Drawing and Image courtesy: Samira Sule

“For years upon years I wondered for the answers to the root cause of my psyche. Little did I know the secret lied not just in my past but in the nostalgia of my previous generations! I am a record of the events that time before me went through – I am a flashback of tomorrow.”

On a breezy summer’s eve above the bustling chaos of the city life, they lied in the tight embrace of one another. When he slipped a whisper into her ear – “I love you”. She almost melted further into his assure, then suddenly fidgeting out of it – she fixed the childlike gaze at him with utmost honesty and uttered those four philosophically twitching words – “Why do we love!?”

Oh boy! We hope he had an unconventional back up- for the not so customary reply- to his assertion.

If say, you had to fish our man out of the conundrum, how would you go about the equation?

Would you argue that we actually love out of an evolutionary hoax? That we choose a fit partner to forward our genetic lineage and rest is a social circus created to get the deed done? Or –

Is it a more sophisticated social scheme? Something that helped our species to cooperate and assemble together and manage in larger groups and rule the planet as one dominant specie? Or –

Maybe it’s all in our heads! The chemicals dominating the decisions from quickly escalating ‘It’s you or nothing’ into ‘It’s anyone except you!’

But then how would one decide, say for in the first instance, who is the fit partner? Where does this notion of someone being fitting the criteria originate from? Or more importantly- the idea, if I am fitting for someone! Also consider the next instance, in order to belong to the social schema one might have to give up on many individual instincts which might be in conflict with the larger communal agenda (which our modern civilization is often mostly accused of). And if it’s all just in our head, then it can easily be manipulated through external chemicals such as drugs, alcohol, medication and long term brain washing or building!

To put it in a different way, we can ask – could ‘love’ be conditioned or is it all natural?

What about ‘hate’? Can it be natural as well?

And by the way what is the deal with all the voices in your head? That helps you make the decisions about major life patterns! The voices which apparently is your “Real self” – How real it is when you could hear an alternate voice resonating in it?

Exhausting, isn’t it? Let’s for the time being leave our couple aside – and let us get up – dust our pants and take a short trip down the lane and explore from where we get the notions of Love – Hate, Guilt and Self besides the conventional sources attached to them!

Love thy ‘Partners’ as thou ‘Parents’ loved you

Major portion of any adult’s personality remains very stagnantly interlinked with the parental notions -given to him during his upbringing- unless he undergoes a transformative process of re shaping his life scripts. The recordings of the early influences keep on replaying itself and shaping the early notions of attachment, intimacy and intellectual curiosity of the child. The adult however is not completely free from these entitlements, for he remains bound by these notions of early conditioning and his views on love, emotional resilience and belief in irrationality and self becomes rigid. He seems to be running aimlessly in the backdrop of family, society and web of social acceptance.

“Will I ever find love, Mommy?”- Johana “I certainly didn’t”- Mommy
Johana would come out as otherwise docile and fun loving individual. Always laughing and possessing a good sense of humor and a pleasant personality to be around. She would be doing really well at professional front. An individual who does not come out as too strong or opinionated. However, she would like to run on principles – principles of extremity. She would like to be moralistically apt at the same time – leave space open for creative experimenting. She would want to be in the moment at the same time – be arrested with her past experiences. She would want to be completely herself but – also at the same time be as her partners would like her to be. She wanted to be more like herself and at the same time more (or less) like her mother!

Johana was an unwanted first born in the family. The father wanted a male child and mother did not want to conceive his child. So the couple shared a mutual hatred towards Johana when she was born. However, when the couple had a second child and she too turned out to be a baby girl, the mother got insecure – thinking this to be her only chance of forcing herself to conceive a child – took her by heart and left the older sibling to herself. It is important to mention that a genuine disliking towards male gender ran parallel in the maternal side of Johana. They despised masculinity and only had any intimacy with them so as to produce off springs and consummate the marriage and fit in the social diameter of being called a married couple.

However, this early understanding of her abandonment deeply influenced the sense of self for Johana and from that mutilated image grew her notions of love, attachment and world at large. At a tender age she desperately wanted to be close to her mother and learn from her all the maternal and feminine skills a girl could have learned at that age, sensing that she was not wanted around – her real inner self suffered a setback and her identity went for a toss.

While growing up she knew she was all that she had. She started seeking acceptance and appreciation outside the family, especially through opposite gender. Her experiments with boys gave a temporary relief only until she would get bored of them and move to the next one. In a relationship she would always search for a man who would break her repetitive circles of seeking temporary gratifications – who would change the disfigured image of masculinity and release her from her maternal curse – someone who would be as vulnerable as her, to whom she could lay open her inner world of insecurities – someone extra ordinary who understands feminine soul, unlike the men her mother, grandmother and her mother had married. Once in a relationship she would pretty soon realize that the man she is with is quite like her father – detached, dominating and unemotional, as a matter of fact she attracted men who were intellectually dull and emotionally unavailable for she thought that is the best she could do.

