Parents and Children, Life and death
Swathi / Nungambakkam / Infosys / Techie / Gruesome Murder – these are words that have been flying across our keyboards, in the media and also in our minds. Just the audacity that went into a stupid plan (hacking in broad daylight in a public place), and the fact that it did materialise – upsets me no end.
People are rising up, holding candles, giving media bytes, clicking tongues, sharing facebook posts , feeling appalled and all that. We are thinking about Swathi, her family, her day and her life that was just cut short in one unpleasant surprise. The invisible Swathi who was unknown till last Thursday – is now on national media. We are commenting on efforts of the police, or lack of it, how there was no dignity to her body after being slain.
While all this disturbs me a lot, we are still missing the main point here. The fact that Swathi was murdered was because the murderer could not take rejection. He could not understand a simple “No”. He did not want to accept it. And so, he feels justified in his mind to develop a plan to ease the pain in his mind. How? By eliminating the person who uttered those words.
There are reports about an altercation between Swathi and the unidentified person. Have we reached a stage, where altercations and arguments must end in only one party being alive? Who decides that? What gave the man-in- the -checked shirt the right to end Swathi’s life? And it was not an unintentional happening. It was pre-planned.
Let us observe, how people across society view this. As women, we feel more pressurized to be on our guard. You will have to have an extra few thoughts – before you voice your opinion in a meeting, comment on someone’s clothes, or just go for an early morning jog. You might get murdered, woman! Be careful.
The reaction amongst men – is slightly varied. There are those who have daughters – this is a group that feels extreme fear. Things could go wrong, how much ever effort you could take. Mr. Santhanagopalakrishnan made the effort to drop Swathi outside the station everyday. How much more care could he have taken of his daughter? Travel with her to office as well? There are many thoughts that would have taken a similar turn among fathers blessed with daughters.
And there is another group – despite being politically correct in groups, this group thinks a bit more. They do not think more about Swathi and the murder. But their attitudes mirror their views and generalisations about women. As a friend of mine noticed the scene at her office – there was a subtle ” After having moved for so many years, when women break it off – that is just not fair! ”
What irks me – is that I witnessed a similar mindset during the Nirbhaya incident. And during the Meghalaya groping episode. Many male colleagues / acquaintances also voiced a “What was she doing at 10 pm with a guy? ” ” She must have dressed provocatively”
It irks me that the people saying this are in the 20 – 35 age group. The so called youth or young population.
It irks me that these were people with access to an education, a degree or in some cases maybe even two.
It irks me that these were people who would actually be in the target group during such incidents.
It irks me that they are able to empathise with some who has psychologically gone astray.
Why are they not able to understand a “No” ? Sometimes you are rejected – painful as it may be, It happens. Socially, Emotionally, Professionally – sometimes even intentionally.So would you resort to murder?
Murder your boss because he did not give you a good appraisal? Or stole your idea? Murder the guy who rejects your visa? Or Murder the person who cheated you in a business deal? Murder the maid who declines to work in your house, but works at the neighbours’? Your best friend of those days who just cannot find a common topic to discuss with you now? The employee who takes a bribe, but does no close the deal?
Would you murder them all? The right to say “No” is a person’s choice.
The ability to accept it and move on – is a sign of maturity. Let us teach our children to handle rejection, to let go and move on, and to also learn to assert their ideas by saying a “No” firmly if the situation discerns it. That is the need of the hour. Much more than CCTvs, and police protection – we need to change the apathy that is cancerous to our society and its people.
In the past 4 months of 2013 – I have heard 4 similar stories , almost one for each month – that of estrangement of relations. One was between a very close brother and sister, the other between a mother and her son, the third between a girl and her long term love who married someone else suddenly, and the fourth a divorce. Most people exhibited common feelings of betrayal, confusion and anger. What I have attempted to do – as an observer -is to just filter out the top 3 feelings that I felt most of them encountered.
3. Ego – “Relationships never die a natural death, they are killed by Ego, misunderstanding and lack of trust” . Most of us would have come across this quote at some point. Most of the people I spoke to – lost out on a relationship, because they kept waiting for the other person to initiate a call, or apologize or something that they decided the other person must do or vice-versa. Needless to say, with this conviction grows a chasm too large to cross. Well, if you think the relationship is important – then the logic of fair/ unfair has to take a back seat. Bury the ego and save what is important.
2. Taken for granted –This was the other negative emotion that came up during most of my talks about relationships gone bad. Parents felt they were being taken for granted, same goes for wives, brothers , mothers… the person who felt victimized at the end of it. While most of them talked themselves into looking at it as the closeness or lack of boundaries that their relationship had erased, definitely felt used and felt that they had NO role whatsoever in the other person’s life. This feeling of pain and hurt was a trigger to ending the relation, or unwillingness to patch up the relationship. Nothing is worth your unhappiness. If you can, walk away before it causes you more pain. You have the choice. Chances are you will feel more relieved than guilty.
