Monday, September 13, 2010

This Independence Day, I thought of what Independence really means...

"Eat to please thyself, but dress to please others.", said Benjamin Franklin
"Elegance does not consist in putting on a new dress.", these words of depth come from none other than Coco Chanel
"Be careless in your dress if you will, but keep a tidy soul." disclosed Mark Twain
"A woman should be less concerned about Paris and more concerned about whether the dress she's about to buy relates to the way she lives." advised Geoffrey Beene.

All of this is fine. And coming from some great people there has to be some soul into these above-mentioned words of wisdom. Hence I conclude that while dressing well is important, it must not be just something expensive. It must be something decent as well. Also apparently it goes without saying that it is not only the clothes you wear that reflect your personality. It is the way you carry yourself, the accessories that you choose, the way you keep your hair...and many such other things that count in building up your image as others see it.

In places where a uniform or a dress code is to be followed it is easier to conform and that does not necessarily reflect the personlity of the individual, but rather the descipline and the character of the instution or the organisation, which in the long does shape the character of the individual too.
So when a child enters school, he learns for the first time in life that there are certain rules to be followed. There is a time to play, to eat (and even drink). There are basic etiqutte that must be strictly adhered to. Completing Home Work and Class Work is not optional. Being present in the school, and not being in your class is severly punishable.

Fast forward to one's college days, where the hither-to-child suddenly (and quite unknowing to himself) finds himself in a transitional stage. Adolecense can be very confusing for the child as well as the parents. For the parents the child has still not grown up enough to be mature. But the child feels the breath of freshness that freedom brings. He feels mature enough to take charge of his life.
It is a crucial period and if differences between the parents and the child are more than superficial in this phase, it may ruin their future.

Often children dress up in a manner that would look weird to the adult eyes of caring parents who want nothing but the best for their children. There are various concerns in the turbulent mind of parents as to who their child is meeting. Oh! God they only hope the child is not into smoking, drinking or love affairs already. Why the concern, if history is repeating itself?!!
Or even if the parents have not done all that the child is doing, what is wrong? Can he not create history for his children???

Keeping cool is perhaps not easy for the parents. And I wonder how I did it when my elder son came home in the holidays with a ponytail and a thick beard. As I hugged him I admit to feeling rather proud. In fact I felt a strange sense of security. May be my happiness in seeing him after so many days was spilling over, and nothing at all could make me angry at that point in time.

Some years later was the turn of my younger son. He also grew a beard and let his hair follow the law of nature and grow in abundance as he entered junior college. Once again neither his crumpled shirt nor his cotton shoulder bag could make me loose my temper. In fact his hair bands and the care with which chose his shampoo and conditioner made me laugh.
One day he came home, and concealing his excitement as best as he could, smiling naughtily he told me that the college principal had given him the compliment of his life, saying his flowing tresses and the beard were so much "like that of the Lord Himself"!!!
And so seeing them trimmed or cut was out of the question for a long time. I enjoyed oiling my children's long hair on weekends. It was so much fun. Now that they keep their haircuts neat and tidy, I miss those lovely long ringlets of hair!!!

I love to see them enjoy their youth and do things that would help them grow with confidence in their persona and love in their hearts. The point is we all let ourselves loose at some point in life and live for the present, doing stupid things and deriving pleasure out of them. So never scoff at a youngsters for spending hours glued to mobile phones talking to the "opposite sex" (Isn't that normal considering the latest trends?). Also never judge a boy for his long tresses nor a girl for her boy-cut. The length of their hair, the excitement of wearing bizzare T-shirts, naughty mini skirts or a silly cargo is not going to affect their inner self as long as they know their responsibilities. The important thing is to let them grow into responsible young people with humanitarian values.

Homes must be places where the generation gap should melt into nothingness, and yet the care and concern the elders have for the young ones in the family as also the admiration and respect that the young must show for their elders must not be compromised.
And so while all the above mentioned wise thoughts of those great people must be respected, allowing a person the freedom to choose should be paramount as it complements freedom of ex-pression, and therefore is so much an integral part of the growth and all-round development of anyone.
I think as we celebrate yet another Independence Day, we must understand the meaning of freedom in this wider sense too.

Mr.Harsh Mander's views on this article :

Dear Zohra,

I just wanted to say what a lovely piece this is - not just about clothes, but about parenting, which is best if it gives children space to experiment, even on occasion be what one regards as 'foolish', and still make them feel accepted and safe.
There are many such insights I capture in your messages. Thanks for these.
Eid Mubarak and regards,


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