10 Lies Parents Tell You

30 Day Writing Challenge

We’ve all been told little white lies growing up. It’s not just a cultural thing, I find. Some of the lies are so universal. And inevitable – you’ll realise this when you start using them yourself. Before we begin though, I HAVE to share this Indian parent meme I found online. Go ahead, laugh!

Indian Parents

1. Change your appearance – Make a silly face and it will get stuck that way. I tried for so long all these “poses” Calvin is so good at and failed miserably. Led me to the conclusion that I must not be doing it right. Damn my lack of play dough consistency face.

Making Faces
2. Every ache has a reason – My mum was our resident doctor. Whenever I was ill, I’d hear her say “Oh, you have a headache in the middle of your forehead? It means you’re dehydrated. Drink water” “Oh, your little finger hurts? It means you aren’t eating enough vegetables”
3. Pet Adventures – I used to idolize my pets because they would always “run away” and go off on adventures. Usually for love. My parents once showed me a newspaper clipping of a cat that looked like ours our cat who had just been married to the love of her life. They had garlands around them. A proper Indian wedding!

Cat Marriage
4. Parents know everything – They are the true all knowing superheroes who not only manage to provide you with everything you need, they also know EVERYTHING. Where we came from, where we’re going, what is our purpose, why Mr. Neighbour was yelling at his wife (he was practicing for a play).
5. Chewing Gum Trees – Mum used to say that if you swallowed gum, it would stay in your system for 7 years. And in that 7 years, if you swallow a seed and god forbid it gets stuck in gum, you could grow a tree. I feel like I have many bonsai’s in me right now. I’m my own environmentalist.

Stomach Trees

6. Beauty Tips – These aren’t what my parents have said. On a list of priorities, appearance was the last thing. But these are lines I have heard other parents use “If you eat meat, you’ll become dark”, “If you eat too much chocolate, your hair will fall out”, “If you drink coffee, you’ll get pimples”. If you want to be fair, with luscious hair and flawless skin, STAY AWAY from meat, chocolate and coffee. Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.
7. Saving the world – Every time we fussed about food (which was fairly rare in comparison considering aid worker parents) we’d get the standard “Do you know how many people are starving?” Before we were old enough to understand the true lesson, we assumed that if you ate without wasting anything, those starving multitudes would be hungry no more!

Superhero
Totally legit selfie of me saving the world!

8. Yummy in the Tummy – Noodles Worms, Pasta Intestines , Chicken Wings Frog Legs were the TASTIEST meals we’ve ever had in our lives. The more disgusting, the better tasting.
9. Distance – We’re always “almost there” whenever we were on a road trip. They’re make us start singing countdown songs like those green bottles, 12 days of Christmas and local equivalents. Then we’d start counting backwards from 10,000. Then we’d start counting red cars. No matter how long the destination, we would almost always just be 5 minutes away.
10 The Afterlife – Tales of the afterlife always changed based on my favourite story. As far as I’ve figured out, the afterlife is a place on the moon that is paved in gold and buildings are made out of candy. The hills are made out of chocolate and the snowcaps are vanilla icecream. Everything is free and you never have to work a day in your life. You can read all the books you want, watch all the tv you want.

P.S. Santa is a real person and I don’t care what you say.

25 years of togetherness!

Dearest Mamma and Daddy,

It makes me sad that I can’t spend this special occasion with you. Usually I’m making a card or putting balloons up on your bedroom door. What do you give as a gift to a couple who are so happy in each other’s love to never need anything? Trust me, there were times when all three of us have pulled out our hair trying to figure out what is the best way to celebrate your marriage.

And then I realise that my life is a celebration of your love for each other. I am living my dreams. I have solid values. I have my heart in the right place. My life has become a living monument to what you both can do together. And what you both can do … it’s magic!

When I look back on our life as a family, I realise small things I never noticed before – The holes in the walls, the black and white TV, the long, claustrophobic corridor that was a kitchen, one single bed that housed us all. It is the kind of house that a child I work with could live in – vulnerable, poverty stricken children. I just never realised that you both had to struggle so much to give us the life that we can call nothing but privileged. We were poor? Nonsense, I had a mother who would tell me stories late into the night, who would teach me important lessons that made me such an ace in school, one who would break all societal borders of caste and class and smile. You taught me what it is to be human and therefore compassionate. I had a father who would ride around till I fell asleep, read Olivers Twist, pronouncing all the names and French words wrong like Char-lotte, then there was the CUSH-ON joke & Nakkan & Munji whom I grow up with. A father who would not be ashamed to hug us and let us know we are loved, always bringing back treats after every trip, teaching me that the greatest reward is in putting others before self. You taught me what it is to be humble and remain so even after reaching a point where people you never met, recognise you.

There were troubles. Of course there were, we were not superhuman, just brought up extra-ordinarily. I remember the first time I ran away from home in a fit of teenage rage and rebellion – I was 12 and I was hiding on Father John’s terrace. Daddy came to the terrace and sat down next to me with a newspaper – you never said a word. No “What happened?” No “How dare you!” You never hit us or said anything to wilfully put us down. It was your silence that calmed me and let me know, you were really there. Unlike most parents, my father is there for me. You may not agree with what I would be doing at that point but you have always had the knack to see the big picture. Despite that, you have never forced your view points on me. You have always given me that freedom. And it is because of that that I have learnt all that I have and even now, when there is trouble, I ask myself, “What would daddy do?”

I remember Mamma threatening to pray when I was 17 and had my first official relationship. There was no “Get out of my house” No “I disown you” Just prayers. While daddy instilled in me logic and a sense of reality, you taught me what it is to reach into my heart and not be afraid to love. I had distanced myself to such an extent; I could have been a robot. But you have taught me how to be sensitive, how not to be ashamed of being in touch with my emotions. You taught me how to understand myself. I remember the fights we used to have all the time because I didn’t want to be dragged down into social work. I wanted to travel the world, be cold hearted, to write my heart out, and to live far, far away from home. I didn’t realise it then but I do now, it was because I saw your strength and your passion and it scared me. I saw how you silently suffered and took it all in whenever there was trouble. You never fought; you let others have the last word, even if they were wrong. You listened. Oh how you listen! It is because of your strength that I learnt, slowly but surely, how to be like you. To be like you, even if only just a shadowy image, that was my biggest dream. I knew that if ever I fell along the way, you would be there to pick me up. You have always been there. I just didn’t know it. I learnt about who I am, only because of you. You gave me wings and a heart that can carry the weight of the world if it wanted.

I could never thank you enough for all the support, all the magic and the adventures, all the lessons that I will never forget all the good times and the not so pleasant ones. They have rooted and grounded me. I will always tell your stories to anyone who cares to listen. You are the reason I keep moving forward. You are the reason I will continue helping people where I can. I am so SO proud to have you as my parents and I just want you to know that I love you … SOOO much it hurts. I have always loved you even in my rage. I will always love you, come what may. And when I’m back, we shall celebrate this fact … together … as always.

I love you and miss you madly.

Your daughter,

Anju

 Oh, and P.S. Happy 25th Anniversary!