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Over and above I had to contend with a very intense sibling rivalry; even though my father was a great and effectively legitimating support. My brother was elder to me and my classmate too during school days, We had a peculiar and unique bondage between us. I had inadvertently entered in his personal space by being his classmate. While he loved me very much, seemed to be proud of me, he was simultaneously much uneasy with me, he felt eclipsed. Our elopement created an opportunity to claim the space vacated by me. He grabbed it zealously. He was now the axis of the family, but he was very insecure about his status. He felt threatened, whenever he sensed favour, approval and sympathy for me from our father and friends. He feared that I may reclaim the space. That would be disastrous for him. He resisted me doggedly. I understood his anxiety and insecurity. But I could not afford to have him his way. It was incumbent upon us to remain in unbroken contact with the community and family for two counts; That the community has accepted the idea, our children get their niche in the system and we can contribute to my old father’s care.
In spite of his persistent and stubborn pursuit my sibling could not persuade my friends to abandon me. His insecurity with me created a difficult and sensitive challenge for me. It resulted in humiliating treatment to us and baffling situations for our children. He was affectionate with them while being hostile to their parents. On the other hand our father was a great legitimising support. He told me. “Society was created by man for his security and support. Society was decorated with laws and customs so that the it is strong and stable enough to keep individual safe and secure. But when these laws and customs make men and women insecure and vulnerable, the purpose is defeated and they need to be challenged.”
We used to visit our home at regular intervals during vacations and as and when my father’s health demanded our presence. Those were occasions of our endurance test. I was particularly distressed for our children. They had not be apprised of their disputed status in the family by us. I have had some sort of apologetic emotion for my children. They were denied the average ambience that a child is entitled to. They were adored, envied and loved everywhere while they saw their parents battling rejection at their parental home.
They were made to remain aware of the constraints. They never complained regarding the quality of food, or clothing provided to them. They did not put forth any demand. Each of them was differently shaped by this experience. The eldest sensed that survival is possible only when each of the five stand together. The middle one got the understanding that he has to take care of himself for survival. For the youngest her two brothers were assurances of support.
I had soft emotions for my wife since very early time. She was beautiful, smart and bright. Getting her as wife as also as a comrade in responding to commitment to the idea was a bonus. I visualised a dream come true. I was clear that we had no option; that we had to be faithful to the idea and to each other. It was clear that the onus was on us to prove that the idea was worth. I was clear that I had unwittingly mixed my personal fortunes as well as of our children with the legitimacy of the idea. I could not afford to adopt an exclusive career.
I knew that I have taken upon myself to prove the legitimacy of the idea, to prove that it is worth. We had to prove that it was not a usual a boy-girl affair. It was in pursuance of an idea. People were watching us. I knew that it can be achieved only when our conjugal ties remain strong and able to withstand the strains. I was aware that the path is completely uncharted, that I will have to chart my path, that I have burnt my boats, that our survival with dignity would prove the idea. I was optimistic that we will be able to prove ourselves equal to the task. I had had a formulation ; We have taken upon us to prove the legitimacy of the idea.
The two of us were differently committed to the new life. I had greater responsibility, because it was my call and she had responded to it.. She had led eleven years of her life as a childless widow; her whole adolescent years believing that she is to live an uneventful life. Now all the opportunities had opened up. It must have been a confusing situation for her. I had led my wife up a garden path. I had devised a smart plan. It was to invest in the next generation. That would be the best gift to my wife as well. I had seen that people with bright and lovable children were acclaimed while successful persons with worthless children fail to claim attention.
We were constantly challenged on several fronts. We discovered our handicaps. Our resources were limited and none of us was efficient in the management of resources which were modest anyhow all along. Over and above our bonding was incompatible.
It has been a learning and fulfilling journey. I had a very naive understanding , a simplistic view of life. It was that my wife would be overwhelmed at having the invitation to join me in the adventure. I had thought that our love for our children would resonate for us during our old age. I thought that our bondage would endure tough times. So we have nothing to worry for adverse and demanding situation.
I had devised a smart plan. It was to invest in the next generation. That would be the best gift to my wife as well. I had seen that people with bright and lovable children were acclaimed while successful persons with worthless children fail to claim attention. I did not have any grand plans for our children; I planned for the very humble wish, “May our children be Manushya. That fulfils everything, Being a Manushya means being able to take charge of oneself. It also means having human qualities,It means you are aware of your bondage to others. You know that you are a component of the community and an individual at the same time. It enables you to command love, respect and acceptance of all who happen to know you. Moreover that way our children would be able to support themselves with dignity and will not be pollutants. We shall find happiness in sharing the bliss of parenting.
Keeping in mind that an individual is shaped by his genes, environment and chance events, I tried to inculcate reading habit in them. May they be addicted to reading books. My understanding was that this will help them to do good in their curricular studies resulting in success in getting established. They will be able to sustain themselves. Moreover they will learn human values from books. My understanding has been that books are the best teachers. Our ego remains unbruised. When a man teaches we may resist receiving (learning). But nothing stands between books and the reader.I used to make books of different streams available to them within our modest means.. I was sure, this way they will learn human values. I myself, mostly refrained from preaching. My crunch was that for children parents’ words are not so effective as their conduct. This would make them respectable individuals and help their potentialities to find expression. It was also my understanding that doing good in their studies would help them to gain economic independence.
Coincidentally Our children appeared to have rare potentiality since their infancy. I would not like to believe. I would think that to every parent his/ her child is unique. Every child is a thought in the mind of God. Parenting requires you to recognise, identify and develop that thought. I was very sensitive, lest my limited resources and conflicting environment do hinder their blossoming.
Thoughts such as the following served to guide me:
1. Every child is a thought in the mind of God, and our task is to recognize this thought and help it toward completion. — Eberhard Arnold”
2. Expression of the perfection, already present in a person, is education;knowing to learn, learning to do, learning to be, learning to live together — Swami Vivekanand
Learn to respect the child.
It draws attention to the uniqueness of each child. You need to identify it. Parenting requires providing opportunities for expression of their potentialities It is like deciphering a code. A parent struggles between the conflicts of possessiveness,sharing and liberation. It has been a learning experience.
I may or may not have read these quotes at the time, but in retrospect I can say that I was steering my boat in the wisdom of such thoughts.