Hygge, the Danish concept of happiness and gratitude, stems from belonging. Belonging geographically and emotionally to home and family. I threw the book I was reading on Hygge away in disgust. Both were ideas that were alien to me for a long time. Halfway through my adult life, I was once asked if I was an orphan, the social equivalent of Tarzan, who only knew how to swing from one social engagement to another, looking as disoriented as the apeman in a city.
Luckily for me, I managed to keep swinging until I learned the rules enough to not only mimic them but to relish in the thrill of the deception.
But this is not without its unique set of drawbacks. Today I still don’t trust that a family is ever happy and my first instinct is that every (I mean EVERY) family I meet is putting on a facade of normalcy. A facade that disintegrates into backbiting, jealousy, arguments, and pettiness the minute the outsiders are removed from the scene. I still adhere to this bias, being oversensitive to frictions with Neha, probably reading too much into small arguments. Like a person who has relearned the use of his legs after an accident, I am forever unsure and insecure of effortless love.
But pain is strength. It anchors your life with memories that a happy memory can never match. Isn’t that why when we struggle we frantically rush to similar dark times emotionally? It reassures us of our own strength and grit at times mired in directionless darkness.
Not many of us are good at communicating this emotion. That is why this anthology is important. It provides a handle to try and grip the shapeless emotion. It then takes the reader through the realms of insecurity, fear, and darkness to deliver you to the other side. The ride somehow manages to reassure the readers that there are others who struggle and yet are normal on the outside.
Share in someone’s pain so that you can laugh better with them.
Many of the conflicts and abuses in this series arise from a reluctance to let go of prejudices by the parents when challenged by their children. Many times the parents do not know why they are asked the questions. Many times the daughters do not know why they ask the questions.
Is 13 a good age to lose one’s virginity? Is my Tamil mother abusing me mentally and physically? Why don’t my parents understand the concept of freedom and personal responsibility? Is trusting one’s daughter so difficult?
Standing on the edge of fatherhood myself (some say it is jinxed to talk of an impending joyous occasion) I am wrought with many questions about how to go about this monumental task. The more I think of it the more I am confused. I would love it if my daughter/son comes to me at the end of the day with their toughest decisions instinctively. But I am also fearful that in my enthusiasm to shape a perfect human I might imprint indelible scars in their minds.
What if there will never be the “dad, can I ask you something” conversation after they have sufficiently grown up? What if I have to learn of my child’s struggles by chancing upon their entries in underground publications? If nothing, I hope they learn to talk/write honestly about their feelings. Articulation, isn’t that the key to cementing relationships, expressing joy and overcoming pain?