1.Lack of Self-respect and thereby low self-esteem–
This was the top emotion that came out during discussions. The feeling of estrangement and distance that one felt with a loved one, became much deeper when people viewed it as a lack of self-respect. They regretted the time invested in it, the mind share one devoted, the power you give a loved one over your feelings and emotions and how it felt when all these emotions were trashed by their loved one! And with it a lot of guilt. “Maybe it was my fault. ” “I am such a loser.” ” Did I not do enough?”
Well here is some good news.
Obviously dealing with a lot of negative thought can make you feel as though ,all these social and familial relations are just not worth it.
But a little distance between people, a few rules and regulations, and lots of comfort with yourself would probably help reduce the feeling of validation we seek from our close ones, thereby giving them infinite power over our happiness. A bit more self worth and a little less emotion – that should be the key to get out of this vicious cycle.
Best of luck all!
I keep hoping I never find events to give me material for a sequel, but yet it happens…
1. Baby Afreen – Everyone has been talking about battered baby Afreen, whose only fault was that she was born a ‘girl’ – something that was the fault of her chauvinistic father (scientifically/ chromosomo-logically speaking). While her teenaged mother (19 yearsof age) has to undergo the trauma of getting over the incident – I wonder why her parents agreed to marry her to a much older alcoholic, abusive and drug addict husband. Moreover – why did they not bring her back after her abortion? You see, baby Afreen was a twin baby who survived the term of pregnancy only to lose her life 3 months later.
What possesses a man to abuse his own child, put out cigarette stubs on her head and dislocate her neck, poison and smother the child? I am filled with disgust at this person.
2. Girls let off for killing father – While the first bit of the post dealt with father killing daughter. The second half of the post is about daughters killing their father, who sexually molested them for a long period of time. Finally the girls killed their dad in the presence of their mother (who probably thought it was best for her children) as an act of self defense. The three women did surrender to the law but have been let off under self-defense, even though termed a homicide.
I feel sad that the place we call home is no longer safe, the people we hope will protect us from external dangers, are people we have to defend ourselves against, and that gender discrimination still continues to exist. We need to grow up – not intellectually alone, but emotionally and spiritually as well.
The news of a 15 year old school student stabbing his teacher to death, rather disturbed me a lot. (Read link below)
While on one hand my heart went out to the teacher, her family and her two young children who very suddenly lost a parent for no fault of theirs, on the other hand it set me thinking – what prompts a 15 year old to take such a big step? While the authorities, the media, behavior experts and peers are getting geared up to judge and play the blame game – I really think the boy should not be blamed.
Yes, you heard me right. I am not blaming the boy. I am not welcoming this incident of violence towards teachers or anyone else either. My eyes are searching for just one figure in this chaotic crowd – the parents! For I truly believe – that parents influence their children whether they interact with them or not.
They cannot get out of this responsibilty saying ” I was not there. Hence I do not know what was going on”. My question to them is “ Why were you not there? ” . To the parents who do take an “active interest” in their children’s lives, my question is – “What are you teaching them?”
Parents of today have become aggressive and greedy. They think an early start is always an advantage. But not for everyone.I see parents sending their toddlers to play-school. I see mothers explaining to their children (very patiently) ” You must drink milk darling, for you need calcium to be strong“. Yes, I heard your soft and patient voice sweetheart. I know you did not raise your voice and scream.”DRINK YOUR MILK, OR ELSE…” But why are your telling your child this? Why does he/she have to know the effect of calcium/vitamin D in his/her body? Why can you not just use the traditional method of telling a story or playing a game during eating? “One sip for you, one sip for me! ” That works just fine. I tell you.
But how weird is it – when you see a child of 5 at a supermarket, telling the father ” This chocolate has ‘pre-suh-vati-wes’ ” (preservatives!) . How does that child know to look at the back of the chocolate for ingredients? Why is it important for a child to know that the Owl is a nocturnal creature, at the age of 3? Can we not just stop at ” O for owl” ?
Why are you feeding your children information? Instead teach them it is ok to share. Ok to smile. Ok to lose once in awhile. It is ok to make more friends. It is ok to adjust. Teach them to think. Not learn.
Recommended advice that was given earlier ” Support your child” has become advice out of control. Parents now think they have to support their child irrespective of “whatever the child does”. Earlier, the teacher was the substitute of the parental figure at school, where the child does spend a long time. The teacher observes behavior patterns, development patterns, friendship patterns of the child and informs the parent in case of a problem. The teacher these days is not expected to have a say in the student’s activities, but just take on the responsibility of the parent figure. “Supportive parents” do say – ” I trust my child completely.” And what role does a good teacher have at the end of the day? None.
We hear/see/read about shooting incidents and stabbing incidents all around the world. Done by students.These are children with access to education. Not children on the streets fighting for survival. They wear branded T-shirts and Jeans, drive fancy vehicles, have a laptop/Ipod/Ipad and carry a gun/knife as well. How does one communicate intrinsically to a child- that it is fine to take a life?
