Reaching For A Low Sky

“And what will you say when he asks since when you’ve been unwell?”
“Since yesterday afternoon.”
“And when he asks if you’ve taken any medication?”
“I took some cough syrup.”
At this point, a grin would spread across his face. This scene has been played out so many times in our home that I know what is coming. My fever-parched throat readies itself to whine, call out to my mother.
“And what will you say when the doctor asks when you’re getting married?”
“Mommy!” I shout out to her to let her know of my irritation that has nothing to do with my illness.
Mommy comes over, smiling at my father’s “dreams” of his daughter’s far-off wedding day. Dreams he has begun to have when the daughter in question is seven.
“Your daddy’s just teasing. But one day you’ll have to go.” Her smile turns wistful. The father of the future bride barks out a laugh.

My brother was never teased this way. His fevers and coughs were just fevers and coughs. His visits to the doctor did not have prospective alliances looming over them, brides lurking around in their trousseau. His doctors were never equated to matchmakers waiting for eligible bachelors to fall ill.

Parents, armed with their bedtime fairy tales and their “good-natured ribbing”, are essentially salespeople. And good ones at that. Fairy tales tell you the damsel met her prince and they lived happily ever after. That is the height of your heroine’s aspirations. The ceiling, the sky. For instance, in my dad’s hypothetical scenario, never once does the doctor ask if I maybe wanted to become a doctor myself. Or anything, other than “Would you like a groom with your prescription?

This height of aspirations, not seeing beyond the “happily ever after”, was perfectly summarized in another conversation from my childhood. The youngest one in our group loved (and I mean LOVED!) to play the bride in our games. Just the bride, mind you. She was quite young, a kindergartner at the time if I remember correctly. Our neighbor’s daughter, who was in college, often came over to pinch our cheeks when she saw us playing. One day, she asked the little one why she liked playing the role of the bride. She whispered something into the older girl’s ear, whereupon her eyes widened theatrically and she exclaimed, “Haaye main marr jaawaan!” This roused our curiosity, and after we demanded, “Didi, usne kya kaha? What did she say?!” a few times, Didi revealed to us that, “Use sajne ka shauk hai. She loves to dress up.

That is honestly all that’s sold to us. And that is enough. It leads to a lifetime of insecurities and doubts on self-worth, creating scared little girls whose only ambition is to be a bride someday. (Note how I say “bride” and not “wife”) And why? Because it’s nice to dress up? Play a bedecked and bejewelled centrepiece as a linear continuation of our childhood games?

Now you could argue that this limit on women’s aspirations is a thing of the past. After all, both the examples above are from my childhood. And that now, girls are encouraged to choose other, better ambitions than settling down unwillingly into someone else’s life and getting lost in it. If you believe this, then I’m here to shatter those beliefs (as much as I wish you were right)

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Image Source

These magazine covers are from September 2016.

This is just the beginning of a certain kind of conditioning that states your main aim is to look pretty. That’s your ladder. It starts at a young age and something we carry into adulthood. An unmarried woman past a certain age is automatically labeled a failure, even if she’s the CEO of a company. She’s labeled “angry”, “aggressive”, “frustrated”. Never “successful”. Never “fulfilled” or “happy”. The world cannot compute even the possibility. The world has not taught the woman to aspire to this happiness, this success. How dare she? 

Then there are some of those (I’m struggling to not use expletives here) who complain, “But if women really could do better than they are now, why are all the famous scientists men?” These people need to be high-fived. In the face. With Thor’s hammer. (Then they would probably ask why Thor is male, but that’s just not an argument that’s worth getting into.)

When girls as young as eight are taught that their whole worth depends on their “swimsuit bodies”, it teaches them that their priorities are different. There are others who do not even have the advantage of a decent education. There are definitely those who go against their conditioning and against these obstacles. But the ones who’ve just been hit with the hammer have never heard of them. Cherry picking exists everywhere.

As for the “happily ever after”, if there’s a more guilt ridden position than “wife”, I’ll be happy to hear it. If you work, you’re guilty. If you don’t, you still are. If you have friends and a social life, you’re guilty. If you don’t, you still are. There’s guilt anywhere you turn, because you are always expected to be a certain way and somehow, you are always failing to meet those expectations. To use my own example, I’ve lost count of the hints that have been dropped around me that it’s now “time to quit my job and take care of the household”. Ridiculous as it sounds, it appears that I’m a rebel of sorts just because I go for work.

