Category Archives: Wanderings

I am exhausted

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Protecting the girl child is one of my pet causes, especially since so many girls die in this country with alarming regularity.
But as I grow older, I have moments when I feel it would have been better to have been a statistic rather than be a single woman in this decidedly un-modern society that I am unwittingly a part of. It’s as if I am not actually allowed to control my life (at least after a point).

[Yes I realise it’s a dramatic comparison but perceived privilege is worse than actually not having that privilege.]

I consider it a big crime when I read of mothers, mothers-in-law and other sundry women of a household who encourage their pregnant daughters and daughters-in-law to kill their babies. Despite all the expected troubles in the distant future for that daughter who is yet to come into this world, how can a woman actually do that?

But now when I see my mother and see how helpless she feels with a daughter who is supposedly independent, educated and reasonably self-sufficient, and not in the bracket where the reasons for actually killing the daughter arise, I wonder if this independence has any meaning at all.

I have the education, the ability and the capability to run my life. But when strange people call my parents and consolingly ask, if they (my parents) still have an unmarried daughter, I want to push them out the nearest window.

Yes, the independence is mine while all this angst is conditioning-driven but how does one go about disassociating one from the other? Every time? More than one person has told me that all this will affect me only to the degree I let it affect me. But I am still grappling with developing a thick skin, which no one really seems to know how to do.

I hate this peddling of my parents’ unmarried daughter. I hate what it does to them, and me.  I hate that they would willingly let me marry any man (which can be looked at a positive as “anyone will do, any religion too,” my mother says.. which again dumbfounds me) just so that I, and them more importantly, rid themselves of the stigma of an old, unmarried daughter.

I hate that, in this so-called progressive and modern and urban India, there is no place for single women. Progression implies you are ‘allowed’ to have a love marriage but also to snidely hear “but you haven’t found anyone, have you?” That’s exactly what I want — my parents picking this argument to fling in my face my failed relationship(s).

My mother does not have any answer to all my whys and that always brings us to a cusp where she has not even considered challenging conventionally held norms. I respect that but since this one involves my life, I can’t help but vociferously protest. “Why can’t you just get married before it gets too late..” is one refrain she never tires off.

She doesn’t realise why I get upset when strange women call and ask if I would be willing to marry men only because I am taller than the average girl or older than the average girl. Needless to say, we don’t gel is an argument my mother doesn’t understand.

I hate the fact that my married friends (well some, not most) turn around and demand to know why I am “not doing enough to get married.” Or “why I am not willing to compromise since now am in my 30s”. Or since it worked for them (the Russian roulette known as the arranged marriage market), why can’t I believe it will work for me?

These are people I grew up with and turns out we evolved and became people we don’t recognise anymore. It’s scary. It’s upsetting. It’s futile. Especially not having people who don’t even understand what you are saying, forget believing in what you believe.

Nothing today is a ‘one-size-fits-all’ so why is this situation any different?

I have a friend who comes from a relatively conservative background (only as reference since her mother and mine are identical when it comes to some demands). Some years ago there was a tremendous pressure on her married. Demands came in all forms including emotional blackmail of a parent admitted in the hospital. But she didn’t succumb. At that point I was ambiguous since I could see her worry and her parents’ suffering.

But today I am glad she stuck it out. Not that she is my moral comfort now, but I know despite intense degrees of emotional blackmail, she survived. It takes strength and conviction that being alone won’t completely derail you – something a lot of people would have you believe and is used as frequent initiator into marriage. “What will you do when you are 50?” is a favourite question when you say you aren’t sure you cut out for marriage, or at least marriage of this kind.

Like in most areas of my life, the pressure here too exceeds everything else. I should know what I want – whether it’s my job, my life or my marriage. I should actively seek it – clamour, fight, run and do what it takes to get it, grabbing every opportunity that comes my way.

Most of my interesting experiences and relationships have been because of one chance I took. A turn I made. It has almost always been unplanned and certainly not charted. I don’t have a rose-tinted vision of life and would like to believe when the turn comes, I will take it.  It will be my decision and one I will live with, positively or negatively.

But till then, this argument which often becomes a battle of wills, is becoming intolerable. With most people I can give it back but somehow not able to get through my parents. It’s a futile, recurrent argument which only leads to cold sulks, tears, hoarse throats and me making crazy declarations.

Would it have been better if I had just not been born?

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Best of 2009

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Just read a best of 2009 here, on a blog that actually got me hooked into the blog world. And I was tempted to try it myself.

2009 was in a sense a landmark year for me.

It was a year that made me realise truly that weight is just a number that can fluctuate one way or another and I inherently do not change as  a person. And if I don’t change, I owe it to myself to remain true to myself, no matter how I look.

I also realised that weight may be a just another number but more people noticed and commented and asked me how I was, now that I was thinner than they were used to seeing me. But that’s them. I am still who I was.

I made bread for the first time. And the happiness was unparalleled. So far. Nothing has me this ecstatic to see the sticky dough rise into a gleaming white dough and eventually bake into a dense loaf. Not even my first cake.

