I’m a sucker for a film or a story about an underdog, who fights against the odds, all kinds of circumstances and succeeds. When you watch these films – you can see it from the beginning – this person is going to succeed. Even when they feel like they won’t – you can see, they will succeed.
My mum came to England from India in 1975. To me she was a child-bride, only 18 years old. I remember myself at 18, I was barely able to look after myself. But she came over to a new country, assumed responsibility for her new family, cooked, cleaned, took care of everyone – whom she barely knew, in a strange country, where everything was alien. By the age of 19 she had me, and has continued to take care of me ever since.
I’ve written about her lots. I’ve written about what we went through, lots. The reason being? I like to remind myself. When I think things are hard or tough, I like to remind myself – remember when things were a lot worse? Remember that people who you know have had it tougher and emerged victorious? So if they can do it, why can’t you?
There used to be a programme called ‘Goodness Gracious Me’ on TV. I used to watch it every Friday night and be in stitches, laughing my head off. I think every Asian person of my generation remembers it. The thing was that we barely saw any Asian people on TV at the time, so when this programme came onto the scene, and the 4 lead comedians were absolutely hilarious, it made every Asian person’s heart burst with delight. They poked fun at stereotypes, broke boundaries and made people understand that Asians were more than doctors, shop owners or accountants – we had a wicked sense of humour too.
The reason why I bring up ‘Goodness Gracious Me’, is because there was a recurring sketch about a really competitive dad. He wanted his son to be the best at everything. It didn’t matter what his son achieved, he always brought up another parent whose child had achieved something greater. Every person of my generation was brought up in the same way. “Mum, I got an A for my essay,”
“Ok, that’s fine, make sure you keep getting A’s, get A+’s, Mr …… son gets A+’s all the time!”
Growing up, I hated that. I hated the feeling that no matter what I achieved, it would never be enough. I used to look and listen to my friends in envy when they would be rewarded for getting a good grade, or improving in something. I would simply be told, work harder, do better, you can achieve more.
The point is though – it did me absolutely no harm to be told ‘ work harder, do better, you can achieve more’. What it did was, instil a drive in me to do exactly that. My mum gave me no excuses not to succeed in life. Failure is not an option. Giving up is not an option. Nobody said life was going to be easy, nobody said that everything was going to be handed to you on a plate. So work. Work hard. The fruits that you will get from working and not giving up will be your reward. Not the words that I say – but the rewards that you reap.
And I get that now. Her generation was one that was tough. Life throws things at you – you get up, show up and get on with it.
Am I like that myself? No. Why? It did me no harm – so why not? Well, I suppose it’s because if you never receive approval for what you did well when you were younger, you probably end up writing a blog all about it when you’re older!!!
In all seriousness, as parents we do what we know, and we do what we think is right for our children. There is no right way – we all just muddle though – hoping for the best. All I can hope is that my two little ones become the best that they can be – and most of all are happy in their lives in the future. Meanwhile, I’ll just work hard, do better, achieve more!