A few days ago I lost my maternal grandfather. The loss was both a sensitive period of losing a dear member of the family and a reminder of the pain of losing one’s parent. It was a cathartic experience as I saw my mother losing her senses on seeing her father fade away in front of her eyes forever. Amidst this, a question pricked my heart, the answer of which gushed my eyes with more tears. Should I feel guilty of picking fights with my parents on patriarchal issues that bind me? How will I deal with the guilt when I will be on my mother’s place seeing my parents go away forever? How will I face myself knowing that I have hurt my parents whom I will never be able to see again? Should I stop questioning the conservative thoughts of my parents because I love them? Or does parental love allow disputes and disagreements without any impact on mutual love?
Living in a patriarchal family is not an easy task. More than once I have disagreed and opposed what my parents decided for me. And often the argument ended up with us getting disappointed with each other. But then, I slammed my door as anger, disappointment and sadness rushed through my fingers and wrapped myself in the blanket to shed tears on how I can upset the ones I love the most. How can I shout in front of them or disagree with what they say? Aren’t parents the primary guardian of the child’s happiness and welfare? Why will they do anything wrong to me? But unfortunately, our parents are wrong at times. Your father might not be a good husband or a man. And your mother might not be a supportive woman. It is not their fault entirely, but of their upbringing, conditioning and the fear of the patriarchal society that keeps a woman’s parents at the gunpoint.
My mother often admitted that her parents never allowed her to speak her mind, wear whatever she liked or pursue her life choices. But she never chose to raise her voice because that wasn’t the norm then. Now, as a feminist who understands how gender difference erodes our lives, I chose to question. I questioned the pressure of early marriage. I questioned the expectations to follow a certain career choice, to fit in a social convention and social behaviour. I chose to question the imposed silence on the wrongs that patriarchal society does against women, on the streets and inside my house. And I shudder to even think about the consequences if I hadn’t raised these questions in my family. Even though these questions created differences between me and my parents, it gave me the voice, choice and freedom which I never knew I always deserved and didn’t possess.
The question of guilt should have been resolved with this realisation, but it doesn’t. It remains like a lump in my throat whenever I have my parents caring for me in my sickness and appreciating me in my health.
Just why women have to fight a harsh battle to gain basic rights? Why they have to survive with guilt when all they seek is the right to choose?
However, my grandfather’s demise has reassured that despite all these questions, my love for my parents hasn’t decreased even a bit and neither have my parents stopped caring for me. I love them despite all the disputes that I have with them. And I know they will hold my back when I need them. Because both disputes and love are essential for my happiness. We never shy away from saying sorry or thank you to each other and getting back to loving and caring for each other. Because the relationship between parents and children is made of conflicts due to generation gaps and unconditional love. Then why should I be guilty? Isn’t the very base of a healthy relationship is to openly agree and disagree with each other?
So dear women, and even men, it is your right to dissent and to stand by your choices. And it is also your right to simultaneously love your parents for raising you into a dissenting adult. Yes, some disputes between parents and offsprings take an ugly turn and lead to suicides and being disowned as some recent reports have shown. But these cases are not solely about a relationship between parents and children but also about the pressure of social conventions that replaces the healthy love among them.
Picture Credit: A representative image from the film Thappad. Views expressed are the author’s own.
Also Read: Ten Ways To Smash Patriarchy At Home