Day 115: And yet we never support our girls

Any trouble in married-land and we are already ready with our guns pointed at the girl. H and her married life has proved to me that marriage is invariably a union of two dysfunctional families, one that makes your own weirdeties seem like the better of the lot. It’s also a union where one party invariably makes more sacrifices than the other and they spend the rest of their lives either making up for it or being morose about it.

What is critical for them to realize is that sacrifices are expected, and are justified as long as they are balanced out. I’d like to see the man live in Bangalore for a month, working from here, while building his social circle here. He would understand exactly what H is going through after moving to KL to start her life with him.

Invariably, the woman is expected to make the grand sacrifices, of her economic, emotional and social stability, and is expected to fit in seamlessly into the newfound circles. Any inability or trouble in doing that is automatically deduced as the girl’s disability and poor upbringing. Any leniency or support from the man’s side is seen as him being a pussy or wife-whipped. He himself walks with the superiority of having done a favor, while a relationship is equal work from both ends.

What got me thinking on these lines today was the conversation with dad, when he almost seemed apologetic for his daughter’s temper and the trouble in the marriage. It’s funny how little they had made an effort to see what might be causing the ill mood, the trigger from the other end. I dared him to tell me one instance where the mother of that son would have accepted his flaws openly. To her, he is the unspoilt unpolished diamond from the lines of South Africa. And on the other side, we let our daughter take the stab for everything, even something like marriage that takes a village to run the show right.

The patriarchy was evident when he justified himself by saying, ‘How can I say that the guy is at fault when I’m sitting in his house and eating his food?’ What happened to the part of the meal that his daughter had paid for? I thought the house automatically became ‘their’ house because what is his is hers. No?

That’s why I say the girls should stay home with their mummies all their lives, S. Then you have the comfort of the same bed all along. Aaah those pleasures.” Scotch

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Day 114: You broke my heart, then I took my revenge 

Dodo’s trip to India happened and like every other instance, I was left with a milieu of conflicts in my mind. What sinister plot was the universe playing on me? Why bring in someone into your life, plan for you to share each other’s lives unlike any before, push you to think of the happily ever afters a little too soon, instill strange fears in the other enough to make him run away, commit you to the deepest and darkest dungeons from whence there was no return, provide you with a support system that left you stronger, point you to a life that would sustain without him, bless you with enough strength to live without him, only to bring him back? Bring him back not once, but twice all over.

The universe didn’t just bring him back, but covered him in so many wounds, blood oozing out of every gash, that it was difficult to not care. It seemed that the universe was now playing a silly joke on me, picking up someone that I cared for deeply, brandishing him in front of my face, before throwing him out to the mad rabid dogs to feed on him. And it taunts me for my inaction. It mocks me for reacting the exact same way that I had years back, many scars and wounds back. As he recounted his worrisome tales, I saw the anguish and pain in his eyes, and my mind immediately started its tally – how many of these were my doing?

I strongly believe that everybody walks into our lives to teach us something; to cater to our role as a lifelong learner. They are invariably the Most Knowledgeable Other from Vygotsky’s Social Interaction Theory. I’ve learnt about relationships, the goods and the bads, from Dodo. As have I about taking life easy and enjoying it. Through his persistence over the years I’ve learnt that some loves never die. He’s taught me to stare misfortune in the eye and attack it head on. He’s also taught me to take a stand in life and own up for every decision that one has taken. All through his inability to do so. He’s made me realize that it’s too easy to find escape routes from our decisions and go pick scapegoats to blame for what should have been our decisions. He did it eight years back, and he’s doing it right now.

I wonder what is the drive for the universe to bring him back. What new learning is in store for me through the this phase 2? So far, it has only brought along the ghosts of the past, has unearthed many skeletons hidden in both our closets and has caused the family to raise their guards all over again. Does it intend to only bring more pain?

Or is this one of those instances, where you’ve been brought into someone’s life simply to teach them something, and settle with the hurt in your heart?

You want my opinion? Take each day as it goes, sister. No point in digging too deep into the mud, when there may or may not be a bone under it. 

Move. On. Time will anyway tell you all it’s plans. Eventually.” Scotch 

Day 113: I would never have forgiven myself 

When Scotch almost got me killed

Well, technically, it started with me almost killing Scotch today. I left some rat kill cakes, for the rats to eat, and I was confident that when I woke in the morning, they were intact. Our little rodent pals had found other sources of nutrition. Except, about an hour after checking, I see that both the cakes are missing, and Scotch is sitting in the area, smacking her lips.