She would not rebel to the fact as she had the childhood trauma of being left alone. Despite knowing she could do better she would not call off the relationship and in fact would put more efforts with less heart into the relationship. She would prefer being aloof, practical and hopeless in all her relationships, she would lose interest very soon and follow an avoidant attachment pattern so as to avoid any sort of hurt which might arise out of too many strings being attached.

Desertion at an early age left a deep trauma in her inner self. She blamed herself for her mother abandoning her, etching the thought in her mind, “If my own mother could not love me who else would?”

There was a blend of modernity, experiment and insecurity together with an intense need to belong to someone and at the same time the repulsion to settle for only one individual. Her mental self was partly built on astute thinking and partially on intellectuality but mostly ran on fantasy world – that is what had kept her going and giving hope as a child. Fantasy pertaining to good things happening to her in the end – Ultimately getting rescued and taken into a better world. She strongly believed into destiny – for that was the only place where her fantasy would work- otherwise her waking life seemed doomed to her and full of deceits. She also inherited her hatred towards men in general and lack of self-love from her early observations of family set-up and later with her own experiments. Her inner child ran on the moto – “If my Mommy couldn’t find love, How could I?”

Major Curiosity – Genuine Ignorance

The inquisitive and unabashed gaze of children are often – by the generation older than them – seen as a symbol of rebellion, bad manners or at best a dumb wit innocence – which is hardly taken seriously and assumed to pass as the time passes – as it did with their generation. In many modern societies if you observe, kids are born more out of custom than out of love. This is the reason people under such circumstances are not obsessed with their new born but only superficially attached and assume the general responsibility of catering to the basic needs of their infants – most often emotional resilience do not find a place on the list.

The parents of modern age want their children to mature instantly, as early as they start to talk and begin to make sense of the world around them.

“Oh baby, when would you grow up? – We would find a girl for you and then you’ll take care of us and we would then retire!” is the conversation between Mike and his mother when Mike was 8 years old.

In first twenty years of an individual’s life the parents are majorly clueless as to what needs to be passed on to them, they sometimes pass their hypocritical notions or in some cases genuine life changing magic beans but mostly they just wait hopelessly around for the child to make sense of the world on its own as they blame everything on the generation gap. In hindsight, if you observe, a child who is thirteen years old would be expected to raise a family and have kids his age instantly, whereas nothing has been said or even answered about his apprehensions of the way he sees the world or the way it is shown to him!

A for…Apple, C for…… Censorship!
Abu had strong opinions. He would often come out as a broody being who is mostly in his own world. He knew things were the way they were because his parents told him. He knew right from wrong because that is how it is differentiated and he knows it – because – his parents said so. He had precooked notions on religion, politics, love and life in general. The world ran according to how he was told and not how he would have liked to observe. Until the day he figured out that his parents were not exactly to be followed blindly – things changed but pattern remained stagnant. There was a shift in the paradigm but something did not swing out of his identity.

He was the single child and was conceived after many complications for this reasons the parents were very protective of him. He was made to believe from a very early in his life that certain morals and principles are part of every man’s life – if he questioned – he was reminded that elders are not to be questioned and this is how it is. He was conditioned into taking for granted that his culture and values surmount everything and if he obeys what they say, some rewards would follow and he would get gratification for his behavior. He was dolled up to be a good boy and a god fearing human being.

While growing up he saw some sort of mismatch between what he was preached to what he observed. He witnessed a lot many tussles in his house – threats of one of the parents abandoning the family was the trend. His father hopelessly trying to make the emotional ends meet and mother throwing tantrums every now and then. The next day it would seem as if nothing had happened the previous day.

Such observations and early conditioning left a void in his ability to form independent life view. He ran his notions on superficiality but deep within there was a huge ocean fluttering with insecurity of what if I am a bad boy? What if my dada or mommy leaves me? Many questions that were unanswered escalated with a help cocktail of out dated preaching and new observations, the result was a botched up persona; based on everything known contradicting everything experienced.

He took to reading and read all sorts of genres and as life taught him lessons he soon realized that there was a huge gap between what his parents had taught him and how they themselves followed it. He started drifting apart and started experimenting all that was assumed banned.

He developed new views on life – So what if I am a bad boy, everyone is! – So what if mommy leaves or daddy abandons me? , I never really had them when I needed them the most! His new self was born out of rebel and a sense of deceit. For him love then was a filmy affair which follows a grand occasion and then you live happily ever after and now it was something that happens casually and you get over it soon.

He fell more for empty superficial intellectualism out of which he could hardly apply anything in his personal self – you read something – you feel you can do it too – and that’s where it ended for him – the doing never occurred. His feeling of being cheated at the hands of his own parents made him bitterer towards his inner conscience and he became more susceptible to outside influences and less sensitive to natural emotionality.

