‘I cannot have short hair as it gives me an uncivilized look. So are all the boys uncivilized?’ she speaks to herself with an expressionless face, barely controlling tears that are about to roll down.
‘I cannot ride a bike, it’s dangerous. I shouldn’t stay out after 6:30, it gets dark. I shouldn’t have friends outside my classroom, they cannot be trusted. I shouldn’t practice martial arts as I can get hurt. Public transport for college is a really bad idea, it’s tiring and uncomfortable. I shouldn’t be friends with boys. I cannot be seen using my phone twice or thrice a day. English movies or any movies at all induce dirty, vulgar, obscene, inappropriate conduct in me. Running or extensive workouts will make me tired so I should totally avoid it. Tattoos are indecent and cause skin infection. I cannot make trips alone or with my friends. I cannot spend a night outside my home. I should always maintain a low profile in college. I shouldn’t even bother facing challenges; they do nothing but develop my personality. I should probably quit dreaming about someday getting to enjoy adventure sports as they are of no use to decent and civilized people like us. I’m obliged to dedicate myself to my studies and ultimately settle at home with a respected job. If I don’t do so, I can never live with a head held high.’ Her eyes are already wet and the list goes on without an end. Though, these words are contradicting with her personality. The most important thing to this lady is stepping out of her comfort zone and never ever has she known how to give up. But when it comes to her overprotective dad, she doesn’t know how to even fight.
“I want to challenge the ways of the society and make people think that why they do what they do, so that their actions are not driven by fear but are driven by a will to see the results.” She reads her diary and tries to remember when she wrote these lines. It’s been a frequent practice for her to sit alone and think about what she was, what she wants to be, what she is right now and what’s stopping her. Only this time she wanders about an extra thing she wishes to have; it’s her dad’s support.
For a long time she’s been trying to make her dad understand that she’s no more a child who needs to be told what to do and what not to do. If only her dad knew her better, he would have known what her daughter is capable of. She believes that there is a point in parenthood when you have to stop being a guardian and start being a friend. Trying to make her dad believe the same thing, she desperately tries to open up his mind every now and then. Only now she’s doubtful if she still has a long way ahead or she’s just on the wrong path.
“I’m sorry dad for last night that you had to shout at me. Though you were the one shouting and screaming, I was the one being accused of arrogance. I know I could hurt my hand but that wasn’t the thing going through my mind at that moment. I just wanted to do the opposite of what you were telling me to. Even I hate myself for this but I’m helpless. I want you to please read everything patiently before jumping to any conclusions. I’m only writing this to you because I cannot tell you everything on your face.” She goes on writing in her diary.
“The thing is that I always feel that you pointlessly try to control me without any valid reason. This isn’t just about last night, I have been thinking about this for a long time (a couple of years to be specific). It’s a very difficult task for me to open up to you like this but somehow I feel that I’ll be relieved if you just know what’s going on in my head. I know you’d be angry but trust me, I have been angrier. I don’t think being scared of you will help me nor do me any good. All I want is a healthy father and daughter relationship after all. I know we do not share a healthy bond between us and you know it too. Lately, I have been feeling that you never actually supported me for anything. Sure, you supported me financially and gave me all the facilities I need. So many times you and mum stayed awake so I could sleep. So many times you stepped outside your comfort zone to protect your family, to make sure we were fine. You truly loved us and cared for us. All I have ever been is a disappointment though; you still always managed to show me that you love me. I’m grateful to you. But I believe there are reasons for me being like this” as the page comes to an end, she takes a pause.
