The Eternal Struggle: South Asian Conservative Parents vs. Me

I think…so muchWay more than I should.

Before writing this article, I thought to myself, “What if someone sees this article and tries to find me?! And exposes who I am?!?! What if all of hell erupts right before my eyes and the bursts of a thousand flames cannot prevent me from my worst nightmare: THE PARENTS?”

I’m an extremely cautious person. Before doing or saying anything, I have to consider every possibility as a result. Every single one.

“Should I agree to meet up with Jim today at the mall? I don’t wan’t to be rude, and he’s so much fun to hang out with, but what if! What if my mom just happens to decide in the middle of her job that she forgot to buy very specific orange socks that were on sale, and went back within the exact second I was passing by that store? Or worse — what if one of her friends is shopping there and sees me in the corner of her eye but says nothing…until I get home and hear of the incident from my mother?”

I shudder to think how I would handle the consequences.

Paranoia is so second-nature to me at this point, that each mundane task seems like a heist I’m trying to pull in a classic sepia noir film from the 50s — fedora and all.

It ain’t easy being a South Asian in America with tons of restrictions. Ours is the life of a living, mass-functioning radar.

Now, that that’s out of the way, I decided to write anyway  because I also, on the other hand, go mental if I don’t write my thoughts down.

My diaries get harder and harder to hide every year in my room. So, obviously, a public blog is the best possible alternative to this problem. I know.

But here’s where it gets to the sappy part, bear with me.

Do you ever feel like you have no idea what the definition of “good” is anymore?

You grow up under strict limitations of, “No dating! No parties! No sex!”

And as you’re living in this country, utterly crushed and drowning under the overabundance of all three of those categories everywhere you turn, you still have no idea at what point you’d start being considered as a part of them? It’s not as simple as those three rules.

You ask your parents, “So I can’t date. But can I talk to guys? Can I be friends with them, at least?”

Your parents reply, “Of course. We’re modern. You can talk to them, I’m sure you have to at some point for projects and such at school.”

You think: Wow, really? That’s amazing! It makes things so much easier! And the next thing you know — a thwapping sting overpowers you momentarily, and mild heat starts to emanate from your right cheek in the shape of your mother’s hand. She was picking you up from school that day, and she saw you talking to a guy in the hallway. “Is he your boyfriend?” she asks. “Is this what you’ve been trying to hide? How dare you?”

Not knowing that asking Matt for the 2nd period algebra notes from Thursday would land you in this position, you don’t even get a chance to explain yourself. You just have to sit in the back of the car, and cry it out — hiding the tears, of course.

My parents have eased up on me now that I’m in college, but that attitude has caused so much confusion in my life, continuing to this day. Now, on one hand, they want me to meet people, in the intent of “finding a suitable, Pakistani husband.” On the other, I can’t go watch an action-packed, epic movie with Jim Berkovich because he’s white.

It’s not just with the issue of marriage, either.

What about group gatherings? Do they have to consist of all females in order to be validated for approval from the parents? Or must I sneak out of my backyard just to go have some froyo with a couple of buddies?

After all, my intentions aren’t bad, per se. I either want to discuss the analytical nature of social commentary through exemplification in alien races in Star Trek, or I want to close my eyes at Barnes and Noble, pick out a random book from every genre, and pick a page at random and assign each member a role to read out in the most ridiculous voice they can think of.

They’re very harmless ways to have fun, and yet, the fact that I’m doing them with a guy or with a group consisting of some guys makes them sinful.

As for the topic of social justice or equality, don’t even get me started. Do you know how difficult it is to believe in LGBT rights, feminism, and equality when the topics are almost considered so taboo that they’re a joke? I can spend my life working for charities, exhausting every effort to bring forth the good of humanity, but god forbid I ever say I’m a lesbian or bisexual. Any relationship a girl could ever have with another girl will not only be in hiding, but there’s not even a semblance of chance for marriage or family. There’s simply no alternative. You can’t convert her into a straight man, like you can convert a Christian to a Muslim to make the marriage valid. It’s just entirely unfathomable.

And I get it — the religion doesn’t allow for it. But is taking someone’s life really the resolution? Keep convincing yourself that you’re only doing God’s work by murdering a person, I dare you.

I just don’t understand, then, what is “good” and what isn’t.

Fine, you’ve restricted me to not drink or go to college parties — but I don’t enjoy them much anyway. It’s totally fine if others do, I have several friends like that. But I literally just spend 80% of the day curled up in my blanket, blogging in the dark about how I can make the giant fudge Snicker’s Bar.

And it’s not like this way of life makes me better or superior, or more “pure.” No, it’s just that it still follows the guidelines of the rules my parents established against me anyway, so am I then not “good” by default to them?

In the end, if I know what my eventual future is going to be like, a fully stereotypical embodiment of the South Asian housewife, isn’t it a wonder I’m so paranoid every time I see a potential shift on the pathway there?

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