Tag Archives: bengali family

Emotional Rollercoaster

I feel like I’ve been going through an emotional rollercoaster recently, but his won’t be news to any of those who have been following my blog. I’m not usually very aware of how particular incidents or events have affected me, but it’s something that’s becoming more and more apparent to me.

In recent months, I’ve noticed just how easily I get emotional, whether that’s watching powerful or meaningful videos and movies, or reading a book. There was a point I had to stop reading, because I would connect to it in such a deep level that I couldn’t get myself out of that headspace for a very long time. Have you ever had that? Where you become obsessed with the characters and their lives?

I recently read a book which had this type of affect on me and I wanted to mention it here because I think it’s something that many of the followers of this blog can relate to. It’s a book called ‘Sofia Khan is NOT obliged’ by Ayisha Malik. It’s about the life of a single 30 year old Pakistani muslim girl who, like many of us, is constantly under that pressures of marriage from family and friends. Even though she’s not Bengali, I found it so relatable to my own life because of the cultural similarities. The culture may be different, but the pressure is the same.

It’s such a good read, at first I was able to read a chapter or two and get on with things, but then I was hooked and couldn’t put it down. 6 hours later, I had finished the whole book. I had laughed hysterically, and cried even more than I could have imagined. I don’t know if it’s because of how I’ve been feeling lately, but it really struck a chord with me. I won’t ruin the book for people who are going to read it, but one theme that was hugely evident throughout, was the incessant pestering of people who kept asking her when was she going to settle down and get married. It was even doing my head in and I wanted to reach out to those people and shake them to make them stop.

I’ve just got back from a well needed mini-break with my best friend. I’ve not been in a good place and this trip felt like it came at just the right time when I was about to crumble. I explored a new city, fell in love with it’s beauty, absorbed it’s culture and history and let go of all my worries for a few days. It was only the second day into my 4-day trip that I realised just how wound up and stressed out I had been. And although I knew this was what my soul needed, just before I went away, I had an encounter with my mum.

I’ve mentioned before how hard it is for me to talk to my parents about the topic of travelling. So when I called my mum to tell her I’m going away for a few days, she completely lost it. She went into me like this was her last opportunity to do so in her life. She brought up everything I’d ever done in my life that she disapproved of. How disappointing I am as a daughter. How she can’t show her face in the community because she’s too embarrassed that she has a single daughter who shows no sign of getting married anytime soon. She said I’m not young anymore, I can’t afford to be picky. She gave me a warning, and said that she is no longer going to care if my younger siblings end up getting married before me. In fact, she said she was going to encourage it. It was like as if she was doing this to spite me. She said my dad should have never let me leave home because then none of this would’ve been a problem. How things would’ve been better if I hadn’t had that taste of freedom…

It hurt, a lot. I wanted to shout back and say ‘do you even know what you’re talking about? You blind woman, can you not see anything past the ridiculous need to be pretentious and impress these people, who do not care about anyone but themselves?’. Does she even think about how I would’ve been feeling and what that may have led me to do? By moving away, I took back control of my sanity and developed the will to live a good life. I didn’t go down any dodgy paths or do anything that would’ve reflected badly on them and my upbringing…

But I stayed quiet, which spurred her on to continue with more. I cried silently, it was just painful to listen to. I kept thinking ‘why don’t I just hang up?’. But that would be asking for more trouble. I became numb. I didn’t sleep all night. I went on this holiday with a sad and heavy heart.

This is what my life is like. I know this pattern particularly well. The calm before the storm, the destruction and devastation. Then the task of picking up the pieces and putting things back to together with the hope that it won’t happen again. Or that next time I’ll be better prepared or at least have made some progress. But then it happens all over again, and a little piece of me gets lost in the sadness somewhere.

In my opinion, Sofia Khan in the book was very lucky to have parents who, despite being a pain and putting on the pressure, understood the importance of education and wanting their daughter to be happy. I don’t think my parents put happiness before pride and honour. Actually, I know they don’t. They aren’t evil people, but they are so blinded by culture and society, they don’t know what is more important anymore.

The old me would’ve shouted back to be heard, but the me now is staying quiet and waiting for the storm to blow over….until next time.

