"Sharma Ji ke Beteko dekho..." - Every desi parent ever.
Since the beginning, this title has been a standard yardstick, against which parents have been comparing their own child's growth. It doesn't matter how old you get, there was that one boy, who was always better than you. This label of an ideal child entails a few expectations:
Brilliant in studies
Brilliant in sports
Brilliant in profession
Brilliant in society
Basically, brilliant in everything that is, was and ever will be.
But I've got nothing against this ideal son. I mean, it's good for him. But in fact, this is to - diss-the-stress that builds up, on the ACTUAL Sharma Jr.
Yes. I am a Sharma Ji Ka Beta. And in no ways, do I match up to even half of those standards.
So, just to give you a perspective, here's how it feels to break the stereotype. Here's how it feels to be an under-achieving Sharma Ji ka Beta.
This name is the ideal signature used by Indian parents when they compare their kids with others. This game has gone sooo far that it puts immense stress on the child. And not just on the kid who is being compared, but on the Sharma Ji ka Beta, himself.
"Bass... 99/100. Sharma Ji ka Beta toh 105/100 laya hai... Extra marks for good handwriting." Sure this has, likely, never happened. But what does a parent think when they're constantly comparing their own child to somebody else's?
Let me preface this by saying, that this comparison thing of "Isko dekho, usse seekho..." is an eternally running loop. Society has more expectations than what it can be sufficed with.
Be it the report cards or the salary slips, there is always someone who's doing it better than you. But what everyone apparently fails to see, is that everyone is playing their own game.
(After flunking my first test) "Tu toh paida hi naalayak hua tha. Padh lega, likh lega toh khud ke upar hi kuch ehsaan kr lega." You cannot disappoint your parents if you never raise their expectations in the first place. :)
And since everyone is looking up to Sharma Ji ka Beta, how do you think he is holding up? Every time I slipped or flunked a subject, I was asked "Beta chaar log dekhenge, toh kya bolenge?" I will not go in depth to explain who those "chaar log" are, but they are all the Mr. Gupta(s), Mrs. Singh(s), Mr. Pandey(s), and Mr. Aggrawal(s).
I never had a sibling, so there was no matter of influencing a younger one or looking up to an elder one. But, these 'chaar log' always made sure that I was always studying, choosing the 'right path' (whatever that meant), and picking the 'correct field' for college. Yup, even if you want to become an engineer, there is a right branch and a wrong branch.
"Beta, hum jo sochte hain, wo teri bhalaayi ke liye hi toh sochte hain. Better marks aayenge, toh better job milegi, better package milega. Behtar paise kamaayega toh zyaada khush rahega na?" All these melodramatic lines are thrown to motivate the children. Little do parents realise, this is actually doing the opposite, driving them deeper in guilt.
Mind you, as you reach college, the pressure only increases. Whether you wish to be a doctor, engineer, CA, or anything else (there is no 'anything else'), how you live your college life is under observation, by the chaar log. Apparently, if you aspire to become a photographer, a writer, a freelancer, or anything out of the ordinary, you're not on the 'right path'.
I understand that these options compromise with the perks of a 'real job', but they ARE real jobs, too.
"Beta, 3 ghante ki movie me sab chamak-dhamak, sabb goody-goody dikhta hai. Uske baad ki struggle kisi movie me nhi dikhaate. Real life me, jo log aise risk lete hain, bichaare sadko parr aa jaate hain."
After completing my graduation from architecture, taking a go at content writing as a profession was a big step for me. I was aware of the challenges I was bound to face, but I also had confidence in my writing. I knew I could make it... if I had my family backing me up. There are big names when it comes to writing, and it is a market that is always open to the aspiring young ones. Clearly, the job of a writer isn't really what you'd be 'happy with on a long run'.
And let this be known, that these are the same parents who quote 'Lakshya' by saying "If you wish to be a Lawnmower, be the best at what you do."
Being a Sharma Ji ka Beta is not really that difficult, keeping up to the ever-rising expectations is. Acing all the exams, having the highest paying jobs, and ever-happy family, is a luxury that everybody wants, but not everybody can live up to it.
Times are changing and in a country where even Masters or even PhDs are being applied for a job profile of a clerk, seriously, how worse do you think I'm gonna end up in doing something that I actually love?
I respect my parents, and all the kids respect theirs. I am in no way demeaning the love the love they shed on us, making us the human that we are. And there is no denying that all they want is your bright future, and happiness. But there is no denying to the fact that, with the new times, comes a new age.
And coming to think of it, if someone is doing what he loves from the bottom of his heart, how much unhappy do you think he'll ever be with it?