Be a good friend to be a good parent

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Be a good friend to be a good parent

This is the story of Hena (name changed), a sincere and obedient child. She is daughter of Joy (name changed) Uncle who is school friend of my Dad. They are four in the family-Hena, her mom, dad and her elder brother Robin. Hena was more responsible compared to her elder brother. Naturally her parents and relatives had high expectations for her. She was always in a pressure to fulfill  the expectations of her family. They were from a small town of Assam and their family was one of the aristocrat families of the town. Her mom and dad both were in high profile job. Hena secured good grades throughout her school life. Being a small town almost everyone knew her parents and grandparents, so she had to be decent and disciplined so that no one could complaint about her. There was not a single event when her parents got complaint about her. Her elder brother was less responsible and that’s why he was never trusted by his parents to do any serious or urgent work. In spite of being the younger child Hena has to do all that staff be it as simple as making her mother remember to bring mobile before going office or submitting bills or LIC premiums on time. She had a note book where she used to maintain a to-do list and follow up with her parents. So Hena was an inevitable member of the family. Even after annual exams if she used to go to her maternal uncle, she never left her note book. Everything was going well until she was sent to pune for higher studies after her class 12 board exams. She secured good marks in entrance exam and had been admitted to a reputed Engineering college at Pune. Her elder brother was not much good at studies. He anyhow managed to pass Bachelor of Arts degree with average marks. He was asked to try for govt jobs but he shown no interest in that. He used to be busy in his own world and he hardly had any information what is going on in his own family. Even if he got to know about any problem in his family, he was reluctant to think about that.

Suddenly he told his parents he wants to pursue diploma in fashion design. His parents were bit happy that at least he thought something about his future. So they made the arrangements for that. Now he was going for the classes regularly. So his parents were a bit happy because now if someone asks them about him they can answer something. Before that it was very annoying for them to reply such questions of their friends or neighbors. Everyone talks behind them that their son is good for nothing and always waste time playing cards in the club or just roaming around the streets.

But they were proud of their daughter. They used to call Hena almost everyday and always used ask about her studies and all. But what they never asked was how was she and if she is facing any problem over there. They had the confidence that she can manage any situation because she is sincere enough. But the story was totally different on the other side.

Hena was a fresher and she was being ragged by seniors. She was very polite, decent and was not frank with her parents. So she thought not to tell her parents about that and her parents also never asked about this. We do not know what exactly happened to her but after her first semester exam, suddenly she called her father and broke into tears. He was quite shocked and puzzled to hear that Hena wants to quit studies and wants to return home for good. They won’t be much surprised to hear this from Robin but it was quite unexpected from her. Her parents tried to make her agree to continue her studies but she refused. They found themselves in a dilemma. They were very conscious about their social status and was worried about the fact that if she returns home, people would thing she could not take the load of studies or she might have done something wrong for which she was rusticated from the college. So they decided to visit her college. Both of them took leave and went to visit her. As her semester was done they took her home with them. They asked her why she wants to quit studies but she did not come up with a proper answer. All she was saying was that she doesn’t want to go back. So they thought she might be feeling lonely or might not liking the food or like. So instead of focusing on her mental stress they imposed the decision on her to join studies as soon as the vacation ends. Sometimes we give more priority to our status instead of our loved ones which could be really harmful in future. As she was always an obedient child, this time also she could not refuse her parents and went to the college hostel after her vacations. When she was staying at home her relatives, neighbours and colleague of her parents asked her about her exams and how her studies were going on. She replied ‘O.K’. ‘Why ok? You are supposed to rank; you are the daughter of Mr. Joy who never got second in class. Do you know Sushant is also in the same college? He stood 1st in the class. His father is a clerical staff in your father’s office. So you have to score well otherwise it would be a matter of shame for your father. Isn’t it?”-One of her relatives asked her. She nodded her head silently. Again an unwanted expectation was levied on her.

As she was not feeling good that hampered her score as well. Although her parents did not scold her but she was fed up answering the questions of her relatives. Even those relatives of Pune who never visited her hostel to see her even after knowing she is suffering from fever had been calling her to know her results. All the unwanted questions and advices left her more stressed out. Her parents told her not to worry and to concentrate on her studies so that she can score better in the next semesters.  But she was feeling guilty of making her parents feel low for her low grades in the semester. She was becoming depressed day by day. Another 5 months passed. Now the ragging episode came to an end but maybe she faced some incidents that she couldn’t forget. It was again the semester time.

Mr. Joy and her wife were taking breakfast together on a Sunday when they got a call from Hena. “I want to quit! I want to quit!”-she hung up the phone. They were literally shocked. The phone rang again. It was her roommate on the other side-“Aunty Hena cut herself on her wrist, we are taking her to the hospital. Please come soon”. For a while both of them became numb. Soon they pulled themselves together, took necessary belongings and took the next flight to pune. They were blaming themselves for not understanding their daughter’s feelings.