The main motive for writing these few pages to her dad is to break the walls of his mind by letting him know what he never knew about her. He’ll be 60 years old in the next 5 years. He has technically seen the world change around him; obviously it’s not going to be easy to break the wall that took 55 years to build. She takes a deep breath and continues writing. “Ever since I started going to school I used to be a scared and depressed kid sitting in corner of the class, always afraid to get along with people and I always found it so hard to talk to someone. I never actually enjoyed being a part of the group. I always wished if I could be the center of attraction but I never knew how to do it. I never had a friend to talk to and never had somebody to eat lunch with. I used to walk from one block to another in recess, pretending to be busy so that no one thinks I’m alone. For eight long yeas I did that. Even in the sports period I would be the last person for someone to take me on their team. I always felt rejected. I never had any special skill and I never took part in any co curricular activity. I bet nobody even cared if I was there. All of this used to create a mental pressure because of which I couldn’t study hard enough. My marks kept dropping consistently and eventually I failed in class 11th. Out of all that negativity I started to grow up a little bit. When we changed school, I made a few friends and shared a deep bond with them. I used to solve their problems; everyone came to seek my advice when they didn’t know what to do. I saved a lot of friendships and I even helped a lot of people with their family issues. Even though I had friends, I was still depressed. That said, it’s no surprise I had to work the hell out of me to even concentrate on the studies. Eventually I passed 12th but I wish I had someone to tell me it’s OK. I wish you would have been there to understand all of this and tell me how to get over my negativity and choose my career wisely. But don’t worry about that now. Failures don’t scare me anymore. I know how to talk to people and become friends with a stranger and how to judge if a person is genuine or not. I matured a lot since then.”
She knew what her problem was. She was never actually good at anything. All she wanted to do was to find something that she’s good at, excel in that thing and earn everyone’s interest and even make her dad proud. The only thing she could be good at was arts (which weren’t her subject). She still very foolishly chose engineering just as every other brainless zombie passing out from school does; without giving a single care about doing what they actually like. It’s just a career choice right? What’s the big fuzz about it anyway? It’s not like your happiness depends on it. Well she found out just that. Yet she smiles because choosing to become an engineer was the best wrong decision she ever took. And the selection of the engineering college was the second best. Gurgaon College of Engineering (GCE) was a little different than the conventional colleges that pop up in the head when someone thinks about engineering. Comparing GCE with the other colleges was like comparing an insignificant 10-mm gravel stone with, well, the earth. FYI, that gravel was somewhere in the middle of Haryana surrounded by farm fields and a state highway that lacked public transport.
“I’m glad that I went to GCE.” She writes. “Had I been in any other institute, I would have become an alcoholic by now.”
“The college was a totally new world for me. In the beginning, teachers speaking Haryanvi was a big deal for me but after these 4 years, I wouldn’t be much bothered if a robot kills a man and runs away with his wife singing Punjabi folk songs. I’ve seen a lot in these 4 years. I’ve seen kids getting beaten up by gangs, I’ve had people shot in front of me, I even got to know that a girl was raped where I used to sit and study. I’ve seen police manhandling students. I’ve seen students beating up teachers and smashing windows. I’ve seen a man’s head run over by a truck on highway. I’ve had a friend die in the campus itself. I rode 80 km on active on the examination day and traveled in Haryana roadways from gurgaon to maruti kunj on the same day just to complete my syllabus for the exam on the next day. I’ve driven so many times on the highway I probably have more driving experience than you. I’ve seen my friend’s parents having extra marital affairs and what not. I’ve seen a lot of good things too. I’ve seen a homeless guy feeding a cow even when he didn’t have anything to wear in the month of February. I once saved a blind owl from traffic in the middle of a highway. I even know how to get along with dogs. They never bite me; even cats. I’ve seen a jaatt resolving a fight. So many times I’ve worked so hard for so long and whenever I’m close to giving up I just reach the goal. It always feels good.” Writing the last line she remembers how her dad always insists on keeping her in the comforts and how he totally disregards the fact that hard work and training are important not just in the office but in every aspect of life. She feels disgusted when she remembers her dad telling her to always choose the path of minimum risk. What she has inside her right now is a burning rage and desire to show her dad that she’s a person who has surpassed her previous generations long ago and is on her way to create her own legacy. Although she acknowledges the seeds of negativity and self doubt that had been sowed by her dad, she isn’t ready to give up yet. With an open heart she continues writing..