It’s taken me years, but I’m finally learning to let go of the “wife guilt”. Letting go of it one wedding bangle at a time. It’s taken me even more years, but I’m unlearning my “Cinderella Complex”. My “Snow White Complex”. My “Hell-literally-any-fairy-tale-with-a-prince-and-damsel-in-distress Complex”. I won’t deny that I suffered from it – it was a part of my upbringing. It is all I heard every time I fell ill, every time I changed schools, every time a family friend came to visit. Every time I was reminded that I was a cumbersome responsibility that my parents had to shed. All of these expectations that didn’t even lead to a cute dress up party, as my little friend claimed a long time ago, but a disappointing, underwhelming experience (which I wrote about here). 

When I wrote the above-linked post, in his comments, Marty Rubin pointed out that women give up so much of their freedom when they get married. It occurred to me that though we all know this to be true in most cases, we still go ahead without a second thought because it never crosses our minds to negotiate better for our future. We put a lid on our dreams because of the fears that have been instilled in us. We don’t even realize it at the time, because our minds have been warped into believing that we’re meeting the ambition that was set for us from childhood.

Why are we doing this to little girls?


This is the Women’s Day week and I’ve written this post as a part of #WomenOfBlogging. If you’ve written a post about this theme, please add it to the Linky:

Edit: The Linkup Widget isn’t appearing on my blog. If you have written a post for #WomenofBlogging, in addition to adding it to the Linky, please drop a comment below as well. Thanks!

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Mr. Heckles and I

H joined our team at work a couple of years ago and disliked me almost instantly. I say “almost” because at first (during the first week at least), she tried hard to force her way into our group. We were a tad cliquey back then, but polite nevertheless – after all, we all knew how intimidating it is to be the new team member (plus, we were adults – cliques do not exist in the kingdom of adulthood). But seeing just how hard she was trying made us suffer from secondhand embarrassment – she monopolized conversations, gave out too much personal information, invited herself to our little outings without being asked.

It became apparent that H had some kind of a problem with me specifically. I was assigned to train her; she was hierarchically above me, but I’d spent more time with the project. I suspect her dislike stemmed from her considering me “unqualified” to train her – despite my tenure with the team, I was still the youngest. She made her displeasure about it known quite vocally multiple times, in multiple crowds, in multiple terms. She also often put me down because I was married, and a mom, and according to her “unsuitable in the workforce due to these reasons”. Talk about unfeminist!

Her dislike grew because I was no less vocal than she once I started noticing her behavior, which had, by then, turned badly unprofessional. The others were quite diplomatic in the way they handled her; I’m not particularly adept in that department. Later on, the others too dropped their pretenses, except my friend B, who was by then the only one still polite to her. B is a good person that way.

Just a few months after being with us, H decided to quit. I was overcome with guilt, and began to wonder if I should have done something differently, tried harder to be nice in the face of her hostility (instead of paying her back in her own coin). I’m pretty sure there’s a list somewhere of people who hate me vehemently, and I’ve always found their hate amusing. So this was no inherent need in me to be liked by all. Why this uncharacteristic change of heart in her case then? Out of fear.

I found out that she liked Howard Roark, on whom I’d had a huge crush at one point (as huge as crushes on fictional characters go – in many a fantasy, I have wished I was Dominique Francon). I tried to use our mutual affection for Roark to extend an olive branch. She (obviously) did not reciprocate, at which point, I was filled with a cold dread that led to this conversation between B and me:

Me: Oh my God, she’s Mr. Heckles. She’s my Mr. Heckles. And I’m Chandler.

B: What rubbish! What makes you even think that? The two of you have nothing in common. 

Me: She likes Howard Roark. I don’t know anyone else who does. Except me.*

B: Big deal! She’s not Mr. Heckles. You’re not Chandler.

Me (borderline hysterical): The woman is always complaining about me. When I look at her, I see myself ten years down the line – bitter, miserable, bitching about people. What if I really turn into her? What if I die alone like Mr. Heckles?

B (pretty annoyed at this point): You’re not gonna die alone. Shut up now.

