was the colour of the earth. The ground so parched for the past three years that no matter how much you till and plough and sow, you cannot reap. The earth you see now layered over the scene of traffic is lush with moisture. In your dreams, the rains still come.

You see your children, three sons and a daughter you have so lovingly raised...are still raising.

The older son, such an accomplished man, you feel a blush of pride as you think of him. A coveted position as an engineer. You don't remember the company's name, but you know they are respectable. He lives in Dubai but comes home and spends several weeks with you and your wife every year. He is not around through the year - how could he know the hardships you are dealing with...the drought...

Your second son is a bright boy. Always with his head buried in the books and now getting a PhD in something related to agriculture. You wish he could help around the farm...or maybe get a part-time job to contribute...but you understand he needs to focus on studies...

Third came a daughter - a wonderful, loving child, now a caring, thoughtful mother. You married her well, you are proud to give her a home she deserves. She is concerned about your well-being, never fails to ask about your health. Perhaps she has not noticed the crops have been failing. She has a husband to care for, a child to raise...

Your youngest is still in school. Not interested in school, but ploughing through nonetheless...

Just as you are ploughing through traffic. Shoulders stooped into a permanent hunch, the driving has wreaked havoc on your posture. Every hair on your head, your beard, has turned a stubborn grey. Just touching fifty, you could easily be mistaken for a seventy-year old - not surprising...you've lived one life but done the work of two men.

You see a man waiting at the corner, hand raised politely. He looks about in his mid-sixties, hair greying, wrinkles around the eyes, a little thin but well-nourished and well-dressed. His children probably ask him that question you always wished your children would ask...

'Do you need anything, Baba? How can I help? It's your turn now, Baba. I'll take care of you.'

...

Say you're standing in the sweltering heat asking yourself for the fiftieth time why there are so many taxis in this city but none when you're dying for one.

You wouldn't have needed one. But your son had a big meeting in the suburbs so had to take the car and driver. You stopped driving a few years ago because you couldn't get your mind off your stressful business long enough to focus on the road. Your son has made the same decision at thirty that you made at sixty. Fair enough. After all, he is handling the business now.

You are grateful that he keeps you involved and listens to your advice. It's another matter that he doesn't take it. He has inherited the business you struggled to build, and now it is his to do with as he will. Now he has ended up in a conflict in the courts and you are supposed to save the day. You wish they would have taken your advice before things went so bad... You are too old to still be running around for them. When do you get to sit back...?

Your other son still drives. But he was going in the opposite direction, so he couldn't take you home. Never mind that he is not in a hurry...and driving a car you bought him. Now he has the means to buy you a car but, well, 'where do you really have to go, Dad?' He's right, of course, you have nowhere to go. Except home now... And here comes a taxi, finally.

The taxi slows down and you poke your head in and say, 'le chalenge, chacha?' 'Will you take me, uncle?' not realising that you have mistaken a man much younger than you for your elder.

You marvel at the fact that, with his beard made of snow, this taxi driver is still out in the streets, earning a living...while all you seem to do is run around saving your children from ruining their lives. And worrying that they will destroy your business (correction, their business) and not be able to support the family.

You have no question as to who will bear the brunt if business does slow. Not the children and their cars and drivers and servants and parties and international schools. It will be your wife and you. You can handle it, though. You began from nothing...but you cannot bear the thought of your wife, who has stood by you through thick and thin, having to deal with the ungratefulness of the sons she loves beyond life...

You wonder at your life. Maybe you gave them too much. Maybe the taxi driver did it right. He probably does not have spoiled, entitled children who believe what he did for them was his duty, that they have nothing to repay.

His children grew up with integrity and gratitude, you imagine, and they remember the sacrifices their father made. The taxi driver's children, you think, probably know what it means to work hard. They probably tell him every day: 'Papa, why are you still working? We are there for you na.' They probably remind him that every day...

'Papa, you have made us what we are. Now we will be there for you.'

...

These are not ordinary Indian parents. They are extraordinary. But their stories are ordinary, more so every day.

