Life goes on…

There is something about life that makes it so interesting. What seems inescapable and irresistible on day, suddenly becomes dispensable the next. At the very least, we learn to accept that it is no longer a part of our lives and move on. But sometimes, the memories linger. Sometimes these memories are delightful, pleasing and reassuring. At other times, they are bittersweet, hurtful and depressing. How convenient it would be that God, who has given us all the power to forget, also gave us the power to choose what we want to forget. Alas, this is not the case. We can hardly decide what we want to remember and what we don’t. If only that were possible…

Over the last week, I have been overrun by memories…some good, some bad and some entirely forgettable. Maybe the problem is that I have had entirely too much time on my hands. With S in not-so-far-away Colombo, I find my evenings to be interminable. I can’t fall asleep before midnight, being compulsively nocturnal, and this gives me too much time to think. To think of things I should not be thinking of. Like the time, all those years ago, when the only thing that mattered was the next mid-semester long test. Like the time when Nandini would scream on top of her lungs, one foot inside the classroom and one foot outside, “May I come in Ma’am?” At the memory, I can’t seem to stop my tears. It’s been four long years since I realized I would never hear that voice again. At this point, I wish things could be different. I wish she wasn’t on that fated vehicle that day. I wish she could be here with me doing my wedding shopping, helping me choose my saris and my clothes. I wish…

Memories can also be delightful. They give you the power to move on with life. They help you stay positive during the worst times of your life. My memories of college, of Paris, of the time spent on long drives with S just a few weeks ago…they all make me believe that life is good. That you never actually face more problems that you can handle. I almost cannot believe I can be so happy. When I think of life after marriage, I know it will be good. Despite the jitters, the nervousness and the deep-seated fears of the unknown, there is a hope. No…scratch that. Hope implies a certain measure of doubt. I do not hope. I believe that all will be well. It has to.

To take my mind off memories and fears, I went back to what I know best. Reading. On an impulse, I went and bought 4 books from Odyssey on Friday night. The thought of spending a weekend with nothing to do was too much to handle. Looks like I chose right. Halfway through my first book I realized that this is precisely what kept me sane all these years. This, and writing. So, here I am. Back doing what I love most. Reading book after book. And writing about love, life and everything else!

Condemned to be free…

Man is condemned to be free, says Jean-Paul Sartre. And sometimes, I cannot help but wonder if that’s true. After all, we are all liberals forever defending free will. But sometimes, my conservative side takes over and I wonder if free will is not overrated. After all, if we were completely free to choose, we would also have to bear the burden of that choice. Perhaps burden is not the right word. Perhaps it is responsibility. But, that responsibility is absolutely massive. Maybe this is why Sartre and other existential philosophers were all atheist. I myself have never tended towards atheism. Perhaps it is because my faith is too strong to be shaken. Or maybe, just maybe,  as many atheists claim, I just do not have the courage to deny the existence of God.

Sometimes, it is easier to leave everything to destiny. Sometimes, it is easier to allow yourself to be taken care of. I realize as I grow older that I do not need to be in control of everything all the time. I realize now that some things are just meant to be. While I have always believed that everything that happens in life, good or bad, happens for a reason, I have found myself questioning the rationale behind my suffering during the worst times of my life. Looking back on those times, I realize that those experiences, however painful, have only strengthened character. Yesterday, reading an extract from Arun Shourie’s new book, “Does he know a mother’s heart?” I wondered how someone who had gone through so much suffering could stay a believer. Then, I realized that it was probably that suffering that had strengthened both his belief and his character.

I am at probably the same state now. I am living some of the happiest moments of my life right now. But, it was not so long ago that I felt like I would never be happy again. What got me past that stage and onto this one…I don’t know. I probably never will. But I am willing to bet that religion had something to do with it. Maybe it was the deep-seated belief that everything is transient, including this sorrow. Maybe it was Nandini’s words, repeated ad nauseum, all those years ago, that “This too will pass.” I really can’t say. In hindsight, I probably needed to go through that phase to be able to appreciate all that I have today. Maybe I would have taken all this for granted had it come to me five years ago. And maybe, just maybe, I would have been too immature to hold on to this happiness.

In any case, I am no atheist. And I don’t think any amount of suffering will ever make me one. After all, everything that happens is for the better. The pain, the heartbreak, the frustrations, and the failures have only made me a better person, a better daughter, and a better human being. May all things to come be this good. I can only hope.

Random thoughts…

I know I’ve been missing in action for quite some time now. First, I promise to be a regular blogger, as opposed to a lazy one, henceforth. Yes…I do! Every time I read something interesting, I make a mental note to write about it. But between work, family, brand new fiancé and wedding madness, blogging seems to take a back seat. Every single time. But there are some things that have been on my mind for some time now. It’s all very random, as the post title suggests, but here we go!