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Keeping secrets from parents

I’m not sure if this will come as a shock to many people or if I’m not actually alone in this, but keeping things from my parents has become a norm in my life. Now, before you jump to conclusions and start thinking I’m one of ‘those girls’ who goes off behind her parents back and gets up to all sorts of mischief, let me set the record straight – I certainly don’t.

What I’m referring to are the little white lies you have to tell your parents or things you leave out on purpose in order to live an easier life. I’ve been doing this ever since I was a teenager and have always felt a pang of guilt whenever the topic came up. It’s only recently when a friend and I were talking about it, that I realised how much I actively avoid telling my parents things.

I always find it strange and a little bit baffling, how much a few of my friends share with their parents, the ins and outs of their lives. I mean, I actually admire having that type of relationship to a certain extent. But then I imagine myself having those open conversations with my parents and it completely weirds me out.

When I was younger, I was constantly frustrated by the made up rules and regulations they thrusted on us which made no sense at all. I always questioned things and pushed boundaries (as mentioned in my previous ‘never good enough’ posts part 1 and part 2). But I would always get resistance from them and this just ended in me getting ultimatums and stern looks. So naturally as a teenager when you’re put in these situations and wanted something so badly, you will look for every possible way to make this happen. I wasn’t even that ambitious with what I wanted, which is the sad thing about all of this. All I really wanted was to do all the little things all the other kids got to do. Like go round to each others’ houses, go into town on the weekends, attend (supervised) birthday parties, etc. Was that really too much to ask for?

I discussed this at length with all my little friends at the time and hatched a plan to get their parents involved. So on this particular occasion, my friend’s aunt (who was her legal guardian) called my parents to ask if it was okay for me to go round on the weekend to work on a project together which required us to go to the big library in our town centre and do some research. She even offered to pick me up and drop me off, so my parents reluctantly agreed and I was over the moon. I could not have been happier if I tried – it was the best day of my life! Haha, now thinking back and writing about it seems silly, but the reason why I’m telling you this story is because this was a huge triumph for me, because the other thing is, none of my friends were bengali. So naturally my parents didn’t really care much about them and didn’t take any of my friendships seriously.

So yes, I did go round and do a little bit of homework with a trip to the library, but the rest of the time, we went to the shops, bought all the sweets our money could buy, stuffed our faces and I even had dinner round my friend’s house, where I felt like an alien. It involved sitting at the dinner table with her family, napkins, knives and forks and polite conversations, where people actually took interest in their kids’ lives – school, projects, friends, hobbies. What was this new and different world that I clearly wasn’t living in?

I don’t think bengali kids these days truly appreciate how good they’ve got it. Their parents are somewhat younger and much more educated than my parents, who genuinely want their children to do well in school and life and will be there to support them. I didn’t have that growing up, and that is how my relationship with my parents ended up like this. Me keeping secrets from them.

Many years ago when I was given the ultimatum of going to a university close to home, which meant commuting everyday or getting a full-time job, I chose to go to the uni of their choice. This meant I didn’t really get the true university experience, which I’m still trying to figure out if it was for the best. But meeting these new people who were experiencing new found freedom of their own, I was invited to many cool and exciting things. Obviously, I hardly ever took part in social activities because, firstly my parents wouldn’t approve and secondly, I always had to answer to them whenever I came back ‘late’. By late I don’t even mean midnight, I just mean later than my normal class times. But even then, I was a good kid at heart, so didn’t even want to get involved in the clubbing/drinking/smoking scene. But I made some genuinely lovely friends and we liked to treat ourselves to nice lunches and dinners now and again, so I told my parents I was studying in the library – the classic.

My relationship with my parents has somewhat improved over the years because of me living away from home. But I will only share nuggets of information with them because as soon as they get too much insight into my life, they find a way to use it against me at another opportunity. Or they give me a lecture there and then about how I am careless with money and only think about myself and how I value having fun with my friends more than spending time with family, apparently. It always comes down to two things – money and marriage. The two evil ‘M’s in my life. For example, if I book a holiday, I’m ‘wasting’ money and therefore not saving for my imaginary wedding. If I tell them about an amazing meal I had at a nice restaurant, I’m washing money down the drain. You get the picture.

