My parents are on their way back to India as I write this, after being in Sweden for a month, and I surprise myself by feeling a bit empty. I always thought that I am kinda beyond that, I left home when I was 17, and have lived in residential schools/colleges or alone while working since then, which is not very common amongst Indian families. But in spite of this, my parents and I have always shared a very deep bond. This is one of those things which I have had a very tough time explaining to anyone. Of course, most people I know also feel that they have a strong bond to their parents and family. But love, as with most other emotions is relative, it varies in intensity, nature and the way you express it. Most Indians understand this because of the similarity of the general close knit Indian family culture across most regions in India, but I have some difficulty explaining the extent of my bonding to my non-Indian friends, perhaps because the culture in India and in Europe is vastly different in certain respects. Don’t get me wrong, most European cultures also have very deep family bonds, contrary to popular Indian belief that “westerners” are not as family oriented as Indians. I anyway think that the generalization of “westerners” is a bit ridiculous; the differences between Americans vs Germans vs Swedes are so different that I think any generalization grouping them together is a crazy idea. However, most European cultures have very strong family orientation. But it is very different from what we have back in India. Perhaps due to the conditions that we grow up in, perhaps due to our economic system, perhaps due to our social structure. I do not know the reasons, I just know that it is very different, and very difficult to explain to someone who has not been in the same culture and system. I am sure other cultures will have some difficulty explaining their emotional ties of their family to me.
But it is strange how everything seems relative. What I feel for them now, vs what I felt for them back in childhood, vs what some of my friends feel for their parents. It is all so relative. Strange that I feel so much awe when I see my parents, they have been so selfless when it comes down to bringing up my sister and me. I doubt I can be so selfless and sacrifice so much for my children. And to me that is what love is all about. Expressing love without a motive or intent of getting back anything in return. To be able to get pleasure in sacrificing a part of ones life just because of the love one feels for a person. I do not know if I can give my children the same amount of love, the same amount of fierce protection against the evils of the world. If I can make the same amount of sacrifices, go through the same amount of troubles. Do so much to ensure that they have a safe and comfortable childhood, and never have any issues with education and life in general. Somehow when it was all happening, when I was having the amazing childhood when millions in the same country were having a terrible one, I was perhaps too immature to realize it and appreciate it. But now, standing in a place where I can look back and see it all, it seems crystal clear, and I am in awe!
Its amazing how even the term “amazing childhood” is also relative. Perhaps to a person in a developed nation the term means something totally different as compared to a person in a developing nation like India. Maybe in an underdeveloped nation, it again means something different. But I look back at the people who grew up with me, I look around when I go back to India, and I know everyone didn’t have the same opportunities, everyone didn’t have the same chances, everyone didn’t get the same education, the same amount of love, the same amount of guidance to do the right things, follow the right path. Everyone didn’t have 3 meals a day, and a roof on their head. Everyone didn’t have the choice of going to any school/college they wanted without bothering about the fees. And I feel that I got all this because of the love that my parents had for me and the way they brought me up. Made sure I never had to go hungry, never had to think about poverty, or education, or safety. There are some things people take for granted in the world that I live in right now, some things people forget to say a thank-you for. I don’t forget, because I know of people who don’t have it
For a couple who have lived a majority of their life in a small steel city in eastern India, it is amazing and amusing as to how quickly they have completely adapted and adjusted to the European life. I feel a warm glowing feeling when I see them trying out Italian ice-cream, or buying Grekisk Feta cheese. It is amusing how my mom looks at the skimpily clad girls dancing on the curise ship to Latvia and doesn’t give disapproving looks. I like introducing them to the trivialities of the life in Europe, like cider and Kyckling pytt. For them, I don’t think I can ever do a fraction of all that they have done for me, but I feel happy to be able to have them physically present with me, even for a short period of time. I am happy that they can share my European life which is so different from the small town India life that I grew up to. Just like they showed me so many new things in life, I feel kinda nice showing them the very few new things that I know of, though it is nothing compared to the huge amount of things I have learnt from them. And it amazes me that although they are as far removed from my fast paced corporate life as they could (they are both professors and in the education line) they can still say the perfect things when I talk to them about my work dilemmas. Some people are such that you can go to them for advice about any topic under the sun and you know you will never be disappointed.
Love is relative. What it means for me, it might not mean for other people. The way I define it might not be the way you define it. The way I express it might not be the way you express it. I believe that 99% of what I am today is because of my parents, because of their love, because of all that they have done to bring me up in the right way, to provide me with moral and emotional support and all the things that contribute to me not being messed up in life. No they were not perfect, but they were as close to it as humanly possible. And what I admire the most is that they did not expect anything back, absolutely nothing. They never asked me to come back to India, to live in the same city, or even to visit them. In Sweden, there are a lot of things in my life which do not conform to their slightly conservative views, but they never chide me for it, or even mention it. Even today they are selfless in their love for me, much more than I am for them.
Love is relative. For some it knows no bounds. It will always be difficult for me to define love, but what my parents have for me is the most perfect definition I have.
Ok ok.. stop the moaning, I shall stop the mushy tirade. But I might have to seriously consider returning back to India :)!!
I am keeping my promise of being around on blogosphere! Yay!