I was convinced that she had eaten both and was going to turn all fizzy and die any minute. Worst of all the luck, all this happened between 4 and 6 AM and I had an exam at 9. Would I have to skip the exam entirely? Should I rush her to the hospital now? What if I came back from the exam and found her limp? Would I ever forgive myself for poisoning my own dog?

A quick chat with H helped reorient my thoughts. I immediately called Cessna emergency and we were on our way in 10 minutes. They checked her vitals, and deducted that she was normal, especially since it was about 4 to 5 hours since the suspected act. Her pupils were normal, no frothing or excessive salivation, and she was still alive. Phew!

They anyway gave her a charcoal cleanse and a vitamin K shot, to soak out any poison that might be in the stomach. And she would stay with them, in their day-boarding, while I wrote my exam. I don’t think I would have been able to sit through 3 hours of torture if I had not taken her to the vet.

Exams done, quick lunch with A and SilverGhoster done, and I was off to pick her up. That’s when I learnt about the unprofessional behavior of doctors and how much it affects a layperson. I picked up Scotch from her cage, and she tumbled out in a dizzy. Her hind legs shivered and shook as she stumbled a foot forward. I took her to the vet’s table and asked him if she had been sedated during her boarding. He nodded confidently – no, she wasn’t. And the next 4 hours were spent in my trying to quiz them and myself, on reasons why a normal dog, who had clearly not eaten rat poison, would act dazed and confused after spending 4 hours in a cage. She usually has separation anxiety and comes back from all boarding with a sore throat, from all the barking. But she was never this.

Every post on Facebook, from loving pet parents who’d lost their pet due to hospital negligence, shot in front of me. The guilt from the morning returned all over again. Scotch had gone into some strange depression after my rushing her to the vets early in the morning, feeding her charcoal and locking her up in the cage for 4 long hours. She must have been convinced that I was trying to kill her, and this was her showing signs of depression. I had broken my dog.

Or so I thought, until the vet called me at 9 PM and clarified his mistake. There had been 2 labs today with similar issues – rat poison. And they mixed up Scotch for the other. Yes, Scotch had been sedated because for the first hour that I was gone, she had barked her vocal chords off and unsettled most other boarders. They just had her name confused. A fancy establishment, earning millions of rupees every month from treating and working with pets and they haven’t found a better system to identify dogs.

Shame!

First kisses

Conversations with SilverGhoster took an interesting turn and we got talking about first kisses. It reminded me of past conversations about the same. It reminded me of the past first kisses, and the emotions that come wrapped in with that simple act of a kiss.

The moments of furtive glances and stolen touches before the kiss. All the years of preparation and still being unprepared for what lies ahead. That nanosecond before your lips meet, where you question the next act that lies ahead. With that kiss, you’d be changed forever. In that nanosecond, you remember every opportunity for a kiss that you took before, and every opportunity that you’ve missed. You walk two steps away and yet two steps forward, as you feel an energy draw you on. Unimaginable.

And then, it repeats again with the next one.  It’s the first kiss all over again.

The feeling that binds it all

The factor that makes it truly special, the reason you couldn’t just pay a professional prostitute to give you your first kiss, is the feeling of belonging or oneness that comes with it. Ask any man that has lost his virginity to a paid masseuse, and he’ll tell you about the strange sense of regret that is typically associated with the act. Sex is no longer about love making, it’s purely an item to check off on life’s to-do list.

A lot of today’s generation seems to be stuck in this rut, the one where sex is no longer love-making; it’s a solution to a heartbreak, and is an international flight and some bahts away. There is a queer pressure to belong, a sense to ‘lose it’  because all your friends already have. I’m reminded of the conversation with the Danseuese aka Tooti, where she thought she didn’t have a boyfriend anymore because she didn’t put out yet. I hear silent sighs when I share the first time I made out. It feels like I was a few years too late compared to today’s youngsters.

And yet, I’m able to look back at my first with a sense of pleasure and wonder. It’s not like we’re getting awards for the best first sex. But, I can still look back at my first with a sense of wonder and awe. It still has a memory of amazement, a strange mutual exploration, that was still not pushed by peer pressure. And that’s honestly all that I’d like to send out there as a consolation message to the kids of today – hold off until it feels right, and it will totally be worth the wait.

