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         Volume 11 |Issue 42| October 26, 2012 |


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When will you Grow Up?

Soraya Auer

Many parents say watching their children grow into responsible, independent-thinking adults is the most satisfying reward after putting in at least 20 years of thankless labour. You've literally spoon-fed them, disciplined them, guided them, inspired them (often just hatred), and hardest of all – you've let them grow up.

Well, you haven't really since they still live with you and you will probably die before you see them ever move out. Sure, you've given them curfews and denied their boyfriend/girlfriend's visiting rights after 9pm – but essentially, you've let them live their own life…

So what is it that's nagging you about the way your kids have grown up considering the stellar job you did at raising them? External forces, my dear parents, external forces. Uncontrolled, tasteless – you shudder at the thought of it – modern fashion influences. You could deal with and maybe even approve of the old western ways like when there were colonial masters who looked smart and important. You'd happily have your child – sorry – young adult dress like a wealthy (ideally fair) tea plantation or land owner from the 1910s. That look was positively glamorous compared to what you are actually faced with.

This modern western stuff or 'fashion' is like a contagious disease you can't shake off their bodies and what with pirated DVDs available on every corner, your precious little one stands no chance of being spared by the dreaded Hollywood influence. It breaks your heart to even consider, let alone admit, but your kids want to be something you can't control. They are what social anthropologists of the future will call 'wannabes'.

We know you don't actually want to complain about the way your offspring look but dammit – they're not getting your hints! Your eldest son, always a quiet and reserved child, in his mid teens, fostered an interest in heavy banging noise, sorry, music with the occasional screaming. You tried to push it out of him but then he decided to strike against your 'micromanagement' as he put it by refusing to cut or wash any body hair, most noticeably on his face and head. He would occasionally contain the hair on his head by tying it up in a ponytail à la Johnny Depp in Chocolat. Poor Nanu (grandma) on Eid day thought you'd brought a homeless gypsy to visit her.

When you ask him why he has to look like a lost religious hermit in public, he informs you that deep down he's a hippie and a rock star in the wrong decade. You ask how a hippie can work for a corporation selling advertising and love to eat meat. And doesn't a rock star require the skill to play an instrument – or better yet, you ask him, at least own an instrument?

The reasoning was lost on that one so you hoped the odds would be better for your second son. Alas, dear parent, while you thought it was great that your burly 5ft11 son took an interest in competitive sports, like rugby and basketball, you didn't expect him to grow fond of enlarging his arm and shoulder muscles to watermelon sizes (his head looking particularly small and pathetic on top). That aside, it was his taste in shirts that made you cringe. Basketball vests and low rise shorts so that half his posterior was squeezed with a (clearly pointless) belt. Oh and the gel in that hair. It goes everywhere. Not the gel, but the hair – it points left, right and straight to the moon.

Third time lucky you pray as you look to your daughter in the hopes that the good Bengali women of the family have rubbed off on her. She stands in her doorway, blue ballet shoes with sequins, tight skinny jeans, an oversized pale pink striped shirt with collars up and her hair scrunched at the back, as if she'd only risen from bed. It's almost dinnertime, you tell her, but she responds in 80 percent English that she is going with her friends to Nandos'. You wonder where this preppy Orange County wannabe came from considering the most west you've ever taken her is Kolkata, where there is certainly no Abercrombie & Fitch.

You are in disbelief as to how you have raised three completely different wannabes without ever encouraging any of these fads. Where is the Bengali in these English-medium terrors? But keep your sanity a little while longer, dear parent, because as always when one has teenagers (albeit it older ones), it's just a conspiracy against you. Surely, aliens, like the ones from Independence Day, are to blame.


All places, characters, institutions and events described in this article are fictitious. Any resemblance to any person or institution living or dead is purely coincidental.


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