Is Love really sefless? Or above survival?

She loved him. More than anyone or anything else in this life. He loved her too. They were married for more than 3 years now and still had the same chemistry between them. If not same, better. Living together had made them even more considerate of each other’s needs. Nainika sincerely believed they were soul mates and not really just partners who had loved, got married and settle down. Everybody knew they were perfect for each other and she could never thank God enough for what she had in her life. A nice family, supportive in-laws, a God-sent husband, a good career. When she folded her hands to prayer, she didn’t know what to ask. Instead she thanked God a million times for all that He had blessed her with.
 Nainika waited for Manik impatiently on the bed. As they started to get cozy and intimate, she told him, “I love you so much. I think I can die for you”. Manik was not really pleased with the D-word. It put out his mood. But Nainika kindly explained to him that she had said that only because she was too afraid of death and it’s unpredictability. But ever since Manik had made her life so beautiful, she wouldn’t mind giving it away for him, rather than ever have to live without him. Manik understood and kissed her with all the passion in his heart. The night wore on and so did the love.
 Manik shouted “Naini, come here. Look at the beautiful view”. Nainika carefully made her way off-track and went in the direction where Manik stood. She exclaimed when she saw a small lake surrounded by beautiful mountains, lush green grass, completely concealed in a corner in the middle of the jungle. Immediately, they both decided to run down and steal a quick kiss. Manik helped Nainika down to the lake where they sat down admiring nature’s beauty, looking into each other’s eyes, stolen kisses and breathless promises were made.

 As it started to turn dark, they realized they had sat there far longer they had planned to. They started on the trek again, oblivious of the facts that they were completely on the wrong trail. As night fell, and stars appeared in the sky, they reached a huge waterfall that was nowhere in the trail they had been following. But they decided to rest the night there and follow up with their friends in the morning. Both of them were tired to their bones. Nainika was quite terrified too. The darkness and the eerie silence made her uncomfortable and she jumped at the slightest noise. Manik held her in his arms and soothed her like a baby. After a while they both fell asleep.
 Nainika woke up with a start. She thought she had heard some noises, but since she didn’t want to disturb Manik, she kept still. But now she was sure there was some wild animal waiting to make them his next meal. But what came out of the adjacent bushes got the better of her scariest nightmares. She saw a herd of men, more like tribals, who wear only leaves around their genitalia. They held spears and pointed it at them as a threating gesture. Nainika shook Manik up and for a couple of uncomfortable seconds, no one spoke a word.
Assuaging the situation, Manik finally spoke up, “Wh-What do you want?”
Immediately Manik and Nainika were separated and bound with thick ropes. The tribals did not say a word to them and spoke excitedly amongst themselves in a language that both Manik and Nainika couldn’t decipher. They both tried to calm each other and said their “I Love You” in English and Hindi. At about 3’o clock they both were forcibly taken near the huge waterfall they had earlier encountered on their way. Manik was stammering and Nainika crying. With fear. Finally, after much persuasion from them, their chief, a menacingly looking man, came forward and spoke some broken Hindi. Manik and Nainika froze. They ears were buzzing as if somebody had boxed them. “Sacrifice…1….man…woman….good luck…rain…happy….god”.
It didn’t take them long to realize that these tribals wanted to sacrifice and throw one of them down the waterfall to appease the rain gods. But they didn’t know who would be chosen.
Just then, another bomb dropped on them. The chief tribal pointed his spear towards Nainika and asked her to be brought forward. Nainika took one look down the waterfall, then looked at Manik with horror in her eyes and stepped forward. And then the chief spoke again, “you decide….who goes to the God”.

The sacrifice was to be made at the crack of dawn. Both of them were hung on poles with their hand and legs tied apart. Below them, they could see the waterfall gushing, as if prophesizing its mightiness. Both Manik and Nainika were speechless. The only words they both could hear were “I love you Manik. I could die for you”!
Nainika jumped and woke up with a start. She was sweating profusely despite the air conditioning in the room. Nainika was bewildered as she realized she had been in a horrible dream and started crying. Manik sat up, confused and looked at the clock. It was 5’o clock in the morning and sun was just about to rise. Manik laughed softly when he heard that his wife was crying due to a nightmare. He gave her some water to drink, calmed her down and went back to sleep. Nainika, however, could not sleep.
 She kept tossing and turning. Only she knew in her heart the terror she had gone through. It was real. She could feel the fear of death in her ribs and heart and that the prospect of dying had put a lot of things in perspective for her. Including the love she had for Manik. And more importantly, herself. She kept thinking whose name she would have taken in the dream. She wanted to hear herself say Manik, but she knew better. She had just seen another facet of the human mind.

