Confession. I conned you into reading this piece by using Salman Khan's name in the headline. What more do you want to know about Salman Khan's case anyway? Buri tarah pak nahi gaye ab tak? I think media has given out more information about the case than what even Salman and his lawyer know. I want to talk about a stress that affects a lot of us much more than what the TV channels decide to show as breaking news. In the past two weeks, I've got several mail from youngsters who are stressed about their college entrance exams. Now I can't give more tips on exam stress than I already have. If you still want your happiness to depend on a baseless three-hour evaluation system, all I can give you is a hug of sympathy and one tight slap.
But, what got me thinking in some of the mails was the point that some of the stress comes from peer pressure etc, a lot of it also comes from the taunts of the parents. Here, sample this: "I had heard that parents stand by their child through anything in life. Well, mine do not. All through the day, all I get to hear are taane (sarcastic taunts). I recently could not clear the first round of the medical entrance exam. My mom now says, 'tumne toh hamaari saari ummedein hi khatam kar di'. They told my younger brother 'at least tu toh studies mein dhyaan de de nahi toh teri life bhi didi ki tarah waste hai.'" This 17-year-old ended her mail by saying that she has no will left to fight the world, when she has to fight a battle with her own parents every single day.
Well, studies apart, there are some kids who've written about how they get nagged and taunted on most things - not keeping their room clean, not having the right kind of friends, err ... not having the right kind of hairstyle. I sometimes fail to understand why, after hating all the taunts so much as teenagers, we get into the same mode when we become parents. I asked this existential question to a rather serious looking Chaddha ji the other day. Haan mera dimaag kharaab ho gaya thaa. Anyway, Chaddha ji looked straight at planet Uranus into the sky, dangerously narrowed his eyes and replied, "Yeh niyam hai ji. Prakti ka niyam." I tried to correct Prakti to Prakriti (nature) but he wasn't listening. And before I could feel happy that, for once, Chaddha ji gave a sensible, though cliched response, he added, "hen lays eggs. Eggs become hens." He didn't wait for my mouth to close at this incredulously irrelevant comment and walked ahead. Maybe ... hopefully, towards Uranus.
Anyway, yeh prakriti ka niyam toh hai. No matter how much you hate it, parents genuinely feel their remarks are meant for your betterment, and therefore different from what they had to listen to as youngsters. Try arguing, and you'll get yet another lecture on how their time was so different from yours. You have grown up in the lap of luxury, while they had so many hardships to face. As if it's your fault. Aisa hi lagta hai nah? Bahot gussa aata hai? Chalo, now try this ...
1) Sit. Take a deep breath. Take a pen and paper, and write down the five things you do which make your parents most upset. Paanch se zyada mat likhna, depression badh jayega. This is not an exam where you can ask for an extra sheet. Now be honest with yourself and make this list of five things.
2) Once done, make another column, and write in front of each reason if it is something you can change, if you tried. Remember, you can write only yes or no. If it is the result of an exam that has already happened, the answer is no. If it is a room so unclean that you are writing phone numbers on the dust on the table, the answer is yes.
3) For each of the things in front of which you've written yes, promise to try at least once to change them. Don't do it for your parents, do it for yourself. Think of it like this, cleaning up your room maybe a chore, and you may even be in love with mere desh ki mitti that is deposited in kilograms in your room. But the peace of mind you'll get when you won't have to hear constant taunts, at least for a few days, would be so much worth the effort.
4) If there are more 'No's on your list, take another deep breath, walk up to your parents and ask for a discussion with them. Ask with confidence, your body language should mean business. And promise me that you'll neither act like a cry baby or like a spoilt rebel in this discussion. And that the TV will not be on while you all talk. Look the two people, who brought you in this world, and who - whether you believe it or not while being angry - love you the most, in the eye and speak out. Tell them that their taunts pierce your heart. Tell them you feel hurt, unloved, unappreciated when they compare you with cousins or friends. Tell them you are trying your best to make them proud, and that you will succeed sooner if you see their happy faces. Tell them just as they would not have liked their parents doing it, you should not be burdened with the expectation of fulfilling all their dreams. Tell them that you know they love you, but it would be nice if they would show it by not being critical all the time. Don't forget to tell them you love them. It'll work.
Sonal Kalra is so hoping this gets column gets noticed, even if it is not about Salman Khan. Tell her if you read it, at firstname.lastname@example.org and facebook.com/sonalkalra13. Follow on Twitter@sonalkalra.