This is a series of first-person accounts about family abuse and forgiveness.
Krish, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, is a 26-year-old working in Mumbai. This is his story.
Upma is just the worst.
Of all the breakfast foods I have ever eaten, upma has traumatised me the most. When I was six, I resisted eating upma one morning. My dad took an electrical wire, folded it in four and whipped me with it. If his objective was to make me eat upma, he failed miserably. I have never eaten upma since.
My grandmother scolded my dad for hitting me so viciously. There was a period of unrest at home. After that, my dad became what I call an 'ethical abuser'.
Never again did he hit out of anger. He only hit as a disciplinary measure. For one wrong digit in a sum, I got one slap on one thigh. Two wrong digits; two slaps.
It was a well-calibrated and regimented system of abuse. He never hit where he could cause permanent damage. He hit only on my thighs and back. It was corporal punishment. It was not an arbitrary expression of rage.
He only hit as a disciplinary measure. For one wrong digit in a sum, I got one slap. Two wrong; two slaps
I realise now that my dad did not hit me as an assertion of power. I was not pummeled hatefully or deliberately traumatised. Fear was the driving force in his abuse. He was hitting because he was scared.
My father was afraid that if I failed in maths we would all starve and die. If I was tortured into performing, I would go to IIT and all would be well. So he tortured. And so I went to IIT. The hitting had worked.
My mom hit too, but that was more reminiscent of a squabble between siblings. She would hit my brother and me with a jhadoo. We would roll on the floor to avoid her and she would chase us around the house, laughing. I don't think she ever hurt me, even emotionally. We were not a hugging and kissing family; this was her only way of expressing loving annoyance.
When I was 21, I fell in love. That is when I first realized that I had always associated human touch with being beaten. Being with someone became traumatic because it forced memories out of my subconscious and into my waking thought.
I asked around and was surprised to find out that most guys in college had not, in fact, been hit by their fathers. That is when it dawned on me. What my father had been doing all those years was a form of abuse.
I was shocked. I called up my dad in the middle of the night and yelled at him. I have never brought it up with him since.
I have never given much thought to forgiving my dad. I hardly think about him. Usually, when I call, he says, "How's your health? Good? Good. Now I'm passing the phone on to your mother."
Or, "Have you got health insurance? Yes? Okay. Now I'm passing the phone on to your mother."
Sometimes he asks, "Have you eaten? Yes? Good. Now I'm passing the phone on to your mother."
I think I will only really forgive him when I have my own children. When I have raised my own kids without abuse, and raised them well, I will take them to my parents and encourage them to bow in pranam.
I will say, "Hey look, I have raised fully functioning adults without ever raising a hand on them." That is when I will know with absolute certainty that abuse has no place in parenthood.
That is when I will know my father has not caused any lasting intergenerational damage. Only that is when I will finally be able to forgive.