I watched Mr and Mrs Smith in the rainy month of June 2005. It wasn’t easy. Too much coaxing had to be done. I was nigh on 16 so going to the movies with friends was simply out of question. I held my ground. Discussions ensued. A decision was finally made. I could go only if I was accompanied by my older cousin who worked night shifts. Bad enough she wasn’t a big fan of movies, I had to drag her along with me to watch the damned movie on the only day she got to sleep at home. So, guilt ridden and excited I dragged 2 of my sisters to watch the movie. I liked it. And then I decided to never tell the Gilmores about any of movie outings.
My next big movie outing was arranged in full secrecy. A bunch of friends from college and I went to catch Dus at Rex. It took me half a day to realise that this whole business of watching a movie with friends was a big deal only for me. Everybody else seemed unexcited and casual, even. I was disappointed because it was the first time in my life I was somewhere I was not supposed to be and nobody seemed to recognize or share my pleasure. My parents didn’t know where I was and that was the best thing about the whole movie outing. I felt great when I returned home knowing how I spent my day. It felt good to have lied and gone out for a day with friends, which if I had asked permission for, I would never have been allowed.
Further down the years, lying became my only way of getting what I wanted. I did try the truth occasionally but when I saw that it made their control over me seem tighter, I decided to stick with lies for the rest of my life. My Pre university days at home were horrible. Every movement was watched. So much so that mother faked coming late to a PTA meeting and arrived early so she could hide behind some pillar to see who I talk to. She did this twice.
Key among incidents like these is two of the worst tantrums that they pulled. Dad – because he saw a boy’s name on my phone. Mom – because I asked to spend the night with my friend (a girl) because it was her birthday. Plates were thrown, dinner was abandoned and she sped up to her room, crying because I stubbornly wanted to go.
And then when I had to go on my next trip, I lied. And everything became super easy for me. I have had an educational excuse for every trip since then. And I realised I don’t have to deal with any of their tantrums at all because I was saving them the trouble of having to educate and bring culture to an ill cultured daughter; by lying to them about where I was going and with whom.
I must confess I take great pleasure in doing this. Even now as I am typing all of this, I cannot help but feel a little proud of myself for having done what I did. But, there is a but. The fact that I am an adult now and should be able to do what I want to without having to lie. Or the fact that there are days when I wonder if really telling them the truth would be so bad. Or the fact that maybe at some level I am still scared of them which is why I feel the excessive need to lie and cover up my flaws – which is that I am not as mature as I would like to be.
I don’t know if I’ll ever grow out of this phase. But I can see that I can only move forward if I forgive them and myself and realise that no matter how many tantrums they threw I still did everything that I wanted to. And that hasn’t changed at all.
This is a story that I have wanted to tell for some time now. I didn’t really know it was a story so I didn’t bother looking there all this while. It became a story this morning when I eavesdropped on a conversation that my mother and sister were having about my grandmother. My father has always thought that I am like his mother. It’s like this general consensus that I’ve grown up listening to. Now that I think about it, everytime I expressed a stubborn desire to do something that nobody approved of, I was told that I am like her. For the longest time, in fact even until before 2 months, this was offensive to me. This comparison. Everytime someone wanted to make me feel bad and wanted to make me stop ‘wanting’ something I could not have, either because I was too young or because I was a girl, I was told that I am like my Grandmother. It was said in a tone to put me back in my place.
I don’t remember having spent much time with her except for our long morning walks together in Belgaum. My grandmother is the quietest person I have met. Too much has been said about her in the houses that I grew up in. Too much more has been said about her in the houses of my mother’s sisters. Stories of torture and stubbornness and arrogance and my mother’s silent battle against this woman who made life hell for her. This is the story that was told to me by everybody who knew her. I see another story here though. I don’t know much of her past and whether or not she was happy in her marriage, whether or not she liked her children but I do know that she liked being on her own. She wasn’t much of a talker, didn’t like small talk, ate on her own, watched TV on her own and stuff. And these were things that she was constantly being judged for.
Women who like their space are never liked in this family. It’s only now I realise how strong she was/is to stand up to all these fellows. Now I can see why my father and I have issues. He’s trying hard to tame me and I am trying harder to run away. Everybody hated her for how often she wanted to run away everytime there was a fight at home. And god knows how much my mother wants to silence of the lambs me everytime I mention wanting to live alone. It scares them. When women in my family think of running away as an option, scares the crap out of them.
I think my granny was unhappy because she couldn’t be by herself and when I think of how much she could have had if only she was born a generation later; it makes me want to hug my parents so I immediately stop thinking dangerous things like that. I look at what I have now and how much more I can have, if only I stop being a lazy chicken and start work on my escape plan.
