I’ve Done My Time…No Thank You, I Don’t Want My Grandchild To Live With Me

I’ve Done My Time…No Thank You, I Don’t Want My Grandchild To Live With Me

Shashikala – The Unknown Feminist

For the past few minutes the doorbell was incorporated as part of my dream. Finally, after it rang for some time, I realized it is not a dream and I need to get up and open the door.

Shashikala walked in.

“Goodmorning Didi.” She said in her usual chirpy voice.

“Hmm.” I replied coldly. She had not come to work the day before. I was giving her the silence treatment.

“Didi, I will make chicken for you today,” she said trying to lure me with my favourite food.

“No need! There is a lot of leftover from yesterday!” I gave a cold reply again.

“Ok Didi!”

The silent treatment did not seem to be working. She either did not understand I was mad or she did not care. I broke my cold war and blurted out:

“Look at all those dirty dishes! I had guests over yesterday! And you just ditched me! I had told you not to take an off for these two days! Your work is the last priority for you. You took an off to look after your friend!! She does not have anyone? You have to disrupt your work to attend to her?”

“No Didi.  She is not my friend.”

“Oh so what neighbor? Stranger! Even better! You come to work only after you have solved all of humanity’s problems.”

“She is his first wife….”

Shashikala was married off when she was about 18. Her husband was abusive. He used to take all her money for alcohol and beat her up.  In the next five years, she had two sons until one fine day he just left.  After a couple of years he showed up again, asking for his children.  Shashikala refused to give them up. He told her he is doing well in life and would be in a better position to support the kids. She said she does not want to live with him.  A compromise was made. The husband took her elder son. She kept the younger one.

A kind aunt of hers thought that it is time she remarried.  The prospective groom was okay with having her son around. So Shashikala agreed. Once the marriage was solemnized, she was in for another shock. This man was already married, something she had no idea about.  The first wife was still living there.  Shashikala left him and came back with her son.

Now, she lives with her younger son. The elder son (who is with his father) is in a hostel and he visits her sometimes. Both the husbands show up at her house once in a while to create some drama!

Her story came flashing back in my mind.

What happened to her!” I asked her. The anger was now replaced with curiosity.

“He came the night before to eat. He said that she has not been keeping well so there is no one to cook for him. You know he is very selfish Didi. He did not even take her to the doctor. She was in pain. So I went there. Took her to the hospital. Got her the medicines. Cleaned her house. And cooked some food.”

“Why do you care so much about her?”

“Unknowingly I did her wrong Didi! I married her husband and hurt her! This is the least I can do.”

I read a lot of articles online. The latest trend is romanticizing cheating. I have seen a lot of reputed publications publish articles on cheating and how it is all about “being in the moment”, “living your life”,  “love and sex are different things”, “it just happens” and other such excuses. When I express my disgust in the comments some cool people respond,“Why are being so judgmental”, “To each to his own”. It seems we have no idea how to be progressive.

Here is a woman who did not exactly have a smooth life. One bad marriage is enough to break a person. She had two! It could have been convenient for her to bitter. But she chose not to. She had self-respect. She did not take back her first husband when he came back. She left the second husband the moment she found out he is already married.

But these things did not change who she is as a person. It did not change the kindness within her. The kindness that made her feel the physical and emotional pain of another woman.

Yes, good women uplift other women. They hold their head high in times of turmoil. They do not let the unhappiness in their lives change their judgment, and conscience.

Shashikala, you are a feminist to me.  You may not get any recognition.  But you have taught me one thing:

We are who we are. No matter what happens in life, there is no excuse to cause someone pain. There is no reason to not live by our principles.

 

To The Geet Without Aditya Kashyap And the Queen Without The International Vacation – Part IV

This is my fourth article in the series. The first one was very general. The second article was on divorce.  The third article was about getting over a relationship that never quite existed (to the other person). This article is about moving on. No nothing drastic happens here. I will never preach something that is not doable! She will not find Aditya Kashyap or go on an international vacation. Moving on to me is not a decision. Just like falling in love is not a choice. It is a feeling.

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Move on!

He has moved on! You should too!

It has been seven months!

Geet had heard this so many times. It was embarrassing. She thought of herself as a strong woman. People around her thought she was strong too.  Anshuman had made her weak. Desperate. Desperate to have him back.