Checking off checklists

Turns out the initial conversation with the SilverGhoster did get him thinking. As I was talking to him today, I realized that he had a newer, a more updated version of the checklist, and some of the major stereotypes were gone. It feels powerful, almost God-like, to know that someone’s interests and wants in life are shaped by discussions with you. But with that feeling comes great responsibility. By sharing your thoughts and views on varied social issues, you could be altering an impressionable mind, something that can go either ways.

A surprise that lay at the end of the conversation was the realization that I’d checked off a lot of the items on his list. Was I creating such an impression on the SilverGhoster that he was shaping his future aspirations based on me? What would happen when I start showing sides  of me that have scared men away in the past? The last few days have been good conversations. But doesn’t this new twist in the tale just remove a friend from the list entirely? Is this going to be another choice between a friend and something more than a friend?

Doesn’t the past trend say that the friend is the one lost in all such cases?

Woah! All that charcoal and sedative is making me feel funny in the head. And you’re up all night chatting up giving big lectures! Show me some love man!” Scotch

Day 111: He has 4 Masters degree and a law degree

Reconnecting with friends is always fun. And, PeePee has been a variant of all sorts amongst the friends circle. What started off as mutual likes on each other’s photo blogs, graduated to comments on the blog and moved on to email exchanges. I still remember the random, unexpected, first email that PeePee sent, full of techniques on shooting a closeup of the moon. I would generally have marked it as spam a d ignored the man on my photoblog. But, I followed it to the last T and this beauty happened. Since then, our mutual acquaintance would go through the phases of the moon; the full moon and its everyday conversations, on everything under the moon, that would wane to the no moon, with some serious virtual silence. He’s been one of those rare acquaintances that I felt at ease with almost immediately and we could talk after years and still catch up like nothing changed.

We reconnected today; I messaged him because I was captivated by his dp when reviewing contacts on the old phone. The new, self-grooming, was definitely spot on. And, we quickly caught up. A successful move to the US, a shack of his own decked up to his interests, new hobbies (wood work :)), and persistent old hobbies, family that lived a few miles away and parents that visited often, and he seems to be living the classic 30-year old’s dream life. And yet, the consistent underlying thread of regret was the mismatch between the familial expectations of marriage versus that of our generation.

He has been riding the same boat of evaluations for marriage as I have, mostly driven by parents. There are staunch restrictions for prospects; should be of the same caste, sub-caste even and all other factors, including matching interests, are trumped by superstitious beliefs. No amount of convincing, discussing have changed their mindset on that. ‘My father has four Master’s degrees, even a law degree, and my mother is equally qualified too. And yet…‘, his voice trails off.

Education vs. Family

A lot of their opinions, and life choices, seem to be affected more by their immediate society than the educational qualifications. Shouldn’t education automatically help you sift out the right from the wrong, the outdated from the relevant? I’ve had this similar query when having sociological discussions with ChemProf as well. Despite being one of the most educated in the larger family, he still has such obsolete, conventional, ideas about relationships, social statuses and gender equality. And I can emphasize with PeePee: the more I talk to ChemProf, the more I realize how futile the whole effort is, and how deep rooted some of these stereotypes really are.

Riding the wall

What also caught me in the whole conversation was the sincere pain I felt in PeePee for hurting his parents. Our generation has very strong principles and has the will to live by it; but it is also aware of the barrier that rests between our generation and the previous one; especially the big barrier about ideologies. The last time I said yes to getting married, it was not because I liked the gentleman; it was purely because I was tired of hurting my parents. And yet, my conviction to my own principles didn’t allow me to see it through.

We’ve become a generation that is strong about its own interests and needs, but is equally aware of the effect of these on the previous generation. We cannot hurt outright, and yet we cannot give in completely as well. We ride the middle line, a balanced act on the tight-rope, and only time will tell if we make it through or the rope tips over.

Talk about long distances, and you now know how we Yoga in KL. Well, mommy tries to do Yoga, but I usually beat her to the mat. And the dogasanas begin.” Goose

Day 103: Leave, you can live with cookie on the streets

These last few days have been a major wastage of resources to get to college and back. We’ve barely had 2 or 3 classes each day and one with more drama than another. Remember?

Like yesterday, by about 12, I struggled and found my way back to the car, to start the long drive back home. I spent one hour and a half in the morning, and I anticipated at least 2 on my way back. I was spot on. So I had spent more time on the road going to and returning from Uni, than actually in the Uni itself.

