As humans why are we so obsessed with conclusions?. All arguments need to be decided, stories need to climax one way or the other, even sentences need to end with a period. This seems to be so unnatural, as in nature nothing waits till the end, end just happens, it is as abrupt as an unfinished sentence, a story incomplete. World does not wait for completeness, it just works at a pace not know to humans, and end happens, not to a plan. It sounds almost foolish to expect all sentences
When a child is born, the first thing that comes to people’s mind, is who does he/she resemble. There are elaborate discussions and arguments as to who the child resembles the most. Even though it starts with the appearance, the hunt for resembles stretches far from the looks, deep into every single behavioral pattern the child exhibits. Over years I have seen many parts of India, and some parts of the world outside. This practice of trying to find the resemblance is almost universal.
Even though the child is a complete individual, and will develop his/her own attitude and outlook towards world in a due course of time, I love the idea of trying to tag his/her behavior to one or more people in the family. We all know that no one lasts forever, and a day would come when we have to say goodbye to our dear ones, if not already done. Our memories of our dear ones too do not last long, with time the memories are meant to fade away. This simple act of seeing everyone we once adored, and every aspect of them which we identified them with, with our own children and grandchildren, we found an easy way to make sure our memories last our lifetime.
Every time my son picks up an almost inaudible sound, we see my mom in him. Every time he goes out to the street and picks up a conversation with a complete stranger he reminds me of my dad, every time he assumes every conversation people are having concerns him he reminds me of my grandmother, his style of looking at things is straight from my other grandmother, and his taste in food is my own copy.
We are not sure, how many of these are really true similarities, but to us they are true. With him, we see our grandparents walking right around us, long after they are gone; with him we will see our parents after they are gone.
If we were to partition what we need/want from people/relationships into various partitions, Into how many of them does one’s spouse fit into?. Into how many of them do others walk in?, Into how many of them do we let others walk in?.
Should one be happy if the spouse fits into many of these partitions?.
Should one be happy if they dont, and he/she can add many others who fit in naturally into these?.
Should one try to alter the spouse by changing their interests and outlook to be able to fit into more of these partitions?.
Should one be happy letting them fit only into those, where they fit naturally?.
Things change (period). He had been telling himself for over years now, every single time he wanted to get back to what he had, be who he was, meet people who were, do things he did, the way he did, with people he was used to doing it with. He wanted what once was, and will never be again. It was not a question of familiarity, nor was a question of comfort. It was to do with holding on, it was a question of letting go, it was do with making it last a bit more. Roles, relationships, work, money, hobbies, wants, likes, clothes, people, equations, his outlook on things, his attitude, his priority and his values, everything had changed.
Yet ‘he’ remained.
Have you ever tried to blot a pool of water on the floor. The water trying to find a new path around the cloth, and the cloth trying to blot as much of water as possible. Every time you try to move the cloth around, water finds its way around too. Still at the end of it the cloth takes in a big dash of water, as much as it can. Life is a lot like the flowing water, and I want to be the cloth which absorbs as much as it can.
Memories are always cherished. They are the only thing of your loved ones that remain long after they are gone. Still why is it that, after a period of time, we wish we had more memories of people we care about? How is it that our parents have a long list of memories from our childhood, and none from our recent past? Why is it that we end up having to think hard to relive a memory of our time with our parents?
Memories are moments of life which survive the test the time. For moments to survive, they need to have occurred in the first place. Having said that, moments do not occur, they transpire over time. You realize moments, a while after you have lived them. The key here is the time factor. Unless you “live” them, you wouldn’t realize your moments. Unless you have your moments, you won’t have the joy of memories.
I was thinking about ways we could fill our lives and our parents’ with memories, and here is a list of things which would add joy to our time with parents.
Be a part of their activities:
Parents have their own set of activities revolving around their interests. Your mom might prefer going to a nearby temple, over dining out. Your dad might like taking a walk to the neighborhood market or enjoy the simple joys of working on a crossword or a soduku. It may bring a smile to their faces, when you volunteer to be part of these day to day activities of theirs. The small time spent with them, doing things which they love to do, can surprise you with happiness which you may never look for in these activities.
Include them in your activities:
You could just be watching TV on a Sunday, [Yes, watching TV is an activity, even though my wife disagrees], it’s nice to pull your parents along to watch a song which you know they love. They might be busy in their world, but I am sure, they wouldn’t mind dropping in to watch their favorite song, when its on TV. If you have plans for shopping, or even a visit to your favorite “chatwallah” round the corner, it would be nice to invite them to join you once in a while. It is possible they would want to avoid this intrusion into your life, but reassurance that they are invited whole-heartedly can work wonders. You would know many facets of their life, which I am sure you will treasure.
Discuss a problem with them:
Parents have loads of experience and would have faced a whole lot of problems in their lifetime. Having solved all the problems for their kids over years, suddenly they are of not much use once the children grow up. Times have changed, and world has changed a lot, you might feel they are not of much help in the problem you are facing today, which might be true as well. However, there is nothing like the feeling of being needed by children, there is nothing like having the satisfaction of having helped your children. Why rob them of this pleasure?
Discuss the problem you are facing, they might have some great insight which might help you, even if they don’t, just talking about the problem, might ease your burden, and bring them joy. Discussing a problem does not mean complaining to them all the time, or forcing your problems on them.
