Yesterday was Father’s Day! How many of us know how did this day become ‘Father’s Day’ or who declared it first and why? Sonora Smart Dodd started it back then in 1908 to honour her father, Mr. William Jackson Smart, who was a Civil War Veteran and then dedicated his whole life to raising his six children. Coming to imagining why she must have thought of this – she must have seen her father up close and personal on days that may have been tough for them as a family. She must have seen him, standing there strong as a father but weeping profusely inside when crisis would have hit any of his children. She must have felt so much gratitude for his presence in her life that she decided to make him feel so special by declaring a day in his name. Little did she know that a hundred years later, her modest gesture was going to find such pompous, shallow and fickle meaning in people’s lives?
On this one day, most people will dig out a long lost picture with their fathers from their childhood and post it up with some beautiful quote below. Children will be made to make greeting cards to honour their fathers. Teenagers will probably call and wish if they are away, or get out of their screens after having posted that picture and give him a hug. All the celebrities, influencers or any one with a social media account will put up pictures and quotes and what not. And then what? On the next day, it will all be forgotten. We will get back to being our usual selves, blaming everyone around, and particularly parents for everything that ever went wrong with us.
A lot is being spoken about mental health. And the western outlook towards all sorts of mental or emotional issues, always zero down to childhood and those unresolved traumas. From their research studies to their soap operas to their stand up comedians to their social activists, everyone is always zeroing down on childhood as the root cause of any sort of mental health problem. Yes, there are children who go through a rather rough childhood, scars of which never leave their side. But, it can’t be a mass problem. It is not like the whole world was at war or famine or some unnatural disaster and the whole generation has had traumatic childhood experiences; and that’s why everyone, for every little thing, is wanting to heal the child inside. A little bit of challenge in life, a little extra dose of stress, one accidental calamity and out goes your sanity and in comes the therapist, billing you handsomely while you feel less in charge of your body, mind and life!
There are two things here:
- Either the conventional way of raising children is wrong – Of course it must be! Because we need not ‘raise’ children, we just need to let them be.
- Or we are not teaching our children that parents are humans too – Of course we don’t! How else will we get to boss around them and make them fulfil our unfulfilled desires.
Indians, especially the modern Indians, have a way where they like to believe they are American or European in their ways but were just born on the wrong continent. They derive everything from the West – their dose of music, entertainment, fashion, lifestyle and lately, even food preferences.! Their sense of identity is being torn in two opposite directions – where one side is their traditional family values and on the other side is their foreign lifestyle values. So, while they like to believe that their lifestyle is like those from the West, they feel their problems are also like those from the West. But they forget that their parents aren’t from the West. They don’t think like that, they don’t act like that and they can’t be judged with the same lens like that. Most of us had mothers at home or grand parents living with us or some unmarried aunt or uncle or some one from the extended family always with us while we were growing up. We didn’t grow up in abandonment or loneliness the way they can feel over there. If no one, we always had neighbours! So don’t simply follow them and start looking for memories from your childhood that you can blame for your inability to deal with the present crisis.
Let us believe that no parent will intentionally want to hurt their child. Yes, they may have their weaknesses, their shortcomings and their inability to provide their children with the best, but they will certainly try their level best. And if their ‘best’ is not good enough for you; you need to take that blame for not being able to be grateful for whatever they have managed to do for you. Whatever the reason for your resentment against them, you need to let it go for you to move on in life. If they could have done better, they would have done better. Be it financial or emotional; if you think your father wasn’t there for you; you just need to acknowledge that feeling and move ahead. Holding it uptight, never letting go of that pain, will only do YOU harm and no one else.
Indian culture in a very sophisticated manner has had a way to deal with all such situations. Earlier, the children were always introduced to the various Gods and their life-stories very early in their lives, mostly by their grandparents in the form of interesting stories highlighting valour. And while the children rejoiced in their Hero’s achievements, the soul of the child extracted the message that lied beyond the obvious words – the fact that these Gods have had unimaginably difficult lives and still they always stood victorious, never swayed away from their true character, always lived a proactive life and never blamed anyone for anything in life. It would have been rather easy for Ram to curse Dashratha for all the drama that unfolded between him and Sita in the jungle because he had to go there because of his father’s promise. But he didn’t! Have you ever heard of Ganesh holding a grudge against his father for the elephant head? Or Krishna feeling identity crisis because of his two sets of parents? While we may like to brush away our age old ‘Puranas’ as nothing but some frivolous creative mythology; we fail to understand and appreciate the profoundness of that writing. In a very subtle manner, the Bhagwad Geeta or the Puranas have acted as the therapist or counsellor for generations. And it was when our current generation began to lose its connection with our roots, thats when we began to fall apart.
As children who are now adults, we must remember – that what happens to us after we are born is partly our parent’s doing and partly our destiny. We can’t put all the blame on them without being accountable for our destiny. ‘Karma’ is not just an overused term, it is the very basis of life. So, take a moment to pause and reflect upon your life so far and your equation with your parents. If there is anything that you hold against them – however small or however big, first acknowledge and then let it go. And this is not for the people to see on your social media profile, but for you to feel in your heart. Be grateful for their presence in your life. You are reading this today, because they gave birth to you yesterday. And, how much ever you may like to deny it, that will be the biggest favour they would have done to you. Every thing else that followed after birth was inconsequential because most importantly, ‘life’ happened at birth and nothing can beat that ever! As you breathe in gratitude, breathe out the resentment and take charge of your own life.
Hence, the next time when you smile for your Father’s Day selfie, let your face light up and your eyes shine brighter with the love that radiates from your heart.
HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!
Here’s my nostalgic picture too!