Monday, July 16, 2007

Parents

They're such an intriguing subspecies. I've been coming home late since I was fifteen years old- often after 10, alone in a cab, and in my school uniform. They didn't bat an eyelid, quite positively spared the rod. I've spent most of college leaving the house at 11 or 12 in the day, and coming back never before 8 in the evening, or sometimes, not coming back at all. They took it all in. Barring of course the occasional phone call enquiring when (as opposed to if) the police needed to be informed. [As in, "Hullo, will you let us know when to call the police, or shall we just go ahead and do it past eleven?"]
So, now that I'm 24 years old, have more grey hair than my mother (who has none - gray hair, that is) and my father (who has none - hair, I mean); and am two weeks into my job, why is it that I am sent frantic and frequent SMSes every hour, on the hour, from 8 PM onwards? I mean, really, I reach office only at 1, it's only respectable to put in at least 8 hours.
Ever since I can remember, I've never been coaxed into eating. The routine is to quietly sidle all edibles away from my gluttonous eyes and obese mind, which, my mother believes are the two most defining characteristics of my otherwise charming disposition. Ok, so the "charming disposition" was my inclusion. But now I get text messages that go, >you last ate 3 hours and 46 minutes ago. Please eat a sandwich.< and then, >it's been 5 hours since your last meal. Time to grab a bite!< Yes, like an automaton. (I wanted to say 'like an rss feed' and go, 'get the pun? get the pun?', but then I'd be tech-illiterate and in all probability wrong.)
Thankfully, none of this newfound, oppressive attention comes from my mother, who remains ubercool and unconcerned, confident in the assumption that hers is the singular life worthy of debate and deliberation. But what is more surprising is this sudden, disquieting interest that my father has begun to take in my life. He was always the first to say,"I'm not worried, my daughter can take care of herself." And now, he needs to know if I'm carrying water, if I've eaten, if I'm coming home in fifteen minutes and thirty-five seconds or seventeen minutes and twenty-seven seconds like I'd come 2 days earlier.
And what is the point of scolding me for eating in my room and not at the table with you , when you're the one who set the precedent all those years ago, whereby the 3 of us always eat at separate times and separate rooms. What is this sudden hankering for conversation, when in the 24 years of my life, you have maybe interacted with me for a total of 500 hours, and this includes vacations?
Yea, so I'm a little pissed and it shows. Boo.
My point is, they've been awfully liberal all along.
My point is, is this an outcome of old age - this almost debilitating need to hold on, to establish connection through ruthlessly monitoring a life that has been allowed such complete freedom and independence all along? It's a frightening, mortifying thought. I've known my father as ... debonair ... devil-may-care. This new sign of weakness is ... well, it's new. And it's hard to come to terms with. Am I being unreasonable? Is the onus of repairing over two decades of complete disregard for any notion of 'family' really on me, because now I'm an "earning member"? Pah.
Of course, it could be a sudden realisation that he is, after all, a modhyobitto bangali. Hmm. I'm going to pretend the problem's solved.
Oh look, turns out it's past my bedtime now.

Fascinating, these parentpeoples.

11 comments:

Deepali said...

uhh modhyobittu?

ok so your solution didn't reach MY ears

bah- i'd say its the age [if that isnt what the bangla word was!]

Dhruva said...

Ahahahaha. Charming disposition. Good one. (*gets back to laughter*)

Bob said...

yeah, my dad does that too, hothaat hothaat. this overwhelming show of sudden spurts of concern and useful "advice" on eating habits, chosing friends, dark circles and future plans, from a man who: never knows when/wheteher i am home. once did not "notice" that i had been away on a ten-day trip;
has, on occassion, been known to think hard if asked "bhalo naam" of elder daughter(i kid you not), or any other unnnecessary details, like what/where she studies;Thing is, you actually get used to the resultant freedom you derive out of deliciousy detached parents.And feel outraged when it is compromised.

grumble grumble grumble grumble

surfryder said...

Even if the rate of conversation wid ur suddenly attentive 'Baba' stands at a very lowly "1%" in a day, i.e 15 mins, you sure have had already some 3000 hrs (not 500 as u think!!) of talking with him in your 2,10,240 hrs of 'otherwise charming' LIFE!! hneh hneh hneh...
by the way, is he recently retired? if so, then the ratio may scale up to beyond 5% in the coming few years...

thalassa_mikra said...

Imminent separation anxiety. Which is not to imply that your planned elopement (surely you have an elopement planned?) is round the corner, just that parents kind of anticipate such things as you inch towards your mid-20s.

"Dhong Connection"! Brilliant.

Ron said...

Hmm. And here I was thinking my Dad was the only one who suffered from this strange and sudden bout of over concerned protectiveness when I started working. This too shall pass..did with my Dad. In about 2 years or so, he will be well over this phase :)

Dreamcatcher said...

I think he's making up for all these years.

Lucifer said...

You have got style!
I am a fan!

Rimi said...

BESH hoyechhe! When I posted about MY Daddy agnst, who was it calling it all sorts of names and asking me to, in short, bugger off? Hah!, I say. And HAH!, I ripit.

panu said...

Parents. Well takes all sorts. The last post... that was a parent too.

rainbeau_peep said...

dee,
lol. modhyobitto means middle-class. the modhyobitto bangali is a curious phenomenon - it saves money for little vacations within the state, but never wants to see the world outside the country, it obsesses about food, it talks endlessly about communal pride and lives invariably in the past.

dhruva,
are you being contrary? do you wish to be violently scolded by an elder and a better - both, under the circs, meaning me?

bob,
glad to have been your ventilator. :-D
as for the 'bhalo naam' bit, pah. I have called my mum up and said, "hello, mama" and she has asked me, "ke?" and i'm an only child, to the best of my knowledge. so.

surfryder,
how delightful of you to care enough to go ahead and do complex calculations as to the number of hours of my life spent bonding with my father. (although, even going by the scenario you've chosen to draw up, where I spend 15 minits every day with my dad, it would come to a little less than 2200 hours in 24 years, and not 3000)
nevertheless, let me give you an example of my family life. my mother and i live on the same floor. yet, i saw her for the first time 3 days ago, after a gap of a fortnight. again, i haven't seen her since that last brief glimpse 3 days ago. we live in the same house, on the same floor, and no, it isn't like she's been out. i know she's there because i can hear her talking on the phone. i just don't see her or speak to her, and neither does she. and that's OK in my family.
i repeat, we live on the same floor, our rooms face each other. and i've always interacted more with my mother than with my father.
heh. :-D
no, he isn't retired. he can't retire, more or less.

thalassa mikra,
uh. an elopement. yes, an elopement is imminent if this continues. yup.
it will be awful for him, though.

ron,
it's awful. this runs in the family. my grandfather had a heart attack on the day of my pishi's biye - he couldn't bear the thought of her leaving home. inherited irrationality - nothing could be worse, because this you can't even help having.

dream,
heh. i sincerely hope not. i'm happier appreciating the sentiment without having it being put to practice. he calls me up to ask if i'm carrying a cellphone.
it makes me sorry, that's all. and i don't want to feel sorry for my father, he deserves better.

lucifer,
such poor taste, but, ok! :-]

rimi,
you live in the gram end of gondogram, mairi. and are up to no good, despite locational disadvantages. if i were your dad, i'd be angsty too.
so, in short, serves YOU right. but not me. never me.

panu,
true, that. but, come to think of it, they're probably the same sort - essentially.