Time is the best healer, they say. How is this true? It is not just the moment he left that is painful, but every day and moment after that. When he is not there. At least the day he had left, she had hope. Hope that they would meet again. She had imagined conversations. Things she would say to him. Things he would say back. They would bump into each other somewhere. This is what happens in movies, right? People always came back. Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.

Something else would happen. It could not possibly be the end.

But it was. It was over. It had been seven months. She had not seen him. He never called. He never texted. She never bumped in to him. His going away seemed so permanent now.  It was not just the loss that hurt, but the experience of watching him leave. The memory of him saying that he did not want to be with her anymore.

Geet would look at other couples at restaurants. A guy with his arm around his girlfriend. Anshuman always did that. Whenever they would enter or leave a restaurant he would put his arm around her. He wanted everyone to know she was his.  She used to wear pretty, sexy dresses while she was with him. But the moment they would leave to reach the car parking, he would say, ‘Wear your jacket’. ‘It is called shrug, not jacket!’ She would tell him. ‘Put on your shawl’. ‘It is called stole!’ She would say. ‘You are against women’s freedom!’ She would say. ‘You feminists, have no common sense also, this is the road not the pub!’ He would say. But it was a lie. She loved how protective he was of her.

Now there was no one to hold her. No one to  hug her. No one to bring a smile to her face. She would stare blankly at those couples. Was she ever like them? It seemed like a past life in which she and Anshuman were together.Every morning, she woke up with the feeling. The same feeling. The awareness that Anshuman was not there. Where was Anshuman?

Geet was trying her best to distract herself.  Every Saturday she would leave for Starbucks. Morning to evening she would sit there with her laptop. She could not bear to be with herself at home. Evenings she would spend with her friends. Geet was a pretty girl. She got attention from men. It felt good. She felt like she had options. I can find another man easily, she would tell herself. She did go out with a few. The dates were okay. She tried to smile. Have a good conversation. But on her way back home, she would cry.  This happened all the time. She would go out, meet people, but the moment she was alone with her thoughts she would cry her heart out. She had stopped taking care of herself. She had stopped going to the parlour. When was the last time she got her eye brows done? When was the last time she went to gym?

She met one of her friends for dinner. She was telling her friend how every night she tortured herself with the thoughts of her last few days with Anshuman. She kept replaying those events again. Blaming herself. She should have said something else. She should have done something else. He would have still been here…

You need to love yourself, Geet. Be kind to yourself. Every night instead of thinking about Anshuman think about yourself. Just say these words to yourself, – I am such a kind human being. I am beautiful inside out. I am intelligent. I deserve the best things in the world.”

“That’s crazy! Who says that! I don’t even believe that!”

“Just try it! Instead of thinking about your times with Anshuman, or what could have happened”

Geet went to bed that night. Invariably her mind drifted to Anshuman.

“I am beautiful and kind. I deserve the best.” She forcefully said to herself. She continued to do this for another three days. It did not help. Anshuman was still the first thought of the morning and the last thought at night.

A week later, Geet went to watch a play. She had asked her friends to join but none of them were available. So, she went alone. The play was a lot of fun. She laughed. She enjoyed.  After the play, she met the actors back stage. She told them she wanted to write an article on their journey. They were happy to be interviewed. They were all getting together for a party. They asked her to join. She did not know anyone. Should she go? She was so modestly dressed! They were all looking so glamourous! She decided to go.

She spent the next two hours with them. They talked. Geet was a very reserved person. Socializing was a lot of effort for her. But someone she gelled well with them. They all seemed impressed with her, and genuinely liked her company. They would be performing in Mumbai next month. They asked her to come. She said she had work, but she might. They exchanged numbers and said goodbye.

That day, as Geet was in the cab back home, something happened. She was smiling. She was thinking about how she spoke to these new people who belonged to a completely different profession. She was so confident. She was charming. She looked at her pictures. She was looking good. Her kohled eyes, her curly hair resting on her shoulders. She felt beautiful again.  She felt confident again. She felt charming again. It was the feeling of falling in love. Where someone seems so wonderful. So unbelievably amazing. So very perfect. Magnify their qualities. Ignore their flaws. The feeling of being lucky to have found them… Except that there was no man. It was Geet feeling lucky to be herself.

You are so kind and amazing. You deserve the best things in life. The thought came to her mind. This time naturally. Without any effort.

