Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Fidelity a scarce commodity?

When I was a little girl, I had a recurring daydream. I’d meet my soulmate when I turn 16. He becomes my best friend, we go to the same college together, move to the same city, fall in love and get married, have kids and live happily ever after. There was no space for dating other guys, having my heart broken or breaking other hearts, people hitting on me only for a particular reason—none of that. It was the perfect love story; one that couldn’t be made into a movie since there were no twists or turns.

I grew up and expectedly, my daydream was shattered into a millions shards. Many came and went; I broke some hearts and my heart was broken a few times. But nonetheless, I still believe in love, commitment, marriage, fidelity and the likes. Which is odd, because the concept of marriage scared the bejesus out of me for the longest time—not because I wanted to sound cool and say that I don’t want to be tied down or whatever excuse people use, but because my first-hand experience of marriage in my formative years was less than perfect.

Today I see fidelity has become a scarce commodity, a point of discussion with people actually debating whether or not it is possible. People I know fall in love, spend heaps of time together, fight, share, laugh, and then get married. I’m presuming that when they are getting married it’s not just for the party (as fun as that idea may be). You are taking a vow to love, cherish and respect each other, no matter what. Yes, there will be ups and downs, sometimes the road will look barren for long periods of time, sometimes you will want to either kill yourself or your spouse, or both. But in the end, you promise at that altar, in front of a fire or a cross or a courthouse, that you will stick it out. So why the question of whether or not fidelity is possible? Isn’t that the premise of most relationships, especially that of marriage?

When people tell me they think fidelity is overrated and not a practical expectation, I look at it this way—I love my mom. Now if I meet my friend’s mom who may be prettier, or more fun, or just cooks better, does that mean I...switch or move on to the other mother? Not really.

So why is it so difficult for people to stay committed in a marriage and uphold those vows? I’ve heard people say that yes, I’ve cheated, but I love her/him, so I shouldn’t lose her/him. Huh? If you do love the person, how could you allow your body to make love to anyone else? Isn’t it repulsive? I know love and lust are two different things, but isn’t lust a part of love? If you are truly in love with someone, aren’t you also attracted to that person, and hence won’t feel the need to satiate any physical needs elsewhere?

I’ve heard people say, “I love XX, but so-and-so is so cute, I just can’t resist!” I could understand that if you’re in a relationship where you’re not entirely happy or sure about the person. But if you’re married (and I don’t mean those weddings where you are forced down the aisle)... how?

I may sound old-fashioned, close-minded or just plain stupid. But it makes me thinks, in this day and age, when we have so many options for just about everything, from detergent to investment plans and cars, are we also beginning to look at options for our love and commitment? Is it really becoming that difficult in today’s urbanscape to stay loyal to one person, where you can have up to five people at a time?

I try not to judge but sometimes I can’t help it. Forgive the righteousness of this post, it’s not the intention. I’m just old-school. Despite seeing lots of infidelity all my life, I am a complete champion for faithfulness, loyalty, chivalry and old-fashioned, one-person, head-over-heels, going-down-on-one-knee, sweeping-you-off-your-feet kinda love. Is that too much to ask for?

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Happy birthday Dadu

One of the earliest memories I have of him is of the night we returned from the US. I remember he bought Thums Up for us and though it was three in the morning, the entire family was chugging the drink on the first floor of the beautiful house he had built years ago.

After this, every memory of my growing years has him in it. He would be the guardian coming for our parent-teacher meetings, sit in the room while my sister and I studied in the porar ghor (which is my room today), often falling asleep and leaving us giggling with his thunderous snores. We’d take the opportunity to then pass chits and snacks to each other, while he slept blissfully on the floor of the room, comfortable in just his lungi and poite.

His would buy us whatever we needed—clothes, books, stationary, even underwear and other womanly items. He would cover our books before every school year started while we held the tape for him. Every other weekend, he and I would sit on the floor of our dining room and segregate all the biscuits he had bought in separate jars and tins. We would then eat those biscuits with tea on the floor of his room or the balcony; I would pour my tea into the saucer just like he would. Yes, we spent many an hour on the floor of our beautiful house.

Lunches at the Calcutta Club were always a grand affair, especially the Christmas lunches. A stop at the bakery before leaving was always a must. The discussion at the lunch table however, always embarrassingly revolved around my bathroom ordeals—so much so that today, I have no qualms in discussing the same with just about anyone.

I remember seeing him cry, for the first time ever, and my heart broke. I literally heard the snap and thinking of the image, I cried for hours afterwards.

He would drop me to the bus stop every single day till I was in my A-Levels and stopped going to school by bus. He would carry my bag, hold my hand and we’d cross the road till I was 16 years old. Once when my bag fell over into the fenced garden against which we’d lean and wait, he tried climbing over the fence to retrieve it—he was around 70 then. When it was time to start using the metro, he went on a few trial runs with me so that I would get the hang of it.

