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Bridging the Gap

What do you talk about with your parents? Do you chat easily with them, or do you sit formally across the room, minding your posture and trying to think of ways to fill the silence?

entertainment Updated: Mar 29, 2010 01:23 IST
Imran Khan

What do you talk about with your parents? Do you chat easily with them, or do you sit formally across the room, minding your posture and trying to think of ways to fill the silence? I’m a lucky guy. (I’ve said that before, and I’ll probably keep saying it.) I can talk to my parents about anything, we have that kind of a relationship. I’m in a minority though. Most of my friends don’t have quite as easy a relationship, and some have extremely strained ones. The age gap we all have between ourselves and our parents ensures many differences; values, beliefs, interests... I could fill this column with the ways we differ, but there wouldn’t be much of a point to that.

Here’s what happened: I was visiting Delhi with a friend, and he asked me to accompany him to meet his parents. Pretty straightforward... except for the fact that his parents hadn’t spoken to him in years. There had been a fight (I won’t go into details), harsh words had been exchanged, and the end result was that my friend walked out of the house, and cut off all contact with them. But he’s getting married soon, and something in his head just went *click*; he decided enough was enough, he wanted his parents to meet the girl he was marrying. Family’s family, after all.

So there we were, the three of us, walking up to the front door of a house that looked like it was stuck in time. His childhood home. His mother (whom I had never met before) greeted us warmly, sat us down, and promptly started to feed us (as mothers have a tendency to do). His father entered a few minutes later, and joined the conversation. He talked at length about his university (he’s a professor), telling us how many professors teach there, how many textbooks they publish, the variety of courses, which international universities they’re affiliated with... why on Earth was he telling us all this? What do I care?

I left the house with these thoughts in my mind. I didn’t get the point until the next day. My friend is in the movie business, like me. Like me, he sleeps, eats, lives and breathes movies, and like me, it’s his favourite topic of conversation. His father doesn’t watch films. He’s not up to date on the latest industry gossip (I suspect he didn’t know I’m an actor), and he has no inclination to talk about movies. But he wanted to talk to his son. He hadn’t spoken to him in years, and all he wanted was to have a conversation. To reach out. He doesn’t know anything about movies, so he spoke about the thing he does know; his world. His university.

Relationships are tough with anyone. Honest relationships, I mean. But the toughest ones seem to be the ones we share with our parents. There’s so much to get past, there are times you feel like it’s just not possible. But for what it’s worth, here’s my perspective; somewhere, I think we’re all looking for harmony. Parents and children, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives... we want to get along with one another, and it frustrates us when we can’t. Maybe it’s not actually that complicated, and maybe we just need to read between the lines. Because someone might be reaching out to you, and you may never know.