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“Your parents are feeding you or not? Maybe time to go ‘non-veg’. Eat yolk! Cool whip diet? …No one is saying be like Priya but–oh god, just LOOK at Priya. At this rate, she’ll never get married. She would eat her husband before they made it to the honeymoon! HA HA!”

Yes, Auntie. Your hilariousness knows no bounds.

Maybe I’m a wuss and can’t deal with people making a spectacle of my physical being and maybe it’s because my parents never made a big deal about me being a gangly, awkward child. My parents never threatened me about future marriage prospects based on my eating habits or somatotype. Thankfully my non-hater parents were on my side, so I could face jerkoff aunties and uncles with no more than mild irritation. But these aunties and uncles were my friends’ parents.

“Beta, you have become fat after going to college. I told you to stop this pizza-wizza”

Except this bechari  (poor girl) had not touched a “pizza-wizza” in two years and was having enough body issues as it was. She was struggling to find a niche in a sorority after not fitting in with the cliquey desi bitches and there was certainly no support at home. She overcompensated with the most pleasant of dispositions and it was impossible to not recognize how artificial that lovely smile was. Not because she was fake, but because there was virtually no happiness on the inside to bring forth. Each day seemed to be a wearisome battle.

Maybe some girls still feel like they will primarily be judged by the limited qualifications of good looks and cooking capabilities–guess I’m friends with girls who accept this–but not once did I believe that this was to be my case. It just made sense for me to cultivate other strengths to make up for my frailties. I proceeded to become the smartest person alive.

Then guys took interest in me and I got sidetracked. Terrible. But the point is, when I realized that I could be liked for other things, I decided I’d be the things I could be. Maybe I’d never be a supermodel but dammit, I’d find some way to be awesome.

My parents overestimated the fragility of my brother and me and they were always super supportive–perhaps supportive even when they shouldn’t have been. The more desi kids I meet, the more I realize how fortunate I am in this respect. Having a strong support system at home can be essential to a child’s well-being. I know because I have one and it’s proved invaluable, as I have a penchant for meeting people who excel at crushing my spirit…but I am able to stand right up for more right after. For better or worse, I can’t be conditioned to lose hope in the goodness of people, be depressed, or feel lonely. Knock on wood. Still young, lots more living to wear me down.

In any case, my parents have been vital to my coping mechanism and I hope desi parents get better at connecting with their kids overall. The world’s hard enough. It’s unfortunate when you can’t come home to welcoming arms.

I think everyone should take a child psychology course (or at least read a book) before having/working with kids. We are resilient in many ways, but not so much in others. The mind is plastic but probably less so over time. If you can’t support the healthy emotional development of a child, please don’t have one.

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