Mom, dad — who?by Rajbir DeswalI think it’s time to re-visit Gurudev Tagore, who should be turning wherever he is at the denial of ‘holding a head high and having a mind without fear’ in relation to a couple living in Norway. The apples of their eye have been taken away by the Norwegian childcare authority, Barnevarne, for an alleged ‘parental disconnect.’
The Norwegians should learn from other species, if not the homo-sapiens of the Indian variety. Even animals and birds would let their progeny go away from them but only when it’s time for the latter to fly away from the nest — naturally. And mind you, the empty nest always pains them for the rest of their life, missing a link that was once a full house!
There is a problem with the Western model of bringing up children despite all that comforting coziness. Their way of showing love and compassion for their near and dear ones is not the be-all and end-all of bearing and rearing a child. Perhaps, they don’t have in their mind a situation when a child gets scared of nightmares and has none around to comfort him or her and lull back to sleep. We in India know that this is the best way one can ensure parental love.
Oprah Winfrey was enough amazed when she exclaimed how Abhishek Bachchan, a father himself, could stay in his father’s home! But, then, she comes from a country where if, at all, a son is charitable to his father he would gift him a tie on his birthday, but not without the bill!
My father, when he breathed his last, had expressed his desire that there should be no domestic help around to take care of him the previous evening. Obviously, he wanted to see me around as he probably knew that he was going, finally. He had the satisfaction of sorts that I was holding his hand.
My hardboiled Haryanvi grandmother and her gaggle, when they sat with the spinning wheel, had nice sessions of wisecracks. Of these, I remember one that why, after all, children would not look after their parents when for them their father ‘sells his skin’ and mother ‘sleeps on the soiled bed herself, giving dry space to her child’. Even as an adolescent, when I lay with my mother in her quilt, it would feel heavenly, although she kept telling me that I was a ‘big boy now!’
In 2011 we were in London watching the Wimbledon matches. Every time there was a good shot from one of the players the camera zoomed on to a man in his late fifties, who raised his hand with pride. I asked my nephew if the man being focused frequently was the player’s father. “Oh, come on uncle, who is bothered about one’s father? It’s his coach!” I was stunned.
At Bridport in South England I saw some dog-walkers, seagull-feeders, anglers and lonely old people ogling at all the rest like crows. I initiated a dialogue with one of the old men there who did not let me tear myself away from him for he found in me ‘someone who heard him for that long after a long time!’ When I asked him about his children, he looked deep in my eyes and tears began to roll down his cheeks.
If you don’t believe me, then go and ask the parents of our affluent NRIs who stay in those empty houses devoid of all connections whatsoever. A life lonely and bogus — a legacy of the West!