As a teenager, if anyone had ever asked me what was the one quality I abhorred in any person, I would not have to think to reply. The answer would be prompt: Hypocrisy.
In fact I was myself subject to a lot of criticism in my own teenage years because I refused to conform or toe the line unless I believed in it myself. I got into trouble at home and in school often enough over my "rebellious" nature and my mother often sighed that I was "difficult". Why? Because I had sworn that no matter what, I would not be a hypocrite. Because there was nothing worse than being a FAKE, right?
So imagine my shock, when, the other day, my own teenage daughters accused me of the ultimate crime. I am a hypocrite, they said. It was one of those usual nights and I was chatting with my girls in my room when the discussion got a little iffy as they so often do with teenage hormones. Next thing I knew one daughter told me I was "…such a hypocrite!" The other one nodded and agreed.
I admit I was a riled. And hurt. Told them to leave me alone.
But then I thought about it.
And I realise now that my daughters are right.
I am a hypocrite each time I attend a formal do while inside I am screaming that I want to loll in bed and not go out. I became a hypocrite the day I married and went through rituals that were meaningless for me. I was a hypocrite each time I was hurt about something someone said or did and I did not protest or say a word and only spoke to my husband about it later when we were alone because he once told me not to squabble with the family. I am a hypocrite each time I get dressed and go to work when I would rather stay at home and finish the story book I started the night before. I am a hypocrite each time I smile and talk to a relative or acquaintance that I would rather not talk to because I am just not in a mood to talk. I am a hypocrite when I wake up at 4 AM and go to the puja room and get things ready in preparation for worship of Gods that I do not believe in. I am guilty of hypocrisy each time I attend a dinner and smile and pretend to have a good time even though I'd rather be elsewhere because I don't want to be rude.
Yes, yes, I am guilty. Because I realise now that no one is an island. We live among people and hence we have duties and obligations and often end up doing things that we may not like or believe in. It's not being fake. It's being grown up. It's having the maturity to deal with situations and people you may dislike or make you unhappy.
And that is not something that teenagers will understand.
So I won't even try to explain.
My girls are at a magical age when they believe they can rule the world and make it perfect. It is not yet time to burst their little bubbles. All I can say is that I do not know where my daughters' lives will take them but when it is their turn to be a hypocrite, I only hope they are good at it!