Summer holidays were round the corner. Like every other student in the hostel, I too was excited to set off for home. The very thought of meeting my family, enjoying with friends, relishing mangoes and bathing in a local pond exhilarated me even more. Engulfed in the ecstasy of joy and happiness, I began narrating my plans to my roommate. However, he had neither any questions to ask me ,unlike my other friends, nor any enthusiasm to express. He just nodded his head in agreement to whatever I said. Besides, to my surprise he even did not have any ‘to-do’ list for the euphoric summer holidays.
I was shocked by his lack of eagerness. I knew something was really wrong. So, next day on our way to dinner I finally got a chance.
“Don’t you like going home?” I asked.
“There is nothing like that.” He replied.
I looked at his face, full of qualms and cajoled him for long time with a promise to give him my full support. After a lot of persuasion and pleading, he finally broke his silence –
“I don’t feel like going home…I’m not close to them. They don’t understand me and when I try to listen to them – I feel like I lose my individuality.” He uttered with a gloomy face and further went on by explaining how the folks at his place thought that he was useless.
As he continued with his dilemma, I slowly began to empathize with him since now I understood his problems. Although it was really difficult for me to suggest any solutions still somehow I confronted him. That night, I had a brief talk with him which started at around 11 pm and ended only at 3am in the morning.
My roommate, like many of us, was from a middle class family. His father worked for the Indian Navy while his mother was a homemaker. Being the sole bread earner of a joint, my friend’s father had a very strict attitude towards everyone. He followed armed forces rules and regulations at home. He strictly followed the principle of ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child’ and so nothing ever ceased their way – Neither my friend’s mischief nor his dad’s stick. This act really terrified him all through his childhood.
That was the terror his father had created in him. He never had the courage to talk to his father directly. And as expected most of the times his requests would get rejected leaving my friend dejected and with little choice.
It was not that he was bad in academics. He scored well and was always in top 5 of his class but his father wanted him to be the absolute topper and if he failed he was welcomed home with beatings and thrashings. From wooden and bamboo sticks to belts and chain, his body had tasted the feel of every harsh element. And one fine day it was even half a meter iron rod. Torn between being a wife and mother, my friend’s mother could do nothing besides comforting him every now and then.
He somehow cleared his 10th grade and ventured out for college and IIT coaching in a place away from his home and relatives. He exploited the freedom in every form and someway managed to get admitted into an IIT. While he was studying in IIT, his father always strained and lectured him for hours to study well in order to score high and thereby qualify for a good job. The constant pressure stressed my friend, keeping him frustrated all the time.
Today, when we are all excited to spend our summer holidays at home he is not at all happy because for him his house is not home but a prison where he feels caged all the time. I now realized why every time when I talked to my father on the phone about my own adventures, my room-mate would leave the room. He could never talk about fun, adventure and movies with his father. Maybe that is why, he expressed everything with silence. He had never been heard before and he was not sure whether anybody would hear him now.
I was lost in thinking my friends plight when he interrupted my thoughts by saying –
”When I go home, they ask and I answer, that’s it. Then there is silence, each one waiting for the other to speak. My home always has a very serious atmosphere and that’s precisely the reason why I don’t wish to go there.”
After listening to my friends miseries, I have nothing much to say mainly because no one is to be blamed. The father has his own philosophy while the child has his own requirements and necessities. Making me question, what is the use of discipline, strictness and action when the child responds to you out of fear and not respect? Besides, there is no love; the child only calls them parents because he has to.
Of late, we see a lot of lectures and videos on parenting. People are lecturing parents but still many fail to understand its importance. Often, what remains incomplete and unresolved in a parent’s past becomes a part of their irrational parenting.
A child needs utmost care and attention from near and dear ones, especially parents. Being too friendly or too strict can spoil the kid. Agreed, it is difficult to strike the balance in between. Nevertheless, I always felt that it’s the onus of the parents to take the first call and give enough space to their children. Parents should make the home atmosphere in such a way that they feel ‘Our parents are our best friends.’ Such children will never ever neglect their parents in their life.
To my roommate, all I could say was, “Try talking, that’s the only thing you can do. Sometimes, you have to make an effort to make yourself appear rational.”