Other side

Up until now, you have read my take on parenting..my side of the story as a parent of two teenagers and an almost teenager.

Today I am posting a letter I received with the permission from the person who wrote it.

It is not her story alone.. It was my story growing up in India, just as it is the story of countless ABCD’s ( American Born Confused Desi’s).

Parents, are you  listening to all these children’s  cry for freedom?

Sarah, I’m not sure if I’m asking for advice or some reassurance or whatever, but I think I just need you to tell me how to survive a year or so more at home before I get to be a free bird. I love my parents and they have never done anything to harm me intentionally and even if I’ve thought most of their actions are plain harsh, I’ve always understood that they never grew up in the same environment as I did so their way of thinking must be different. I was an only child until the age of 8, and we moved here from Delhi. In Delhi, my parents were very lavish and spoiled me a lot. It was the same here too until my sister was born and I was no longer the baby or the center of attention. This grew worse when a brother came along too. I’ve never been allowed to go to parties, including the ones in primary school where we play on bouncy castles and eat fairy cakes. I’ve never been allowed to go on school trips that include spending a night away. No sleepovers, even at my Malayalee friends’ houses as it’s a “bhudhimuttu” to their parents. As I grew older and transitioned into secondary school, house parties were an absolute no-no so I don’t even bother to ask. Birthday meals at nice restaurants too and the reason being, “ividethe polle avande avisham illa nammalku”.
When it comes to boys, be it my personal preference (which may have been influenced from childhood), but I prefer Mallu boys because I just feel like I’m more comfortable with them. Boys have been a complete ban in my house. I’m seen as the only Malayalee teenage girl in the whole world who has had anything to do with boys. I used to like a guy back at the start of secondary school but it was always one-way and I wrote stupid notes, texts, diary entries etc which were later found out and I was obviously punished to have feelings as “appa’ku nannakedu ondakum”. He was the only guy I personally feel I’ve loved but my parents think I’ve had many relationships, haha I wish!
I was always told to never get Facebook and even though I was given a phone as I used public buses to travel to school, I was never given any money to top it up as Appa said I only needed to ever answer his calls, and if I needed to call him, I should send him a missed call and he’d call me back. I obviously broke both of these. I got Facebook and made sure to block every single family member, aunty, uncle, cousins, everyone even mildly related to my parents so they never found out. Then, I used to do odd jobs here and there, lie and get money from my parents saying it’s for other stuff, when I actually used it to top up my phone. They’ve found out I had Facebook many times, as the computer was always placed in the living room so someone could always see what I was doing. Many deactivations, many reactivations. Then, I made another Facebook- just for the eyes of my parents and my relatives where everyone thought I had no social life and never went on Facebook. Anyway, after a long while, just under a year ago, I plucked up the courage to delete my fake one and added my parents and family members to my real account- but many things like friends, statuses etc were always hidden from them. I became a pro at hiding and lying. Still am, shamefully. But, again, more doubts sprung up when they had my phone and saw my conversation with Appa’s distant friend’s son who we’d just met on our holiday to Delhi. My parents thought by him being a teenage lad from Delhi, he’d had me hooked on to him and was convincing me that we’re in a relationship, and then he’d make me send nudes and then stick them up everywhere and blackmail my parents and then sabotage any marriage proposals. WE WERE FRIENDS. He was always a sweet, decent guy and we talked like friends. However much I said we were friends, the louder the shouts became, esp about Appa’s abhimaanam. I’m a stupid, naive girl who has no understanding of the world, and yes, to an extent, that must be right because I haven’t lived half the life they’ve lived yet, but as a 16 year old young woman, do I not know to spot if a guy is being inappropriate? Apparently not. Things have gone downhill since then. Appa took my Facebook account and changed its’ password and deactivated it himself. I love taking pictures and I used to upload many on Facebook as it acted as a kind of back-up, but apparently the pictures of me pulling funny faces with friends were again, a punch in the face of Appa’s abhimaanam  as I had family members on there.
Since then, we’re back to square 1. Always bickering. I’m not doing enough in the house, I’m not looking after my siblings, “all other children” clean up and tidy up their house and teach their siblings, it’s just always such a negative environment. Even the other day, I was saying how I support gay rights and my god, I was this close to getting a slap on the face by Amma- “Velliya aalu ayi aana vijaram, swantham ellam chindikanum cheyanum ariyannu. Ellam ariyam ennu oru bhavam. Ninte appan-ammekaalum bhuthi vechu enna”. Am I not entitled to my own opinion?
They’ve always wanted me to go on to Medicine and however much I say I’m not into it as I can’t handle pressure, stress or anything gross, the reply has always been, “Cheythu thodangumbol, ishtapetollum”. Never about what if the odds are against my favour and I end up not liking it. Luckily, I’ve partly changed this idea and put them on to Pharmacy which is something that meets us both halfway. I have exams in May and June and I apply for Uni courses in October, then more exams the following May and June, and then, hopefully Uni. Whatever my parents do, I will not stay home and my parents are trying everything to make me stay. I’ve refused and I can only hope they accept it.
When exam stress or worries get to your head, you always need someone to go to and Mums are usually the number one people that come to mind. I can’t do that and I think I kind of consider you as one through your blog, as if you’re sharing something with me every day, and like I know you. It’s really nice. I’m sorry to have blabbered on so much but when I started writing, it was hard to not let everything out. I don’t think you know how much your blog helps and I can’t thank you enough for just being there to talk to. Thank you, Sarah.

