Does India, as a culture, allow its Indians to grow up?
Think about it.
Twenty-five year olds stay at home with the ‘rents if employed in the same city. Laundry and food, gratis. To even suggest moving out into a single pad would be considered a heniuos crime-against-the-hands-that-changed-your-diapers. Even if such a move would actually ease the daily tension of living that is inevitable in closely inhabited areas.
In more households than not, it is unheard of to even shut the door of a bedroom – especially if it is to accquire some “quiet time alone”. Such a concept goes against the grain of Collective Indian Living – and no, one does not refer to the rural lifestyle. In modern, today-India, an average family of four, having a son and a daughter, where both partents hold at least post-graduate degrees, a two-bedroom life-space would be considered more than adequate. After all, why can a brother and sister not share the same room?!
Are we as a culture, really so smug as to deny human beings the fundamental right to personal space and privacy? What is this “liberty”, “freedom” and “independence” that the Constitution guarantees if each one of the members of the adult, middle-class Indians is denied the right to being an adult by his or her own family? Where is this liberty if something as fundamental as choosing one’s life partner is not to be one’s right but an imperial order handed down by the Powers-That-Be of every Family? Where is that freedom when all one can “choose” to be is an engineer or a doctor? Where is that liberty if a mere evening out to have a drink with friends is constantly monitored with phone calls and text messages of “Beta, we are awaiting dinner for you. Have made your favourite rasam.” Why are Indians so sold on the ugliness of emotional blackmail and its accompanying power play?
What does it say about the culture as a whole? That we are so insecure about living for ourselves that we will eschew every opportunity to be responsible. Schooling? Someone else’s responsibility. Choice of Profession? Fikar not, Appa will choose. Marriage? Oh don’t worry! GrandFather and Great-Grand-Uncle-Thrice-Removed have long ago come to an understanding. Where to live? Here only – why do you want to waste “apni zameen”? Which car to buy? – Arrey! Whichever is the biggest, after all, family has to be able to travel together, no? When to have kids? – Shaadi ke baad do saal ruk liye – now you must have your first child. How many kids to have? – Eklauti santaan achchi nahi – hum do humare do. Ek ladka aur ek ladki.
So on and so forth.
It’s interesting to note how we, Indians, are not expected to take any decisions for ourselves. As children, young adults, grown-up members of society. It’s always someone else’s responsibility to make our choices for us. In fact, one could go further and say even the degeneration of old-age and the following decline into the Final Oblivion is for someone else to sort out. Why else would you have children if not to be your “budhape ka sahara”? Self-reliance is a blasphemous notion and independence the germ of all that is evil.
In a society that is now adapting to its Audis and INR 5 crore apartments, it’s disappointingly disturbing to see that these are still, at the end of the day, property of the Hindu (Un)Divided Family.