I think she was fond of me but she liked my sister better because she was the good one. See, that’s the crazy thing. I don’t know how these things work. Anyhow, think how much she would have loved to have a room of her own. Think how many more people she could have pissed off if she had lived alone, just the way she wanted to. Especially my father. Strange strange family. I have daddy issues and he has mommy issues. But she actually has no issues. She would have been a happy person if everybody just left her alone! If only she could have run away.
So it is *that time of the year* at college. Blee. Meaning, endless shifts between invigilating and valuing papers, mad cravings for what used to be long island iced teas at Plan B but are now replaced by seven kingdoms at Monkey bar, getting up every now and then, while correcting papers, cursing the god damned weather, making crazy promises to self and the others about doing away with 40 papers a day and eventually correcting about 3.
Finished about 20 today, which is not bad actually because yesterday I finished 3. Today I thanked myself for not being married. It was 5:00 pm and I was still in college; working, and suddenly I was bowled over by the freedom it is to not be married. I could be anywhere I wanted to be. At the movies, at monkey bar, at BCL, at commercial street doing some useless thing, anywhere but home. I could go home too but the beauty of not having someone to wait up for you or keep calling you to know when you’ll be home is the most beautiful freedom. I wish I don’t have to let go off this space. Ever.
I woke up this morning all happy at the thought of being able to sit at my desk all day and read. It’s the exam season so I have nonsense invigilation dooty. Today and tomorrow however I am free. Smile. I like planning these free days with full energy. Nothing happens after that though. So I got here at 9:30, didn’t make coffee and started work on my blog. Redesigned and added a few more pages. I am happy with how it looks for now. Then I made my Bucket List and read it out to Mini.
Some things on my list are blah. Most of them I’ll never do but I want to. One or two I badly want to do but I don’t know how I can do it. Like getting pregnant for day and becoming somebody’s wife for a day. Who will want to marry me for a day ya?
Why isn’t PhD on my list? If my research life had a face, it would look like the receptionist at Hotel Decent in Jab We Met; hopeful, funny and grinning. What is this green bag shit anyway? I should call my blog I am sorry. While I am typing this away, 2 of my acquaintances are traveling all by themselves in Barcelona and Paris. Not acquaintances actually, just people I sort of stalk on FB. Don’t mind this post. I suddenly remembered my 500 day challenge and decided to write something. I have no idea why I am still writing. It’s a warm day, very regular and all. C.A is sitting in front of me looking marveled at his new landscapes picture book. Every 5 minutes he looks up at me and says ‘Phew! Look at this!’ And I look.
Valuation begins tomorrow so that means I now have 15 days of excuse to not write. Meh.
My reading list is already looking mad at me. Let’s see how this one goes.
She was always doing two things at once. Like this morning for instance when she was brushing and trying to locate her mobile charger. Quite often she would realise how much of her life she took for granted and soon after she realised she would start making lists about what else she could do to enjoy more.
She liked the hurry burry that each morning promised, it made her feel important, like she was getting dressed to get to some place important and therefore on time. She took her job rather seriously and the time she spent getting ready for the job even more seriously. It disheartened her to see that nobody saw how much effort was going in to get ready for her job. My aunts whispered to each other about the danger that is to allow young women like her to work. ‘She’s 30 and still unwed. We don’t want another Vineethakka in our home’, they would say.
Unwed women in our family like many others’ are used as a tale of caution to educate young girls about the importance of getting married and how miserable it is to stay alone. I have never met Vineethakka. Never even seen her actually but she’s a well known name in our house and the houses of my girl cousins. I was 12 when I first heard about Vineethakka. My mother and my aunts were deciding my future and told me that I was getting married at 20. I blushed because back then I liked marriage but didn’t want to seem too keen so I said that it was too early. My aunt said that vineethakka still blames them for not forcing her into marriage.
I sometimes wonder if Vineethakka is ever as miserable as she is made out to be. It is crazy how everybody started out to make a lesson out of her but she proved to be more of an inspiration to my sisters and me. I can still only make my decision about her after I meet her. What if she is actually miserable? If in case she is not then what language, what form of sane communication can I use to tell them that marriage could just be an option?
My family is full of crazy women. Their peculiarity is super amusing to me. Take my aunt for instance who starts beating her chest wildly if I miss a step while getting down the damn staircase or my mother who seems perfectly normal when she isn’t around her sisters but grows a whole family of hormones when she is around them. My fears have ranged from not wanting to become like them and to the growing possibility of becoming like them and finding it normal.