Mr. And Mrs. Roy never tried to become frank with their child. There was always a distance between them. They thought if they allow their child to listen or participate in adult talk they might be ruined. But the truth is that in adolescence stage you need to be frank with your child so that they may share their queries and problems with you. Hena never got such an environment in her family. Maybe that’s why she could not get the courage to share her problem with her parents. Moreover she got such poor grades for the first time in life. An intense guilt of making her parents ashamed, fear of getting low grades again and suffocation of hiding her problems pushed her to take such a decision. She was feeling depressed for long but her parents and teachers too overlooked the matter.

Hena’s parents contacted with the hostel authority and reached the hospital where she was admitted.  They met with the treating doctor and she suggested taking her to a mental health professional. Mr. And Mrs. Roy by that time made their mind to take her back home and to give priority to their daughter instead of thinking what people would think or gossip about them. They entered the room and as soon as Hena noticed them she started reacting and scratching the bed sheet. She was afraid that her parents will scold her and will through her in the hostel again to live with her problems all alone because they are more concerned about their social status. She closed her eyes and started screaming-“I don’t want to go there. Leave me. Please leave me!” The nurses told them to go outside because she needs rest.

As per doctors advice they came to meet her at evening. She was feeling better now. Her parents entered the room again with a smile in their face and sat beside her. “We missed you a lot! Most of the time your dad forgets to give me medicines. He forgets everything. Last month also he failed to submit the electricity bill on time. When you were at home these things never happened. We are feeling lonely as Robin is also out of station for studies. Let’s go home Hena, we are missing you.”-her mother told without taking a breath. “Oho! As if all is mine fault? Hena! Ask your mother whether she has cooked prawn for me in the last few months instead of begging her so many times? Whenever I asked her she refused and said ‘Prawn’ will be cooked only when Hena will come in her vacations.’ This is injustice. Isn’t it my child?”-Mr. Joy replied addressing Hena. Hena was shocked to see her parents like this. They never fought like this and never told her they missed her this much. Hena turned around her eyes towards her mom and dad and asked-“Are you ok Mom? Dad?”

Her father replied-“We were not ok without you. But..” Mrs. Roy snatched his words and said-“But now we will be fine as we are going to stay together again and here is the ticket for 3 of us. We are going for a holiday and after that we will return home” Now Hena smiled and said-“Really?” “Yes”-her father replied.

Hena hardly remember when she spent holidays with her parents as both of them does not usually get leave at the same time and they generally sent her to her maternal aunty who used to teach her some foreign language in her holidays too. So she hardly remembers when she enjoyed her holidays like HOLIDAYS…

It was all planned. Before meeting Hena her parents had a session with a Psychologist who suggested them to do these things. After returning from 3-days holiday they visited Ms. Shivani (the treating Psychologist) along with Hena and had another family counselling session. In the counselling session Hena told them that she was being ragged by seniors that made her depressed and sad. They used to continue the counselling session till it was not advised to stop by the counsellor. Due to family support and proper professional help her depression could not harm her anymore. She got the support of her family at that time. They understood it in late but it’s never too late to start over.

Now, she is a Chemistry Teacher. She completed her B.Sc and then M.Sc degree with Chemistry (Hons.) and secured a govt job in higher secondary school. Her desire was to be a Teacher not an Engineer. But her parents never asked her about her wish and she was so introvert and obedient that she couldn’t express her wish in front of them.

This is a humble request to all the parents-”Please do not try to live your dream in your children. Ask their opinion too. Don’t create an environment in the family that your child hesitate to share their feelings and problems with you. Do not give priority to ‘What people would think’. Everyone doesn’t need to be a Doctor or Engineer, there are other options too that your child may be interested in.

If you want your child to choose a career of your choice go counsel them about that rather than just levying your decision on them and try to be frank with your child. If Hena could be frank enough with her parents she might have told them what exactly happened with her in the college for which she was willing to quit studies. If they would understood and respect her feelings rather than giving priority to ‘what people would say if she quits studies’, then she might not have opted for suicide.

But as they took professional help at the right time and changed their behaviour and thinking, they could manage to get out of the problem. It is not like people didn’t ask why she quit engineering but her parents replied it was their fault not to take Hena’s opinion before choosing her career and they are happy to correct their fault.

Hena loves her profession and now people praise her for her quality teaching.

This blog has been Written by – Ms. Shatabdi Datta
*Disclaimer:- The opinion expressed in the blog is the opinion of the writer & not necessarily the opinion of ANTARA Organization.