Editor’s Note: This month, that is October 2020, FII’s #MoodOfTheMonth is Childhood and Relationship With Parents and Family,where we invite various articles to highlight the different experiences that we all have experienced in some form or the other in our birth or chosen families and have been negotiating with them everyday. If you’d like to share your article, email us at email@example.com.
Posted by Sayani Saha
From viewing my father as my role model and wanting my future partner to be like him to vowing that I’ll never ever have a second person like him in my life, today I stand face to face with my fear. Psychoanalysts say that boys, in order to resolve the Oedipal complex, come to identify with their fathers and thus start imitating their behaviors and roles. My brother is 16 years old, and everything that I never wanted him to become. Precisely, he is a younger and prouder version of my 55 year-old-dad and I can safely but with extreme concern say that he will grow up to be the second man I will hate in my life.
I was very close to my dad in childhood. He was the perfect father in every way—he would cycle me to Montessori school, stop by a deer park on the way to let me watch the animals, tell me stories about trees and birds and the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, and wait for me everyday right outside the school gate for all the days I didn’t want to enter the classroom. Basically, he would never let me feel unloved. I thus grew up with immense respect and admiration for him. He would be there like a genie, ready to solve any and every problem I had.
Just as boys identify with their fathers, girls identify with their mothers (at least most would conventionally) but I didn’t really get that close to either of my parents. As I grew up and entered adolescence, I got into a lot of conflicts and arguments with them as is typical of children of that age and even though there was a lot of beating and scolding from my mom, my dad never raised his hand on me except in one or two occasions. I felt relieved in that way. However, with time, I recognised how he was probably not as perfect as I had envisioned him to be.
My parents would argue and fight often and on such days, my father’s response to and behavior with my mom completely changed the image that I had of him. He would go on for days without talking to her, not responding to her, not eating the food that she served, deleting her contact from his phone and various other forms of passive aggression. I feel passive aggressive behavior is worse; it’s like slow poisoning, it drains you out slowly. And my poor mother would be made the victim every time without any apparent fault of hers.
Men have a huge ego and my dad is no exception, and now my brother too. I lost all respect for my dad from the time I saw how he treated my mother and was completely unapologetic about it. And he drifted apart from me when he realised I wasn’t going to silently accept the ill treatment my mom received. A time came when I hated him so much that I had to nurture the hate to let it grow because I couldn’t associate any other emotion with him. Men would rather destroy relationships than step down from the throne of patriarchy and accept their fault. The power dominance is unbelievable, even in educated urban families like us, and patriarchy thus transcends class, caste, religion, education and all other aspects.
Gender discrimination with respect to children has never been a thing in my house, and both my brother and I have been raised similarly, except that he started modeling my dad’s unacceptable, selfish, patriarchal, egoistic behavior. And thus began a second wave of passive aggression and intolerable behaviors at home. I had the luxury of escaping most of it initially because I had moved out for my undergrad.
But I always felt bad for my mom who had to tolerate two shameless and unapologetic creatures who found joy in disrupting her mental peace and playing with her patience. I couldn’t do much and would often feel guilty for not being able to give my brother the right kind of learning. He also now goes on days without talking, often with dad also, and I sit back and wonder whether my dad realises how deep a damage his actions have done to the family.
My brother got his license to behave this way because he grew up seeing my dad get away with such behaviour and he learnt that these were acceptable. Besides, he saw my mother always trying to mend it with my dad which means she never retaliated. Women in his eyes are docile creatures who will always sacrifice their self-respect and tend to you even if you mistreat them because that’s what we are conditioned to do.
We are socialised to be patient and forgive. He is 16, and I am 22, and he still has the audacity to hit me because he feels like it and I am concerned because today, if I accept this behavior of his and forgive him, tomorrow he may go and hit his partner or his children. Violence is never the answer and if he isn’t taught that today, he will become an abuser tomorrow, both a physical as well as an emotional one.
As I write this, I can count and say that it’s been 95 days that my brother hasn’t spoken a word to me or looked at me, again for no apparent fault of mine. My mother still tells me that I should sacrifice and mend things because I am the older one but I refuse to walk her path. I refuse to accept the injustice that she had to go through and I will not give up my self-respect to satiate the ego-hungry men of my house. The hate towards my father has turned to indifference now and I am not sure if that’s better or worse.
Sayani is a budding psychologist who is pursuing her Masters in Applied Psychology (Clinical and Counseling practice) from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. Mental health is as important to her as is Army to BTS (you guessed it right! She is a huge fan of that boy band from Korea). She struggles to teach people how to pronounce her name correctly, so if you haven’t got it right, it’s ‘Sha-yo-ni’! You can find her on Instagram.
Featured Image Source: Feminism In India