Allow me to paint you a picture of a typical day in my household. You will realise quite quickly that we thrive on chaos. The living room has my father watching the news at a volume so high you’d think we don’t own a remote (we do own it, we just don’t know where it is- maybe under a cushion somewhere), my brother is chatting on the phone, throwing annoyed glances at my father because well, the volume. My mom shouts something from the kitchen over clanging vessels and tadka. I am usually trying to find some peace and quiet, so I am in the bathroom. At some point, I am exhausted and irritated because I have had a whole day of work and I would really appreciate some silence.
Frustrated, I attempt to make a point and shout above the din, “I am tired. Can we please just calm down?’ This brings this circus that is family to screeching halt. My dad drops his phone and looks at me taking a moment from forwarding completely fabricated messages. The sibling is staring, impressed at my gall. The mother swoops out of the kitchen, mopping the sweat off her brow and looking appalled. Even my domestic worker has decided that this was too juicy a scene to miss and pops her head out from the kitchen. What about me being tired makes everyone stop in their tracks? Everything.
Being Tired Is Reserved For Parents Strictly
As an Indian person, you are probably aware, being tired is a luxury that is reserved only for parents, and even within that, the mom wins more tired points. I cannot be tired, because I am younger than my parents. I don’t know if they are aware, but the age gap is always going to be there. Any claim by a younger family member about being tired invites a long lecture on age, energy and inevitably it becomes about how phones are making everyone lazy.
Most parents think that because their kids are younger, we draw energy from an endless fountain. You could have climbed mountains and jumped over rivers but you’re simply not allowed to be tired. You could have gone to work, lived through a packed train ride, dealt with your crazy boss at work and come back and helped prepped dinner. And that’s all great and you can certainly rest it out but don’t use the words ‘tired’ around your parents.
We Had It More Difficult
You’ve probably heard stories about how your parents got to school. It was never easy. They crossed bridges, constructed tunnels and dug wells for their water, all on their way to school. Infrastructure development authorities do owe a thanks to my father and his friends for their contribution to the city. Despite this, the parents never got tired. My mom will always mention how getting to school was an ordeal (making sure she puts in a lesson about the value of money somewhere in there) but they would come home and then help their moms with the chores. Inevitably some physically arduous task is thrown in there – like milling flour which requires brute strength. The frequency with which my mom mentions the milling has me thinking that her family might be solely responsible for stocks running out in Punjab. She never got tired though, my mom. Relentless she is.
Tired From Doing What?
A question often posed to us younger un is ‘What is tiring you?’ I want to put my hands on my hips and say ‘You! Your incessant need that I prove I am tired is bone tiring.’ So obviously I say nothing. I get that the work we do and the way we do it has changed. While our parents were probably typing out a letter and sending someone to get it delivered and communication was slow, we simply type out a email and that’s that. And yes, perhaps by their standards it’s not gruelling but this is how it is. It’s not like mom was out there foraging in forests for herbs, and then putting the pots to simmer. Or that dad was breaking stones. They might not have been AC offices but as traders and businessmen or even the salaried, they definitely weren’t involved in any sort of manual labour. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but we can’t be faulted for asking our parents to understand that we want to unwind after a long day and we can’t be bothered with attaching a reason for it.
At Your Age I Was…
If anyone young does happen to mention the word ‘tired’ even in the passing, this usually attracts a lecture about the glorious things the parents went about achieving when they were the same age. 25 and tired because you work a lot and your mental health is in shambles? Tell that to a mom and you’re likely to hear ‘At your age, I was working while pregnant with you and handling your sibling and a mother-in-law while also sword fighting with your father and I never complained about getting tired.’ Announcing your exhaustion is a proclamation for an one upmanship battle with your parents, who want to prove how they deserved to be more tired at your age, and yet marched on. They take every mention of tiredness as a challenge, telling you how they had it worse. Or then cruelly reminding you how you’ve already missed the major milestones of your life.
Look, I am keenly aware of how our parents had no concept of mental health or health. Or boundaries. And sometimes, logic. But it gets quite annoying when you’ve to explain to them that at the ripe age of 30, I am allowed to feel the exhaustion of living in these tumultuous times. We may not be juggling family, responsibilities and finances, but we have our own battles. And that sometimes, just existing can be an uphill task. We need to be allowed to be tired. Because it’s a thing.
I am tired writing out this article, it’s long. But don’t tell my mom you heard me say it. Oh god, mom logic.
While you’re here, you want to read about the woman who wanted to return her husband?