Note: Please read Part 1 here to understand this article, as this is a continuation
Your son, just like you, doesn’t want to have anything to do with family (or what you now have to consider as family). He spends most of his time outside the house, and the education he has, is mostly street smarts. You had tried to tell your son that he needed an education, but he looked at you and asked you why you didn’t complete college. You didn’t know what to say. Should you tell him that was because you had gotten his mother pregnant. No, that would not be wise and so, the only thing you could do is to say that he would end up working at the restaurant that you now work at. He just sneered at you and walked away.
You did want to see your brother and sister. They had been on your mind the past few weeks. Your son’s looks reminded you of your father; every time you saw him, you saw your father. Your son’s behavior, on the other hand, reminded him of you!!! For some reason, you needed to see them, apologize to them since you couldn’t apologize to your parents. The only thing that stopped you was the long beard on your face; the telltale sign of what had transpired in the more than twenty years since you’d been forced to leave your family to start another family. You needed an emotional outlet, a shoulder to cry on but that would probably not happen immediately. The best thing to do would be to see how best to play this.
You mustered up all the courage you could and went over to your old house. All you wanted, was to see how your brother was doing. When you were a few houses away, you saw a lady with gray hair get down from a car. She looked like your sister. From the other side, a tall young man got out and the driver got down too. Your brother-in-law and nephew, you knew in your heart. You had a longing in your eyes but couldn’t do anything. You turned around and walked away. It’s a good thing they didn’t recognize you. How could they be doing so well while you were struggling to make ends meet? You knew, in your heart, the answer to the question, but blamed it on your parents. They didn’t care about your education as much as they did, your brother and sister. You, again, knew that was not true! Your mother had wanted you to become a doctor just like your brother and sister. This way, the three of you could open a hospital. The disdain in your eyes was obvious, but you did not reply to her.
You tossed and turned in bed, then walked to the small living room/dining room/son’s room to grab a smoke. Your son was not home, yet. You looked at the clock and saw it was close to 3 AM. You were worried, but where could you go to find him? You didn’t know and neither did your wife. You just hoped he was okay. In an hour, you heard the door open and knew your son was home. You didn’t have the courage to ask him where he was. Your wife went and asked him. He didn’t reply to any of her questions.
You questioned your choices, your priorities and your misplaced loyalties. You couldn’t fathom how many mistakes you had made in your life. At 5:30 AM, with not more than an hour’s sleep, you had to head to the restaurant, so you could let the cooks in. It was going to be a busy day, with probably no respite to go home and catch a nap. The restaurant traffic started around 6:30 AM. It was loud, as usual, with people talking, screaming and laughing; all you wanted was a little quiet so you could rest. That was not to be. Around lunchtime, one of the cooks brought a plate of food. It looked unappetizing and yet, you knew that was the only food you’d get till the evening. You ate what was given and went to wash your hands. Once you came back, you got to work and started doing whatever was needed. Even the cash register that you were operating made noise that irritated you, but you couldn’t do anything.
Was this what your father had endured during his lifetime? Your mother had endured pretty much the same thing your wife was going through. In your parents defense, you surmised, they had your brother and sister who did well in life. You, on the other hand, had only one son and he was going the same way you did. You hoped and prayed that your son would NEVER go near your old house and create any sort of mayhem, as that would be a disaster. You didn’t want to have to go there and attempt to resolve these issues. You had avoided seeing or meeting anyone from the old neighborhood. Who wanted to answer questions of what you were doing and how many kids you had? What if they reported that conversation back to your brother and sister? Would they come looking for you? You hoped they didn’t.
Looking back, you wished you could’ve changed nearly everything you did. The friends you had, the choices you made, the lack of emphasis on education, the extra focus on, now seemingly small, things like alcohol, drugs and girls. You wished you’d focused on education. You had gone to meet the friends you had at the time; the Christian friend had gone to become a leading financial analyst at a global financial institution; the muslim friend had gone on to become an engineer and had been working for a software company, now as one of the directors. You didn’t want to meet any of them. You felt small; you felt anger at these so called friends. You didn’t want to accept your fault. You thought of these friends as traitors. They had betrayed you. You didn’t want to ask yourself the question you should have: How did they betray you? You expected them to be doing as badly as you, and here they were, doing so well in life while you were in this pathetic a state! You stopped thinking!
That evening, you went to get a packet of cigarettes from the store nearby. The street had stayed unchanged, even though the rest of the city had gone through a phenomenal transformation. The people, the stores, the houses, absolutely nothing had changed in the past nearly 25 years, and yet, the area where your brother lived had evolved into something unimaginable.
Is this what your parents had warned you against when they said an education opened new doors? How do you explain to your son that, if only he listens to you, his life could be so much better? You shuddered to think of what your son would say, or worse, the scornful look he would give you and walk away.
This may sound like a movie to you, dear reader, but this is what is happening to most people that have wandered away from the “chosen” path only to realize the folly of their ways. In trying to be accepted by one’s friends, one has given up one’s individuality. Granted, not everyone is geared to be a leader, but no one is born thinking he or she will be a follower. The earlier we realize this, the better our lives will be.
जय श्रीराम। जय सीयाराम। उत्तिष्ठ भारत। जय माँ भारती
God Bless the USA.