I figure that I have not had a single meaningful conversation in three days. And I do not know which of these sentences is the tragic part. “*I* have not had”? Because I am a professional, living in a metro city, married and active on various social media. “Meaningful”? Because isn’t meaning highly over-rated and isn’t life made up of small little inconsequential things building up under your feet into a mountain, so that after years have passed, you see that you cannot even see the old you down there. Or is it the part with “three days”? For three days isn’t that long. You could see faces shoving magazines in your face at the traffic signal, every single day, and even if it’s class-ist, I can imagine some of them not having had a real conversation ever. Not one they consciously thought was meaningful anyway. I think the most tragic part is that I come to the blog. This blog isn’t supposed to be a muddled web of my various existential crises. I always imagine that my great granddaughter will probably be a historian and aching to know more about her roots, one day she will brush the dust off an old forgotten journal printed out of a badly-designed webpage, in the midst of all the family photos, and she’d read about a long-dead me and think “hey! the old woman was okay.” Maybe she’d be appalled by my lack of ambition and put it down to “women of those times” or maybe she’ll be shocked by the colourful language she’s sure to find here, if they are not pansy archaic terms by then. Maybe she’ll find me funny in how we sometimes find the writing of women we know were struggling with corsets and other cruelties, despite those realities. In any case, I’m not sure she’ll want to read about how I wanted to talk about how rude the house help is getting these days and shouldn’t we be hiring someone else, or listen to me complain about the lack of time to fix up a rather important medical appointment.
But that’s the thing. My mountain of realities is building up. When living in this construction, we need to talk about plumbers and distances and weather in different cities and new shiny devices and apps and spicy gossip and food and vague fanciful future plans. It’s only when we’re recounting life, when we reach the peak, that we can talk about who we are and who we have been without needing all those crutches. Old people, you all are so under-rated. Does it sound age-ist? It’s not, because I know I already want to take some younger-than-me people by the shoulders and shake them and say “WHY DON’T YOU LISTEN TO ME? I *know* THIS SHIT.” It is getting worse every day, and I’m sure to be the kind of mother who says “Did you not hear Mama?” in a passive-aggressive tone with a slightly cocked head, deadpan expression to boot. So it is all the more amazing to me that in the face of our refusing-to-have-kids-just-yet, eating-bad, being-careless-with-our-health, sleeping-late, driving-drunk ways, our elders are only giving us little polite reminders that our hoo-has need to get more active soon or that we need to shed that lard. I would’ve been all “TONIGHT IS BABY-MAKING NIGHT, DAUGHTER. YOUR UTERUS ISN’T GONNA BE FOREVER YOUNG.”, shows my track record thus far. Anyway. That memory-erasing digression aside, I was saying that meaningless conversations really make up meaningful conversation. *Pause for applause* But it’s true. If I am to go by my own pattern, most often I don’t need to even talk about “so where is this going, honey?” or something to that effect. (Essentially, the honey had better know where this is going by now. I’m a bad navigator.) I get pissed off because why should it be me reminding myself 5 times this week that the curtains need to be dry-cleaned; why can’t it be more collaborative; why can’t you remind me once for chrissakes; and is this is the lot of us women for the rest of our motherfucking lives? These kind of sentences that get women the undeserved drama-queen reputation are what are often bubbling under my calm exterior (that’s a joke) . Just getting this out makes me feel rebellious. And then I go marching to the dry cleaners. Am I obligated or pressurized by the societal pressures that subtly underline the gender differences between men and women, and infiltrate the part of our brains that controls “Responsibilities” and fucks with it? Don’t re-read that sentence. I can tell you the answer – it’s not that. It’s just that some people care and some don’t about some things. My husband cares a LOT about the crashing sound of a phone falling on the ground. It wakes him up from deep sleep and ask “KYA TOD DIYA”. I routinely kick my laptop off the bed (it’s not large enough for the both of us) and sleepily say “oops! but now you’re in a better place. you can’t fall any lower. i’ll pick you up in the morning. k thx bye.” You may now reverse the positions in case of dirty curtains. Dirty curtains (and their other kith and kin – chipped furniture, leaking taps, younameit) bring up in me the complex and heady nausea comprising of my mother’s strong belief that when I run my own house I’ll only feed my family Maggi for 18 years straight and my intense desire to prove her wrong, my personal macro-mode visualization of germs crawling everywhere, the thought bubble I imagine on my guests’ heads thinking about the curtains being Dust Caves, and the WORST, the pressure I feel to impress my house help. So I know I’ll do it (or “get it done”, the new mantra of our generation). All I demand is that someone listen to my smart once-a-year and on my awesome-lonesome thought idea of doing this noble deed. All I get is silence or “they are not thaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat dirty”. Like I’m imagining things. Why is it that all this sounds vaguely liberal, vaguely oppressive and vaguely feminist? Because that’s how we have conditioned ourselves recently. We read so many gender-based atrocities that our antennae are up. I know I do it. The reality is sometimes very different. So I have begun checking myself and seeing things with a, let me call it Fifth Wave Feminism (TM), lens. It involves swapping the positions of the man and the woman and seeing whether what they are saying is acceptable otherwise. “You’re going for a walk tomorrow. Have you *seen* your paunch?” I cannot even imagine the hysteria if the man (and not the woman, as the case is) in the couple I’m thinking of, had said this. But today, when a woman says it, it’s a total reflection of the Saffola ad aunty who’s been staying up nights making detailed excel sheets on which vegetable oil is the most “aapke dil ka khayaal rakhne waala“. But you cannot tell her about this Saffolaness (T-fucken’-M) of hers, because she finds those ads appalling. So you just nod and say “I know, so sexist”. Fun!
So yes, in my book of Sanity Preservation 101, it is fast becoming the best idea to stop thinking everything in terms of gender. That chaatwallah did NOT make me wait because I’m not as loud as the burly guy; it’s because I’m short and he couldn’t see me. That salesman did NOT ask “sir hain?” after ringing the doorbell because he thinks I don’t wear the pants in the household, it’s because I WAS wearing a gamchha on my shoulder. That mobile phone shopman is NOT only talking to my husband because he thinks women don’t understand technology, it’s because I asked him where the keyboard is in a touch-phone. Five times.
Khair, this wasn’t supposed to be this kind of a post. I just wanted to talk about the fact that I hate Fridays and love Saturdays. But, good talk.
Sometimes meaningless stuff makes the most meaningful conversation. Just not this time 🙂