The amount of time I spent on the phone was always a bone of contention between us—why wouldn’t I just use that time studying instead? He often lectured my friends and me—he used to say, I don’t have two granddaughters, I have so many, because my sister’s and my childhood friends, especially my three chuddy buddies, were like his own.

The first time we had to rush him to the hospital, I was scared. I was petrified, but for some reason, I did not fear losing him. That thought had just not occurred to me. I mean, he had, after all, said that he wanted to settle our accounts over all the years with his nath-jamais (grandsons-in-law). So where would he go? He was going to give us away.

My AS Level results came a month before he actually left. I was thrilled and so was he—I got all A’s. He showed me off at his office (yes, the man worked till his last day) and brought home mishti. We then ordered pizza and I remember planting a kiss on the forehead of the man who was responsible for my “flying colours”.

About a month later, I had to fill out some forms and submit them to the British Council for a paper I was giving early, for my A-Levels. I took them on Friday but one signature or some such thing was missing, so the submission was incomplete. The perfectionist OCD kind of person that he was, he wanted at least five different copies of these to be kept with different people at different locations, just in case. I brought back the incomplete forms which he then completed.

Monday morning, as I was leaving the house, I looked up to wave him goodbye; he was hanging off the balcony yelling “BC BC!”, reminding me to go to British Council, submit the forms and bring home the photocopies. Anyone hearing this out of context would think he was yelling out a very dirty swear word.

I dutifully did all that I was told and brought the copies for him. He breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that now I would be able to give my exam.

Later that night, I was studying for an accounts test, my least favourite subject. He knew I preferred to study at night. But this night, for some reason, he called me up to sleep by 11:30pm. I would sleep in his room—him of the floor and me on the bed. He used to say that the AC’s direct vent bothered him, but I suspect that was not true.

Surprisingly, without arguing, I too shut my books and went up. He told me he was feeling well now (he had had a cold and fever the past few days) and that I should sleep since I had to wake up early. That was the last conversation I ever had with him. The next two weeks or so are a blur and yet I remember every single moment of it.

Birthdays have always been a big deal for us—a cake is a must. Today he would have turned 85. How I wish he was here so that I could turn to him for advice, and so that he could meet my special someone (I think he’d like him) and so that he could give me away. I try not to shed tears on his birthday; I definitely eat cake. The tears bit is easier said than done, but the cake is easy peasy.

Happy Birthday Dadu. Everything I am today, is because of you—my perseverance, my tenacity, the strength of my character, my values and ideals—everything. I know you’re still around, looking out for Di and me, proud of what we’ve accomplished today, waiting for it to get even better, because as you would say, “Ashol’er theke shudh beshi.” (The interest is always greater and more important than the principal amount).

Monday, 4 February 2013

Feeling the feeling

It’s just one of those feelings. I don’t know what the feeling is, but it ain’t great. The last few weeks have been hectic, with almost equal parts of the good and the bad; possibly more of the good than the bad, and yet I feel lost in transition.

Firstly let me tell you all about the beautiful wedding I went for back home. Out of my close school gang, the first one went down—pretty big deal. I was given almost a year’s notice so I had to go and hold him steady in case he freaked out. Luckily nothing of the sort happened and in fact, he is deliriously happy and in love. Yes, this is still possible. It was your quintessential arranged-cum-love marriage—a rare phenomenon in the generation before us that is making a quick and solid comeback in ours. It was almost like these two were made for each—they even look perfect together. And of course, the wedding gave me an excuse to go home, laze around, have my mommy feed me, wear saris and jewellery, and just kick back and relax. All purposes served!

Staying true to my new year promise (no, not resolution, just a promise to myself) I made amends in a few relationships, which mean the world to me, and let go (not without trying) of a few others—no hard feelings. I still perhaps have some way to go, but hey, it’s a good start, right? Sometimes you have to realise that as you grow up, you blossom into a person of your own, as do others around you. That just means you have to try harder to maintain certain relationships. I don’t mean that that effort is straining; I just mean that you need to understand one another better so that your different personalities don’t clash or push you apart—cos no matter some, some ties really are for life.

I was back from home in a week, thrown headfirst into a deluge of work and dilemmas about my ‘home’ situation in this city. Sigh. It just never ends, does it? But respite soon came in the form of a beautiful music and wine fest at the Sula Vineyards, Nashik. I went with some people whose company I love (including some whom I love) and under the open skies and with the notes of the music, I soon forgot my real-life problems and let the wine do its work. 

The highlight of Sulafest 2013 was definitely Swarathma’s performance. So much energy and interaction on stage—electric! Though their music is undoubtedly similar to lead singer Vasudev Dixit’s brother’s band, Raghu Dixit’s, the Radhu Dixit Project, there was something about Swarathma’s delivery and stage presence that was unparalled! Besides, the backing vocalist and lead guitarist is a Bong. ;)

And now I’m back, again, feeling the feeling, that I can’t explain; feeling like no one loves me; like I have too many battles to fight, too many obstacles to overcome. Sigh. Can anyone please find me a rock I can hide under and never come out of? I can make it my home, you know? Okthanksbye.