Perhaps society was once structured such that we could enjoy a Newtonian 'equal and opposite reaction' relationship with our children. Now, increasingly, the story moves in one direction. You raise children to be more successful than you...they use their success to move into better lives...lives that might leave you behind...and then they raise children to be more successful than they...and so on.

This is perhaps a new phenomenon, but it is here to stay. The family structure is changing. Are you, dear reader, prepared for it?

Image Source: Liane Metzler/Unsplash.com

 
 

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15 Responses to "The Story of an Ordinary Indian Parent"

parveen chaudhary

02 Mar, 2017

beautiful, insightful and frightening

Madhu

27 Sep, 2016

Good story. There are opposite stories, where children were not successful and their families suffer more. That will be more interesting and sensitising the young is required.

Raja Rao G B

23 Aug, 2016

Very fantasic one and every human being should follow/practice for their lifetime.

Malathi

22 Aug, 2016

Splendid piece of work! Speechless! Anisa, you have let what has touched you, pour out as words. You have also been instrumental in voicing the emotions of many out there, who shy away from such revelations and suffer silently. Pray the younger generation understand the value of 'give and take' in the true sense and get down to reciprocate selflessly and sensitively.

Angad Singh

21 Aug, 2016

The oldies born and brought up in old culture have realised at a big cost that the customs, traditions and thought process of young generation has changed full circle. They move forward and easily forget about the pangs of their parents. It is high time that the parents keep in mind their own needs when they are alone and forlorne.

Lalita

20 Aug, 2016

Very well written. It is indeed the desire of all parents that their children do better than them. At this juncture, am reminded of the driverand the owner of the vehicle who drove me up to Mulund from Raigad. His childhood was not very spriteful because when both parents went to work in the field, he was given a pinch of a drug to go to sleep till they returned from work. So in the process, the sharpness of the memory reduced and he could not pursue his studies beyond primary. But he repeatedly said whatever he is today is because of his parents and he had taken care of them till they left this world. There are a few children who have that gratitude though they came from very poor background.

Like (1)

BNShanbhag

20 Aug, 2016

Very well described better than parent himself.All Parents have always time to read this and do the children have? My sincere gratitude to Anisa God Bless you

Like (1)

Deeapk Hegde

20 Aug, 2016

Very beautiful article. It's a harsh reality of life today and we have to be readu to accept it, whether we like it or not. The only way is to plan in advance to be as independent as possible.

Capt.Kumar

20 Aug, 2016

Very well written and nicely portrayed "The story of an Ordinary Parent". It really moves you,I mean emotionally. But this not the story of Ordinary Parent, but story of all parents whether they are exceptional, ordinary, poor, Rich ,famous or in-famous. See through their eyes and will see everything like their dreams, love for their beloved,future of their children.

Like (1)

janaki

27 Jul, 2016

The best perceptive part: Perhaps society was once structured such that we could enjoy a Newtonian 'equal and opposite reaction' relationship with our children. Now, increasingly, the story moves in one direction. You raise children to be more successful than you...they use their success to move into better lives...lives that might leave you behind...and then they raise children to be more successful than they...and so on. This is perhaps a new phenomenon, but it is here to stay. The family structure is changing. Are you, dear reader, prepared for it? Do you have an option!

Like (1)

Shama

07 Jun, 2016

Very well described Anisa...

Tejinder singh

02 Jun, 2016

All parents in animal kingdom teach their children how to catch a fish and then children move on with  their life.They don't look after their parents.Perhaps that animal instinct still persists despite all the education.But wise parents do not  become dependent on their children  and have any expectation from their off springs. If their children look after them that is bonus and education.

Like (6)

Vijay Alexander

02 Jun, 2016

Lovely ...beautifully written!

Like (1)

CAPT.RAMACHANDRAN

01 Jun, 2016

ALL PARENTS LOOK AFTER THEIR CHILDREN.SO MY CHILDREN WILL LOOK AFTER THEIR CHILDREN/OR CHILD.BECAUSE IT IS ALL ECONOMICS

Like (2)

Dr G L Moondra

01 Jun, 2016

Very well written and correct too.

Like (3)
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