Gorgeous omelets

And to make matters worse, I had restarted my diet with a few days of intermittent fasting. As I was driving back, I imagined the wondrous eggs lying on my counter, and the cheese in the fridge. I could picture the omelet I would make by putting these two simple and tell magical ingredients together. I had waded past Michael’s, the hot dude and his counter, full of chocolate croissants and chocolate doughnuts. I would make the omelet in all butter to make up for that missed chance at Michael’s. I had skipped breakfast as well. So, it will be a heavy brunch indeed.

I entered the house, and Scotch welcomed me in with more warmth and bum-shake than usual. Hmm. She must really love me. I was really gone for only a few hours. Wait a minute!

I walk over to the dining space, and the plastic container with the spicy groundnuts is lying on the ground, cracked into pieces. Not a sign of the extra spicy groundnuts. I look at the bed on the floor and it’s soaking wet. The recently bought bottle of epiotic, the ear cleaner, is lying strewn, a strategically placed hole leaking all the liquid out.

I turn to Scotch and she is already staring deep into the floor, ear flaps stuck to her head, and guilt overflowing. I chide her a little, point to the ear medicine and her mouth. I allow myself a small laugh, as I remember the recent upma episode. And I turn around towards the kitchen.

Hell!

There are some utensils all strewn on the ground, knives lying scattered, and the floor mat is all wet. The bowl with the vinegar solution for her ear is empty and lying down on the ground as well. A step forward, and the egg cartons are lying on the floor, face down, and half chewed on.

I had recently bought 2 dozen eggs and might have used 3 for my last omelet. 2 dozen eggs minus 3 and there was no sight of even one. No shells or parts. Nada.

A strange anger took over me and I leapt for the nearest stick from the garden. Two sharp whacks on her feet and she kept quiet, not even a growl. She knew she’d done something very bad.

I opened the main door and asked her to go live with the streeties since she was into scavenging anyway. I was angered all the more when she diligently followed my instructions and went out the door. Dogs don’t get sarcasm, clearly. I tied her up to her leash in the balcony, ran to the bedroom and slammed the door loudly behind me, like dogs would understand such passive-aggressive bullshit.

Breathe

Two minutes and I was already repenting every single minute of it. It was just eggs! And if anything, she would be the one in pain, what with all that excess protein intake. Why did I make it worse with the whacking? I wasn’t that kind of parent the last time I checked. I remembered how miserable I felt the last time, and this time I felt a million times worse. My ears were hot with the anger. And I could feel my heart racing.

I walked over and released her from her leash and gave her a nice long hug. Scotch over eggs, any day! And she burped in my face, as if returning all the affection, and I knew what was brewing in her little tummy already.

Well you know that free souls like me aren’t meant to be tied down. So, I’m going to make my sad face. 

And, you also know how much I love a challenge. So when you only gave me vegetables and Dalia for lunch, I just presumed that you had left the eggs for me to take later. After snack, maybe! ” Scotch 

Day 101: Your dog is actually very aggressive

Like Father

As I drove back from an unplanned long-distance drive through the city, between being stuck in traffic, and ambling along at a snail’s pace, I realized that I was my father’s daughter after all. Growing up, I’ve always seen my dad go out of the way to ensure guests got where they had to. His theory was always that we had the time, and the means, and we know the place; so why would we subject them to the horror of a new place. I remember all of us stuffed into the car at midnight to drop off my colleagues in Bombay that had come home for dinner. Most people would call a cab and then wave diligently from their pristine balconies; but not Balsu.

I think it all boils down to the love for driving, traffic or none, and like father, like daughter indeed.

Aggressive Dogs

Scotch and I headed out for the evening walk, and we were waiting for the elevator, when the neighbors at 201 popped out of their apartment. The man had the little toddler in his hands, while the lady ran behind him frantically. The child lay limp in the man’s arms, and he screamed out for B to come help, once and then again. As soon as Scotch saw these two grown adults run towards us, she sensed some strange danger to the two of us and started barking. I held her up against the wall while the man and the woman hesitated in front of the Bs, before running down to the family in the ground floor. The elevator dinged at my floor, and we got in and went down to the basement to finish our business.

It was evident that there was some problem with the little one – choking, maybe?

When we were done with the basement work, we saw the man holding the baby and walking around the front garden, trying to settle the baby down. So, I skipped Scotch’s ambling in the garden, and went back up to the house. As I put her back in the house, I saw Mrs. B, and so I went back out to check on the child.

