By Suchita S.

As a school going, hormonal kid – the years you think the world has a special vendetta against you – I had a very love-but-mostly-hate relationship with my folks. All’s very well now… we’ve grown into and accepted each others’ eccentricities, as happens with most life-long relationships. But back in high school, I had major trouble understanding why these peculiar creatures had an apparent right to intervene in every decision I made. At all of 13 years, to me, their lives seemed like inspiration for self-help books; ‘How to Manage Kids and do well at Work’, ‘How to Deal with Kids Hitting Puberty’ and ‘How to Balance Professional and Personal Lives’. In hindsight, I don’t think I really understood the earnestness of being a lawyer {dad} and a cardiologist {mum}, and being responsible for someone other than yourself. But back then, it didn’t matter.

So I made myself a promise – come what may, I will not make the same mistakes my mother and father make. These cardinal life errors the ‘shrink’ in the 14 year old Suchita spotted, were:

1. They have very few friends.

2. They work too much.

3. They answer their phones. Anytime. All the time.

4. They’re always consumed by their jobs. I mean, really. Everyone’s life does not depend on you.

5. Their idea of recreation is sleeping.

6. What is this obsession with discipline and waking up at 6 in the morning. LET GO! Sleep in. Spend that extra hour in the parlour.

As a naive and young outsider, their lives seemed so complex, and it felt like they were their own source of complications. It’s so easy to pass judgements, no? Even if you live under the same roof as someone, and have a window to their daily lives. It’s always convenient to sit on the fence, and compartmentalize others’ lives as black or white; right or wrong; balanced or imbalanced. So that’s just where I sat, and fumed and fretted over their mundane existence.

I recently went through a few of my middle school journals, and they read like a very bad rendition of Hansel and Gretel. In writing, as if words were a seal, I promised myself a life different from that of my folks. I did not want to work at the age of 40. Oh hell no, I wasn’t going to slave away in some office, or run the sanitizer stenched hallways of some hospital. I was going to be sipping on bubbly in a giant house somewhere in the world. I’d be on a holiday. I’d have a bevy of staff catering to every whim of mine. I’d also not work because I would’ve successfully found a solution to what was the root of all their problems – an inability to delegate responsibility. In this hypothetical future of mine, I’d be best friends with all my co-workers, love my boss, always be objective, and have lots of friends who’d hop over for dinner and drinks everyday. And yes, I’d sleep past noon on Sundays. I built this idea of what my life was going to be like, and I wanted it to be the far opposite of what my parents had made for themselves. Don’t get me wrong; I always had tremendous respect for what they did. But I had full faith in myself to crack all these adult codes, and create this idyllic life of peace, love and happiness. Richard Branson would run for cover.

Circa 2013. I’m self employed, after having worked two jobs in the past. One, in an events company. The other, at a media company. I have a bunch of friends, but I’d really rather hang out with just a handful. I wake up at 6.30 am, and I’m on snooze by 11 pm. I can no longer make out the difference between loving what I do, and being too heavily, intangibly invested in it. So I work. In the car, in office, at home, in a cafe. I cannot remember the last time I took a real holiday. But I really couldn’t care less, because I’m just driven by what I do. And I’ve been like this at both my other jobs. Some call it being an OCD control freak; I call it discipline. Whatever the case may be, I’ve grown up to be what my 13 year old self would call her worst nightmare – my parents.

I think I gave cognizance to this a few months ago. I remember this self-realization being followed by a moment of silence. Oh, The.Shit.Has.Hit.The.Ceiling. I was meant to be the cool kid. The one who worked hard, partied hard, and lived it up. Money was supposed to fall from the sky, and my credit card was definitely not supposed to be for a joint account opened with my mum. Damn you, Hollywood – I thought to myself. Karan Johar is a bloody liar, was next. Was I the only one who felt this way though? I reached out to my friends, and I found quite a few of them in the same predicament. There’s that little part of all of us that’ll want to be different from all the characteristics we’ve inherited and imbibed through our environment. But more often than not, we just run around in circles, only to become more of what we’re meant to be.

So I asked myself – is it a rut? Is it a cycle that can’t be broken? I’m still undecided on the verdict. If you’ve read this so far and are in agreement, or are just bloody curious, I’ll tell you that I find respite in this – it’s a pretty fantastic life, and if or when you’re comfortable with who you have become, you will choose to see it that way.

Good thing I have the company of my parents.

This is a part of our new fortnightly series, Quill & Ink, which will be penned by someone from the editorial team at LBBD. Musings of our life in Delhi, circumstances, experiences, and a bunch of us just… thinking out loud.

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