The term ‘you’ is a universal term in the English language in the sense that you can use it independently of the person’s sex, age, position, etc. You may be calling out a boy or a girl, your boss or your subordinate; it is still ‘you’. This however, is not the case when it comes to Hindi. In Hindi there are two different terms, namely ‘Tu’ and ‘Aap’. ‘Tu’ is used when addressing some one of the same age/position as yourself or lower while ‘Aap’ is used for someone who is older and/or commands respect.
Long time ago I was watching a movie with mom when the lead character while talking to his mother, addressed her as ‘Tu’. I began to take notice of this and observed that in many cases the father would be addressed as ‘Aap’ while the mother was addressed as ‘Tu’. This had me totally miffed, and I asked mom why it was acceptable to address the father with more respect than the mother as both are equally parents to a child and cheekily asked if I should be calling her ‘Tu’ now. She thought over it a bit and said that because kids bond over more with their mom while they are bring brought up instead of dad, they think of mom as a friend and confidante and hence address her as ‘Tu’.
I raised a brow in apprehension and asked her what about the families where kids bond with their dads too, and consider him as friends. To that we don’t have an answer. In fact kids don’t bond with dad so much (because the dad is away due to work or other reasons such as resting after being back from Over time , social activities, etc.) he is more of a distant character. As one never gets to have as free a hand with him as mom, and must behave in his presence to not disturb him, he commands more respect and gets addressed as ‘Aap’. Which is also why you will have many people who refer to their moms as Ma, mom, etc, but refer to their dad as Pitaji, Babuji, and so on with the ji being added to convey respect.
This however is not just the matter of kids addressing their parents but a matter of the dynamics of a man and woman in a relationship. I have seen couples call each other ‘Tu’ before marriage and have the girl shift to calling the guy ‘Aap’ post marriage. Many a times he doesn’t have to ask to be called so, but the wife calls him so by default. In the event that she calls him ‘Tu’ as an equal (because horror of horrors, a wife and husband are to be equal in their relationship), someone from the family or friends will take her aside and go “HAAAWWW!! You should call your husband Aap, show some respect.”
You get many people who tell the wife to show the husband respect. Show some respect, yes, but why should she not be respected as well?
For those of you who are wondering, I still call address mom with an ‘Aap’