Being a Woman…

I had done the Being a Man post long ago. And had thought about doing this post soon after. But somehow, it didn’t happen. Majorly for the reason that women are too versatile to be taken up completely under a single post. And so I never got around to it. But off late, there have been so many things happening around, things that I have gone through myself, things that my friends are going through and it doesn’t make any sense. Or is it only me? And opposed to the funny Man, this Woman is pretty serious.

There are a couple of female friends who have apparently turned a “marriageable age” according to the parents. The girls believe otherwise. They are pretty happy with their single status and no-responsibilities-for-a-while life. Quite visibly, the parents and daughter have a difference of opinion here. But what completely evades my sane mind is why the parents choose to convince the daughter of their own opinion in an almost abhorring way. And no, I am not talking about some remote village in Haryana or Rajasthan, but about parents who always instilled confidence in their daughters that they were no less than a boy, had every right to good education and were brought up to be smart, confident and financially independent girls. And suddenly, these parents wonder about the fate of their girls if they weren’t married at a ripe age. What would the society say? They purposefully make her believe that she is indeed a burden on their shoulders until she goes off to her marital home. WHY????? I am not even trying to take any sides here, because 18+ years is a valid age in our country to get married and who am I to question it. But why are the girls always shoved onto someone else as a responsibility when they can clearly be on their own very comfortably? Isn’t there a better way to make them understand the point of getting married at an age their parents deem fit? Or do the girls have no choice at all? She can do everything like a boy, and still be a responsibility? I wonder how a stranger is ever going to treat your daughter as an equal when you so visibly don’t.

Another couple of friends have that someone special in their lives, but are finding it difficult to convince their parents of the same. Now again, I wouldn’t want to start the Arranged marriage v/s Love marriage debate, as different things work for different people. But what I clearly find distasteful is the way parents want to stick to the conventional way of Arranged marriages, wherein they are made to act like the ladkiwaala whose sole job is to appease the ladkewaale’s demands. The girls of our generation have been brought up with a mindset of boy-girl equality and no dowry policy. How do the parents even think that these girls can go on and live peacefully with such guys and their parents? Even if the girl doesn’t want to get married to such a moron to defend her parents’ honor, she is not allowed to do so. After all, appeasing the groom’s family is the norm…isn’t it? We are confused. If the norm of killing the girl child at birth wasn’t followed, then surely this doesn’t need to be followed too..isn’t it? What’s the point of making her aware of her choices and then denying them? Wasn’t she better off not knowing them? Isn’t ignorance really a bliss? Are you really that desperate to get your girl off your back that you are ready to pay any amount of money and goodies to a complete stranger to make way for her into their homes and lives?

I feel sorry for women who have been relegated to such behavior, spanning generations and across centuries. But I feel worst when I see parents doing it to their love-you-till-death “ghar ki izzat” daughters, who themselves are well read and in tune with the times. I know we have come far from those days when the girls were not allowed to study nor do anything of their own free will. But at that time, at least the people had some logic behind their behavior. They didn’t let the girls out of the house, the girls obviously didn’t know the kind of opportunities that existed for them outside the four walls of the house and were content with the house work. But it’s really worrying to see parents who have let their daughters let go so far and suddenly want to go all traditional when it comes to marriage and even expect the daughters to do a complete U-turn from their beliefs hitherto, and conform to the whims and fancies of a stranger and his family.

It would be an understatement if I said a woman’s life was tough. It was perhaps my naivety that I thought that girls were meted out an equal treatment in today’s world. Have you ever imagined what a girl would feel like when she is made to believe that she is only a responsibility on her parents? And when she does get married, she is always the outsider in the husband’s family. Is there nobody she can actually call her own? Somebody who will lover her for her person and not just doll her up so that it would be easy to get rid of her, the burden that she is? Will this regressive behavior meted out to girls ever go away? For no reason do they say, “Charity begins at home”. Perhaps some “new-age” parents do need to learn from the age old adage.

More than anger, I feel extremely frustrated and saddened. And lonely. 

And perhaps, that’s the reason why some people feel sad at the birth of a daughter. Because they understand that apart from fighting the demons of female infanticide, eve teasing, molestation and her physical vulnerabilities, she will also have to face the trauma of always being a burden on either her family or her husband, and still feel like she belongs to none in the world.

Quoting a few lines from one of my favorite books “Gone with the Wind” that aptly sum up what I feel about a woman’s life:

“Her life was not easy, nor was it happy, but she did not expect life to be easy, and, if it was not happy, that was a woman’s lot. It was a man’s world, and she accepted it as such. The man owned the property, and the woman managed it. The man took the credit for the management, and the woman praised his cleverness. The man roared like a bull when a splinter was in his finger, and the woman muffled the moans of childbirth, lest she disturb him. Men were rough of speech and often drunk. Women ignored the lapses of speech and put the drunkards to bed without bitter words. Men were rude and outspoken, women were always kind, gracious and forgiving.”

