“You should not get close to this guy. He drinks.” The parents in the neighborhood would think that this is the perfect way to protect their wards from these social sins. They would cleverly opt for this tactic assuming that the sinners within the neighborhood would never get any closer to their children and spoil them. Stories abound about some distant relations staying in the bigger towns on party ways and as if that was not enough they also “drank” during such occasions. Too bad!
During those days especially the boys were raised with strict code of conduct to ensure a good image in the society. It was not uncommon to see the so called goody boys wearing their shirt fully buttoned up till their chin, have their hair well oiled, combed, flattened, giving a shiny texture, never utter any swear words, do not talk back to the elders in protest and should always be seen immersed in studies. If any of these unfortunate souls were found to have dared to speak with the girls from the neighborhood, well that spelt doom for them instantly. It was so strict.
Those were the unspoken rules though not set on stone by the parents but were considered as minimum set of expectations from their male children. Some of us dared to try the “Beeri” (Indian Cigar) secured from the domestic help or even take a sip of freshly brewed “Toddy” (a kind of palm juice extract) or even curiously turn the pages of some magazine stealthily procured from the road side magazine shops that showed explicit and sensuous content.
Did we ever get caught? Yes indeed on few occasions and were subjected to the severest reprimand from our elders for committing a crime that was nothing less than looting a bank in their eyes. In short anyone daring to deviate from any of these unspoken rules would be branded as going wild and getting spoilt to the core. A total “gone case”!
Parents dreaded from this very possibility, would keep up the vigil and keep the invisible psychological pressure.
Looking back now I feel that the notion of having a clean image was a concept of the parents during those days. They linked their own standing within the society with how their children behaved and how these kids carried themselves in the neighborhood.
It is a different fact that some of these so called spoilt brats during those days are super successful in their lives today. They are living their lives on their own terms and as far as I know most of their body parts are intact and healthy. Many of these folks are super smart and are leading a very contented and happy life. During their growing up years many of these kids from that generation dared to question the status quo often inviting the wrath of the elders during those days. I think most of this rebellious behavior was primarily an act of defiance and to exhibit a deviation from the typical stereotype.
On the other hand those who never dared to try out the “forbidden fruit” grew up as timid personality and are leading a life that is less than ordinary.
I feel this is grossly wrong. How is this tackled in the western countries? Well, firstly this is no big deal in these nations. As the children grow up, the level of interaction between a parent and child changes. The rules of engagement between a parent & adult child is completely different than what is between parent & young child. The parents change their attitude towards their children as they grow up and become more like friends to them.
A boy and a girl can be close buddies and their closeness need not be understood as boyfriend-girlfriend thing. We are seeing a spate of crimes committed against women across the country. I feel that the society as a whole is at fault. It has become too gender biased and especially male centric. During the growing up years it is essential that the boys in the family be allowed the exposure to freely mix with their female friends. This will help them when they grow up to clearly differentiate between “friendship” and “physical intimacy”.
Having resided in western countries for many years myself, I have witnessed how my male western friends would do to woo a prospective female partner. Wooing a female partner is an art that they usually master from their early days and I must say they do it with more finesse and in the most dignified manner. They try to first understand the psyche of the prospective female partner and accordingly plan the next steps to sweep her off her feet with much dignity. Rejection from either side is considered to be part of the process and taken sportingly. Causing physical hurt is something unheard of.
Similarly “smoking”, “drinking”, “swear words” is an individual choice and should be left to the individual when they are grown up adults. I have seen many from my close relations who are grown up adults now and are independent earning professionals but are too shy to let their parents know that they drink or smoke. I feel that the parents of today need to change their mindset. Why should they stop loving if they come to know that the mama’s boy from yesterday has become adventurous in his adulthood – be it a casual smoke or an occasional alcoholic drink? Accept your children when they grow up as they are, instead of judging them for their occasional smoke or drinks. Obviously if someone is indulging too much on these then it naturally is a matter of concern and may need some serious scolding. But having fun and getting drunk occasionally is no big deal.
It is definitely much ado about nothing.