I discovered, just like challenges in cooking which I took up even though they scared me, that my ‘let’s try it’ attitude should be transposed on to other areas of my life. And just like cooking experiments, the results there also are mixed. But that’s the fun. I did, after all, make a second and third attempt at bread.

Twitter was another new addition in my life and I seem to have taken to it much more than any other social networking site. Its remarkably private and suitably succinct and the pressure to be popular isn’t that much. On most days. And it gives a new meaning to hyper.

I took once chance opportunity during the year and it exposed me to something I hadn’t considered at all. All of a sudden avenues seem to have opened up and am willing to give sleep and all other faves of mine, to actually work at something. And, for the firs time, whether it will work or not, is not bothering me. I know I need to and can do it. That’s all that matters.

I read more, spoke less, thought more, tried to verbalise without letting emotion get in the way, learnt to replicate the rush of a heady experience on bad days and am learning, to a point, to be positive and not kill my brain thinking.

Happy new year, again.

It’s time.

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Sometimes I wonder if circumstances reflect your mind.

Or you just see reason where there is none.

Spam bots send you mails that relate to the confusion in your mind.

People say things that otherwise would not make any sense to you.

And normal routines that rescue you every single time cannot help.

It’s time.

Conversation is such a turn on

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I miss my college days when a pair of us stayed awake nights oh-so-often,  and chatted. We always has so much to say. So much to tell each other. Our discussions almost never revolved around girly things and we came to many important conclusions. I loved the night.

On good days, startling clarity is achieved in those wee hours of the morning when a deliciousness steals over you, fueled by coffee, sugar and the knowledge that the next day will go without any rest. And you hoard all you heard and said while revelling in the hoarseness of the throat from having talked so much.

Classmates wondered what I always had to say that filled a night, so frequently and how I went without any sleep. There were days when I wondered too. Did we truly have so much to say and discuss? I thought it was something that I would outgrow with college.

As years passed, work dominated life more and more and there were fewer friends left, with whom I wanted to stay awake  with or even wanted to spend a night talking, in an non-alcoholic stupor.

It was a sad demise, I thought and wondered if that delicious tiredness would ever be felt again. There is nothing that compares to that next morning, when you remember all you discussed and argued over and bared your soul over.

The night is this fantastic blanket, under which you can say anything and nobody thinks differently of you in the morning, but something has still changed implicitly. To give an analogy, it’s like sex: when done under the garb of the night, things seem unchanged in the morning but yet something has altered on a fundamental level. Conversation is like that.

I am happy to announce that side of me is back. I am having the most amazing all-night conversations regularly. What’s even better is every time there are new people which is so much better than talking to people you know.

They say nostalgia is dangerous

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The reason this quote was coined was perhaps because you only remember the good, the rosy and the loved. The pain, anguish, heartache and mistrust — and every other thing negative — is all forgotten. That’s perhaps our way of retaining memories, only the nice, good things.

Does childhood fall under that ambit? Are our memories of childhood also coloured with nostalgia-coloured lenses? Because all I remember are the nasty things. Things I did, experienced, saw…

How I have said strange things to my friends (friends who are thankfully still my friends) — like I didn’t want to give water once because it would mean getting up and going upstairs, so I told her that water from home had finished. Or when Spider-Man came on, I told her I was going home because I wanted to watch it on a colour TV. Was I even thinking?

How, at least twice, I got to two friends to fight by deliberately creating misunderstandings between them. It was the beginning of the summer holidays and I remember thinking I would get each of them entirely to myself.

How I had a tee that said ‘My school only taught me from A to B’ [I still don’t know what my mother was thinking when she got me that] and how mercilessly I got teased for it.

How a friend once squished my budding breasts and it hurt and even then I realised that being a friend didn’t entitle him to do that. Today when I tell him, he says sorry. But he  went on to get the dubious distinction of the being my only known molester.

How I never got the spellings of twelve, cycle and Andheri right and how people younger to me then got it right, and yes, the teasing.

How, as little girls, wearing a dupatta meant I had arrived. My friend and I would spend afternoons playing with pieces of cloth.

How, every year, my neighbour went on vacation to her native place and had an exciting train journey and then spend another month playing in open fields and orchards  with big groups of cousins and how I hated the fact that I had such a small extended family and how my parents insisted on taking us to new locations every year. Why couldn’t we have a ‘native place’?

How summer play did not stop because of crushes and chemistry and boy and girl. We just played. But then one day we stopped and now when we cross those same boys with their wives and children, nobody even meets the eye. Me included.

I don’t remember when I exactly grew out of it  but there have been times when I have won the Full House on Housie or even gotten the Best Dancer in the building Garba ( I have to add here the others must have been terribly bad as I have no grace on the any kind of dance floor).

And one fine day I left it all behind.

I’d give all wealth that years have piled,
The slow result of Life’s decay,
To be once more a little child
For one bright summer day.
~Lewis Carroll, “Solitude”