Just finished watching Shakuntala Devi. Great work from the director Anu Menon and team in putting off such a beautiful story in a beautiful way wrapping up a mathematical genius’ life story in a relevant social context. I was full of a lot of thoughts after watching the movie that I just tried to collect and put them off in writing, just sharing as my personal opinions.
Individuality in a parent-child relationship
The individuality in a parent-child relationship is put beautifully in Shakuntala Devi. Parents need to understand that their children are not their property to make their life decisions and enforce them. Similarly a parent must have the right to prioritise themself. They need not sacrifice themselves for the child.
This social system seems to have been arranged, just like any other one, to protect individuals. When children are incapable, the parents take care of them on their upward slope, it need not be labelled as some godly behaviour and glorified like some great sacrifice and stuff. Similarly the child take care of the parent on their downward slope. It need not be labelled as again some great duty or something. It’s the social structure, which sustains life.
The idea of gratitude certainly ensures that the system completes a cycle without the latter one faultering but the over glorification of these deeds is an unnecessary pressure put on the first receiver i.e. child. Taking their freedom of decision in the name of a price for sacrifices done for them is just unfair. They never asked you. You do that by choice, either for satisfaction of being a good parent or perhaps to have a equal reciprocation.
Similarly, the care that’s been given to a child, the child should not take for granted or assume as a right to have. They should dutifully understand that it’s voluntary. The parent has the right to not take it up without having to face any trial sorts of. They have the right to prioritise their own dreams while they are still able to give you a proper environment to grow. Their time is not your undisputed property, it’s their choice to either share or not with you. You can’t hold them accountable for this.
Using a mutually understood and accepted system as some mandatory duty of any of the individual is just unfair and is destined to create chaos.
Then comes the idea of, “good faith” or “well wishing”. Certainly, a parent is an experienced individual, have exposure to life that can probably help the child if suggested and fit in context. But it is still the child’s right to make the decision. Suggesting is your “well wishing”, but enforcing is not.
Also, sharing a strong bond with the parent helps the child have emotional stability but it’s still not a parent’s duty to sacrifice every other thing and just devote for their child. Instead, more independent they are made, more strong and mature individuals they become. More the pampering, more they are ruined. As an individual, if the parent is supposed to “devote” themselves in the crucial years of their life for the child and not build any base for themselves as an individual (and not as a parent) aren’t they susceptible to the perils of loneliness in the later part. What if the child left them for a different life altogether. What they are left with after all the sacrifice.
In the current society, we really need to understand and accept the individuality of both parent and child. While we try to sustain the system of mutual caregiving and support, we should avoid the osctrasizing of either of them. This certainly will help build a more joyful and empathetic enviornment rather the current chaos where gratefulness will be a choice not a mandate. I guess, this movie really put this in perspective.