Try to help them out in their problems:
Many of the new age parents are financially independent; this does not mean they do not have financial problems or that they do not have doubts and dilemmas. Introduce them to newer financial products which they may not have access to, and discuss your idea of finance and it management.
They might have many issues, which they would not know whom to contact, they may not even be able to identify their problems. Lending an ear, can help them figure out many of their problems and issues. Its very common for the old people to dismiss their children’s advice, or not be able to follow what the children are trying to convey. Just like your children, your parents too can come across as adamant, and stubborn. Please not that you are trying to solve their problem, and just like the way you let your children make mistakes, you may have to deal with letting your parents make mistakes too. The experience of being a part of their problems, is as rewarding as being able to solve their problems.
Go on a vacation:
Living with your parents, or visiting them often, helps in spending quality time with them. however, thats not enough. Taking time off, and heading to a vacation, however short in duration it may be, helps you to spend a relaxed time with them. Many a times, with the amount of pressure on individuals these days, the time spent with family is either an aftermath of a busy day of work, or in preparation of the things to come at work the next day, even weekends are spent in attempts to rewind from a busy week, or trying hard to relax before the madness of the coming week. A relaxed vacation can bring a much needed open mind when spending time with your parents. A vacation also usually brings out the youth in parents, giving them another reason to smile.
Gift them needful things:
People usually have lot of occasions to gift their parents; there are always birthdays and anniversary, and fathers and mothers day. The clichéd saree from your first salary to your mother still lingers around. It’s nice to gift them big, but its even better to have an eye for their smaller necessities. Be it a pen which needs a new refill or a worn out wallet of your dad, a soothing gel for your mothers cracked heals, or even refill of their prescription medicine. It is not that, they cannot afford these, or that they can’t do these chores on their own, this just gives them the satisfaction of being looked after, and provides you of the joy of taking care.
A family meal:
One shared meal with the family everyday is easiest way to build memories. Even most silent of the families open up over a dinner table. Dinner table conversation involves everyone in the table, it can vary from discussing a cartoon character, to worrying about the country’s financial and political woos. Sharing a meal, provides a common ground for sharing opinions, and sharing each other’s highlights from the day. There are many a laughs and smiles which always remain long after the eaten meal has left your system.
Request a dish:
A family always knows each other’s likes and dislikes, and food has always been a big part of Indian households. Even today my uncle sends my favorite peda from Ahmedabad, whenever someone comes over. Why not make it a point to celebrate food once in a way. Why not request your mom to cook your favorite dish, amidst your busy week. Why not ask your dad to decide the menu for the Saturday’s lunch, believe me, even non foodies love to decide the menu.
A small get together:
Most of us do not share our social lifes with our parents. We never have time for people who are important to them. We do not consider it important to share people who are important to us with them. How many of our friends really know our parents, or have spent 10 minutes over coffee with our parents. It might be worth organizing a small get-together involving both worlds. You can keep it intimate with few of your best friends, and few of your parents friends.
Just because I have mentioned these points over here, does not mean I practice all of them. I may have followed some of them, and might have thought of trying some.
As I collect my memories of my parents, I would love to discover more things which I can do to earn them.
Ah! my stomach hurts
Phew! the breakfast today sucks. I want something else
Mom, students are picking on me at school, I wont go to school from now on.
I didn’t sleep well last night, and now my head hurts, do something about it.
Damn!, No power since morning, and we have the cricket match today. Why can’t you give a complaint to KEB
Why does grandmother have to worry about how late I take bath, would you please tell her not to bother.
The waiter has served a coffee which is cold, why can’t you shout at him,
The sheets are dirty and the lunch served is not hot, how can they get away with such service.
Yes, yes. I know you all get the idea. I have listed a bunch of complaints and cribs I used to have. Isn’t it fun complaining?. For a long long time, I have been complaining, to my dad, to my mom. Its almost mechanical, for children to complain to parents. As a child, what I did not notice, was that, it was mechanical for my mom also to complain to my dad. So where does that leave my dad?, who does he complain to?.
Marriage changes our life in many ways, some good and some bad. Its always fun to complain, as long as you are the one who is complaining. [The last part of that has been a more recent realization]. Today when my wife complains to me, I realize how it feels to be complained to, how helpless it makes us feel at times, how irritated we get when the problems are trivial [in my point of view], how frustrated we get when the solutions is not accepted by the complainer, how foolish it feels when the complainer is not even up for solving the problem.
Sometimes I listen to my wife complain, and my mind is shouting back at me. “Hold on, I don’t want to listen, I want to be the one who complains. No, not you, you don’t get to complain to me, I am the one who has the privilege”.
Complaints are mostly a way for us to vent our frustration, in many a cases we are fully aware of the fact that, the other person has absolutely no way of solving the problem. Unfortunately a person who hears the complaint, does not see it in the same light. He is obligated to solve the problem, or dismiss the same. In both the cases listening to complaints lead to a whole lot of irritation
When I think about things in retrospect, everything makes so much more sense. However, in the moment, I just don’t want to listen, I want to escape, I want the other person to stop. The irritation just shows up clean and clear on my face.
I guess marriage needs me grown up in a whole lot of ways.
Until then, I still want to be the one who gets to complain.