O (Wo) Maniya !!

The other day H and I were discussing about how a man woman relationship evolves from lovers to spouses to parents. Now this kind of conversation is often triggered whenever we visit my home or his. You know, seeing our respective set of parents married for over 30 years now, and still bickering over the same issues as 30 years ago makes me see red. The last thing I have on my mind is to spend the next 25 years of my life bickering and fighting and tearing my/his hair out for stupid things.

 

A few days back we had a small fight about something inconsequential and I jokingly remarked that if we were to ever have a son, I would scold and even beat him (if required) so that he should never turn out to be like  H  (the wicked wife that I am!). So H got all worked up about this and said that whatever fights/issues we have each other should always remain between the both of us and that we should never involve the kids. Talk about future planning! :-D:-D

And so that got me thinking about how men are such a strange species and that it is nearly impossible for women to live with them peacefully (If any of the men reading this feel the same way about women, I agree with you completely :-P). Men like their wives to NEVER behave like their mothers. Even though they want us to be fussy about them and pay attention to them and massage the Man ego every now and then, they really hate it when we say something like, “Don’t do this. It’s bad for your health!” Because while you are expecting your lover’s eyes looking at you in an appeasing way for being so thoughtful about your health and all that, all you get is a set of rolling eyes. And if this were to repeat a couple of times in a week, you are sure to hear the quintessential words from the “horse’s mouth” (pun intended!) “Stop acting like my mom!” 

Now when did the tables turn, you would never know? The last time you remember you did this, he was sufficiently happy and even told you that you reminded him of his mom. Maybe you should go see a doctor for a suspected case of STML (Short Term Memory Loss). And so, I did the same and went about happily following the doctor’s advice – shout at him like a wife, but don’t (read NEVER) care like his mother. No more picking on him, after all he is a grown up man and can take care of himself. That is, until  H  happened to fall ill. I took care of him and cooked for him, gave his meds on time and blah blah. But he was acting cranky and impatient, to the extent of being PMS-ey. Now this was more than I could take. After all, I had married a man capable of living on his own and having his own family and so on and so forth and I didn’t really expect him to throw tantrums like a 5 year old. The wife in me was irritated. But the mother in me saw through his actions. His actions were not really to harass me or irk me, but he was really having a bad time coping up with the illness.

I was in a dilemma. Should I switch roles? I couldn’t be sure if the tables would turn yet again. So I decided to talk to H about it. I told him that I couldn’t take his nagging another minute and that he should behave like a grown up man. Which 27 year old have you heard of, who lies on the bed and stomps his foot because he was denied a chocolate after the medicine? He said what I had guessed, that he was cranky because of the meds and that he really hated the house-arrest part, the restless kid that he is. But then, I told him that he shouldn ’t expect me to have any sympathy, or that if he did, he shouldn’t crib about it later. He laughed his guts out. Did it sound funny to you? Atleast I had berated myself in my mind a thousand times for acting so cold. After all we girls have always been raised with notions of pati parmeshwar and other shit!:-

And with that laugh, I realized that we too had evolved and transitioned from lovers to spouses. Here I was wondering what role to take up, but we both think I am best when I am the wife because I can make him laugh. Or more importantly, I can still make him laugh AND I get to be myself (Read: can shout at him at my discretion). So ladies, while you make a note of the doctor’s advice above, the men can enjoy this quote by George Burns that I have so thoroughly begun to understand now:

“Do you know what it means to come home at night to a woman who gives you a little love, a little affection, a little tenderness? It means you are in the wrong house, that what it means.”

 



*All images courtesy Google

Being a Man…

What is it about being a man that fascinates you the most?

If you had asked me that question until about a few months ago, I, like any other self-proclaimed female chauvinist, would have thrust my chin in the air and replied vehemently, “NOTHING!”.

But as I grow older, (and probably wiser, that’s how I like to think about it!), I believe that there are certain things that God clearly has forgotten to bless us Women with.
(I am sure some die-hard feminists are going to disagree with me here, but WTH!)

And I am not even trying to mention some inconsequential stuff like how the men can treat the world as their urinal, or how easy it is for them to dress in the (almost) same pair of clothes everyday and nobody noticing the faux pas, or how their color palette only consists of whites, blacks, reds and yellows or how, no hormonal changes ever take place in their bodies post marriage, kid, blah, blah… <Contempt>

Men, I have observed, are blessed with oodles and oodles of optimism, and more so where a lady is involved. If they have set their heart on something (or someone), no matter how many kicks in the gut they receive, they never give up. Women, I feel, are big fools when it comes to love, while the guys’ mantra is “ladki ki naa mein haan h, aur haan to fir, haan h” (A girl’s No has a Yes hidden in it, and Yes is a Yes is a Yes)!