*There were other things which I mentioned – but let’s not elaborate.

This seems melodramatic to me now, but back then, I was convinced beyond all reason that a fate filled with jealousy and loneliness (and dying alone) awaited me. As you already know, in spite of knowing better, the influence of certain situations/people has often clouded the way I think and led me to believe strange things. I genuinely began to see her as a future version of me. Maybe that was my guilt talking. Maybe I was more affected by her hate that I needed to be.

That’s not the only reason why I never forgot her either (I had a moment a few months ago where I couldn’t recollect her name, but it came back to me eventually). Just a few months after H quit, I did too. Since then, I’ve been landing only in projects/organizations that do not have a team structure for my role (what a weird coincidence), and therefore I do not have any opportunities to mingle with people. I don’t do well when I don’t talk to others – I’m just programmed that way (unhealthy co-dependence and a need to yak with people whom I’m on similar wavelengths with) – and this explains my (joke of a) career graph in the past two years. When I think about that, the guilt resurfaces. Followed by the fear.

What do you think, Reader? Do you ever get accosted by fears like mine? 

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Linking to #ChattyBlogs

Edit: Added #ChattyBlogs badge.

Decisions at a (Metaphorical) Gun Point

I had life all figured out as a six year old. There was nothing to it – you grew up, became an adult, and then everything would be at your fingertips. Quite simple.

It was as I grew older that I felt I was losing fragments of my grand plan, and that things weren’t as transparent as they seemed. This led to maturity giving way to immaturity. Like I’m Benjamin Button, but on the inside. Frankly, I was at the peak of my maturity and ambition at age six.

How did I get here?

There’s a reason why we are told to make decisions with a cool head. The reason being, the decisions we make at a metaphorical gun point are often terrible.

Depression does not allow you to have a cool head. It is a permanent gun pointed at you when you have it. Your actions seem mechanical and you feel you’re just going through the motions. At the same time, there’s an incessant restlessness in you, a tingling in your feet that tells you to run away, do something reckless just so that something happens and you feel something. Anything to forget what’s hurting you; anything to feel anything else.

In December, I made some poor choices out of the desperation that comes from being there – I got back in touch with a group of people I had broken ties with because I intensely dislike their hypocritical and negative outlook towards life [it drains your energy right out], just so I could have someone to talk to. I was so terrified of the fact that if someone did not tie me up, I might harm myself, and my future looked so blank and bleak (mostly blank) that I just wanted someone from the future to come and tell me everything was going to be OK. Reassurance. I wanted to take a trip, just to get away from everything. I wanted to relocate to a different city, because I felt claustrophobic over here all of a sudden.

I held myself back.  For once I let lessons learnt in the past rule me. While I did reconnect with the people I mentioned above, and also may have said/done some borderline imbecilic things, I did not let myself make any decisions that would in the long run have severe repercussions. I decided to give myself a month to “calm down” so to speak.

A month later, the immediate restlessness had subsided and I collected my follies from the previous month. Whatever hurt me then was still hurting, but not in a slice-your-heart-open way. I was definitely calmer, could sleep better, and while I still desperately wanted to see a therapist and get help, I was stopped by the doubts I have on the competencies of Indian therapists, given some less than satisfactory experiences I had had in the past [If anyone reading this has a recommendation, I would surely welcome it]. I considered a career change, and when nothing came to light, and I began to feel restless and directionless again. I did the only thing that I could think of then – call up my oldest friend in the middle of the night and cry (this is not alarming – she’s used to it by now, I think).

My friend and I look alike; everyone tells us so. When my son was a year old, he met her and was confused as hell. It is because of this that when I look at her, I think of her as me in a parallel universe – a universe where I have not made the mistakes I’ve made. I always looked up to her for her independence and her levelheadedness. She never bowed down to parental pressure (yet another gun point of sorts) and has so far made a good path for herself. So imagine my shock when I was crying that night about how lost I was feeling and she replied with, “Dude, we’re all lost.” Of course, I insisted I was more lost, and that at least she had a plan. Turns out she also did not have a plan. No one has a plan.

