I remember when I was eighteen, I couldn’t wait to get out of my Mum and Dad’s house and be free, be independent, and “become a man”.
And I did, I flew.
I flew out to the United States of immigrants for my undergrad and thought I would never look back — here’s to never living with Mum and Dad again. I was excited to live by myself, at my own beck and call, without the loving heckling of my parents.
The “loving” part here is key. There was no trouble at home.
My parents were and are awesome.
They found the right balance between letting me be and making sure I didn’t veer off the “right” path. They were strict but fair, putting me up on a pedestal only when I deserved it. And when I didn’t, encouraging the punishment I deserved, without ever making me doubt their love. I was a naughty kid.
They were protective but reasonable. I remember in tenth grade I bullied them into sending me to the UK for a football training camp for ten whole days. The important part was that I wanted to go alone. I had to go alone, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Fine, said the father, but do some research first, and make sure you’re getting a good deal.
My parents were always ahead of their time. They saw the value in looking at education from a more global perspective, encouraging me to switch to IB even before I thought it was cool. But Dad, I want to be Headboy in this school. Okay they said, and no, I didn’t become Headboy.
It also helped that Dad was a sexologist on the side. When I was about 14, I remember him asking me to make a PowerPoint about testicular cancer. He said, Anish, should I call it “Know Your Testicles” or “Know Your Balls.”
And I looked at him a little bewildered, thinking I rather not know anything about this.
But you know what, later, when we had “the talk”, it went from awkward to comfortable at lightning speed.
There was no official Sex Education in Dubai, where I grew up. To solve for that, I only recently found out that they used to intentionally leave Sex Ed books lying around in “convenient” locations so that I could happen upon them when they weren’t around. And yes, I did happen upon them, and so did my friends. Friggin’ geniuses.
Both my parents are doctors and have served people all their lives. Despite that (and them being Indian and all) they…