Yesterday I went to Pria’s house. Our conversation was usual – office work, bitching, and more bitching, and of course, on decorating the house. Pria has a lovely house, and every time I go to her place, I get ideas on decorating my place. At her place I met her Mom-in-law, who seemed to be a quiet sweet traditional lady. I always get shy when I am with unknown people, and in my ackwardness, end up avoiding them. As comfortable as I was with pria, my total conversation with her MIL was a sum total of three smiles, one hi, three sentences, two look aways, and one bye.
Today Pria came back and told me about how her MIL was wondering why I was not married. I couldn’t but help burst out laughing as Pria told me how the dear old lady was flabbergasted by the fact that a twenty five year old woman was not married, and worse, did not want to get married. While I am sure I gave pria and K quite some entertainment last evening, I did feel kind of sorry for the poor lady who just could not fathom why we couldn’t fathom what she was thinking.
When the laughter died down, I gave myself a minute to think about the probability of the impossibility. A minute. And in the whole space of 60 seconds, my mind went totally blank. And when the blankness cleared, all I could think was how sad it was. I would love to pretend that I am this modern, hip, strong independent woman who has always wanted to be carefree and footloose, who has wanted to travel the world, who has lots of priorities and ambitions. I sometimes do too. When I am in my Fab India kurta, twirling away at my junk earrings, discussing travel in Europe – in the yellow walls of Barista, I even believe the pretense.
That’s what I thought – that I was living an illusion. That it was pleasant illusion, but it was a transient one, and that one day reality would hit. So I was really shocked at my ‘blank moment’ – why was it so difficult for me to conjure a picture of marital bliss? All my friends are very happening – they have always wanted to travel, to learn things (different things – dance, foreign languages, theatre). My ambition when I was twenty was to be happy. Just as I was then. The specifics were to get married, have two kids, and have a good job (read that as earning well). My parents were happily married and I had a very normal if mundane childhood. I don’t know if I was an extremely unimaginative kid, but I hardly saw anything wrong with my world. The world was cruel, there were people dieing in Somalia, lots of kids being left on the streets, riots and hatred, but it seemed very far away – nothing which touched me. Now that I think of it, my childhood seems like a Karan Johar movie – maybe Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gum, without all that glitter (Oh we were very middle class, believe me) . I am trying hard to look at all the things that agitated me, and I can’t really think of too many. I was upset about my best friend’s mother being very sick, sad that my maid had to steal money from my mom, was awkward that my mother’s family and father’s family did not get along really well, and of course exams, but otherwise…..And it was not that I was particularly ignorant or unread – I was very well-informed, well-read about the world. So by the time I reached my late teens, I had got used to the idea that I was this tepid, colorless creature within no passion in me. I had opinions on everything, but no real drive to change the world. Oh make no mistake, nobody would have guessed it – I was bright and chirpy, academically brilliant, doing well in almost anything and everything (you guessed it right, one of those kids who put your teeth on edge with their sickly sweetness). Even my concept of a God was that of a benign best buddy. Years later my roomie went into a fit of righteous anger over a God who did not care about the starving millions, and drought and war. And I told her that God had always been good to me, so I believed in his existence. She looked at me as if God has just given a moustache or something.
My world took a sudden turn when we shifted to Kerala. As much as I loved the land, it was a big change, and I hated it. And suddenly I discovered my hidden passion – perverseness. While as a child I liked being in the spotlight, as a teen I decided to blend into the shadows. Result of which nobody knew I existed for next five years. Then Bangalore happened.
My plans for Bangalore were quite structured like everything else. Work for two years, get married to the next Mallu clean shaven guy who had a cook, and continue to work. And then Bangalore happened (repeat). And I never realized that it did. One day I got a job that was a pain, and then somewhere down the line I realized that I liked it. Another day I started living with people who were so different from me – soon they were the most important people in my life. I fell for a man – who was so wrong for me.
So here I was twenty – smug and well used to the idea that life did not hold any more surprises for me. Passion was something I did not feel. Suitability was what I had all my life. Convenience was what I wanted. So where could things go wrong? I still don’t know. J was a friend. Someone who I laughed with, teased, and flirted. Where was the danger – he was a great buddy, we understood each other well, the mental bonding was immediate and immense, but there was no chance I could fall for him. He was charming and sweet, but irresponsible and selfish. He liked women, and I valued fidelity. He told me about everything that went on his life including the women, he knew everything about mine. He was nothing that I wanted in my man, and I had no intentions of shaking my well laid out plans.
So that was J. And there were other things – I don’t know what, but there were. Life which has seemed to be very straight forward till then, seemed to have become multi-dimensional. There were people, there was work, there were friends, there was family, and suddenly so much more. What? Maybe life. I hadn’t planned on getting affected, and I never even realized that I was – so confident I was about my ability to remain detached. I cared, even when I did not want to. I had opinions but now I felt frustrated that I could not do anything about them. I was never going to be the ‘change the world’ kind of girl, but I did not even realize that I wanted to change it. And then of course there was travel. I was traveling so often and enjoying myself so much that life without it seemed impossible.
J and me had passed through different phases by now. The initial excitement was over, and we had settled down to routine but ‘look forward to conversation’. Then came the crush phase where I clinged on to him like a leech, and he tried to shake me off. Its weird how we mistake dependence for passion. He cared but not enough; he was initially flattered, then put off, and then just annoyed. And that further ignited the passion, read dependence. Hatred I could take, plain detachment I could not. And then we became lovers. As momentous as the event was, it came and went off in a totally non descript manner. Finally of course, the infidelity and the final breakup. And then two years of bitterness and pain. And finally exhaustion.
Then there was independence. Both financial and emotional. I was used to taking decisions on my own. And I had realized how difficult it was going to be. Even with J.
Two years down the line, we started talking. With awkwardness and hesitation but nevertheless we did. I had tired of being the tragedy queen and life was pretty much normal now, and I was ready to move on again. Besides another man had started showing interest in me, and while I did not love him, he was ‘suitable’. Before I said my final yes, I wanted to meet J. We had started talking, and he was surprised that I was taking it easily. So was I. Two years had brought about a lot of wisdom, and had just re-inforced the fact how unsuitable we were for each other. Two years is a lot of time – a lot of time to go back over every incident and see how dumb you were not to read the signals.
We met again. He confessed that he was surprised that I came. I confessed that I was too. One weekend. We did the normal things – went out, shopped, watched TV. And that last evening as I wrote back to my roomie, I finally dared to admit that I had known passion. All this while I called it dependence, habit, love, caring, emotion..everything but passion because I was incapable of it, wasn’t I? But as I looked at him in his crouched ugly position on the sofa, I could not help the tremor of emotion in me. Oh I no longer want him, there is no longer the madness to hold him, no longer the insecurity that I will lose him. He is not mine, he will never be, but I am connected to him. He has no control over it, neither do I.
J does not understand me. He cannot understood how I have gotten over him. I smile, but give him no reasons. How can you explain to a guy that you have so much feeling inside you for him, but you also don’t want him. Of course there are phases of depression, moments of devastation, bouts of bitterness, but what is underlying is the inevitability of the impossibility.
As I get back to reality, I smile when I think how Pria’s MIL would react if she ever reads this write up. Perhaps Pria would be scandalized to I know that I am too once in a while
Marriage? Yes. Just not for the reasons I once wanted it to be. The dreams have changed, so have I. There is no J, but more than that, there in no feeling any more. Passion, do I dare say the word? There is life, there is beauty, there is lots of happiness, things to do, no J, and theres me. So then the blank moment doesn’t really count does it?