Friday, October 18, 2013

My Man

It came suddenly.

I was in the mobile accessories store, and a teenage girl was there with her father, choosing headphones. Her father prevented her from buying the small ones which go right into the ear-holes, for he thought they affect the ear drums more directly. Anyway, I quite liked the whole scene, the pink-over-black hassle and all. However, it struck me then that it had been 13years since I had been out with my father to a shop. While he was there, he made me feel like a princess. And it’s all because of him, that I still have the confidence to call myself one even 13years after his death. He has somehow instilled the faith in me that the world is a good place, with just a few bad people in it. We can’t give up on the good just because the bad are mixed with them. He taught me to chew with my mouth closed, not to talk while eating, say “thank you” and “sorry”. He taught me a thousand more simple things which have made me the person I am today.

I have just one photo with him. As a newborn. Otherwise, he was the photographer of the family, so it was tough to get into the same frame with him. Who would click the photo if the photographer is himself posing? Anyway, I think I am secretly happy that I have just that one photo with him. The most innocent one. He is looking at the camera, laughing, and I am wrapped in a red woolen blanket in his lap. I don’t look particularly pretty there, and he was in the late 1980’s style. But it’s probably the most beautiful photo I have been in.

As of now, no one has been able to fill his shoes. Pretty big shoes they are! Somehow, everyone falls short – well short – of filling up his position even to a certain extent, if not completely. And when I see girls around me, happy with their fathers, I can’t say that I don’t feel jealous. After all, what was the 12year old girl’s fault that she had to lose her father to a stupid heart attack? I have been raised as perfectly as I could have asked for, single-handedly by Maa. And she has done it all to keep me from feeling his absence. But a girl misses her father. It’s only natural. Especially when he was such a hell of a man!

While I was, I was a very possessive daughter. Would never let anyone get near my father. A classic Electra I was – or may be, I still am! That possessiveness has now been dispersed for some of my very close people, like my BFFs. And they bear the trouble amazingly!

Now that he is not here, and I have only a handful of memories, I wonder how my life would have been had he been alive. I know one thing for a fact that he wouldn’t have spoilt me. He had immense patience – never scolded a brat like me in my then life of 12years! He was an amazing cook. Back in the early 1990’s, he would cook chicken roast with lemon zest and momo for us. He was an amazing craftsman too! Someday, I will post a photo of the doll’s house he had single-handedly built for me. He was on his way to finish a children’s park, when it happened…

I remember an incident when I was in a cosmetics store with him. I saw this big palette of very colourful eye-shadows and lip-colours and asked him to buy it for me. This was somewhere in 1992. The price was Rs.150 back then, which would easily come up to something like Rs.900-1000 going by today’s rates. He asked me to promise him that I won’t use them, as they are bad for my skin. I promised him, and he got me the set! I mean, why buy the set if it won’t be used? Well, Maa was furious, to say the least!

By the way, he used to get extremely upset if Maa would beat me. He would always make me understand, as if I was some grown up.

I cling to his memories, because somewhere in my heart, I know that he is alive in them. As I used to live with my maternal side of the family while my parents lived in Bhutan, I got to see my father only twice or may be thrice a month. And, in the holidays. So, may be I got only 4years with him in total, if you count the days. But they are the most special 4years of my life. people tell me that he would have been proud to see me now. I wish he could see me though.

Sometimes, I know I would give up anything to have him back in my life. And yet…

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Gnawing Thoughts Behind the Big Fat Bengali Wedding

The Yash Raj Films and the Suraj Barjatiyas have given us an idea since our childhood in the early nineties that marriages consist of food, songs, dance, family and all such rosy pictures. The hero and the heroine dance to the tunes of dholak. For those of us – the Bengali brides – the gaaye holud, ayiburo bhaat, benarasi etc surround the mind and block the reality of marriage.

Leave the in-laws, for not all of them are bad. Leave the other in-future troubles like kids, managing house and job etc as well, for the immediate concern is something which is of most importance. Having been an ardent fan of Pride and Prejudice, I still find it relevant to our marriage scenario. The blind search for groom is not my concern today. But what about the finance? While I was talking to my BFF (best friend forever) last evening, we realized that getting married is not at all the fairy-tale dream we used to think it to be. Cinderella was lucky to get a groom who would pay for her side of expenses as well. In real life, when the girl is from a middle class family – and whose parents have spent a considerable amount on her education – it becomes her responsibility to save for her marriage. But was it really wrong for Mrs.Bennet to be happy when she found that Lizzy would be marrying a rich man like Mr.Darcy and that too perhaps any dowry?

However, the catch here is that by the time an independent girl has saved some money for herself as a future provision and spent some for her family and luxury, she reaches 27 – she has hardly saved anything for her marriage or her future life and her parents are already asking her to settle down in the next couple of years.

My question here is, when you are educating your boy and expecting him to marry with his own money, you give him till 30-32years to settle down. Then when you are talking all the women's emancipation big words and educating your girl, then why the extra pressure on her to marry by 28years? The gynaecological stuff is understandable, but medical science has advanced far beyond such troubles. And anyway, our generation hardly thinks beyond one, to a maximum of two kids.

I understand the points-of-view of our parents’ generation. They have their logic. But to think that a girl has it easier is very unfair. She has to compete with equally talented girls and boys, she has to maintain a balance between work and home as well. If a boy comes at 10 o’ clock and has his dinner and goes straight to bed, he will be sympathized for his tough work schedule. But if a girl with the same work schedule does the same, she will be chastised for neglecting her family – even if it is her father’s side of the family and not her in-laws. And then we are given the biological ultimatum for marriage, which is another pressure in itself. I don’t say that boys have it easier. I say that we work equally hard, proving ourselves everywhere, within a tighter deadline.

And then there is the inviting of the whole world to celebrate the union of two souls. Of course, these blessings don’t come without a piece or two of criticism regarding the food or the reception during the wedding.

And what to say about the unnecessary pomp and show? Why waste lakhs for just one evening when you could use it for a good vacation afterwards? the trouble is just that I hate spending money for marriage. If marriage IS the union of two souls, why spend so much on showing off the bond? Just a simple wedding of family members and close friends should be enough. Well, I surely hope I get such a wedding!

Well, I might be triggering some opposing views with this post, but it was just my point-of-view. And after all, it’s my blog, right? I have every right to write what I want! :-)