Me: Hey, Is their child OK?

Mrs. B: Swallows some spit. Rolls her ballsy eyes. Your dog is very aggressive.

Me: Excuse me?

Mrs. B: Your dog, is actually, very aggressive.

Me: What did I ask you and what are you responding with? Turn around and walk away.

“She said what? She called me what? Are you sure the B in her name is not bitchy?

Oh! these humans. And they call us the beasts.” ~ Scotch

Scotch in the rain - Rajani

Day 100: You don’t have to sing like me, you only have to sing like you

PsychGoddess showed up fresh in the morning, and the Sunday was worth it all.  We started the day off with some dosa, coffee and loads of life. Scotch was the most excited of the lot though. Having spent so many months with only me, she was all out of bounds for another company.

Adopt, Don’t shop

Since the trip to Bhor, I was in awe of PsychGoddess and her perspectives on life. That awe transformed into respect, and one of a different level, when I found out that her son was an adopted child. H and I have had conversations about adoption in the past; it’s been a decider for me on a number of prospectives. But they’ve typically sounded wishful thinking, and something that we’d have to battle against the world to see it through. Talking to her about it made it seem very relatable; doable of sorts.

It’s clearly a big decision to choose to give life to a child that has been abandoned. But a few things she said will stay with me if I get to that point of having to make that decision.

  • It’s not your right to have a child, especially to adopt one. It’s the child’s right to have a decent life. And that always trumps every other justification you might have in your head.
  • If you’re a married couple adopting, each of you has to decide for yourself, if you, as an individual, wants to have a child.
  • Every child reacts differently to the knowledge of her adopted status. Know your child enough before having that conversation. And even then, anything might happen. Be there.
  • Do not overcompensate for the status of the child. At the end of the day he’s your son. And he needs to realize that being adopted doesn’t give him extra goodies than any other child around.
  • Be open and speak about it in the house. The more hushed the conversations are, the more the child feels different.
  • Leave no opportunity to remind the child that she is loved and wanted in the family. It is all that matters.

Marriage

It’s always refreshing to hear PsychGoddess’ perspective on marriage. It changes you, she says, and warns me to be prepared for even the most sensitive men to give up their views when in this institution. It’s very uplifting to hear men, and boys, like SPD and GardenMan talk about the status of women, and to see them empathize with the lopsided role of women in the society. But to imagine that all this would change when they get married makes it seem like the soul sucking institution that I’m imagining it to be.

I believe more in the idea of spending time together, living through the good and the ugly. None of the pain and the joy would be changed by the fact that you’re legally bound by marriage or not. Not being married, but living together somehow puts you on an even scale. Societal expectations from the roles of the man and the woman no longer seem to apply. And it seems less stressful to explain why the man stays at home to cook or why the woman wears pants all day.

And if marriage seems like a logical celebration to the past, the time that you’ve spent together, then by all means – do get married.

Finding Ram in Kabir

A great perspective that PsychGoddeas introduced me to this time around is the Kabir Project. What started off as a project to find Kabir, as the opposite of finding Ram, ended in a beautiful collection of hymns and poems that seem to talk about life more than religion.

She signed us up for a Kabir singing workshop today and I was excited to try out something I’d normally never do. We reached the studio, Shoonya, early enough to soak in the beauty of how the terrace had been transformed into a positive living space. Mental note made for future terrace spaces.

When the event started, a group of 28 very different people got talking and singing about Kabir. The group was led by Vipul Rikhi, who worked as a translator at the Kabir Project. The song for the day was called ‘Haalo ri mori sajni’ and it deserves a post of its own. The workshop was well conducted, and we spent enough time talking about the lyrics, and listening to him sing it that a number of the participants were singing the song like naturals at the end of the 3 hours.

What caught me off guard was the silence that I felt inside me when the whole group finished singing the song one last time. We’d talked about detachment and the palace of colors, had laughed at each other’s singing voices, and had held each other’s hands through the stress of singing in smaller groups. But in the end, as we all sang together, I felt a strange attachment with the idea of the group while still feeling extremely detached from it.

Oh! And Vipul was super hot with his salt and pepper and the beard. ❤

Singing or not, I’m happy that she is here. She made me a special batch of upma, anf I had it with a side of amma’s mango pickle. She even bought me fresh dates for dessert. It’s only weird she left it all on the kitchen counter, and it was a little tough reaching them all. But I managed.

Can we keep her, please?” Scotch