Something changed that day. Geet did not want to cry anymore. She wanted to be happy. She wanted to be happy in the present. Not in some distant memory. Not in some uncertain future. But today.

Anshuman was not gone completely. He used to come back in her thoughts every now and then. But he did not make her cry anymore. He was not the first thing on her mind when she woke up. He was not the last thing on her mind when she went to sleep.

Whenever he would come up in her thoughts, she accepted that she had not forgotten him.

But she chooses herself over him. Anshuman was important to her. But her life is much more. She is so much more. He was just a character in her story. Yes, it was the end. Of a chapter. Not her story.

She is the story.

The Arranged Love Marriage

“Madam, I have draped the sari like mermaid! It is giving you very young and slim look!” The beautician bent down to fix Bittu Kumari’s sari pleats, pleased with her work.

“I am young! I am 26!” Bittu Kumari frowned.

“Oh! I thought you must be in 30’s! Was wondering why you are still bachelor!”

“I am not! A bachelor is a man who is not…”

“Bittu, you are still not ready! The boy’s family has arrived!” Bittu Kumari’s mother stormed into the room. She looked at her daughter from head to toe. “Shabnam, I had asked you to make her look thin!” she said disappointed.

“Aunty Ji, I have given her slim look only! This is mermaid style sari! My world-famous style in Saharanpur! She is little healthy no, what can I do!”

“Leave it! No time now!”

Bittu Kumari was dragged to the living room.  A lean, dark, young man, his mother, father and possibly his brother who looked like a rounder replica of him were seated on the three-seater sofa.  Opposite to them, were Bittu Kumari’s father – Mr. Mishra, and his teenaged son, Sonuraj. Mrs. Mishra’s sister and husband had also been invited for moral support. Bittu Kumari sat next to her brother.

“Mr. Pandey, this is my daughter, Bittu Kumari! She has completed M.A. in English literature.  She teaches English in St. Mary’s high school! Convent! And herself educated in English medium convent! Throughout topper!” added the proud father.

“That is great!” said Mr. Pandey with an approving nod. “Lallan also wanted to do B.Com. But after Matric he joined my business. He completed PUC through correspondence.”

Sonuraj giggled. Bittu Kumari was horrified. She looked up to confirm if she had heard correctly. Her eyes met Lallan’s. Lallan smiled at her, beaming.

“All that is okay! Doesn’t matter!” Mrs. Pandey seemed to have read Bittu Kumari’s thoughts. “For a boy, what matters is how well he is earning. Our business is flourishing. Lallan is handling it single-handedly now! And what matters for a girl is how she looks!” She paused, giving a sharp stare at Bittu Kumari’s bulging stomach which Shabnam’s Rs 1500 mermaid style draping could not hide. “My elder daughter-in-law Chhaya is so pretty! Even after having two daughters, she has maintained herself like a stick!”

Bittu Kumari raised her head again to look at Lallan’s brother’s paunch, trying to imagine him with his stick-like wife.

What does Chaaya do?” asked Mr. Mishra, visibly annoyed.

She is a housewife!” Mr. Pandey stepped in. “We wanted a working girl for Lallan. Actually, we wanted a housewife. But Lallan wanted a working girl.”

Lallan blushed.

“Working, not working is not main criteria! We want a fair, slim, beautiful girl.” Mrs. Pandey clarified. “Your daughter is very healthy. At this age, she is healthy! After a child, she will bloat even more!”

Mrs. Mishra shifted in her chair uncomfortably. Her fear came true. This was the fifth time the boy’ side had rejected her daughter for being “healthy”.  This time, Bittu Kumari did not look up. The words seemed to have pierced through her heart and created a hole. How is it possible that for all these years, she had heard it all – healthy, fat, moti, bhais, elephant, yet it hurt her each time? Shouldn’t she be immuned by now?

“Mrs. Pandey, I think you should let Lallan and Bittu Kumari talk once. They are the ones who have to get married! Let them decide.”

“We would have let them talk, Mr. Mishra. We are very modern. That is why we got Lallan. He was keen on your daughter’s profile. But… sorry to say your daughter looks nothing like her pictures. You must have edited them and sent to us. She seems 20 kg more than we had expected!”

Mr. Mishra looked at his wife accusingly. She had gone to the biggest studio in town to get her daughter’s pictures photoshopped. What was she supposed to do?  Those who saw Bittu Kumari’s real pictures rejected her even before meeting her. She had to give her daughter a fair chance!

