Do you decide what you are going to be in the future or is it for your parents and the society to decide?
I have been a victim of family and societal norms since childhood. I did not attend kindergarten because my dad thought that I should not waste time in playing and that his daughter was extremely brilliant and should learn subjects of a higher grade. Reciting till the 20X20 table by heart was my everyday task while other children went to kindergarten to play with their favourite toys. I used to get shit scared to show my dad my maths notepad after filling the answers. One mistake and there would be a scar, the reason for which I would forever remember.
When I was 10, I was forced to learn shorthand (which is almost extinct now, after the entry of recorders and video cams). My dad never had the intention to make me a company secretary, but felt that I could mint money by sitting in a company’s office as a secretary, take down notes in shorthand, translate them, make my boss happy and fill my pockets, in the worst case if I don’t have any other job in future! He was actually more worried to make me capable of a backup job huh?!
I still remember each and every day when I used to neglect my homework on the kind advice of my dad and practice shorthand sitting beside the window, overlooking all my friends playing outside during the warm summer evenings. Yes, I used to write 200 words per minute- which was quite an achievement (I think I was a child prodigy-I realise this now..Ha Ha)- an achievement which I never intended to achieve. I was unhappy. I just did it for my dad and only my dad. Or did I do it because I was too young to voice myself? I think it is the latter question that keeps ringing in my head about the vulnerability of the young and over-ambitious nature of some parents, till today. I have nothing against my parents. Seriously. They must have done everything in the best interest of their child for which I deeply respect them. But, there is always a ‘but’.
When I was 11, my heart throbbed to learn dance. My parents joined me in both dance and music classes but I was more inclined to dance than to sing Carnatic. But what happened? My dad made me discontinue my dance classes and I was forced to do Carnatic music just because it has been running in the family! That’s kewl! Keeping up the family pride alive huh?!
Well, now my dad says that I was physically weak and that’s the reason why he had to take such a decision. So is it that I never again became healthy enough to dance? Well, but I have nothing against my parents. And my music continued, discontinued and again continued till I lost interest due to repeatedly learning the same stuff over and over again.
In my 9th standard, I took passion for hockey in my school. My training continued till my 10th standard. My parents knew it but they were cool about it. Suddenly one day, I had to again face the wrath of disappointment. I was selected for the regional hockey tournament. I told my mom that I have to go and to my deep disappointment, she refused! What? You never had any objection all the two years I practiced hockey and I thought you were cool about me playing. Then why was she not willing to send me to the tournament? This question sucked my soul out every now and then and it still does. And the only answer I got was: It’s 10th boards. I cannot, till today, forget how I mislead myself to think that they had not known about 10th exams being boards since I had started playing hockey seriously. I cried from withinevery moment when I realised that I have been made a fool. I misunderstood their silence for encouragement.
What happened during the boards? I fell sick and had two major operations – one on my ovary and another on my appendix. Yet, I managed to score the same 84.4 per cent in the CBSE boards. But I don’t accept the fact that my parents did not notice that I had always been a 85 per cent scoring student irrespective of my preparation before examinations. As I told you before, I still have nothing against my parents.
Maths and science were the only prestigious subjects according to my family, and being the eldest girl in the family, I was supposed to keep up the family’s honour and follow the state’s trend to become a doctor. The false prestige that I imbibed from my family held me so tight that I ended up choosing BiPC (Biology, Physics, Chemistry) and paying thousands of rupees in one of the so-called prestigious institutes in Hyderabad, Sri Chaitanya. I was so filled with the false prestige that I couldn’t think even once about my capabilities and my future. EAMCET discouraged me and I realised I am better off with communications. This led me to a new path. My life was so directionless.
Hidden behind all these layers of activities I have done, was my original interest. I had always wanted to become a famous playback singer. Not Carnatic but Bollywood music was my love. My heart realised it but never spoke out. How could I? I was one amongst the chosen ten of the 300 entries sent to a Telugu singing show ‘Padutha Tiyyaga’, but I was not sent to participate as my family wanted me to focus on my studies. At home, I cried, fought, swore, took up a fast but all in vain. My career in music came to a standstill.
No encouragement, no awareness, no idea how to voice my heart out and to whom? I did not even know that there is a degree in music like there is B.A in any other subject. Hence, I ended taking the not-so-right decisions for myself. Mind you, they are ‘not-so-right’ decisions but not wrong ones. Now I have a postgraduate diploma in journalism from one of the top most institutes in India. I left my job as a journalist and finally stepped into music at the age of 22.
But now, the question that I often face from my dad is: Didn’t you know before that you were interested in music? You wasted my money!
My interests, my thoughts and my freedom have always been subdued in an atmosphere where I had to walk on the path shown by my dad. His honour was to be maintained by me. Keeping up to his expectations was my foremost duty. Any sort of disagreement with him would mean huge fights in the house, unpleasant atmosphere, fear of my parents fighting with each other, getting into random arguments, me getting more and more arrogant and rebellious in order to voice my opinion, which I loathed from my heart. The more I tried to stop these things from happening, the quicker all these things became the routine of my life. There were months when my dad refused to talk to me just because I expressed to him that I am not interested to continue shorthand. One month, two months, three, four, five, SIX months and then he would cool down after my mom finally speaks her mind and asks him to talk to me.
I grew more rebellious by the years and now, here I am. Quit a good job that my family had been waiting for and stepped into a profession that has always been my passion. Am I right? Or am I wrong? This question beeps within me every time I see my 55 year-old dad going to office and working hard for our family. I really have nothing against Him.
But, if it is not for now, then it is for never. I want to learn music and I will do so. I will also be a responsible family person and pay back my loans that my dad did take for my education.
I want to be a simple girl. Small, cute dreams, a decent house, decent money, a nice guy to be with, a small and happy family will make me more than happy. Dad is over ambitious. But still I have nothing against him.
Now, I will do what I have to do. I am made a rebel!