In any case, having a plan negates everything I believe in. But I had assumed as a six year old that by now, I would be thirty and thriving. Instead I’m thirty and confused. Which is frightening, because a decade ago, I was twenty and confused. I have said it before that nearly every mistake I’ve made in the past twelve years can be traced back to one great mistake. So while I still do not have a plan, contrary to what I had hoped for at the end of my previous post, and may never have one, what I do have is an idea: to retrace my steps to that one great mistake, and start over.

Let’s see where this goes.

The Heavier Expectations

A few weeks ago, I was discussing Past life regression with an acquaintance. While I was always interested in the study of the mind, and the subconscious, and Freud’s theories, past life regression is a wholly new area for me. I had, of course, heard of it, but it was not something I gave much thought to. To me, until then, reincarnation, or past life, or the manifestations of accumulated karma were a largely religious concept, and therefore something to be dismissed as hokum. They were also, to some extent, a Bollywoodesque idea, that had run its course somewhere in the 90s.

No matter, because the idea was still intriguing, and I have to say, all of a sudden, I wanted to know if I had lived lives before. Wait. I’d be lying if I said the idea took root when the discussion happened. The fact is, I had been curious about past lives ever since I read Ashwin Sanghi’s The Rozabal Line, back in 2009. It has come and gone like a whiff every now and then since then. If such a thing exists, then I’d like to know something about it. Anything. It is difficult not to romanticize about it once the idea has planted itself.

But this particular discussion dug its toes deeper into my head. Suddenly, I was googling past life regression in the middle of the night, in the midst of a splitting headache, and reading all I could find on the subject. I dreamed up all kinds of scenarios, where I sat with a practitioner and discovered who I was, and dramatically discovered my relationships with those who are in my present life. Most prominently though, I secretly harbored this fantasy that I would discover I was Sylvia Plath or Anais Nin in a past life. A girl can dream, eh?

One of the articles I read said that the only people who are advised to perform past life regression are those who feel there is something lacking in their present life, or those who are trying to find the root cause of a problem or emotion. I have always felt this strange sense of “not belonging”. Not to this world, not to this period in time. Always a little lost, always searching for “home.” Always trying to figure something out. I have written several posts about this as well. This explains the Sylvia Plath fantasy!

The reason why I am a writer today is partly because I have been trying to explore these questions. On the other hand, I believe writers must keep an open mind – to all hypotheses, to all ideas, to all experiences. I also believe writers must give in to instincts and emotions. Writers grow through excesses. The excesses they fit into their short attention spans. The whys. The hows. The alrights. The welcomes. The loves. The lusts. The harmonys. The cordialitys. The honestys. The opennesses. The acceptances. The understandings.

The being.

My error was, however, I bracketed all writers into these open-minded souls. I forgot, at the end of the day, we are humans. Humans with our pettiness and our general smallness of mind. I went out into the world expecting the same openness from everyone around me, placing the burden of my heavy expectations on their broad but weak shoulders.

Where I went looking for open-mindedness, I found the same kind of world I sought to abandon – closed, small souls, calling themselves creators but being nothing more than lice trying to trample each other on one head of hair. Angry souls. Dishonest souls. Backstabbing souls. Lonely and afraid souls. Friendless souls. Judgmental souls. Mocking souls.

Not souls. They were mere humans.

I went looking for people, who, perhaps felt as lost as I. I believed I would find the honesty and humility I was looking for in a crooked world. That maybe, in being among my own kind, or who I thought were my own kind, I would find myself. That together, we would better ourselves. Instead, all I found was a subset of the same people who already thought they were higher than the rest simply because they could string sentences one after the other. Who I found were those looking for instant fame. Writers on the outside, nosey, obnoxious neighbours on the inside.

Not writers. They were mere marketers.

Often, even in friendships, my expectations of others have been too great a weight for them to bear. Perhaps, this is an extension of it, and perhaps, this feeds my somewhat dormant misanthropy. It cushions the disappointments that come my way.

I wonder if I were to actually do the regression (since that is, after all, what we were discussing), what would I find about myself that would explain my boredom? What would I find that would stop me from placing so many expectations on simple-minded folk who do not deserve it.

 

The Women That Contribute To Male Chauvinism

A few weeks before my wedding, my mother decided to give me “the talk.” Now I know what you’re thinking but my mother is an Indian woman with her Indian sensibilities. Her opening line was, “If you dry roast all the masalas for a few minutes until the raw smell goes, the dish will taste better.”