“If she was slightly healthy also, we would have tried to adjust. But she is obese! Young girls exercise! She is probably lazy too! Or maybe she has some illness. And moreover, daughter-in-law’s beauty determines the looks of the children also. If we get an obese daughter-in-law, she will give birth to obese daughters, and then we will have to worry about their marriage also!”

“Ek minute Aunty, you have gone too far!” Bittu Kumari finally spoke up.  “Who said I wanted to marry your son!”

“What! Then why did you all call us!” Mrs. Pandey frowned.

“We were deceived too! We thought your son had completed B-Com. But now we know he never went to college. I did not know I was signing up for a college dropout! Just like you did not know you were signing up for a fat daughter-in-law. But you know what Aunty, fat women make completely decent homemakers. Look at you!”

“Such a shameless girl! Doesn’t know how to talk to elders! And I am fat now! When I was your age, I looked just like Hema Malini! Come Lallan, let us go.” Mrs. Pandey got up, grabbing her son’s hand. Her elder son and husband also got up almost in a reflex. “We don’t need a fat and proudy girl.”

“It is proud Aunty, not proudy!”

Lallan looked at Bittu Kumari. He paused. He wanted to say something. But his mother pulled him away.

And just like that, the entire Pandey family was gone. Mr. Mishra put his hand on her daughter’s head and smiled. “Bittu beta, we don’t need them! You are a diamond. These people don’t know your worth.” Mrs. Mishra went back to the bedroom to pay Shabnam who was locked up in the bedroom, waiting for the boy’s side to leave. Mrs. Mishra’s sister and brother-in-law left rather unceremoniously. Everything went back to normal.

Two days later, Bittu Kumari received a text message.

‘Hi Bittu Ji. I am sorry for finding your number. Got it from the school.  I am sorry for the way my mother talked to you. I know how you must have felt. Four girls have rejected me because I am dark! One was educated and English-speaking, and did not want someone like me. I know my profile says that I have done B.com. If talks would have progressed, I would have told you the truth. My brother had edited my profile so that people at least express interest. I may not be that educated, but I do manage to run my business well. I may not be good-looking, but if you give me a chance I will take care of you. I know what it is like when people judge you without getting to know you. I really liked you. Would like to be friends with you, if it is okay with you.”

Bittu Kumari was shocked. No man had ever showed such interest in her. Without telling their parents, Bittu Kumari and Lallan started chatting. Bittu Kumari realized that Lallan was no different from her. He was also looking for a decent partner, while struggling with his own insecurities, and cruel judgment of random people. He was running a growing business, with hard-work and sincerity. He was not as stupid as she had expected. Rather, he was quite intuitive and witty. He was also very sensitive and mature. She grew quite fond of him.

Bittu Rani and Lallan have decided to get married. Mr. Mishra is insisting that Lallan completes B.Com from distant learning. Mrs. Pandey has agreed provided Bittu Kumari loses 10 kgs. Mr. Pandey is happy for the children. Sonuraj is preparing a solo dance performance for the wedding.

Mrs. Mishra is grateful. To Shabnam. And to the photographer.

Image source

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Want To Live With My Parents After Marriage? You Horrible Un-cultured Woman!

I spoke to a man for an arranged marriage meeting. Before telling me about himself or asking anything about me he told me that his parents would be living with us after marriage from Day 1. He said that he wants them around. Not because of any health condition. He just wants to “make them happy.” They feel lonely in their hometown.

For the past eight years, his parents have been  living in the hometown because he was living with a roommate. But  somehow, the moment he gets married, they will become lonely and helpless!

Very politely, I told this man that I would not be comfortable with this set-up. It will be difficult for me to adjust to three new people immediately. I said that during the first few years of marriage, the husband and wife should live alone because they are still trying to adjust to each other.  He then told me that I will be “allowed” to wear jeans and that his parents are very nice people. As long as they are taken care of them, they will not “scold” me for anything.

I told him “No”. He later sent me a text message  wishing me good luck in life, and that he is looking for someone with “family values”!

He also wanted me to “appreciate his honesty” because he told me about his expectation before marriage. I was honest too! Why didn’t I get appreciation for my honesty? He wants a woman to take care of his parents, because it is convenient for him. He gets to be Shavan Kumar by doing nothing for his parents except getting married. I refuse him, so I get to be a vamp!!

