Divya came home from work, exhausted. It was financial year ending and the work pressure was tremendous. It was late in the night, when she finally parked her car in the garage of her two storied house. Divya thought ‘I could use a cup of coffee.’ As she entered, her parents stopped their discussions midway. Divya eyed them suspiciously and just shook her head while dumping her bag on the sofa next to her mom. She headed straight to her room. As she freshened up she decided to make a stronger cup of coffee. She knew she had to brace herself for a long discussion and a hot cup of coffee made it all bearable.
Divya came from a traditional Iyer family. They weren’t orthodox to the core, but they had their beliefs and loved sticking to it. They followed all the rituals and having some ‘Homa- Havan’ or ‘Puja’ every six months was considered normal. Divya had always been the black sheep of the family. While other girls in the family went for Bharatnatyam classes and learned to sing Carnatic music, she played Squash and was fascinated with Sports Cars. She loved rock or hip-hop and always preferred jeans over salwar kameez. Her remarkably different tastes were initially attributed to, too much exposure to ‘Western Culture’, then were considered a passing phase and later was seen as a form of rebellion. While some relatives openly taunted her, the more conservative ones refused to talk to this rebellious girl!
While growing up she had been very upset with all the mocking and silent treatment, but then as she grew older she made peace with it. At first she cried and really tried to fit in; doing all that a normal traditional Iyer girl bought up in Chennai is supposed to do, however she just felt trapped. She felt like she was deceiving the world and herself. One day, during one such ‘Puja’ at her cousin’s home, she saw a Car magazine on the table. It was the latest issue, and she had to read it! She quietly smuggled it under her dupatta and rushed to her cousin’s room. As she stepped in and locked the room, she saw her cousin Priya, lying on the bed listening to music, reading Sports Illustrated and eating a gum! Divya stood gaping at her and Priya burst into laughter! That’s when Divya realized that she wasn’t too different from others. It was just that she couldn’t live a dual life trying to please everyone. From that day on she just did what she pleased. She could see the respect in her cousin’s eyes. She knew she was right and never looked back.
Her parents had been the helpless spectators in all this. There had been enough arguments and discussions around it and later they had realized that it was all futile. They silently knew they loved their daughter more than these beliefs. Now they didn’t argue about her preferences but didn’t endorse them either. Divya had been a brilliant student and later had cleared her CA examinations with flying colours. Today, she was a well placed financial manager in an MNC.
Apparently, the latest discussion in her parent’s social circle had been Divya’s wedding and getting some prospective groom’s biodata for review had become a regular affair. However, today something was different, Divya could sense it. She almost ran to her room to freshen up and deliberately took a long time to come down. She was half hoping that her parents would give up and go to bed. She might have the energy for this tomorrow, she thought to herself. As she came down the steps softly, she didn’t see them in the hall and believed that her plan worked. But just then, there was a soft pat on her shoulder and as she turned, she found herself face to face with her parents. Her mom was holding a hot cup of coffee in her hand.
Divya’s eyes were moist. She loved her parents to death and had a fair inkling of what they must be going through in their social circle because of her choices; however she loved herself more and couldn’t do something just to please the society. She took the coffee without a word and sat down at the dining table. Her parents sat opposite to her and waited patiently, till she had almost finished her coffee. Her mother looked nervously at her father as he cleared his throat to speak.
She braced herself mentally for yet another argument, but suddenly decided it was time to put her foot down. Before her father could say anything she said “Appa, I know you must have found yet another ‘suitable guy’ for me and you want to talk to me about it. I totally understand your concern. I am also aware that I have been the reason for your shame for a long time now. Though you have never come between my dreams and aspirations, I understand it must have been tough on you, but I can’t just say yes to some random guy just because someone believes we are perfect for each other. Having a car does not translate into loving them and knowing how to hold a racquet does not make someone a squash player. I am sure some aunty must have dropped by in the afternoon and lectured you on your poor parenting skills, remarking casually as to how well they had kept their children on a leash and you should have done the same. And while leaving, must have hinted about some guy who earns well, is a little old but drives a car and has no problems if I play squash! This is all so repetitive that I am totally frustrated with it. I am just 24 years old and I have a whole life ahead of me. Just because I have different likes, does not mean that I should compromise and settle with some stranger who might not even respect my choices. I wish to focus on my career and achieve much more on the work front; it’s an exciting time in my career and I am loving every minute of it. I wish to travel the world and go on a road trip, send you on a cruise and plan your retirement. If a person shares my choices, I will find him on my own and even if I don’t I have no regrets. Love or marriage is nowhere on my radar currently. I love you guys and I know you love me too, but please don’t be pressurized by some extended family relatives. The society as a whole just loves to gossip; they feed off others weakness or sorrow. Today you are the talk of the town, tomorrow it will be someone else. I have no interests in pleasing such a society. It is your opinion that matters to me and as long as you understand my dreams I don’t care about anybody else.”
Divya was crying as she spoke. Her parents just sat there motionless. Their eyes were glistening with tears. Her father just smiled at her and her mother dabbed her eyes from the corner of her saree. Her father took her hand, and patting it affectionately said “We wanted to tell you the same thing. We knew you had different dreams, but we never stood by you wholeheartedly. We were torn between our love for you and our need of being a part of a society. Today, when your aunty called informing that Priya her daughter had walked out of her marriage as their aspirations were different, we realized it was time to make a choice before it was too late. We chose you and will always do so. Our love for you is greater than our need to be a part of a social circle. As Divya heard him speak, she realized once more, how much her parents loved her and respected her as an individual. She quickly got up and hugged them tight. Today, they were truly complete as a family.