What’s this Slut Walk business? Yes, I do agree with the principle behind it. No woman should have to cover up simply because men are tempted enough to rape and blame the woman for it. And yes, I also agree that how I dress is not a reflection of my character. But, I have a problem with the term Slut Walk. I am not a slut. No matter how many times we claim words need to be reclaimed, the fact remains that the term is an affront to a woman’s character. No woman deserves to be called a slut. Just like no woman deserves to be raped. Just as I didn’t get the point behind the Pink Chaddi campaign and refused to donate my precious underwear to some pervert, I also refuse to participate in this walk that is so popularly called Slut Walk. Every word in this blogpost by Ritu strikes a chord. And, I agree. I have a problem with the term. Words carry meaning, both implied and explicit. And I refuse to accept the use of the term slut for any woman.

Now, onto the next! I have been reading a lot of posts on joint families and in-laws and marriages of late. And I have also been reading uber-feminist posts on what a marriage entails. I can’t help but think, when I read some of these posts that some women want to take offence to everything all the time. Don’t get me wrong. As I said before, nobody has the right to tell an adult how to dress and what to buy. I am all for freedom and independence. But sometimes, I really feel that some women tend to go overboard with their complaints. I mean, how is it fair to refuse to live with parents for any length of time just because some adjustments are required? I grew up in a joint family. I am none the worse for it. For all I know, my in-laws will decide to stay with us permanently after S and I get married. How is it fair on my part to refuse that? To me, feminism is not about absolute freedom to do what I want. It is to be subjected to the same restrictions and rules that I would have been had I been a man. It is not to be treated any differently because of my gender. I know I am probably going to tread on a lot of toes when I say this, but I think we all need to learn some adjustment. Adjustment, not compromise. And yes, there is a difference.

And finally, a thought on arranged marriages. Granted, I am not married yet. But, I will be in a few months. And I am getting married to man who was introduced to me by my parents. And today, I am already being forced to eat my words on arranged marriages. I have said earlier that arranged marriages are unworkable. But today, I think I was wrong. Completely wrong. And I am glad about that!

The groom-hunting saga – Epilogue

There are some things in life that happen in spite of all the effort you take to avoid it. My meeting THE boy was one of them. Yeah…you guessed it right. This is about what would rightly be called “The Epilogue” of the now-famous groom-hunting saga.

I came back a happy girl from Paris after enjoying my last few days of singlehood, although I did not know it then. The groom-hunting efforts were on quietly in the background during my absence. That I was indifferent to it would be more appropriate than claiming to be ignorant of it. Just before my departure to Paris, mom had mentioned S, adding for good measure that he was drop-dead gorgeous, very soft-spoken, and had every quality that I would expect in a man. Of course, she did mention the minor fact that she hadn’t even seen him at that point, although I wasn’t supposed to worry about that. Having met the parents, my parents were convinced that he was the one. Now, how they came to that conclusion after seeing the parents is anybody’s guess. Anyway, I dismissed it without a second thought at that point, focused as I was in getting to Paris and having a good time. My mother, to her credit, conceded that I had a point and let me be.

It is on my return from Paris that I met S. I was dragged along kicking and screaming to meet him would be a more appropriate statement. The day I returned from Paris, I was spared the hard talk due to deserving the basic human right to food and sleep. By the time I woke up the next morning, the mater had decided that her right to discuss potential grooms was more important and broached the topic. She asked when I would meet him and I said, “Whenever!” In hindsight, that was probably the gravest mistake of my life. She left me alone the next day and led me on to believe that S was off her list of potential grooms. Just as I was secretly rejoicing the temporary reprieve I had received, she called one busy Wednesday afternoon. “You’re meeting S today. At the temple at 7 PM.” To say that I was reluctant would be an understatement. In the middle of a conversation with a colleague, I ranted and raved at the unfairness of it all, at being made to get away from work at 6 PM barely 2 days after I had returned from a business trip abroad, and at being forced to meet S at a temple. I also ranted about meetings in temples being so unbelievably 17th century and claiming I would have much preferred Park Sheraton. At that point, the colleague, fed up of being captive audience told me to go and meet him and come back and say no. It all seemed so simple then. To meet S and say no.

How complicated things become just when you’re beginning to think it’s all so simple. On my first meeting with him in the said temple, I found him easy to talk to. Actually, I just found it easy to talk because I kept talking and he kept nodding. As dad observed later to my comment on his reserved nature, he probably didn’t have the time to slip a word in sideways because I was jabbering so constantly.  I did notice at the time that he was rather reluctant to smile. I came away feeling okay-ish about the whole deal, but not very sure about being able to live with someone who couldn’t smile.

In the subsequent phone conversation, he came across as so completely different from the man I had met the previous day. Conversation flowed. I came back to work and told the colleague that the guy was ok. At this point, she was ready to kill me because she had spent the better part for her day two days previously convincing me to go meet him and here I was, telling her he was actually quite nice. Two days later, I published the final episode of the groom-hunting saga. At that point, I had not even decided that it was going to be S. Maybe it was gut feeling. Two days later, I was ready to say the final yes.

Now…there are two ways of looking at this. I could get all mushy and say he is the most wonderful person I’ve ever met. But that, knowing him, would just embarrass the hell out of him. Or, I could be the nice girl and stick to feeling sorry for him. After all, he needs to be captive audience for my jabbering for the rest of his life. And I did say that nice people do not make interesting protagonists. Only weird characters do. To his credit, S is as normal a person as you can find! So, I will just register my utmost happiness at having found the person I want to annoy for the rest of my life!!