I have spent my childhood and teenage in Lucknow, the city of ‘Nawabs’ and ‘Tahjeeb’. In Lucknow, even the fights are done using very decent language. I address others as ‘aap’ and refer myself as ‘hum’. And it holds true for almost everyone in that place. Since birth I had seen no exception to this.
At age of 23 years, when I got my first job in Mumbai TCS, I got cultural shock. People address each other as ‘Tu’ – not even as ‘Tum’. Every time, for almost a month, I felt huge disregard, when someone addressed me like that. I just could not reciprocate ‘Tu’ and believe me it was frustrating. As I talked to myself that these people don’t intend to hurt me, they are following their culture and some other are just trying to show intimacy by addressing me like that. Then, just to reciprocate, why this word ‘Tu’ doesn’t come out of my mouth? While talking to my seniors in office, I had to call them by their names- why? How? Initially, I tried saying Sir and Ma’am, I was disapproved. One of my senior was in his 60s, comparable to my grandfather, I had to call him by his name. I avoided every possible situation to face and talk to him. It was immensely helpless situation, I could not talk to my colleagues and my seniors. And I was a fresher there- meaning there was none junior to me. It took me a month to overcome this cultural conflict and adapt to new culture. After a month, I was comfortable and ‘addressing part’ stopped bothering me. Soon I got transferred to Delhi, a place geographically and culturally closer to Lucknow as compared to Mumbai.
I simply forgot all my cultural struggles until the day, when my 3 year young kid addressed her father as ‘Tu’. She was just admitted to a play school, form there she picked up her one of the initial words ‘Tu’. Delhi, being cosmopolitan city, has different flairs in its culture and ‘Tu’ is no taboo here. But for my Lucknowi husband, this was his first encounter with ‘Tu’. He got same shock as I got, way back in Mumbai. But I had no authority over those people and no responsibility of those people, I was left with only one option of adapting to that change. My husband was in a different situation, altogether. He tried different methods so that Chia could just stop using that word. But none of the methods worked. I could see and understand his frustration. I initially tried to convince Chia to use this ‘Tu’ word with her friends in school and not at home. But she denied.
It was her new learning and was correct as per her new environment. She wanted to use this word extensively and flaunt her learning. I could see that she was quite excited with usage and with reactions she received for this taboo word in my home. It’s normal human tendency to do whatever you are told ‘not to do’ and kids exhibit this tendency very clearly. And we don’t feel anything exciting about doing something that is allowed to do.
After 2 days, I just stopped raising objections to Chia regarding this. I continued addressing her as ‘tum’ and she continued her ‘Tu’. Meanwhile, my husband got frustrated with my cool attitude with this ‘tu’ word and I noticed that Chia was having less talks with her father as she felt disapproved at the start of conversation. Earlier, I thought, kids need different ways to understand something, I never asked my husband to abandon his efforts for correcting Chia. But then, I felt a need to talk to my husband about this and I did.
I asked him “How would you feel, if someone keeps on disapproving you without even listening to you- just because you addressed him as ‘tu’- and if that person holds high importance in your life? You would probably be dishearten and give upon him slowly. Would you let this happen to Chia? I have stopped getting irritated with this word and so should you, as nothing is permanent. She is constantly learning and practicing new things. She would move on to next thing, slowly, but only if we don’t make her stick to something.” I was happy to note, my hubby just stopped showing any reaction on ‘tu’ word and Chia once again was chatting with her papa, as earlier.
It took 1 year for chia to leave this word behind and none of us (me and hubby) requested her to do this. Now she addresses us as ‘tum’ and her grandparents as ‘aap’ and her friends as ‘tu’. She is done with her experimenting with the word. Our support indeed helped her to move on to next learning- I believe.
Today, I am writing all this because she has learnt a new word yesterday – a bad word. I intend not to overwhelm her by lectures or disapprove whenever she uses it. But surely, I will make my point clear in the very start that “this is a bad word. And if you still want to use it then use it. It doesn’t bother me. It’s your life and your decision. You are a big girl now.” This method worked in past and I hope it will work this time also. All we- me and your papa- need is to keep our cool, when you use and flaunt that word. It’s your journey to explore and experiment and reach to a conclusion. We are in no hurry and you have all the time in this world my baby. We love you unconditionally.
Keep growing and keep experimenting.
See you again. 🙂
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