I don’t understand why this should be the norm. Let me tell you this is one of the reasons people still prefer to have a son. Because they can live with their son forever but not with the daughter.

When I say this, it is immediately interpreted as a rebellious, uncultured attitude. I want to ask these so-called custodians of Indian culture, are girls’ parents any less old? How come they manage alone? Or since they have given birth to daughters, they are so unfortunate to begin with that we don’t even count them as senior citizens?

Some men and even women say that “Yeah, but any guy with prefer to have his parents around.  If you were a boy, wouldn’t you?’

Some even add, “Why do you even want to get married then!”

This statement is garbage. It reeks with chauvinism, and enjoying the benefits of patriarchy at a woman’s expense. This is how they justify dowry too!

No marriage is not about living with in-laws. People in the western countries also get married. They do not do this.

Please don’t get me wrong. Of course someone should be there to take care of parents in emergencies. In fact, if the parents can live in the same city, or nearby it is great. I know of people who even stay in the same apartment complex but in different apartments. That way, they are there when required and also have their privacy.  Sometimes they stay together for economic reason. Some stay together for grandchildren. Living together can be a great form of support for parents as well as children. I am not saying they should not.  As long as they are happy doing what they are doing, it is none of my business. I know of families where the girl’s parents also stay together.

What I am trying to say is in the Indian set-up, living with in-laws can become difficult because of high expectations. Especially in the initial years of marriage when the relationship between the husband and wife is not even stable. But no, it is not a wife’s moral obligation to live with her husband’s parents and take care of them from the first day of marriage! It is not a man’s birth right to demand it. If she is doing it happily, great. If she refuses, it is okay too. It is her choice. It is difficult to adjust to one person. And definitely more difficult to adjust with more people from another generation, especially when they come with a sense of entitlement and expectation.

I have a request:

Indian men, when the girl you meet at shaadi.com refuses to live with your parents after marriage, you don’t get to shame her. You respect her choice, and find someone else. Please do not tell her that she does not have “family values”. Unless you also want that her parents should also live with you guys. “Respect for elders” and “family values” apply to elders who have borne daughters also.

Parents of girls, please do not force your daughters in to such marriages saying “so and so is also living with in-laws. This is our culture etc”.  You will not be there with her each day to maneuver her way. She will be alone there. Let her decide for herself.

And girls, please know yourself. If you are not comfortable with the idea of living with in-laws, then be sure about this point before you get convinced into such a marriage. It is your whole life ahead.  Later on complaining about it will get you nowhere.

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Seeing the comments on the article, about women being equally responsible for such upbringing or social conditioning, I am adding this quote of Ms. Kamla Bhasin. Thank you readers, you always provide the much needed perspective.

 

 

Qarib Qarib Single – Refreshing and realistic

The name of the movie is Qarib Qarib Singlle. I thought it was Qarib Qarib Single Single. I enjoyed the movie in the first half thoroughly. Few good laughs. In the second half, I felt the movie lost its plot. Nonetheless, it was better than most Bollywood movies.

Yogi and Jaya meet through a dating website. Jaya is a 35-year-old widow. Yogi must be older. What is the romantic life like for a single woman in her mid-30’s in India? What is dating like through these mediums?

In a pro- nepotism industry where most love stories revolve around good-looking college students who magically fall in love over a series of songs shot across foreign locations, a realistic romantic plot revolving average people, in mid-30’s is a breath of fresh air. I will overlook all other parts of the movie which I could not relate to (like how come Yogi was rich!)

Here is what worked for me:

  • Jaya’s single life

The casting song captures Jaya’s lonely, uneventful, painfully boring life brilliantly. The highlights of her day are her skype chats with her brother. Doing well in her career, confident at work and hesitant about relationships. She spends time outside of work babysitting her friends’ kid, cats and paying for their shopping too. Her friends seem to be taking advantage of her.

I remember an episode of Sex and the city if which one of Carrie’s married friend with kids had shamed her for buying very expensive shoes. Her friend told her that she has a very lavish lifestyle, something which was a luxury for her – a woman with a family. Carrie counted how much money she has spent on her and her family so far – Wedding gifts, children’s birthday gifts etc. Story of all financially comfortable, single women. Little (big) things we buy for our friends and their kids are always measured against our “lack of real responsibilities” in life. I had written an article on this but never published it. I do not wish to get boycotted by all my married friends! 🙂

  • No efforts towards relationships

Jaya seems to have accepted her single status. She does not seem to be doing anything about meeting people until one of her friends reminds her that she might “regain her virginity”. This phase also comes in the lives of single women. Where they give up on men completely!