Believe me, that’s no euphemism.

After her instructions on spicing up my (ahem) curries, she told me the following words to live by that I never lived by, “A man’s ego needs to be constantly stroked. Keep flattering him every now and then.” She further went on to add that there is no harm in apologizing at times even if he was at fault, because “men are like stubborn children” (well, I agree to some extent to that bit in quotes).

Luckily for me, the Mr. had by then seen me at my nicest, and also during my absolute vampiric worst, when he knew the safest way to approach me was to hand me hot beverages held on one end of a stick, while standing preferably two rooms away. His sans-moustache-Rhett-Butler attitude preferred someone who spoke her mind over someone who mindlessly flattered him, and thus was qualified to handle me at my best.

What about all the other girls whose mothers have told them the same thing? How are they happy with the “Oh, Johnny Bravo, you da best!” line even at times when he is being only ok? The sad bit is how they do it in hopes of something in return – often a little material something. When I tell my husband he makes the best prawn curry in the world, it is simply because he does. Not because I expect shoes in return.

Women are conditioned – by the world, by their mothers – to keep buttering men up. They are encouraged to bow their head, not make noise, handle the household, quit their jobs. If your husbands are kind enough to let you retain your jobs, then by no means earn more than him, or even equal to him – you are threatening him and his fragile ego. So used are women to being treated as second class human beings that they have led themselves to believe a man who walks all over them is what they want and need. Such is the extent of this belief that they shy away from wanting equality and become eternal male pleasers. Such is their need to be approved by the Alpha Male, that they would rather join a fight for male superiority than demand equal rights. This okayness to be trampled upon is something I’ll never get. What they require is not a companion to share dreams, make plans with and enjoy a lifetime with, but a protector whose classless jokes about nagging wives they can demurely smile at. There are women who have gone so far to believe that by keeping their husbands chests pumped, essentially they are the ones benefitting. Right, what benefits are we referring to here? Again, the little treats?

And the mothers of these great men in our lives – they probably contribute more to male chauvinism than any testosterone fueled mainstream feature film. All a boy has heard growing up is how privileged he is simply because he is a boy and how he will always have more and better opportunities than his sister. At social gatherings, the proud mommies will show off their sons’ successes, much to the envy of everyone within earshot. The same mommies measure their daughters’ successes differently – how much the sons in law earn, or where they work – USA or UAE or Uranus – the fancier the better. And the poor misguided daughters believe that what they want is not success of their own, but a successful man, who can – and we’re back to this statement – buy trinkets! The only other measure they have for their daughters’ successes is how much dowry they gave the groom (dowry-abolishment-laws-are-for-losers, hashtag YOLO). The same daughters teach the same to their “privileged sons” and “substandard daughters.” And so the cycle continues.

Once the Mr. told me that a colleague advised him about “keeping women under control.” Then I told him about the general belief around a man’s constant need for validation and flattery. Then we shook our heads and had a good laugh. Because when you marry someone, you’re looking at a friend and an equal partner. You laugh your heart out at ironies. You are not marrying the Colossus of Rhodes and you do not smile abashedly at his embarrassing spanks on your shoulder in the presence of his drinking buddies. Have some pride!

We all have a very small space in eternity, if you ask me. Instead of fighting for dominion, we should be treating ourselves equal, laughing more often, hugging tightly, and kissing sweetly. Instead we have turned our pathetic lives into a battleground. Funny, only by the time we die in this battleground, we’ll realize there are no winners.

 

The Rarity Of Niceties

The best thing about being a fresher at a company is that for a brief while, right from your first day to the day you get your first salary, you feel you own the damn place. You walk with your chest pumped up with pomp and your nose turned up; the latter being especially true when you see college kids (“Huh! Silly little children!”) All that haughtiness lasts until your first pay-cheque shows you your place in the food chain and that pumped up chest deflates like a hot air balloon with a hole in it.
I remember getting my first salary – truth be told, I wasn’t too disheartened, cos I was just too excited about finally “owning” some money that my dad didn’t give me with a “Go, buy something nice.” But a couple of my friends, I remember distinctly, said the following words, “This salary won’t help us at all! We need to refer some friends and get the referral bonus.” Fairly simple plan, as was told to us during our induction: Send us the CV of your friend. We will hire him/her. You will get half of your referral bonus at the time he/she joins, and the remaining once he/she has completed three months with the organization.
All bonuses should be so easy. Except that there were flaws with this plan:

1) All our friends already had better jobs
2) The company would have found reasons to reject them even if you referred them (“We liked your friend; but the locality she lives in is known to have stray dogs and the cab driver’s boss is allergic. We can’t have the transport department going on strike because of your friend now, can we?”)

