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Hindi or Telugu expression of parental disappointment
gallo_de_pelea wrote in little_details
I'm making a comic with a main character who is the American-born first son of Indian immigrants. English, Telugu, some Urdu, and some Hindi are spoken around the home.

In the scene I'm currently working on, MC is speculating on best case and worst case scenarios of seeing his parents again after a major falling-out. When he's quoting what they might say (His line is "I can expect to hear a LOT of  [__phrase here__]"), I'd like to have him use an expression with the same sort of feeling as "where oh where did we go wrong?", that sort of melodramatic parental complaint.

Is there a common expression like this that could work? 

Thanks in advance. :)

[Google searched various combos of Hindi/Telugu/Hinglish parental/family expressions of disappointment/disapproval, and looked through a BUNCH of personal blogs by kids/young adults in similar households. No luck yet.]

err what did he do to disappoint them? something like, "arrey, beta," or "chi chi, beta" would be common to hear as expressions of exasperation or disapproval, but that's kind of conversational, chiding rather than complaining...

maybe something like "what all haven't we done for you?" (which would mean about the same as "after all we've done for you") - "tere liye kya kuch ne kiye?" (my grammar might be off. i'm south asian canadian, but my knowledge of hindi and urdu are second hand, from family friends and tv) (also not a question actually meant to be answered!)

oh right: arrey, beta = sort of, "come on, son"; "chi chi, beta" = sort of, "son, that's dirty/shameful/wrong"

He just recently came out to his family, which would have caused a big rift anyway, but it happened in a pretty explosive way, which made things worse.

I'd say 'chi, chi' is pretty mild for such a scenario. I can totally picture 'what haven't we done for you', though. Slight grammar correction - it's 'tere liye kya kuch nahi kiya'. All this is hindi, btw.

Thanks! I think that might work. His dad speaks Hindi more often than Telugu, and he's the one taking it worse. (His mom isn't OK with it by any means, but...)

FWIW, MC is saying the best case scenario probably involves a lot of being chastised for being selfish, and the worst case means being cut out of the family.

I'd expect a lot of "we gave birth to you/we raised you/we made so many sacrifices for you, and this is how you're repaying us?" There's a general sense of respect for elders in Indian culture, especially for one's own parents, and a sense that you should be grateful, obedient, and that you "owe" them for having taken care of you as a child. There's also a strong sense that maintaining family ties and group harmony is more important than individuality, so being gay might be seen as selfish or narcissistic, or even unimportant ("it doesn't matter what you want, you should still get married and have children" type of thing).

Here's a couple of relevant links:

I don't know what to tell you -- I just finished 7 months of Intensive Telugu, which means that according to my job I can function socially and professionally in it, but I learned from a very Hindu-nationalist, Brahmin teacher. According to her, many South Indian families just don't say things like that, because they have a cultural belief that whatever you say will come to pass and really avoid negative words. Of course, my teacher may be generalizing from her own upbringing, but when we talked specifically about gay children and people in India she said that in her experience most parents would kind of just perplexedly ignore the issue unless very directly forced to confront it. I'd expect he'd hear a lot of "Aiyiyo!" which is the general Telugu expression of exasperation and disapproval, but it's kind of milder and less specific than I think you're looking for.

I don't know... hopefully someone else from a Telugu perspective will comment because now I'm all extra curious!!


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