I grew up simple and I grew up good. I was brought up in a middle class house whose occupants had learned to be happy with what they had and had refused to become part of the rat race. My grandmother, who lived in an area 2 levels below the mid-middle class stereotype loved me very much, which is why I spent most of my childhood with her. Safe to say, I had aloo paratha for breakfast, played cricket insanely and watched cartoon network from 5 to 7 in the evening. Life was simple and I had no plans of complicating it. My sense of style sucked, I was honest and I gave no less of a fuck about what people thought about me. Then I grew up a bit and BANG, came teenage. Things started changing for me. I got into a relationship, started hitting the gym and my pants started getting tighter and my shirts shorter. Suddenly, I wanted to be cool and as I grew up realizing, it was okay to do so. Then I grew up some more and things got in the HOT TEENAGE ZONE. Girlfriend troubles started breaking out, I started getting low on cash ( Not that I had any before ), I started getting into bitch fights with friends and the mandatory teenage rebel in me started waking up. Pretty soon, life was “bad”. And I did what I did best in response to it. I played video games, I played some cricket and I ate to my heart’s content. My girlfriend didn’t like that, so she started giving me more shit. My friends didn’t like that either, so they decided to add to that pile of shit. And my best response was to go home, get busy and not give a fuck. Life went on. I graduated from school, dumped my girlfriend and stopped talking to the friends altogether. A new phase began and I got busy and forgot to look back. Fast forward to the 2010s. Orkut happened, then Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the end of the fucking world. New stories sprung up all around me and this time, as much as I tried not to, I couldn’t help not care. It was in my face, the fiasco, the drama, the acquired lifestyles that kids were trying so hard to fit into. I remembered my days of teenage troubles and how I never thought of writing a fucking poem. I remember how crying was stupid and reasons for being “depressed” were things like the end of Alpha Bravo Charlie or Pakistan losing a match. I remember how the only reason I would be hurt was if someone kicked me in the gut or punched me in the face. Yes, that happened. What I saw was kids, well off kids, kids with resources, potential and decent parents, trying too hard to be sad. What could a 16 year old possibly be so depressed about that he decides to drink away his troubles? What could go so wrong with a 16 year old in her normal life (Other things remaining the same) that she decides to strip away her self esteem and brush it off with her waxed off body hair? What could possibly lead to a 16 year old putting up a Facebook picture with a caption “ You left me alone in the world to die “ and a </3 sign at the bottom? And then I realized, I knew the answer.
“The lack of a certain abba/amma ka danda”
We grew up tough because we were afraid. We knew that if we went home with our butt crack staring at the world, our parents would beat us the fuck out. We knew who to respect and when to talk and we sure as fuck knew our place. We had boundaries and we had a code. Everything had a spot. Family, muhalla, the playground and the only reason we didn’t go soft is because we had a mum or a dad or even a nani/nana, dadi/dada to keep us in line. We were strong, both in the head and in the gut and if we came home crying, our parents told us to walk it off. We liked to eat because it felt good and we spent time with our families because they mattered. Weight, height, clothes and penis size were issues never to be bothered with and the best way to deal with crushes was to giggle , grin and go about with our lives. We couldn’t stay up all night and we never asked for more. We had the same troubles, just simpler versions of them and our responses were good, normal and effortless. And that’s because we had a danda waiting somewhere in the house, counting the minutes before it could be unleashed on us again. Had our parents brought us up by saying yes to everything we asked them for and nodding and smiling every time we fucked up, there’s a high probability I would be sitting alone in my room masturbating, crying and thinking of popping my lawn mom’s sleeping pills to end it all because “she left me alone in the world to die”.