The middle class was the worst gift that the British gave India. Referred to as the working class in other parts of the world, it is a class of people the British created by using Indians to do their clerical jobs and keep them in line. Providing them with enough to gain their gratitude and in return asking for their subservience in their regime. After 60 years of independence, the situation is improving, they are becoming more educated and gaining financial stronghold. The recent surge in the consumer economy of India is a direct reflection of the increase in the improved life style of the middle class. So there is a change. But to a large extent, that change is ostensible. It is more of a rolling ball effect rather than a propelled one. And there lies my problem. Because the mental fabric of this group of people is still the same.
The ideas and concepts of life are confined to a square. And unless you are deemed special by society , you need to follow those rules or you are a social outcast. I have seen this up close. My parents however are far more progressive than their peers. I was given a lot more freedom to think and learn whatever I chose to and live as per my rules. But when it comes down to major life decisions, the square comes right back to suffocate. They eventually feel the pressure. Anyone who seeks to ask why, to dare, to take a risk and be something even slightly different from the norm is looked upon with suspicion. The list of ‘should’ rules our lives.
There is black and white differentiation between people who follow the rules and those who don’t. I am a cause of pain to my family because I think who I marry is far more important than, when I marry.. or because I actually like being independent. This causes me immense guilt. I would love to change these viewpoints…mine and theirs. Which however would call for conflict. When a tree is deep rooted, the only option to change its position is uprooting it. Which I would never want to do to my family. Because they are not bad people and I love them. They cannot be blamed for the ideas that were ingrained in them. They can be blamed for accepting those ideas without question. But then, they never felt the need to. So asking them to change their core today is basically the same thing as them asking me to go against my dreams.
So what is the solution? All I can see is that I have no choice for myself if I want to keep my family intact. I have the choice of giving my children the choice. However I am one person. And I do hope there are many more like me. But I see a lot of my peers think the same way as the elders. A friend told me he wanted a wife who will never go against his parents’ wishes. Another one said that he will hire bodyguards to keep his young daughter away from boys at school. Which is really disheartening.
Now, resistance to even a slight change in pattern, is nothing new. We have seen this happening in history all the time. It just pains me to see that this is still happening. That history has not taught us to be open minded. To accept that life is not a set of rules. Or is it the same fact that scares us? Because then we will be forced to actually be original..