He left his old self for a new one but this new one was equally unreal and false. He had information at tip of his fingers but his fingers weren’t attached to his limbs and his mind was hovering over what could be done now that he is released. When in his personal time he looked within he found a deep hole in his self – the hole which he tried filling with all the up to date experiments and information but with a technique inherited from his family – “Do not look too much within yourself, what if you find something conflictingly too enlightening?!”

As heard saying by Prof. Yuval Harrari, “…the young generation of today do not need information as it already available in abundance and most of it is useless – what we do need is to teach the kids what needs to be done with this information.” Imagine for yourself an individual who has no insight into his being and only a few biased outdated moral principles of the previous generations (which even his parents fail to obey) at his disposal and he is expected to face the uncertainties of the modern tech-world which is changing every five years!

I Plead guilty – for the sins I don’t remember committing!

Feeling guilty of loving someone too much. or too little – the guilt of hating someone with your entire heart – the guilt of demanding something in abundance – the guilt of prioritizing yourself before your partner – the guilt of just existing and wanting to flourish into the best version of oneself – the mere guilt of admitting some form of self-love and self-care! Guilt is like a cube of salt melting on tongue slowly dominating every other taste ever experienced by a human being. Guilt otherwise is a substantially healthy source and part of learning to develop a healthy conscience and compassion. When exactly it is, that the process of submitting to humility turns into a horrific ride to a neurotic break down?

“Oh! That’s alright, you go first.” – Mariam
Mariam! Well, she’d feel like a warm ball of cuddles on a winter afternoon! Very welcoming, extremely embracing, accommodating of all that is rejected of you by others. She would come out as deeply sensitive to her surroundings. She was considerate, humble, always smiling and ready to help and never dominating. She was made to be a sugar coated pill with no real healing enzymes but she compulsively wanted to prove her worth of the same and belong somewhere – to someone.

Mariam was a second child to an elder sister. When she was born there was already a lot of drama to catch up on! Her mother and elder sister were already competing amongst themselves for who gets the last say and be on top. The dad seemed to be equally vocal but not given a working mic, so he was hardly heard or mattered. Then there was Mariam another girl in the already unstable hyper functional family. She was pampered by all but nourished by none. She had all the claims of being the youngest member of the family but never given her independent space to grow as an individual – whatever was lacking in the family was ultimately dumped and unanimously each one of them vented it out on her. She was made an out lash projection of feminine dominance and masculine impotency.

While growing up she felt a strong sense of hatred and competition around her. She always felt incompetent to perform any tasks as she already knew her sister had done it better. She made sure that she is loved – the only way to achieve it was to remain juvenile forever and not come on as a major threat to her mother and sister.

Throughout her childhood she felt the real connection with anyone missing and she made herself believe that it was her fault – something in her was lacking because of which no one loved her genuinely. Even a little extra love and attention instantly made her feel uneasy and she would at once surrender and be overwhelmed.

In relationships she was always inadequate. Foreer doubting why someone would even like to be with her? She would always feel guilty of not giving enough to her partner. She felt as if it was her job to do something, to act or behave in a certain way that would make her partner love her more.

She did not have an independent idea of self for herself – she was what she was molded into. She expressed only as much creatively as would make the other person like her. Her opinions were built on superficiality – so as to fit in the hypocritical world. Her notions of love were running on principles that my partners are doing a favor being with me as they could find someone better anytime they want. She replayed her role playing she was made to put up in childhood in front of her family to anyone she met as an adult! She loved out of being guilty of not being able to be the best that her partner deserved.

Her notions of self, love and faith were guided by the voices in her head going – “Look mom, I did better – not as well as you and sister but see! Am I a good girl, mom? Will you now love me?”

P.S. “An Afterword for the afterworld”

Concluding the journey, we return back to where we had begun. The insights into our own past and history of our generational culture would give us a clear understanding of why we feel, express and understand certain things the way we do. Re- mapping your entire developmental scenario would give you a better picture of; Where have you come from- Where you stand – Why you stand there – and Under what circumstances. It would lay down the fundamental foundation of the mental mechanism you function on.

To the emerging generation and young parents I would like to say, that read as much as you can on Natural sciences, World history, Psychology, Modern philosophy and Technology for you might find answers to your confusions and conflicts here rather than in family traditions, religion, holy scriptures or ancient morals. The generation of tomorrow would be born into world which is emerging to be smarter than the people creating it. Here one generation of smart phone gets obsolete before the generation of humans creating it.

So be prepared to be emotionally flexible and always open to re learning and unlearning the accepted truths of the past century. Embrace constructive ignorance more than haughty arrogance!

Consider this, say there is a child, named Merry, born in the mid-21st century. She decides for herself that she doesn’t want to go around in the family lineage of surrendering to manipulative traditions and archaic self-destroying rituals. Do you then – as a new born parents- think that you have the necessary ingredients and abilities to aid and develop her own personal understanding of love, hate and self?