I was in fifth or sixth grade when my dad got his first phone – a classic Nokia. He was completely smitten, but he wasn’t addicted. My mom, on the other hand, never admitted her fascination with the device. She always pretended like she didn’t like it or care about it, but she was completely hooked. She was on phone all the time, she called her mother and talked to her for hours. Nothing has changed to date – you will still find her scrolling through her phone. The only change – she scrolls Facebook and WhatsApp now.
How did I react? I had no one to make phone calls to, but I loved the snakes and ladders game that came loaded with the phone. You could find me playing it at any time of the day. Whenever I had the phone in hand, about 90% of the time I was playing that game. As time passed, I realized the phone had many more use cases – for that matter, I could text my friends any time of the day. I didn’t have to think “What If they are not at home 😮”
After years of persuasion, my parents finally bought me my first phone in eighth grade. Yes, I was so happy. It was expensive. It costed them about Rs. 10K (quite expensive for that time). Even though I didn’t need it – it felt great to own it. (I got into a lot of trouble later in life because of it, but that’s a whole another story.)
I was in seventh grade when we purchased the first personal computer – that came with the big mounted monitor. It was life-changing. About a year or two later, we also got a broadband connection – which allowed me to access a whole lot of information on fingertips (though the loading speed made me cry at times)
I was in school when society was going through these technological changes. I was a student, and that meant I was being taught and informed about the innovations around the world.
What about my parents?
No one taught them.
Whenever they struggled with booking tickets for their upcoming trips, they turned to me.
They asked me to create their Facebook profiles and their first Google accounts for setting up their mail.
For years, they didn’t even know their Gmail or Facebook id – they just knew it existed.
They have their own influencer moment when they post something on Facebook, which is so cute.
Meanwhile, me –
I had like three different Gmail ids and I was trying to act cool by making funky Facebook posts.
It’s not like they had a weak memory – they just did not care. It was not resistance – but ignorance that stopped them from using these new platforms.
My parents were born in the 1970s, and they have lived through world-changing circumstances. They had to find their motivation – they didn’t have google to help them with their studies or assist them to find a job. They had no Uber – they walked. My dad still quotes how he has walked through the streets of the city we lived in during his struggling days.
My grandparents could barely make ends meet. Sponsoring their kids’ education was far-fetched for them. When my dad was born, my grandparents gave him to one of his cousins, because they couldn’t afford to have a kid at that time. Until he was in fourth grade, my dad didn’t even know that the people he considered parents were his relatives. Later he was sent back to his real parents when he was in fifth or sixth grade. It must have been heart-breaking. He never shared this with me – I recently got to know about it last month.
He never felt at home.
When he turned eighteen, my grandfather asked him to fund his own education. He turned his back.
And that’s how my Dad stepped into adulthood.
He worked and worked and worked. Day and Night.
He earned money – and spent it on his family. To this day – he does not believe in the concept of savings. For him, his family always came first.
He smiles and laughs at his problems. I wish to learn that from him – but I could never.
My mom is tough. She had abusive parents – and has seen a lot of violence as a kid. Having been treated as a burden all her life, she resisted love.
She had to turn down opportunities that could have defined her life – because of money.
She shouts and cries and gets overly generous. That’s how she expresses love.
She taught me to be independent and self-reliant. She taught me to raise my voice and speak up for myself.
In her infinite breakdowns, she taught me patience.
She was twenty-two when she had me.
Now that my academic course has ended, and I start my life as a real adult, I am facing so many challenges which I never even thought about.
The world around me is changing rapidly.
Working at one of the top tech companies makes me confront the fast-paced environment every single day.
If you don’t stay at the top of your game – you are finished. To flourish – you have to prove and prove again. You have to struggle and learn and teach yourself new things every single day.
Your image and Network are everything.
To my parents – who began their careers about twenty years back – the world changed around them, and they barely had anyone to teach them about the change. I feel sorry for them.
Imagine all your life – you are taught to carry a hard paper copy of your resume in a folder. Suddenly, one day – the recruiter says “Mail me your resume, I’ll forward it to my manager, and we will take it from there.” And then you have to figure out what an email is, how to create a resume on a computer, how to actually send an email, and so on and on.
In a faraway land, a smart Engineer invents Computer.
Next thing you know – the world changes.
Billions of people adopt it.
Next thing – Artificial Intelligence enters.
Millions of jobs are lost.
And a billion lives who are yet transitioning to the computer culture are faced with these new waves.
To my parents – who love their WhatsApp Family chats and Facebook groups – your generation was the last of its’ kind. Your lives are precious, your teachings did not come from self-parenting books – it came from your life – you were the most authentic selves.
When you sent me those long WhatsApp message forwards, or reply to me in broken English, I understand – You try your best ❣️
In the end, I’d say –
I am glad – you don’t give a Fuck. You be you.
Thank you for all your wisdom, you are my forever gems.