Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Maa Baap ka Ehsaan


Warning: If this article seems offensive, please be assured that it only means that it is having the intended effect on the people it intended to have an effect on.


We come across a lot of stories and advice on the immeasurable, un-repayable debt we owe to our parents.
A favorite is the story of the giving tree. The brat comes along and takes the fruits, branches and finally chops the whole trunk off and the whole time our dear tree is supposedly just happily giving of itself for the sake of the brat. The author of that bogus tear-jerker ought to get sued for taking undue advantage of the fact that trees can't talk. Just because they can't talk, it's suddenly o.k. to imagine that they're oh-so-giving-and-sacrificial. My Ass.
Anyways, this story then gets magically metamorphosed into telling us that our parents are just like the tree. (actually, wouldn't it be so awesome if they couldn't yell or move around...). Forget about the lessons in sustainability that they didn't teach their kid. (Like, plant 10 more trees for every one you chop, you blathering idiot)

I'd like to punch a few holes into this "we-are-indebted" philosophy.
Now, it would seem rude to directly point fingers at my parents and state that they haven't done any ehsaan (aka favors) on me. So let me take it a generation forward.
Suppose that I have a baby and I am raising it as its parent.
During the whole time that I'm caring for her, feeding her, loving her, nurturing her... for even one single second am I going to think that I am doing some major Ehsaan on the baby?
Suppose that she's adopted.
Even then, should I be thinking for even one second that I'm doing the baby an enormous, unpayable, immeasurable favor?



If I think in that manner, what does that make me?
What kind of a father am I if I think I'm doing my child a major favor by raising her?
Does that mean that if I didn't look after her, I would be a normal person??
After all, the definition of favor or ehsaan is an act which we do for someone else when we don't really need to.
Conversely, if one does not do that ehsaan or favor, there is no harm or disrepute to one, there is no negative consequence, they haven't done anything bad.

So, if the act of raising your child is treated like a huge favor, it would mean that a parent who abandons his children, has not done any wrong.

Are you seeing the holes in this theory? Now look at some of the consequences:

Case Study 1:
Girl is in love with a guy of another religion / caste / economic background.
Parents' sentiments : Ehsaan-faramosh! Humne tujhko paal pos ke bada kiya, tujhe khilaya, padhaya, aur is sab ka jawab tune ye diya?
Consequence: Girl is estranged, worse -> beaten and imprisoned at home, worst -> she is killed, probably along with her lover.

You see, when people consider themselves to be doing a favor to someone, whether a stranger or their own child, they usually get into the mindset that the beneficiary owes them back, and that in some way they "own" the other person.

Case Study 2:
One figures out one's dreams, what they want to do in life. It's a little out of the mainstream. But when they tell their parents about it, the reaction:
"Maa Baap ka karz tu is tarah chukaigaa?"
(is this how you repay your parent's debts?)
Cool! So you're barely into your tweens and already you're indebted. Apparently nobody thought it necessary to show you the fine print of your liabilities when you started using the loan. Of course, you were only 0 days old at the time...

And this mindset, if allowed to prevail, carries itself into old age. Hence the patriarchal grandfather / grandmother who clings to the position of authority and orders everyone around. They might even claim ownership over the life and future of their grandchildren. And they will continue evaluating things according to the environment 2 generations ago.
How many families have you seen which have this kind of old leader holding the reigns? I visited one just yesterday.

Now let me offer you an alternative mindset.

Introducing...

Parents who consider raising their children as their duty, or kartavya

I'm glad to say I have met people in my life who don't treat their children as their personal property. Rather, they see themselves as mere mediums through which the universe (or God or whatever) chose to manifest these little brats.
This shift in ownership leads to immense long term deviations from the 'maa baap ka ehsaan' model. Heck, you could practically categorize these as another species altogether - so huge are the differences.

So let's start spelling these out. First the most obvious, on raising children: If a parent cares for a child, it's no longer seen as a huge favour or debt that needs to be repaid when the kid grows up. Yes, it is great, no doubt. But it's as great as caring for your country or your planet.
And if the parent abandons the child - now this is seen as dereliction of natural duty.

But lets solidify the difference by revisiting the case studies.

Case Study 1:
Girl is in love with a guy of another religion / caste / economic background.
Parents' sentiments : Kid, you go do what (and who ;) your heart desires, we're proud to see you not succumb to the stupid crowd's pressures. Whatever our personal opinions may be, we're no one to judge. We don't own you. You alone own yourself. If you need any help, give us a holler and we'll be there for ya!

Case Study 2:
One figures out one's dreams, what they want to do in life. It's a little out of the mainstream. When they tell their parents about it, the reaction:
Kid, you go do what (and who ;) your heart desires, we're proud to see you not succumb to the stupid crowd's pressures. Whatever our personal opinions may be, we're no one to judge. We don't own you. You alone own yourself. If you need any help, give us a holler and we'll be there for ya!

Are you getting the drift, folks?

I like to have this rule: Any debt is bad. You find yourself getting into one -> Get the hell out of it. You find a debt being dumped on you and you didn't even know about it & protest, fight it off. The people who really love you will never, ever get in the way of your dreams just for a return of a favour. And if they do, then that means they never really loved you in the first place.

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Addendum:
Somewhere on fb:
it is only half the story! it doesn say abt bad kids nd good parents!

--hey, thanks for bringing that up, i was thinking about adding that. a kid brought up in an environment of caring and giving (the kartavya model) will more likely have the same caring nature and hence would probably be better prepared to care for his parents. In the Ehsaan model, the kid would consider it a burden the same  way his parents treated him as a burden.
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