By Suma Varughese November 2012Hard as it is to face unpleasant facts about ourselves or life, we must face it if we want our lives to move forward, says Suma Varughese The Sathe family was sitting around the dining table chatting after Sunday dinner. A delectable one as always – Mom had created a Burmese khow suey, a noodle dish embellished with several side dishes including boiled eggs, fried garlic and crispy onion. The family was engaged in a lively discussion on a play they had just seen when Mom noticed that Aji was looking wan. “What’s the matter?” she asked instantly. Aji’s face creased into an expression of pain. “There’s a little pain here,” she said, pressing the side of her abdomen where the liver is located. Ajoba looked concerned. “She has not been saying anything because she did not want to worry you, but this pain has been recurring for the past one week.” “Aai, how could you have kept this from us?” asked Dad. “It could be something serious, you know.” Aji grimaced. “I am sure it is nothing. I am going to sleep it off.” “Aai, whatever it is, we are going to see the doctor tomorrow morning,” said Dad. Aai said nothing but her shuffle as she walked out betrayed her resistance. “Could something be really wrong with Aji, Dad?” asked Nisha, troubled. “It may be nothing, or it may be something, but the thing to do is to face it,” said Dad firmly. “It’s funny that you say that, Ashwin,” said Mom, “because I’ve been thinking a lot about the subject. This business of facing things is really not easy, is it? To face that perhaps you may have a major illness, or that you are in the wrong job, or that something is wrong in a relationship? It’s really scary. You simply don’t want to look at it. You keep hoping it willgo away.” “People spend years in denial,” said Dad. “My friend Partho, for example, only yesterday shared about how unhappy he is in his marriage. And he has been married for the past 15 years! He says he just kept hoping that it would get better, or she would change, or he would change. And it has only now dawned on him that perhaps he ought to do something about it.” “What’s he going to do?” asked Mom, sympathetically. “I told him to talk to his wife about his concerns and see if they can make things work, but he is sure that she will stonewall the issue.” “You know why the subject was on my mind?” asked Mom. “It’s because I have had to finally face the fact that the book I have been working on for the last two months is simply no good. I can’t tell you how painful it was to see that I was going nowhere with it. It has taken me days to face up to it. So I understand why it is terrifying to see that the road you are walking on is the wrong one.” “I agree that facing facts can be very scary, especially when it comes to relationships. For a parent to realise perhaps that their child is mentally handicapped or later in life, that he has become a drug addict, must be a terribly painful experience.” Avijit piped in, “Dad, my classmate, Shankar, is gay and has been trying to tell his parents about it for the last couple of years but each time he broaches the subject his father turns ballistic!” “It’s not easy, son, to come to terms with all your dreams for your child, accept how socially different he is, and how it will mark you as a family. And we Indians are in any case super conservative. However, in every case, it is imperative that we face the thing that we are asked to face. Only that will help us to move on in life. Otherwise we will stay rooted to the spot.” “Dad, sometimes, you just can’t find the strength to do so,” said Nisha, “What do you do then?” “I guess this is where faith has a huge role to play,” said Dad. “Faith in yourself, or the process of life or God, can each give you the knowledge that mostly you survive these things, and almost always you grow from them. You remember when I left my corporate job and decided to become a trainer? I was terrified to face the fact that I hated my job. It took me months to do so. But every day I thank God that I had the courage to do so and to act on that knowledge. My life has transformed because of it.” “The things we have to face have the potential for great and powerful growth, so let us always have the courage to face things, children,” said Mom. “Ok, Mom, there is something I have long been wanting to say to you both,” said Avijit seriously. Mom looked terrified. “Son, don’t tell me you are gay, or a drug addict or have decided to throw up your studies and go to Goa,” she pleaded. Avijit cackled with glee. “I knew you were not half as liberal as you think you are,” he accused her. “Relax and be grateful that you have children who will not send you to the grave with worry. No, I just have to face the fact that there is a girl who I quite like. In short, we are going steady, Dad,” he said in a rush. Both parents heaved a sigh of relief. “Yes, sure,' said Mom cautiously, ‘just as long as you are not planning to marry or anything!” “Mom!” cried Avijit. “Ok, ok,” said Mom. “It’s not easy being a parent, you know. And the teens. That’s the worst time of all.” “Face it, Mom,” cried all three in unison and the room erupted in laughter.
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