Anyway, like anyone else, I quit my first job, moved to Bangalore and was quite happy like a quacking duck when one of my closest friends from college asked me to refer her for a position at my organization. Now here’s the thing: a less exaggerated version of flaw # 2 above still held true. I had learned this because a number of people had asked me to refer:
-their third cousins
-boyfriends of the girls who had friendzoned them (them here being the person asking me to refer the boyfriend)
-the husband of a girl who they had heard of from a noisy aunt at a temple
-etc.

None of them made it of course, cos that’s just how things work, no matter what the colorful mailers about successful referrals tell you. But this here was my friend, someone who mattered to me, someone who had made my rather turbulent journey through college more pleasant. I could have (in retrospect – I should have) given her all the reasons above and told her referral is a waste of time, but instead I tried my luck, on her shoulders.

After months of going back and forth, and several mailers to me and several telephonic rounds with her, nothing really seemed to be happening. Every now and then I would get a rejection mail and two weeks later I would get an “interview rounds initiation” mail. This went on from 2013 to 2015. I could say seasons changed while I waited (actually, while she waited), but I won’t cos seasons literally changed and not just once. So instead of using an overused, hyperbolic metaphor, I’ll tell you this: I went from being a happy and satisfied employee (yes, they exist!) to an employee who just gave a three months’ notice of resignation.

It must have been a week after I resigned that I got a text my friend who said some guy from the HR department called her saying she will have a final round of discussion shortly. She asked me to check with the guy cos it had been a while since the call and she hadn’t heard anything back. She had his phone number but not his name. I looked it up on Truecaller and I pinged him via messenger. He was, to say the least, rather intolerant of my one simple doubt, “At what stage is the interview process right now?” Maybe he didn’t wanna divulge it, maybe it was against some corporate policy. But his answer was rather……

Me: At what stage is the interview process right now?
He: I have documented it and sent it
Me: Sent it to whom?
He: I DON’T KNOW
Me: How can you not know whom you sent something to?
He: This is not working! Call me.

And call him I did. Now before I tell you about how that conversation went lemme tell you, the guy was a fresher (from his designation) based in Gurgaon. Here’s something about the guys from Gurgaon (add to that pomp-pumped chest), they always start a conversation with a stranger with a fake accent. Why, men of Gurgaon? We all know you do it, and we all know it isn’t real, and what we all also know, but you clearly don’t is – it sounds hilarious. So I knew even before I touched the “Dial” option on my screen that I was gonna be greeted with:

“‘Aleuw?”

I was.

But here’s the thing about fake accents. You think you’re trying to be (insert appropriate word here) but 30 seconds into the conversation, you start sounding like a… well, like a guy from Gurgaon.
He said about everything possible to prove his point of how he does not know whom he sent the documentation to, which mainly consisted of the following two sentences, “I SANT IT ALL-RADDY! I SANT IT LUST WIKK ONLY!” Oh well, to whom?! At least tell me the information is confidential, you moron!!!

Then he said the words that I will never forget and I swear to Satan I will never forgive him for:

“You are just worried about your referral bonus.”

Here’s what was wrong with that:

1) I was only worried about my friend’s job interview, cos back in 2013, I thought we might end up working together.
2) I HAD RESIGNED ALREADY, DOOFUS!!! You’re from HR!!!

I don’t usually fly into rages at work, because I believe rage is an emotion and emotions have no place at the workplace (that’s also why I limit my friends to one or two in office). Yes, I believe this despite being a highly emotional person everywhere else and at all other times. But this. This made me wanna catch the next flight to Gurgaon, battle whatever shit that goes on in that city of wannabes, and break his fucking neck.

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Ok, so I was saying that I got a little upset.