There has been many an instance when I have tried to placate some guy friends that the lady in question is clearly not interested and sometimes even rude enough to tell them that they were out of her league. But I have had the pleasure of attending this guy’s wedding with her lady and prayed hard for a short bout of amnesia to make him forget whatever s**t I tried telling him.;-))

And there is this thing about a guy’s perseverance. Girls will more often than not, fall for a guy with perseverance, money, looks, talent and in that order! Girls always feel some kind of a responsibility towards a man who’s been trying to woo her for a long time and sooner or later will be found to have given in. I guess it’s all due to our stupid mother hen instincts which make us feel us feel guilty about not being able to reciprocate their feelings. And most of the times, we confuse this affection with L-O-V-E.

The other thing that I really (Really!!!!!) envy in guys is how clearly their life is divided into black and white, while we girls struggle with almost 673 shades of grey!
Guys will always have chalked out things that they want to do and what not to do. While we girls will nervously keep shuffling feet and wringing our hands about the pros and cons of a decision we are going to make. Or how it will affect our near and dear ones. While the guys will go ahead, make the decision and either be successful at it or gain experience and move on.

And therefore, women are often left confused when their ardent-fans-cum-boyfriends turned husbands suddenly lose interest in them. It’s none of their fault. It’s just that the guys are wired that way. They wanted something. They got it and have now set their next target. I really think that this is something that has been handed down over from our ancestors where the men had to take quick decisions while hunting in the jungles. They did not have the luxury of mulling over. While the women were the nurturer of the family, taking care of everyone and 1000 years later, the situation is still the same!

In hindsight, it does feel like a blessing to be a woman.
But when I am getting late for the office, and still undecided about what to wear, or what gifts to buy for family and friends, the never ending confusions whether they would like it or not, the never ending guilt of spending more time in office than at home, or when I see my new jeans getting wasted because it no longer fits me because I-have-no-time-to-exercise, I really wish I could be a Man.

And I am not even trying to mention some inconsequential stuff like how the men can treat the world as their urinal, or how easy it is for them to dress in the (almost) same pair of clothes everyday and nobody noticing the faux pas, or how their color palette only consists of whites, blacks, reds and yellows or how, no hormonal changes ever take place in their bodies post marriage, kid, blah, blah… <Contempt><Contempt><Contempt><sigh>

The (in)famous silence and all……….

Sorry for the cheesy title………but that’s the best that I could come up with. 😉
BTW, does anyone remember this dialouge and the movie ???
My two cents on “TSH” (The Silent Treatment) !!
TSH is a strange phenomena that occurs in women and has to be borne by millions of men around the world. When a woman is mad at her man over something that she considers her birth right, the man is subjected to TSH. The man stands a chance of one in ten to come out of it alive. You think that’s exaggeration? Even I think it is…The truth is: the man doesn’t stand any chance, AT ALL. 😉
Men seldom realize what’s coming their way when an innocent question is met with a terse reply, “No, I am fine !!”. Ideally, the man should have his ears up and be ready to face a blizzard. This is the quintessential “peace before the storm”.
But if the man doesn’t take the hint, TSH is going to continue and the peace will give way to rumbling clouds. Quite literally….!!!! And longer TSH means graver consequences. Somebody please send an SOS to God on the poor man’s behalf..!!!
Because what you have done is not only irked the lady, but also committed the henious crime of accepting her “I am fine” routine. You are expected to know the difference between when she is actually fine and when, well….she is mad as hell and doesn’t want to speak to you.
The man in question goes over the happenings in rewind mode…till whenever and whatever he manages to remember. He scratches his head, mulls over, tries to pacify the lady to get her to spill the beans, then goes back to mulling and scratching his head again.
The lady is furthur infuriated by his repeated attempts to ask her the “wrong” in question. The man is alomost there. Like standing in front of a ready-to-blast cannon. Face to face. Like standing with his head rammed between Undertaker’s legs. And then, once more, when the question of wrong is hurtled at the woman, the cannon is fired. Undertaker squeezes his legs. The lady blurts out, “Why are you aksing me again and again? If you don’t know why I am upset, then you don’t deserve to know”. Ouch!
The man has his head blasted and his skull cracked. And he still doesn’t have any clue.
With the last remnants of hope and courage left in him, he still prods and mulls and scratches and shortlists a few “maybe this is why she is mad” scenarios.
The last vestige of good sense prevails and he decides against “discussing” the scenarios. And instead, he holds his lady in a tight embrace (against the struggle) and whispers a romantic Sorry. The lady immediately melts down, cries her eyes out (because she was SO hurt!!!) and hugs him back.
The man has still no clue about why all this happened……
PS: This post is solely dedicated to

H

for his perseverance and tolerance for me over the years….And also because I know he would love to read about his plight shared on a global platform and being publicly acknowledged. LOL.