  • Dating sites

Jaya is hesitant to put her picture on the site. The moment her profile becomes active, she starts receiving all kinds on creepy messages.  It reinforces her belief that probably she should not have done anything! Something that has probably happened to all of us!

  • First meeting between Yogi and Jaya

Yogi looks extremely objectionable the first time Jaya sees him. It reminds me of the movie, ‘Life in a metro’, in which Konkana’ s character meets Irrfan’s character for the first time. She rejects him because he stares at her chest (something he later tries to justify to her)! In both these movies, Irrfan Khan looked weird to the women, and the audience the first time. However, as the story progresses the women saw the better side of him. Does that happen in real life too? Someone who we meet through a dating / matrimonial site is given second chances? What would happen if instead of being judgmental we would give them a chance?

  • The ex- factor

Both Yogi and Jaya seem hung on their exes. However, they don’t realize this about themselves, as much as they realize about each other. This for me is the number one biggest turn-off in a man!! A deal breaker!

  • Ex-lover turns into Mamaji

Yogi lives under the misconception that his exes are destroyed because of the break-up! He meets one of his exes, who is now happily married with her family. She introduces him to his children as “mamaji”. Yogi explains this happens in small-towns.

I know this is true. Non-lovers were put into “rakhi brother” categories, before the “friend-zone” was invented!

  • Good acting and zero songs!

Irrfan is perfect. We know that already. But I had never seen Parvathi before. She was very good too. Reminded me of another actress, Madhu from Roja. Nice to see a character of a hindi film heroine who was just being herself. Not young, not wearing skimpy clothes and not dancing to vulgar lyrics, not even in a dream sequence. This itself is an achievement!

Go for it! Better than most movies we spend our money on.

Image source

 

 

Thirty Years of Me!

On my 28th birthday, I had posted this article. I had even created a separate category on my blog called ‘Birthday Memoirs’ based on one article! Last year I got lazy and shared the same article again. But today, I have turned 30. How can I not write about it!

Give me some sunshine. Give me some rain. Give me another chance. I wanna grow up once again.

Last week, I was on a whatsapp video call with my cousin and her six-year-old daughter.

Cousin: What’s the plan for the birthday?

Me: No plans. I am turning 30!

Kid excited: Mausi’s 30th birthday is coming up?

Me: Shh! Don’t say 30 out loud! It is a secret between you and me.  Don’t tell anyone!

Kid with a thumbs up: Okay Mausi. Secret. Done. I will tell everyone you turned 39!

Me: Hey! What kind of a secret is that! The secret should be beneficial to me!

Kid confused and disappointed. She had given her best shot at faking.

Cousin: You should reduce Mausi’s age. 39 is worse than 30!

Kid was still confused. She did not understand why turning 30 was bad. Why was turning 39 even worse? It did not make any sense to her.

Past few months I have been upset about turning 30. Should have talked to the kid sooner. She would have made me realize it really does not matter!

Last year this time

Aaj kal paon zameen par nahin padate mere, Bolo dekhaa hai kabhi, tumne mujhe udate huye

I was pretty happy. I had a new job. New friends. An international family vacation.  In the beginning of 2017, I won an award for blogging. Life seemed to be going well.  And I was pretty optimistic that by this time, this year I would have un-singled myself!

Oh dear men!

No! Not all men! Just talking about the men I met this year. Instead of becoming partners for me, most ended up becoming case studies for my articles. One became the sole inspiration behind my series, ‘To the Geet without Aditya Kashyap, and the Queen without the international vacation’.  I think this year I have written more about relationships that any other topic.

I had met a gentleman through an arranged marriage set-up. He was good-looking, soft-spoken and well-dressed. It was during the phase when I was certain I should get married. He lived with his parents. He was very clear he would continue living with his parents after marriage too. He said that I will be “allowed” to do whatever l liked. As long as I respect his parents and take care of them.

Few years back, such a statement would have sounded harmless to me. But I have become smart. Or rather experiences have taught me better.  I imagined my life of marital bliss with him.

