Monisha

When I was really young my mom used to hit me. I know it happens to everyone with traditional parents but it got kind of bad once with bruises and scars all over me that were pretty noticeable. It didn’t help that I never ate so I was malnutritioned on top of that. Not because my parents never fed me but more because I was just depressed and never had an appetite. So I made the mistake of telling my guidance counselor this when I was about 7 years old. Social services ended up paying us a visit. I knew it was a mistake the second they showed up to my house. The look on my parents face said it all. They checked the fridge to see if there was food. (It was full, like I said I just never had an appetite) They even had me strip down to see the extent of any physical damage. Luckily nothing ended up happening other than warnings but it was devastating for my relationship with my parents. They didn’t know who I was or why I would do that to them. I guess at the time it seemed way worse than it actually was and I just wanted to get back at them.

 

It wasn’t until recently that my mom and I have had really big heart to heart conversations. Crying, opening up, rebuilding our relationship… She saw that I was going through a lot in life and wanted to help me through it. I told her I really regret a lot of things that had caused our relationship to be so distant. I wanted to be able to just openly speak to her without having to worry about judgment because I am not the typical Bengali girl she wanted me to be. I’m sorry but that never was going to happen. I told her that she needed to understand where I’m coming from and that I don’t want to grow up hating her…I already spent half my life doing that. She’s starting to come around but the generational differences are so vast that it will take some time - things just weren’t the same for her growing up.

 

Like my sister, my parents didn’t understand a lot of my decisions specifically about what I wanted to do as it differed from their vision for me. I go to Hunter majoring in Media and minoring in Psychology. I hope to one day go into the advertising industry with this background. I’ve always wanted to. But I will say the more and more classes I am taking, I am finding myself interested in a ton of different things like graphic design, video, editing, even religion. It’s fun finding ways to incorporate all of my interests creatively.

 

Thinking back to when I was a child, I wanted to grow up to be an interior designer. I still would love to get a chance to do that one-day. It’s such a creative outlet to express your ideas and vision. The push to be involved on the creative side has never left me to this date. Other than that I think I’d also like to get involved with changing how education is structured. When you think about it, it’s all wrong and so frustrating. We’re separated by age instead of true level. I feel like there were so many people younger than me that were smarter than me and older people who weren’t smarter than me and yet we were separated by these divisions. We are brainwashed by our principals, teachers and the system essentially to believe that they have created the best way of doing things. I think this is what really sparked my interest in wanting to get involved with marketing and advertising.  I wanted to be able to influence people in a positive direction the same way in which institutions are able to. I love knowing that I can be a part of creating an ad that can help someone get inspired or simply seeing how it can change the way in which they see, feel or think about something or someone.

 

My parents didn’t think this was as amazing as I did. They thought it was pretty pointless. I really just wanted their support at times. Whenever I did a good job on a project or assignment and showed them, they were never impressed - they would either ignore me or walk away. Keep in mind this is after my older siblings had already broken the ice for me as they went through similar phases. I’m grateful they made things a little easier for me when it came to this stuff but I still ended up facing a lot of it. My brother being the first-born took the brunt of it. He fell into the trap of doing exactly what they wanted and now he’s 31, a lawyer and unhappy. He didn’t do or get to even think about what he truly wanted because he just wanted to make them happy. I saw a lot of this happen in my sister as well but she put up a fight. In college they convinced her to pursue nursing but she always wanted to be a writer. She was always so creative but our parents wouldn’t understand. Seeing her push back though was enough for me to realize how important it was to truly follow what you believed in.

 

My sister is literally everything to me. I honestly don’t know what I would do without her in my life. She always confided in me and came to me to vent about life. I wouldn’t always understand what she would be going through since I’m six years younger but I was always there to listen. Sometimes that’s all someone needs. She was my best friend and needed me in a household that didn’t really support her in the way she needed. My parents used to come to me also and vent about her. I was kind of like the middleman and I wanted to make sure neither were sad or in pain. My sister and me weren’t always on best terms though.

 

There was a time she had a boyfriend that our entire family didn’t approve of…including me. I was very impressionable and young so I kind of followed along with my family when they didn’t approve. In all honesty, I was kind of jealous that this guy was coming in and taking my sister…my best friend…away from me. She was spending all her time with him and she loved him, which made me hate him even more. That’s as deep as my understanding was for a ten-year-old girl. She ended up moving out which caused a really big rift in our relationship. We just stopped talking completely. She eventually moved back in but the damage was done. We weren’t really sisters anymore. We just lived in the same house and had to see each other but we never talked. I was so mad that she chose him over us.  

 

It went on like this for about four years. It wasn’t until my mom planned a trip for all of us to go to Bangladesh. There we realized all we had was each other and we started to talk again. It felt so good being able to have her back in my life. Despite all we had been through, the good moments shined brightest over all the bad. Once we reconnected I realized how much we both needed each other. She was going through some really dark times. I had no idea she had tried committing suicide a couple of times until after the fact. Had she ever done something like that when we weren’t talking I would’ve felt so guilty. I am so grateful she is in a better place now and has sacrificed so much for me to be able to have a happier life. She started the battle for me long before I understood it needed to happen.

 

Though a lot of the ice was broken for me it was really difficult to get over the fact that I didn’t have the same environment of support as my friends and peers had. My brother helped toughen me up over the years and I never really let my parents dictate what I did but it eventually starts getting to you. To come home daily and hear that you are worthless can take a toll on even the toughest people.  The only way to get over it is to keep chasing your dreams. Maybe one day when we achieve success with our own paths they’ll see its possible to be happy and successful.