“I’ve also been to a lot of places where you would have never allowed me to go. I’ve tried a lot of things too. I tired alcohol a few times, cigarettes, and i even smoked weed a few times. I’m glad i had an open mind for everything because of the people i met and i also came to conclusions that all of this stuff is actually very harmful and that meditation, hard work and physical training are the only thing that can lead to peace of mind. I explored a lot of things about Hindu mythology as well. I also believe that Ramayana and Mahabharata never actually happened physically but instead these tales try to impact the society in a positive way. For example, the stories of Krishna being black and radha being white helps counter racism and discrimination based on color. These tales also help us understand our own mind. They explain how every human creates his own imagined version of the world which leads to the concept that every human is therefore Brahma, creator of his own aham; we knot our imagination with fear to create aham and how the two tools, tapasya and yagya can help us unknot the mind, outgrow fear and discover atma, i.e. our true self. I came to believe that physical and mental training along with meditation can help us achieve the state of fully expanded mind called brahmaan. I also learned how a broad mind does not fear death or seek validation and witnesses the world as it is; and how the atma is shiv who performs tapasya, and is self contained and self sufficient; and how the atma is also Vishnu who performs yagya to nourish everyone even though he himself needs no nourishment. I have studied western philosophy and Chinese philosophy and a few parts of Buddhism; they all tell the same thing. This is why i always feel the need to justify stepping out of my comfort. This is why i want to struggle and always choose the rough path. This is why i want to go through hard physical training because i believe that if i adapt to the tough surroundings, i will become strong and wise. This is human nature. The human body and mind adapts to whatever it goes through consistently. And this is why i always feel bad and angry whenever you force me to stay inside my comfort zone. Even dayanand had to leave his home to find the truth. I wish I had your emotional support in everything I wanted to do. But I don’t remember ever being motivated by you for something special. Dad, I want you to know me, to understand me. I can’t take it anymore. I need you to know that i am a grown person. I still have to learn a lot of things but i really wish if u could respect me and my decisions. I want to be a good daughter to you but I’m getting really discouraged. All i want to do with my life is learn, and never get old. I always want to keep an open mind towards new things and i don’t want to have a closed mind that rejects anything contradicting with the already existing mentality. I want to do something that I’m good at and make that my career. But i want to do everything with your acceptance. I don’t want to lie anymore.”
As she finishes writing a tear drop falls on the last word of the page. She notices the time in the clock. It’s 2 am and everyone in the house is fast asleep. Her mind wanders off again in the depth of questions she keeps asking herself. ‘Why do I have to get the water bottle, charger, everything I need before setting on my table? So that I don’t have to get out of my room before everyone falls asleep? Why do I feel more comfortable when nobodies around? Why can’t I go out and sit with them? Why can’t I stand listening to them? Why do I need to claim my own space separated from the rest of the house?’ but all the commotion in her head finally comes to rest when sleep takes over and she dozes off on the table itself.
Next morning she feels a hand on her head. It’s her dad gently waking her up, ignoring the “POTENTIAL CAUSE OF A HEART ATTACK” lying open in front of him. This isn’t something she didn’t expect. She knows her dad never shows any curiosity in her writings so she doesn’t worry about it. But she has already decided that breakfast table is going to be where she drops the bomb.
As the time comes, everything goes according to the routine; mom in the kitchen; dad on the table with a news paper; brother roaming around the house like a hungover homeless guy with his eyes half closed. She’s all ready to leave for the class. Nervous, anxious, yet determined, she puts her diary in front of her dad. Her dad stares at it and then at her with a questioning gaze in his eyes and she says with a trembling voice ‘I need you to read these pages’ as she opens it up and drags it towards him. Her dad knows it’s an unusual thing happening. He picks the diary, adjusts his glasses and starts reading. 5 minutes gone he’s still reading quietly and the situation has captured the attention of her mom who already has an idea of what’s going down. She knows that the diary is not less than a knife and making her dad read all this is nothing less than stabbing his mind. The diary is definitely going to be blood stained after everything’s over.
Eventually her dad finishes reading and keeps the diary on the table with a calm and blank look on his face. That look is familiar. She knows he’s probably trying to make out some sense out of everything he read. As soon as she realizes she isn’t ready for whatever bullshit her dad is going to throw at her, frightened, she picks up the weapon of mass destruction and rushes out of the house, starts the activa and rides off to a place where she can sit alone and lay out her further plans.
20 minutes later she’s at her regular place and her mind wanders off to the time where she’ll remember how she sat in the Starbucks cafe, sipping her coffee, staring out of the window as the blood stained knife lay next to her handbag, covered with her blue silk scarf. Slowly as the fear fades away, she feels her wings growing bigger and wider and she feels more determined to become something. She may fight with her dad and she may make him face some harsh realities but she knows that she’s not leaving his side. It’s for the betterment of their relationship after all. She loves him and to protect that love is the only purpose of this fight. So she smiles and prepares herself to face him again.