No kidding, parents can become our best friends

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No kidding, parents can  become our best friends

You understand old folks better with the passage of time.

By Asha Iyer Kumar

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Published: Sat 16 May 2015, 10:32 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 11:20 PM

Thus, another ‘set away’ day passed with all the pomp an unfettered social media could provide, with no maternal emotion left untapped in our hearts. Amid scores of schmaltzy personal messages on my Feed conveying the essence of the most honest relationship the universe will ever know was an article that traced the history of ‘Mother’s Day.’ I was surprised to know that the celebration is over a hundred years old and it left me wondering why I hadn’t known about it much earlier. Had we known it earlier, will we have customized it to fit our cultural ethos and celebrated it like we celebrate our traditional festivals? As a child, will I have handed a crayon painted ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ card to my mother and hugged her tight before romping off to school, like the little ones in the know do these days?

A standard composition exercise to my very young pupils entails writing a paragraph about their parents. Invariably, the children express their love for their parents for specific reasons. “My mother cooks food that I love and she takes care of me when I am sick. My father buys all the things I want.” Seldom has anyone written that their parents were their best friends. Understandably so, for parents, with their officious aspect are anything but one’s friends at that age. I can categorically say that my parents were not my friends in my childhood, adolescence or even early youth. They performed all duties that were incumbent on them with utmost love, although not to the levels of excesses as it is exercised today. Yet I have no memory of openly displaying my emotions of filial affection or gratitude towards them. I am unsure if I even realized their significance in my life, outside of what they ostensibly did for me.

Unlike now, sentiments were probably subtle and our conservative disposition made their open expression look unseemly. Or were we merely ignorant of loud manners of loving in the absence of worldly exposure and therefore chose to lock our emotions up in tiffin boxes and homework books? It took many years of maturing and branching out into adult life for me to calibrate my relationship with my parents. It has been a slow learning curve that chartered through my own experiences and close encounters with the vagaries of life.

It took ages for me to learn to communicate with them without reservations, to understand them without prejudices that had built virtual boundaries of propriety between us and to put us on an even platform to establish a common language of correspondence. From many indeterminate things that characterized my biological bond and the emotional connection intermittently, love became the bedrock of my relationship with them only when I left their shadows and looked at life as they saw it.

It was difficult for a defiant teenager to see them as anything but fetters on her freedom, but with years I have grown mellow and accepted them as my friends with whom I can bare my heart uninhibited. I wish it had happened much earlier, for with each passing year I realize how little I have of their time, and ironically, how much more I have to learn and share.

I may still struggle to find the right idioms to articulate my sentiments, but they are not ambiguous anymore. Our differences may still remain, but I now know better than to dispute vocally. As they live their autumn years, I see time flip over. I have evolved — from an offspring who barely understood them to a friend for all seasons to a de facto mother who expends time in their worry. They are now to me what I once to them was. Children. I tease them as much as I admonish them, and unlike before, I don’t hesitate to put my hand on their shoulder when I pose for a photograph with them.


Asha Iyer Kumar is a Dubai-based writer

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