Wednesday, May 29, 2013

My parent's love story: Celebrating 25 years

He was 21 when he joined the Indian Army. After four years slogging in an engineering college, he was now an officer of the Indian Army. Young, enthusiastic and free from all academic pressure. The army training at Dehradun was intense, from learning modern warfare to fitness, learning how to be an officer, surviving and keeping the morale high, he did it all.
It was after two years of serving in the army when his friend, a fellow officer was to get married and the two best friends came to Ghaziabad, a small town near Delhi for the celebrations.
It was here that he first saw her, she was the bride's best friend, standing next to her at the engagement ceremony. At that time his parents were already looking for a match for him, he was now 23, a Captain in the Indian Army, tall, rugged and strangely handsome.
She was 21, a lecturer in a university, from an academic background. Fair with thick wavy hair and large almond eyes, she caught and managed to keep his attention throughout the wedding ceremony and a day later he tentatively approached his best friend's wife. Those were the times when asking a girl out would have raised many eyebrows and he didn't want to lose this one girl.
The new bride caught hold of her friend and told her of this young officer's interest in her, she was shell shocked. Her father was the terror of the locality and she kept rethinking scenarios in her head and replaying the whole wedding thinking she had not made and gesture to catch his attention, she was scared that her father would bury her alive. She told her friend the same thing and asked her to tell the young man to not try to contact her again.
A week went by with no contact and she was relieved. They were hosting a dinner for the newly weds and here, the bride told her parents about this young man. He didn't want to approach her in any way that would seem indecent and she gave them his home address and number. Soon, her father went to meet the officer's parents and was back within a day. He was enamoured. They were a large family of 7 kids with him being the second youngest. He was impressed by the young man's way of approaching his daughter and decided to   talk to them about marriage.
The young man was pretty smart, hitting right at the elders. He just had to impress the girl.
The first day he went for evening tea to her house, this was the first time he was to meet her. Her two younger sister's were eagerly waiting at the gates when this tall and thin man zoomed in on his motorcycle. They were mildly impressed but they wanted to see him. She was more scared than impressed and when he sat down on the sofa and she came out to talk , she was surprised to see just how thin he actually was. Coming from a Punjabi family she had never seen any man who wasn't fair and fairly heavy with a pot belly and here was this officer who had turned dark from training outdoor and well, he was very thin and tall with a very bad dressing sense. But she decided to give him a try. He was very intelligent, the way he spoke about things, his knowledge on everything and his ideas, they were so ahead of their time that she could not just ignore him and now even her parents were on his side, sly.
They decided to go out on dates and he would come to pick her up on his bike and her two younger sister's would sit behind him, leaving her alone and go for rides. He was forming a bind with her family and was catching her attention. On their first date she realised how little he actually ate, the whole morning they travelled around Delhi, watching movies and driving when during late afternoon he finally asked her if she wanted to eat something, finally! she thought. At the restaurant, suddenly it occurred to her that he was an army officer and well, they are supposed to be highly mannered and smart and she could not embarrass him while eating so she thought hard about what to order for lunch and then finally decided to go for cutlets, the only food she was sure she could eat with a fork and knife.He never really ate much and she could not ask him for more food and when she returned home by late evening, she had strong hunger pangs and was cursing him.
The next few dates were a climb uphill and as much as she liked him, it seemed that her sister's and parents liked him even more. That was until she met his mother, an old Punjabi mother ship who rejected her saying her eyes were too big and it looked like she had a squint.
Furious, she stormed out when she heard of it and refused to contact him ever again. She had never encountered any person like his mother and his over bearing sisters and it was a first for her. Once again he tried to contact her and found a connection.. His senior in the army was her cousin brother and he asked him to intervene. Seeing how strong family ties were here, he was being pretty smart here. They decided to meet at her cousin's house and he called his mother too. This was day her older cousin told her that he was very serious about her if he was trying to break his mother from the typical Punjabi mother in law mode and trying to get them to talk again. Soon enough, all was well and their wedding was on.
Their courtship lasted 2 years while he was posted in the treacherous north easter region of the country, an occasional latter every week from him and a number of rejected suitors from her side, they went on strong and finally were married a day after Valentine's day in 1989.
I guess, this would seem way more interesting to me as I know all the characters and as a kid I was fascinated by various tales my parents told me, their own version and then my grandparents would tell me their own version.
The stories of "after-marriage" are even more fascinating as is the fact that at my age, my mother was about to get married. And as they complete 25 years in February, I wish for many more and hilarious tales from both sides.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Being Mother

Imagine you are a happy 22 year old, your exams are over, your parents are going out of town and now you can lavishly enjoy your life, watch as much TV as you want, go anywhere you want, cook anything and sleep as much as you want and then suddenly the next day you are a mom, to two teenagers and one 6 year old.

Horror of horrors!

Your parents are out, you are the king of the house and you have these kids. If it is not crazy enough, picture the 6 year old yelling for maggie everytime the topic of food comes up. he rejects any other food, wants to constantly play on your laptop and mobile and chatters non stop about everything even when you ask him to stop. You make healthy food and he only wants chips a d chocolates and take outs and then wastes it after taking one bite, fights with his elder sister and creates a raucous in the house.

The 13 year old is even scarier. An adolescent with all the whims and fancies of a teenager and crazy mood swings, you are forced to bite your tongue at every instance she lashes out, your fist telling you to punch her and your brain forcing you to stay still calmly telling you that she WILL be like this, its adolescence!!! So you have her criticise your cooking, your clothes, pass rude comments about you, the heat in your house, the AC, the fact that your food is different from what she is used to and the fact that you are not entertaining her every single second. Then there is this issue of boredom, if every single second is not filled with the activity of  her choice, she will get bored and  start criticising every single thing, its like you have a constant mother in law in the house.