So now to current day, a quite big change has happened in my life recently which, as you may have gathered, I haven’t told my parents about yet. I feel bad for keeping it from them, but I know that ultimately, it will only mean that they will worry or tell me to move back home (their default answer to everything), which is not happening, ever. So for them, it’s business as usual.

I don’t know if this even changes your opinion of me or if you think this thing that I do is right or wrong, but I would be really interested to know how you feel about it.

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Family Dynamics

I’m going through a bit of a rough time at the moment. It’s nothing new or serious, it’s just an issue that crops up now and again. This is about the relationship I have with my family and the dynamics.

My mum is all around loving and caring at the best of times, but then something comes over her and she will be on at me about my life, my priorities, marriage, etc. It get’s tiring and I wish she’d stop. But at the same time, I know she means well because she just wants what all parents want – for their children to settle down. This is because they think that as soon as that’s done and dusted, I will be happy and they will have fulfilled their duties. However, what I can’t seem to get through to them is that, I am actually happy. Like super happy. I love my life in London and sure, I do sometimes feel like there is something missing in my life, but for the most part, I’m more than content with how my life has planned out thus far.

The reason behind this blog post is to talk about my siblings for a change. I have always thought that I had a good relationship with them. We have a whatsapp group that I basically started a few years back as a way to moan about mum and dad, haha. Now we send each other all sorts of stuff, just like everyone does. However, the more time passes, the more I realise how different we all are.

I’m the second child out of four, and you may call this second child syndrome, but I could not be more different from them if I tried.

My eldest sibling is the golden child – did everything the way my parents wanted. Never really lived a little. Has fulfilled my parents wishes of getting married, having a home and child. Myself on the other hand, I’m the ‘rebel’ apparently. I always pushed the boundaries, always questioned ‘why’, I moved away from home before marriage, I’m ‘wasting’ my money on holidays (therefore not saving for my imaginary wedding)… The list is endless. The younger two on the other hand get away with everything because I’ve basically paved the way for them.

But the fundamental difference between us is that I have a goal and drive to achieve something in my life, that they don’t really seem to have. Their goals are very materialistic. They want the latest trends, fashion, beauty, gadgets, etc. I want to focus on my career and work in an industry that I love, so may not take the most conventional route. They’re happy to settle with whatever job they can get in the town where we grew up. I want to travel and see the world. They want to spend all their money on possessions.

I know that having these differences isn’t a big deal – everyone is different. However, it’s when I realise how different our morals are too, that’s when it really affects me. For example, the way they view other people and cultures is so different to me.

I find it difficult to understand why I’m so different from them despite us having the same upbringing. We were brought up by the same parents, in the same home and town, in the same education system. Yet, I stand out like a sore thumb.

Going home to visit my family feels like a chore now. I really enjoy the first day because I miss them. I miss my parents and their petty arguments, I miss the jokes and banter we all have together, I miss my mums exceptional cooking. But as soon as day 2 comes around, I’m counting down the minutes until I can go back to London. That’s because that fun and jokey side soon fades and their true colours start to show. Don’t get me wrong, my family are generally nice and normal people. I think it’s just me, I’m like the odd one out.

I’ve thought about this long and hard over the last few years and I’ve finally started to realise what it is… I care too much.

I care about my siblings and their future and so I try to make sure they take advantage of all the good opportunities in life. I care about sharing and celebrating all the little successes. I like to communicate and tell them about all the cool and lovely things that are happening in my life. I like to give thoughtful gifts and make a fuss over people to make them feel loved and special.

A few years back, I realised they didn’t care about these things as much as I did. In fact, I was made to feel bad for getting upset or annoyed about this. Like, why was I making this into a big deal?

In the past, I’ve spoken to a few of my close friends about this and they’ve felt sorry for me. That’s because they know what kind of person I am and how much this all means to me. Their conclusion was to not let this get to me and not take it to heart. If only it were that easy. How can someone train themselves to care less?

I don’t even know what to put this down to. Is it culture? Or is it that I’ve adopted the more western way of thinking, of being more supportive and encouraging? Is that such a bad thing? I really don’t know, you tell me.

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