At 28, I am lucky that I don’t have the responsibility of a child in my life. At 28, I am also lucky to have relatives and friends with children whose character, maturity and sense of independence never ceases to inspire optimism in the next generation. Just a few days back I received word from one such friend that her daughter has some important news to share. As I got on to skype to talk to my niece, the increasingly red hues her face was assuming along with the sight of the young man seated next to her gave away the obvious, that she was dating for the very first time.
The lawyer within had just one thought ringing in my head, “background check”. But after what seemed like an eternal tussle between the lawyer and the uncle inside my mind, lasting an entire two seconds, I could only formulate one response, “Awwww, how adorable!”. However, I instead articulated another response which only a Banglorean can, “I am stuck in traffic right now. Can I speak to you guys later?”. So my longer and more layered response is as under.
Approval- one of the most highly overrated words in such situations. How can I on one hand preach the importance of recognising the autonomy and freedom of girls and on the other hand still emphasise that a daughter needs the approval of her father and her uncle to date a man she legitimately chose? So no question of approval here young lady. Au contraire, my only hope remains that you share the happiness that you feel from this relationship with all of us, your family. I pray that you call upon us when you feel exhausted or in trouble from this relationship, so that we can create and hold your space as you find your way back up again. I don’t think you need approval, but allow me to ask your approval to remain available as and when you need us.
Every good relationship, especially the first one, follows a pattern- attraction, mutual awareness and the chaos called love. Nothing represents the utility of being alive than being in love. Your mind’s resolute focus and uncapped happiness at the mere concept of your boyfriend and the consequential understanding of how real he is, will remain the most thrilling of all the joys in your life. On the other hand that which you grow so close to, will also annoy and question your judgement like nothing else ever will. But so long as the integrity of your body and mind is recognised, respected and worshipped- enjoy this madness, for nothing makes a person grow as romance and love does.
Now we get to the part, where man excels best- hypocrisy. The fathers of this world have felt the joys of holding their partner’s hands, hearing the sound of their breathing and savouring the joys that come with physical intimacy. Awkward, therapeutic, hilarious and pleasurable are among the many words that can be used to describe those simple gestures such as cuddling or kissing. Yet, it is these very experienced men and women who dread the prospects of their child feeling these very emotions and experiences. Between my role as your uncle and as a brother to your mother, I have a thin line to walk on. So I will simply say this- You have a gifted intellect, an almost extraordinary level of emotional intelligence and intuition that has come from the efforts at self growth and mentoring that your own parents have provided you. I trust you to take care of yourself and to live life in a manner that makes you happy, contented and at peace. But if your parents ever ask, I spoke strongly about the merits of abstinence…..
So, to conclude- ignore the boring uncle who can’t stop speaking, craft your lies well (you never hugged your boyfriend, you simply shook hands with your man), have plenty of those experiences, the memories of which, will make you smile every single time and just celebrate the fact of having grown up and found someone special for the first time in your life.
And if ever, the man who is supposed to celebrate you ends up doing the opposite, let it be known to him, that the wrath of the law shall bring hell upon his very existence and that he shall cry like a little child at the end of it….. On that note, allow me to once again say, “aww” and wish you kids the very best of happiness.