Wake up before everyone else –

Pehli Kiran Jab Se Uge, Bhabhi Meri Tab Se Jage. Sabka Pura dhyan Dhare Woh, Shaam Dhale Tak Kaam Kare

Feed three adults.

Seek their permission to go to my parents’ place. Actually anywhere.

Be fully covered since the moment I leave my bedroom.

Forget about watching Mindhunter. Or Game of thrones. Or anything. 

Not being able to put my legs on the center table stand while watching TV. Ever.

Weekends will be spent grocery shopping. Identifying sales from Big Bazaar. And watching Indian Idol for fun.

Is it worth it? I asked myself. Don’t answer the question. Most of India is doing this. So I am pretty sure it is worth it.  It just made me realize that in case it never happens for me, or happens much later in life, it is okay. I am not missing out on a lot!

My current life

I made a lot of friends this year. From Shaadi.com to tinder, from Jeevansathi.Com to Trulymadly, from meetups to events in the city– I was everywhere! I Did meet some nice and interesting people through these mediums who I would not have met otherwise.

Weekends I get up at 12. Have lunch and head out. Evenings are usually spent in some nice restaurant / pub.

Come on, come on, turn the radio on. It’s Saturday and I won’t be long. Gotta paint my nails, put my high heels on. It’s Saturday and I won’t be long

Come back at night. No wonder, a lot of women in their 30’s and 40’s prefer not to get married unless they meet someone awesome. A lot of single women I know and I myself spend a lot of time and money on ourselves. Hair spas. Hair smoothening. Sexy dresses. Fun events. Nobody to answer to.

What was good this year

Writing has been going well. My articles on Womensweb, as well as on my blog did really well. More people have been writing to me. Feels good.

My sister and niece visited twice this year. Niece is a lot of fun to be with. She is also one of the most affectionate and loving children I know. Till the time that she was here, I would look forward to coming back from office. She would give me company for everything – Whether it is staying up late at night, or going to gym. She makes me believe in all the good things in the world. She also makes me believe in marriage and family.

People and their ways!

Kuch to log kaheinge, logon ka kaam hai kehna

I have spent most of my life overthinking and overanalyzing. This year also, like any other year I have been hurt by some people’s words and behaviour. Today is a good day to let go of all the bitterness. Let me focus on better things. I have noticed that I may not like what some people say, yet I am grateful that these people have managed to stay in my life. Even if they say some stupid things, at least they call, text or show up.  Better than the ones who are not in touch. I guess this is the first sign of ageing! Gratefulness!

The single factor

Single Rehne De Mane Single Rehne De, Happy Hoon Main Happy Happy Rehne De!

The other day, I went out with four of my girlfriends.  We are all in the age group 29-42. All single women. We started talking about boyfriends and our broken relationships. One girl decided to ask what each one of us may be looking for in a partner. One girl said she wants someone who is a poet or an artist. Shayar type. Another one said she would prefer someone who is earning very well, in a stable job because she wants to be a homemaker.

I don’t know if it was the Vodka but all of this just made me laugh. I told the first girl, if she likes poetry or art, why doesn’t she do it herself?  I asked the second girl, who should be paying for her expenses then?

I am not laughing at them. I have no right to, as someone who spent the entire year trying to unsingle. I am laughing at all of us. At the expectation that someone will come, and make our lives better. The emotionally unavailable boyfriend who does not want to commit, the undekha anjana shayar, or the decent gentleman who promises a stable life, provided his parents are taken care of. Single, wise, older women still waiting for a man!

Do Patte Patjhad Ke Pedon Se Utre The, Pedon Ki Shaakhon Se Utre The, Phir Utne Mausam Guzre Vo Patte Do bechaare, Phir Ugne Ki Chaahat Mein Vo Sehraon Se Guzre

I guess it is badly ingrained in our minds that relationship will make us happy. I have had enough with this expectation. And the efforts directed towards achieving it. The next year will be all about me. About all the things that I have wanted to do. Here are some:

Teaching kids

When I was in the United States, I used to volunteer to teach children at summer school. I was quite young myself – about 16. There was a kid (fourth grader) in one of my classes, who was Hispanic. He struggled with English. I struggled with him.  But he was hard-working. I tried my best to help him improve. He responded.

On the last day, his father had come to pick him up. The kid had got a rose for me, as a thank you. Except that he felt too shy at the time of handing it over. So, he gave the rose to his father to give it to me. The father was sooooo cute!! He thanked me for helping his son. The awkward, short, scrawny, braces wearing teenager inside me could not stop blushing.