8 thoughts on “Other side

  1. hello mallu teen

    continue to be strong, culture and society have tuned us not to be true to ourselves but always worry about “what others will think”

    I don’t know your parents but in general a lot of adults are hypocrites, and the rules they make never apply to themselves.

    hang in there, looks like you are managing to do that quite well.

    all the best to you.

    • RA: “hang in there” is my advice too..But I wish parents see the damage they inflict on their children. Everything I did was to spite Amma and I am the one who suffered..my mother made me a lying, conniving, manipulative child.

  2. My life wasn’t much better – Though circumstances were different – There was no facebook, and I grew up in Kerala.

    This too, shall pass! You are almost there….

  3. Hi Sarah, You have become the Champion for the cause of suffering teens. A crusader against parents‘ shabby treatment on children, an Icon of the newly formed “Fight Parents’ Atrocities Against Children”. Your writings do wonders, a telling effect on the readers. (Sincerity, that is the reason, no doubt.).

    The girl admits she was pampered and the sudden change made her restless. Quite natural. The conservative parents do not allow her to choose her own ways. But she is only 16 and cannot take prudent decisions, parents think. She needs parents’ advice and guidance. But if she is so convinced that her way is right she can go for it.

    She is an intelligent girl. Aware of the stark realities. She realizes her parents intend no harm to her but their worry about her future, to be fashioned in their way, which they think perfect. What she does is the right way. Open defiance is not a solution. Make them believe she is on their way but do what she likes. Forget about hypocrisy or individuality. Survival first.

    It is the same with many parents and children, that is why the response to her letter is thin.

    To the girl – Don’t brood over the happenings. Be happy. Read more. Know more. Get solace from it.

    • Bipin: I think I would be a failure as a parent the day my children have to resort to lying to get what they need. I also feel sorry for those parents like my mother who thought they were smarter and had no idea what their children were up to.

  4. Ah yes, I know how this feels, and you’re not the only one. My maternal side of the family is the worst. You cannot be your trueselves and have to confine to their standards and expectations. Can’t tell you how many of my cousins became rebellious due to the amount of damage inflicted on them by our parents and their mentality. I’m surprised this happens in India too, I thought it would be just kids outside India whom this happens to. The other day the topic of marriage was brought up and I was hindered to know every single recipe in Kerala and start learning how to do them perfectly to satisfy my future in laws…give me a break. You learn as you go even after you’re married. I have basic cooking skills, even in Indian cooking – it’s not like I have never step foot in the kitchen before *shakes head*.

    • JJ289: Cooking food, that too Indian food should be the least of your worries.. finding a partner who is worthy of your love should be the priority.

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