The saving grace is the 18 year old who finally understand the dilemma you are in and chips in to help you with the dog, the house and shopping.

And after all this you realise how much your mother did for you despite a constant urge to lock you in the room ( I am guessing that's what it is like). You have been a cranky teenager yourself, fought with her at every instance, sulked and cribbed at everything and been a mean person and yet your mother didn't really push you from the balcony. You only get to appreciate parents and everything they have done.

From shopping for groceries and daily items, to walking the dog, cleaning the house, utensils, clothes, managing the maids, cooking food, making sure the house is not destroyed by running kids and a dog, watering the plants and having no time for anything that you want to do.

You only appreciate how hard motherhood is and even though they are my younger cousins, all resentment washes away when at night the little one will come and hug you and your sisters worry about you and help you even a little bit.

Well, you cant really push them off the balcony after that, can you?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Recipe of a delusional romantic

I was all of thirteen when the first time I fell in love, he was tall, brooding, handsome and amazingly fun to talk to. Of course he was older than me and I loved that it made me feel so mature discussing my studies and books with him. When I finished reading the first four Harry Potters, he was the first person I ran to to discuss with. This was until one Friday in the school bus when he patted my head and told me that he was trying to set me up with a younger friend of his. That did not really shatter my dream world, and he lasted (or still lasts) as my long enduring first crush.
From the many Mills and Boons and Sweet Valley books that I read, I replaced the hero with him. I would imagine him as the swash buckling millionaire from Italy or a brooding writer from Paris, he existed in all my childish romantic dreams. Every guy that I met would be compared to him and even after losing touch with him after class 7, he kept growing in my dreams and evolved into a perfect custom made man for me. The romantic in me would never give up.
I would watch movies and cook up scenarios for "us" and as school proceeded, I somehow lost touch with any other guy because "he" was so amazingly perfect and no one could replace him. After a hasty and nervous phone call to him one day, I gushed for months at end. He must have forgotten about me by now and I am pretty sure I don't even know what kind of a person he really is but to me, he was my dream man.
Now that I watch my thirteen year old cousin gush over actors in movies and TV serials, show disdain for guys her age, I think of the delusional romantic in me.
Soon I fell in love with Ranveer, a character from my favourite show in class 9 and I would dream of a simple man who had come for vengeance, his style of talking , his intense eyes and his shirts, my perfect man was him and I was madly in love. I would watch him on TV for hours and my heart would skip a beat and in my many dreams he would come for me, dance with me and be mine. Of course the guys around me would lack in comparison.
I would never get over Ranveer and 'him' and my perfect man looked like a handsome mix of them, I would read many love stories and concoct scenarios in my head when a real life guy made these stories from my books come to life.
Suddenly I forgot all about my perfect guy, how he should talk, what he should talk about, what he should wear and how he should look. Suddenly this stumbling fumbling funny guy became my perfect guy. Strangely the delusional romantic in me was laid to rest, I stopped cooking stories in my head, I stopped dreaming up scenarios because the reality seemed all to surreal to me. And so "he" was just another person who I dont really know, Ranveer is that cute/hot guy I loved, xyz is just in a book, abc is from a movie and my perfect man is imperfectly with me and in my delusional romantic mind he makes me smile, laugh, cry and be myself with.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The girl with the Dragon tattoo and how it disturbed me

Last night, I sat up late after working on my college project and started watching The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.The movie is based on a novel by Steig Larson titled "Men who hate Women" in Swedish. As the events in the film unfold we see the female protagonist sexually abused and then raped, later we are told the story of some murdered women who have been raped and brutalised and then the story of a runaway girl who was first raped by her father and then her brother.
Apparently Steig Larson was inspired to write such a horrific book after witnessing a gang rape by three men of a women he once knew.When he went to apologise to her later on for not helping her, she did not accept it and never forgave him.(Source: Wikipedia)

This movie came days after I had seen the trailer for the film 3096 days which is based on a real life kidnapping of a young girl for 3096 days.(
And few days before Amanda Berry escaped her abductors who had locked her up and raped her for years.(
This reminds me of the scary Fitzl incident of Austria in which a father has locked his daughter in the basement for years and repeatedly raped her, fathering seven children with her.(

These things disturbed me so much and have disgusted me. Not to mention the many cases of rape and abduction that we keep hearing of all the time. I am forced to ask myself again and again, why am I a woman? Why am I subjected to all this? Why is it that suddenly I have been thrown of the whole system of balance and made a weaker being who is meant to be mistreated?

A father raping his own daughter? What happened to the days when a father would come home with gifts and hug his little daughter? Why did she turn into a sexual object, even for him?

A brother raping his sister? Wasn't he suppose to protect her?

Then again, why I, as a woman even need protection? Why cant I live freely? Why do I keep asking these questions again and again? When will I stop asking them? When will I stop looking behind my back?

There are days like these when films and books like above disturb me so much. I was looking at the protagonist, Lisbeth and thinking that she is such a brave brave girl to survive. She attacked her rapist few days later and tattoos "Rapist" on his body. She tried to kill her father who attempted to rape her. And then sometimes I think, is it better to just die? When you are not treated as a human being, maybe in some years things will change or maybe in some years women might not just exist.

I don't know. All I know is that despite everything, women are not meant to safe. They are mere objects who are thrown from one person to the other. Maybe, they really should stop existing.