I also taught Kindergarten another summer. Those kids were too young to learn anything. But they were very cute and innocent. Teaching was a very rewarding experience. Not because of the cute Hispanic man. But because I really enjoyed myself. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be a teacher.

I don’t know how I will achieve this with my full-time job and writing. But let me for now put it in my to-do list for this year.

Taare zameen par…

Lasik surgery

I don’t know how many times I have gone to the doctor, got an eye-check-up, weighed pros and cons (there is hardly a con), nodded when the doctor has asked me to come back for a final consultation, and then chickened out and never returned. People who have got laser surgery have told me it has made their lives much easier. I think I should too. At least I would become less averse to travelling, and water sports. Maybe I should stop watching youtube videos on the surgery, because they just scare me. If any of you have got it done, please do let me know how it feels like.

The book

I think about it every night and day, Spread my wings and fly away. I believe I can soar, I see me running through that open door

I hope the book that I have been working on gets to see the light of the day. I also realized I have posted very few guest blogs this year. Please do keep sending me story ideas.

GMAT and MBA

This is the most farfetched idea. But it is still there. Maths had always been a nightmare for me. I used to dream that I have failed in Maths even long after I had finished school. Then came chartered accountancy and the nightmares became real. I used to have a recurring dream that I have failed the CA exams till years after I had qualified. But those dreams had stopped. Until recently.  I dreamt that I  failed in Biology. I have never been a Science student. I attribute that dream to my struggle with Maths with the GMAT book I bought this month. My sub-conscious brain probably could not process failing GMAT yet and substituted it with biology.

I met a friend from the US who is doing MBA from Singapore. I had met her though blogging. I confessed to her that I am not really interested in GMAT or MBA. I just want to get out of here. She said that it is a common reason for a lot of girls from the Indian sub-continent!

But I think two factors would not let it happen for me. 1. I love India way too much. 2. I am horrible at Maths.

So there. I better end it now before this post becomes an autobiography.

Maula tera maali, O hariyaali jungle waali,
Tu de har gaali pe taali, Uski kadam kadam rakhwaali

Image source

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But Why Do You Even Want To Get Married?

Received an email from a woman who is single and has been searching for a guy for a long time. She has a full-time job, good friends and a good life. That does not change the fact that she is looking for someone for marriage. She is in her early 40s. She also wants to have kids. She is a happy person. But when she tells people she wants to get married, they start saying so many annoying things.

The first question is ‘But why do you even want to get married!’

I can relate perfectly. How many of you are single? When you tell people, you want to “un” single, do they judge you? It is not like you are saying that you are desperate or unhappy or incomplete. You just wish you had someone. Many people who say these things are actually married themselves.

Here is a short list of some of the things people say to single people who are looking. Feel free to add to the comments.

  1. No one can complete you!
  • When did I say I was incomplete?
  1. Be in love with yourself first!
  • Main meri favourite hoon….?
  1. You will find him once you stop looking!
  • Does he know I am looking for him, and therefore hiding? Shh…he might hear us and hide back!
  1. When you are happy you attract people…
  • Been happy… attracted people.. Now what?
  1. If you feel lonely alone, you will feel lonely in a relationship too.
  • What does this even mean? Did they think so much before getting into a relationship?
  1. Your spouse could die. And you could not have a child. So, marriage does not guarantee that you would not die alone.
  • Wow…what optimism!

I guess when people mean it is better to be single than married, they mean to say it is better than being in a bad relationship. I agree. If you see your friends desperate and unhappy in a bad relationship just for the fear of being alone, please go ahead and help them see reality.

But if they seem to be happy and doing well, yet searching then it is a normal thing to do! They do not need to justify anything! Isn’t it natural (for some people) to want love, romance, marriage. kids?

I am a feminist. I do not believe that marriage is the ultimate goal of life. It is a personal choice. It is okay to be single.  It is also okay to wish for one.  It does not mean that someone is weak. Single people do know relationships do not work sometimes and that marriage requires a lot of work.

Let us be a little kind to our divorced friends, and the ones who are older yet single. Let us not decide that it is better for them to be alone! Let us not tell them that marriage is this reward they will get once they have attained the above checklist! It is a well-meaning thing to say but it does not help them!