Stereotype !

I grew up learning that one of the most important part of being an Indian is to respect my teachers. After all it was said that matha, pitha, guru, daivam (father, mother, teacher and then God). As a child growing up in a staunch Syrian Christian family, it was really shocking to accept that my teachers were more important than God himself. But I had to and my teachers were almost like god to me.

I remember going to Chengannur house with my father and as we were walking on the bund road, Appa noticed his teacher walking towards us. Appa, stopped walking, unfolded his mundu, held my hand firmly and told me to behave and then moved to the side of the road. This particular bund road was wide enough for a bullock cart, but still my father stood to the side. His teacher was a very old man and yet he wielded such a tremendous power..to make a 6 foot 2 tall guy to stand like a little lamb ! Appa greeted the teacher the traditional way by folding his hand and said “namaskaram, sir”

I can still see the joy in the teacher’s eyes. And they talked, not like friends, but as a teacher and student. After we said good bye to the teacher, as we walked home, my father told me about how strict this teacher used to be and how many times he caned my father. I was 6 years old and I never understood then how you could respect someone who physically hurt you. But my father did. He even paid for his teacher’s medical bill another time when we went home.

A few weeks after we moved to Canada, the school had a Pyjama day, where the students came to school in their Pyjamas. I wasn’t sure, how to handle that, so I packed spare clothes for Yaya in her school bag for that ‘just in case’ scenario. But the biggest surprise was, as we entered the school  we were greeted by the principal..and he was in his pyjamas. It was such a shock for me..Until then, the teachers in my life occupied a space that was bit above human. No teacher of mine would ever wear pyjamas to school.. even if it is a pyjama day.

Yesterday, Yaya had musical at school and halfway through, the Principal and the teachers came to the stage dressed like rock stars. The principal wore skin tight leather jeans, wig etc and did a gangnam style dance. She is in her 60’s. ( I swear)

I am actually very confused..Why is it that my teachers never did anything different?

2 thoughts on “Stereotype !

  1. I have been reading your blog for a long time. I rarely comment on blogs.

    The reason I felt like writing to you is that I have come through a lot of
    hardships some of it is similar to what you have gone through and I am able
    to really relate to some feelings you had. Especially growing up with parents
    who had no idea how their nasty words can affect kids. But I wouldnt deny it
    there were some good sides to them too. But the day to day bickering and
    not so kind words has left deep emotional scars within me. After getting out
    of the house, I had assumed that I grew out of all this. But I kept attracting
    similar experience from some other family members and I realized that my
    earliest childhood experiences have a lot to do with my emotional turmoil in
    general. I have been trying to let go of these experiences. But still I struggle
    with some feelings.

    My most eye opening experience was when my father came to stay with me.
    He is very old and he has mellowed down over years but having him within
    space has made me very uncomfortable. All the pent up feelings weere coming
    out. I get irritated for no reason. I dont feel like talking. Thats the natural reaction that my mind is having because of the earlier experiences. Sometimes I think what am I doing? He is very old and I should be very nice etc. But I just cant do it
    sometimes. So I realize that it is such a deep effect that it has made in
    my mind. I am consciously trying to let everything go without holding onto
    anything. But sometimes it is dificult. And there is a couple of close
    family(siblings) that has hurt me so badly that I havent seen them in years.
    Some people say it is a crime to do that, but since it affects my well being
    I tend to keep away. I understand that u r staying away from ur sblings too
    I am able to relate to that as well. Some
    times it really hurts, but keeping in touch makes my life hell. I know some
    things may never heal but u just have to live with it at the same time
    not trying to hold on. Dont u think so? Pardon my curiosity, but how are the relationships between
    ur other siblings and parents? do they keep in touch and meet? is ur ammachi
    still there? Were u in touch with her? one thing i dint understand from ur
    family experiences is that why was ur mother favoring other children? is
    she still like that? At least in our case everyone was treated the same
    way no preferences. Main issue was that my father and mother were not at
    all match for each other. And they took all the frustration out on
    children. . Anyways, I hope to get better with
    letting go of some of these feelings.

    The reason your story resonates with me is because I grew up in a small
    town in Kerala in 80’s. So the cultural setting amd society attitude and
    conditioning etc are spot on :).

    I totally understand what you have gone through and admire your strength in
    raising wonderful children. While raising my daughter thats what I give prime
    importance to, treat her with respect and love she deserves.

    • Raj: Amma perfected the game called divide and rule. She always had one child out of the group whom she deliberatley alienated. It is now my turn to be out of the loop which guarentees that Amma is close to my sisters. It would change, if I call her and we establish a relationship, then one of my sisters would be out of the loop. I can’t play this game of merry go round any more and so I decided to walk away, knowing very well that Amma will do everything to be nice to my sisters and will not alienate them so long as I am not in the loop.
      My neighnour has stepped in to role of a grandmother for my kids and my children adore her. She remembers their birthday and bake them a cake. I used to get friends to send gift for my kids pretending it is from my mother when my children were little. Now, my kids are older and they see my mother as who she is and I don’t see the point in creating a ‘perfect grandmother’. I have learned to accept that my mother will never be a grandmother to my kids.
      There are days, I miss my mother and I know she won’t live forever and that I will regret not doing all I could to save the relationship once she dies..but if I pick up the phone to call her, I might as well shoot myself because past experiences have taught me that it would end up with me being the victim of her abuses all over again.

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