“Log kya kahenge?” which translates to “what will people say?” is a common phrase thrown around in Desi families. These three words have probably shattered more dreams and aspirations of the youth than any other phrase in the WORLD. Nope, I wouldn’t even be exaggerating by saying that.
The thought process of most of our desi family members is rooted in such a way that before making any decision, the first and foremost question they ask themselves is “log kya kahenge?” The problem arises when you push this same mentality on your children, who are in the middle of figuring out their identity, trying to discover their individuality but all of that gets blurred the moment you press them to make their decisions on the foundation of “log kya kahenge?”
Mind you, us desis use the phrase “log kya kahenge” for every damn thing.
Hey dad, I want to be a filmmaker.
What?! Log kya kahenge?!?!?
Hey mom, I want to marry Brad who lives across the block.
What?! Log kya kahenge?!?!?!
Hey mom, can I wear this dress tonight?
What?! Log kya kahenge?!?!?!?
And ta-da, that’s how you shatter a child’s self-confidence, identity and individuality.
When I was growing up, the idea that medicine is the most rewarding profession was instilled in me. The two reasons why I was constantly pushed by my father to become a doctor is 1. It earns you respect in society because you are saving lives and therefore, you will earn respect in the family. 2. You make money. And so, I was raised with this mindset that perhaps, medicine is my only option because quiet frankly no one tried to figure out or ask me what career I really wanted to pursue. So I convinced myself that becoming a doctor is what I was truly meant to become.
It wasn’t until I entered high school that I started discovering my passion for writing and blogging (Tumblr was lit back then). When I expressed my interest of becoming a journalist to my parents, my father had already planned in his head of how he would send me to Pakistan to do medicine. And so, journalism went down the drain.
Being the obedient daughter, I decided that I’d just pursue medicine but do writing on the side. And so I did. I created my own writing blog, published a poetry book, wrote for newspapers. My passion is what kept me sane especially because I was studying science courses. I’d open up my journal and start writing every time I felt down or happy. Writing was my safe haven and something no one could take away from me.
But now, in my older and wiser years, I am beginning to realize that I cannot possibly do justice to my passion (writing) if I hold on to a career (medicine) that no longer serves my mental and emotional well-being today or in the future. And every time that thought crosses my mind I automatically think, “log kya kahenge?”
My husband often tells me that I need to learn to make my decisions on my own, that I get influenced too quickly by those around me, and that I too often seek reassurance before making a decision. And it’s true. I struggle with figuring what I want for myself because all my life I have been prescribed what to do.
When you constantly hear “log kya kahenge” you start living your life from the perspective of others. You are unable to make your decisions on your own and you struggle with figuring out what you truly want for yourself. At times, I envy the people who have the ‘fuck this’ attitude and despite all odds, just go do what they want to do. Because in an ideal world, that’s what I want for myself. I want to be able to not worry about bringing disappointment to my loved ones, be able to pursue a passion that resonates within me, and to just be happy.
I don’t know how many others go through this constant dilemma of “log kya kahenge” but if you’re one of them, just remember that “log” will always talk smack, and you can’t make “log” happy on the expense of your own happiness and these “log” got nothin’ on you. So, I hope, for myself foremost, that I start to not care about “log kya kahenge” and instead focus on self-growth and self-betterment because at the end, I have to live with myself and ain’t no “log” worth me being unhappy with the life I intend to make for myself.