Sunday, June 07, 2009

Paternal Woes

THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT FATHERS THAT I WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND. They have this innate fear of their children’s independence. It is almost as if they dread the day that their children will grow up, and wait in patient horror of the future. They toilet train kids like pet dogs, make them study mathematics and weird algebraic formulae; insert in their heads words like discipline, love and duty so that children would do what they want them to. But it is the future that they expect to be potty trained. Unfortunately for them, the future has a bad habit of shitting where it pleases. Children often turn out to be what their fathers fear. In my case, if ever you happen to ask my father who I am; the answer would be “My worst Nightmare.”

I was not exactly a big fan of my dad since the childhood, as my mother often reminds me. You might quote the ‘oedipal complex’ and other Freudian gloop but it remains that my dad and me have always been on the opposite sides of the coin. Legend goes that pissed off with his work antics and regular absence of family time, I once asked my mom to ‘give this dad away’ and get a new one. My mom still jokes that would have been a good idea. But it is not always that way. I love my dad. He is honest, well read, idealistic, hardworking. I love him for the way he will not compromise his principles. I adore him for his uninhibited faithfulness to what he likes. I can even like his popularity with people. He is what every child hopes to have – a loving father, a hero.

The problem with fathers is very strange, it stems from the fact that they are too old. Their experiences in a cruel world make it seem necessary to them that they should warn their prodigals of the dangerous world that they step into. What they do not notice is that in their hurry to protect their ‘dear ones’, they are denying them of a chance of experiencing the world. Every human that is born sees the world in a different light. If it were up to fathers, we would see only the best. A noble ideal, nonetheless constricting and suffocating to their wards.

Children are almost like aliens coming into this world, says a line in the movie ‘Martian child’ (Great movie, by the way!!) . They have no idea who they are, or where they are. To them each day is like an experience, to live life in a particular way only would be to close up an inquisitive mind. Yet, agreeably there are things that are not to be disclosed to children. But once they have reached a certain age, it no longer is up to the parent to choose how the child should be. The parents are the ‘cause’; children are the ‘effect’. As they say in philosophy – the effect has its origins and nature in the cause but the cause does not share the same with the effect. Thus, though the effect is similar to the cause, the cause is not similar to the effect. The father might have been like the son, but the son cannot be his father.

MY father has toiled for fifty long years. Sun, rain and false promises have made him cynical. His ideals have now been eaten away by constant hunger and principles weakened by the termites of responsibility. He no longer has the vigour of a young man and the strength of a believer. I have watched him go from being a believer to a skeptic. I know he fears the same looking at my growing fearlessness. I am sure he sees the image of himself in his younger days and does not want me to become a picture of him in the older days. But his experience does not necessarily have to be mine. He has every right to be afraid and warn me, but it remains that I choose the other way. I want to be my father, the ay he could not be. “You’ll never make it in this world”, he says. “You have no idea how hard it is”. Yes, Sir. I have no idea. But if you won’t let me find out, I never will.

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