I did not wanna continue the conversation, so I simply hung up on him. I was emotionally charged and drained at the same time sad and didn’t really wanna do anything after that. I sat there till evening, went home, feeling like the saddest zombie to have ever walked the face of the earth. I wanted to call up my friend and tell her to just forget about it. But I did not even have the heart to do that. If I may add, I just went to my room and cried like a teenager. All because a guy implied I was referring my friend only for my own monetary benefit. (All Gurgaon guys reading this just flashed a smile of triumph to each other)

The next day I reached out to his manager and said “Your reportee was extremely rude and unprofessional.” She simply, diplomatically defended his ass.

I don’t get it – do we simply do things for monetary gains? Is there always an ulterior motive when someone is being nice to you? I mean, yes, the only selfish interest I had in this matter was wanting to work with my friend, and the only reason I followed up with the douchebag is because I was answerable to her, as her only contact in this matter. But aren’t people nice like that anymore? What was the basis of his question? I am no saint, but that, the very memory of that question riles me to this moment.

The (In)Complete Woman?

As human beings, we need not agree with each other on every topic. Differences of opinion arise and that is only natural. Most definitely, when I disagree with someone, I refrain from making comment, lest it turn into an argument, and I suck at arguments, irrespective of whether I am right or wrong. Because my should-have-been-used-in-that-argument statements come to my mind only three days after the argument!
Hence, when I saw a certain tweet, though I disagreed vehemently, I said nothing about it to the person. Cos what is uglier (and stupider) than a loud public argument? A loud public argument on social media! I do not remember the handle that tweeted it (it was retweeted by someone I used to follow) nor the exact words (and even if I did, I would not post it here without the permission of the said person), but it was along the following lines:

“I do not understand women who do not want to have babies. A woman’s purpose on earth is to have children and without that she is incomplete.”

Now before all of you reading this turn into sword-wielding warriors with your gaalis and your “Saale male chauvinist, teri toh #$^%&^&“, take a step back while I tell you – this was tweeted by a woman. I went something like this:

Pic: Newslaundry.com

But after I got over the initial trauma of reading that tweet and swallowing a lot of anger that came with it, I started wondering if all women thought this way and why is it that a woman is considered complete only if she has a child, whereas a man can get off the hook by simply wearing a Raymond suit.

I do not need to repeat this, but as a country, we are embarrassingly hush-hush about the “activity-that-must-not-be-named.” Despite that, whenever heavy jewellery-laden auntijis meet a newly wedded couple, their first question almost always is, “Did you do the activity-that-must-not-be-named and are you going to carry forward the human race shortly, in say, nine months?” What if the embarrassed couple replies, “We do not want children.” This happens:

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Once their collective breaths are released, the relatives are quick to blame the woman. She must be career-oriented, she must be barren (what a lovely word!), she must be this-that, he must not love her! And the boy is advised, insensitively, to marry another “homely” girl.What if it was the man’s decision to not have kids? No one asks him and he does not need to bear the brunt of the asshole who refused to take the family name forward. It must be the woman.

Called colorful names by everyone she meets and the husband is portrayed as the victim influenced by this corporate bitch!

Then there are couples who love children and really want to have them. But for whatever reasons, they cannot. This is extremely sad, because as fate would have had it, these are the people who would have made great parents, simply because of their shared love of children. My heart goes out to these couples. But – in situations like this, the only explanation is – the woman is barren. The man in question is irreproachable, faultless, (invincible, even!) with an enviable army; but the woman is probably shooting down the army and winning the war.

Insulted by everyone she meets and the husband is told constantly what a disappointment of a woman he has married.

Are children only a woman’s concern? Must children compulsorily be a concern? Do women have no identity outside of slaving for their kids (without complaining, but getting a truckload in return)? Is a woman only worth the children she bears (though the children take the father’s surname)? Is a woman without children “incomplete” as the lady I mentioned at the beginning of this post pointed out? When a woman declares she does not want to have children, why is the only sound in the vicinity the chirping of a distant sparrow?

Isn’t an individual, whoever he/she is, the one with the liberty to decide what completes them – children, dogs, art, whatever! Why the stigma of “Have kids or remain an adhuri kahani for the rest of your miserable life?”

What I don’t understand is, dear lady whose Twitter handle I don’t remember nor care to, in the over-populated world we live in, that may collapse any time, is choosing to not have children really such a bad idea?