Desi parents say the darndest things

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We hear and ignore words of wisdom from our elders all the time, but actually listening can help improve your life

Desi parents pic

My parents think I never listen to them and most of the time they are right, but here are a few gems from them (said in a very offhand passing manner which is probably why I remember them more than the ‘sit down and let me tell you about life’ lectures) that I have taken to heart.

I was sitting with my dad and whining about how hard my life is and how my friends could go wherever they wanted and do whatever they wanted, and how come I wasn’t allowed? He paused tapping away at the iPad, looked up at me over his glasses and said, “You are allowed. I raised you, fed you, educated you. I have done my job. You are now allowed to do whatever you like. But just remember that I have already been where you are. So if I tell you not to do something or not to mix with someone, there is usually a very good reason for it, a reason I do not always have to disclose to you. If you were strong enough in your faith to pull people into the gravity of your goodness, then you could mix with whomever you want. But you are not… neither am I. So be selective with whom you mix with!”

Ammu always tends to become very philosophical when she’s in the kitchen, as if peeling potatoes and chopping onions helps release her inner Confucius. One day as we worked together she said to me, “be ready for change. Wake up every day as if something good will happen today. It is only when you ready yourself for good things, that good things will come to you”. At the time I laughed it off, but in the coming days I would wake up and say those words to myself, “something good will happen today”. Slowly I began to dress more carefully, because something good would happen today. I began to live in the present and be more aware of my surroundings, because something good would happen today. And then I realised, something good was happening today! And every day! When I am dressed for today, when I am living in the present and thinking in the present, I am better placed to recognise the goodness in every day and be grateful for it.

At another such time in the kitchen again she said to me, “we can all pray for your future but till you pray for yourself and do something to help yourself, why should God help you?” I spend so much of my time watching TV shows or on Facebook, if only I had invested a small portion of that time on my mind, body and soul, on prayers, exercise and meditation, I would be much better placed as a human being and in my own spirituality to tackle life head-on. A small reminder to pray even for a minute each day makes a huge difference. A small step in stopping an action that causes you harm such as smoking, makes a huge difference. Only you can help your own cause.

And lastly, this one is for all you single ladies (and lads) out there. My dad has these words of wisdom to impart. “So what if you’re not married? You took a step towards God and He is testing how strong your step is. Are you faltering?” We are all amazing in our own ways, we all deserve love and happiness. When you stick to yourself, when you uphold your values, when you refrain from indulging your need for love for a greater purpose, it hurts. Sometimes a lot! But you are not alone. You are not the first to go through this, and you won’t be the last. So don’t falter. Be steadfast in your goals, pray, focus and achieve them. And go give a hug to your amazing parents who sometimes say the darndest things!


Shafeen Mustaq
Shafeen Mustaq
Shafeen is a Sydney based writer

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