The answer is – You did. When you smiled at your child stamping an insect. Throwing stones at a dog. Clipping a butterfly’s wings. Education has nothing to do with this. It all boils down to attitudes. A cumulative effect of what the child has observed in its environment. Has it seen you smirk at someone in authority? The child will do it too. Has it heard your condescending remarks about your boss? The child is processing that too. Has it felt your unconditional support towards all it’s illogical thoughts and activities? Congratulations, on turning out a weak-minded child that is of no help to the society.
I really wonder – what kind of trends there are in the society now in child upbringing ? Do not scold your child. Do not spank your child. Do not do anything that makes him sad. But what should we do to make him happy? What explanations should we give him about our actions? How do we give our children conviction that we are indeed “Respectable” people? These are issues that need to be addressed.
The pressure on parents to be a “friend” to the child is immense. The problem is the parents do not see it as an additional role to their parental one, but make the common mistake of replacing the “Friend” role with that of the parent. The parent feels helpless at many a time, and wonder of wonders so does the child. For the child needs a parent too!
And so I plead. Parents – stop overdoing it. Stop making your children independent. You are isolating them. Stop thinking you are instilling discipline. You are compelling them. Stop thinking you are making them relaxed. You are making them indifferent. Stop thinking you are making them responsible. You are over-tiring them. They are just children. They will grow. They will ask you questions. They will sometimes want to find out for themselves.
You are tampering with natural processes. And killing something precious in the bargain. Childishness.
Back to the present – My thoughts are with the teacher and her family, that is undergoing such an irreparable loss. My prayers are with the boy who was sent to the juvenile home.
Both should never have happened.
When I read the news about Ayazuddin’s (Son of Azharuddin) bike accident,my first reaction was – a youngster battling for life, what a terrible thing to undergo. That was my heart dominating my thoughts.Almost immediately – My head came to my rescue! What was a 19 year old doing with a 1000cc bike? Errant driving and then public sympathy. Everyone coos and cringes – offers sympathy and support.The media creates a public drama. It irritates me. For the UNTOWARD has happened.I wonder – Why cant a 19 year old just be happy with a bike? Why do his parents have to show their love with a 1000cc Suzuki? How do they expect a youngster to be mature enough to handle it? Did they think he would say – ” I have a great bike and must ride it carefully”. Any teenager with a new bike would just be waiting to rip through the streets, wind in his hair and maybe touch 200kmph. That is ja, but normal.
That Parents play an important role in a child’s life, is a fact that goes without saying. Then who are parents competing with, when they shower their children with branded clothes, Ipads, Tablets, cars and sports bikes as birthday gifts ?News flash : They are competing with other woefully inadequate parents who do not want to let go of “their” life to monitor that of their children. These parents are parents just by the fact that they have actually given birth to 1,2,or more. The point is – they have not yet ” become” parents.
What we need to realize are that “Children and Parents” are not persons – they are Attitudes.Unfortunately like other soft skills that people keep harping about, these were the first ones on the “Endangered species ” list and have almost got to the edge of the cliff. You can stay a child forever(and by that I do not mean you have to behave like a retard), and you can be a parent as early as possible (And I am not talking about or endorsing illegitimate/legitimate teen-moms) .
When I see a mother walk into a restaurant with her “perfect” 11 year old daughter- both with straightened hair, Gucci bags, and an attitude to boot – I don’t envy the little girl her situation. For her mother is not her “Friend” as you might think, but just a wonderful salesperson who has kick-started her little girl’s primal urge in greed. For this girl along with her mother will be a permanent customer at a salon, a mall, or a club till she dies.
Sadly, the child in her has already died. There will be no pictures of her as a child. For she has already transformed into a precocious adult. There will be no pictures of her child like “scrawls and spelling mistakes”. For they have been replaced with “Swype” texts and “auto-correct options“. There will be no pictures to show that “she has grown taller”, as her clothes have become smaller. Our young girl wears only “short skirts”. There will be no proof of her uneven pig tails. For she has entered the world of “Re-bonded” hair. And there will be no record of her “immature talk”. This little girl “has aged beyond her years”.
When I see the world of children around me, it is no wonder that I hardly feel anything towards them, leave alone feeling good. For I no longer see, children. I see stunted adults. And they do not appeal to me at all. I would never want to be pleasant to a “man/woman – child” who judges me by the gadgets I carry, the make-up I’ve done and the vehicle I descend from.
Children are dead. And it is parents who kill them.
Sadly, 19-year old Ayazuddin has succumbed to his injuries. However great a father/ mother he might have, the fear and thoughts that went through his mind when he was dragged along the last 500 meters, would have definitely been that of a 19-year old. As much as my heart goes out to Azharuddin and family, I request Parents – let your children just stay children.
Note : Written on Sep 16.