Rants of a 30-year old: shaadi kab karoge?

A few months ago, I turned 30. Anticipating what that number could ordinarily mean about a guy – single, unmarried and with no plans whatsoever to settle down in the near future, I was expecting a big showdown that day with my inner conflicts. Some days were filled with nausea. I did not know how to cope with it. What thoughts could be affecting me this much? Yes you guessed it correctly – the only thing a 30-year old must do now – shadi!

I had assured myself that this shadi business is not my cup of tea; that nothing affects me at all, till some very close friends and siblings started calling me with their sagai dates. Aana hi padega tumhe!

Day after day I went through shitloads of happy and not-so happy faces smiling for the camera, surrounded by their friends, relatives and the like. Perhaps the malai tikka and rasmalai were very good. Later came the trip photos – Kerala backwaters, Hongkong skyscrapers, beaches from Pattaya and Bali, churches from the Vatican City, even the Eiffel Tower. Some were sailing, some were taking bungee jumping lessons.

Press the ‘Like’ button I did.

Friends. Forever.

The birthday came and went – none of those deep exchanges with my soul actually took place. It still was a day of resilience, of memories I had made till date, with friends I loved meeting – like all birthdays. I thought – maybe it isn’t so bad. I still had real-time heroes and heroins in front of me, who had rejected this paradigm of love and romantic relationships altogether. Some time went by, many got engaged themselves. I was worshiping false gods. Such a tragedy!

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Ever since – my family and (most) friends, like all caring people, have adopted a mission-mode project to get me married off. No, I am not exactly young anymore. I am not exactly old either. I have slowly started running out of arguments to evade these conversations. Now I simply listen to try to wear the other person out. After a while, everyone gives up. In effect, I have re-negotiated the right to find my own mate, and settle down so they all can see me happy. I wonder why they feel I was sad – I was laughing the entire time at how the discourse had progressed in a short time. I was thinking if I could simply bolt out then I would catch the neighbour halwai uncle ji making hot rasgullas.

This idea of imposed choice is untrustworthy. How do I run the risk of finding a soul-mate, love them and even marry them – all in a year or two-year’s time? How do I tell myself to no longer chase relationships which did not really exist? How do I gather myself over failed or faltering relationships and simply move on to the next person I have a crush on?  What do I tell them? How do I deal with the panic when someone says they like me? Read them a story? Write them a sonnet? Naah. Too cliché.

But the clock is running. And I am supposedly being left behind.

I know many would share these concerns. I could point out hundreds of people being hassled everyday simply to pursue their happiness. Perhaps some would mock me for being unstable, for not diligently chasing a bangla and gaadi, or not planning things which are all very normal – falling in love, for instance. And getting married, eventually!

 

I do not mind when my mom sits me down to have a chat every now and then, ask me what is up! I do not mind if I have to go through many tatkal bookings to simply be with a friend on their wedding day. I adore all of their children. I love them when they go to school for the first time, remembering my days as well. I am glad I am connected enough to be able to see their pictures, or a video of when they first walked. It warms my heart to see how many friends have changed their ways in so many ways, and moved on to embrace a very different life altogether. I love them all, yes.

But, I also see sore eyes of the parents from not sleeping ever. I know many are irritated of being forced to choose, what they essentially did not anticipate. I know the toll child-care takes on an individual. They love it, maybe. I know how cutting potatoes and doing laundry become primary conversations for people who are so much in love. They say love soon flies out the window. Why would I even leave the windows open then? Why should I, or anyone not get to choose if we want all that, or want it in parts?

I do like someone. I am also not waiting out to tell her that. It will be years before I know what it could mean for both of us. Or a few weeks would give more food for thought than many coming years. I would never know. You would never know. I could be stuck in a loop of eternal hopelessness, or I could take an avatar myself and post pictures from Zurich or Gol Dakhana. Or I could continue doing what I do best – procrastinate.

Till then, hold your horses, mate. I have a life to live in the meantime.

Amen.

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So Eve told Adam a few things. Conversing land and development.

Adam said to Eve – “Honey! Sorry I am late. Stupid damn meeting with God. He was asking me to tell you that we need to have kids. ”

Eve – “But I like women more, you know, bro.”

Adam: “But Honey! World-Babies-World-Build.How-How? And what of all this land and water before us?”

Eve: “Don’t worry, I will handle God.”

“And for the rest, simple! Let us start with seeing them, or living in them, of feeling the breeze and the water and eating the fish. Let us see if there are more of us. Let us…”

Adam (not understanding any of what Eve said, as always) – “Please! I am a vegetarian.

*Eve sulks*

Oh a better idea! Why not let me put some babies in you. And say you ate the fruit. And then the children will go see all of it while I watch how India beats the shit out of Pakistan in the World Cup. Because you know..It’s Pakistan. We love to hate them.”

Eve– “Well they hate you too, jerk! And I hate cricket.”

Eve then slams the door while Adam makes a dash for the sofa, putting his new phone on charge, and enjoys Virat Kohli hit another life-saving century for the Indian team.

*updates Facebook status to state aforementioned happiness, gets 3 likes*

Eve put up a hot selfie after seeing the status. 153 likes in 18 minutes. Adam dies of jealousy. Puts laptop on sleep and turns Wi-Fi off. 

*Does evil laugh in his mind*

Damn the remote is in the bedroom. *uses the TV control panel*

Damn, she won’t give me the remote!

*wakes up to make the popcorn in the microwave*

Oh nothing is wrong. I love Virat Kohli too. But he is dating Anushka. I kind-of like Anushka you know. Umm. Anyways. Yes. Moving on.

When someone tells you to visualise ‘land’ some people see exotic beaches in Brazil or the landscapes of the countryside in the European or North American continent where Kajol runs towards Shah Rukh in a dream sequence singing songs. Some who were the more brainy ones (their report cards suggested so) might even remember the NGC programmes where the Amazon jungle reporter chases the exotic snake for 3 hours to finally get a glimpse of what its teeth look like. They looked lovely indeed (I had friends too!).

Some of us will even take pride in Mother India or Do Beegha Zameen to get a glimpse of what land looks like, such dorks!

But whatever you see, land mostly looks very different when not shown from the camera. It smells beautiful when there is rain after a huge dry season. The bugs croak for water otherwise. It is what people go dig when they are thirsty. It gives them wood to cook food when they return with mud all over their bodies after the harvest. It feeds them, gives them shelter, and a livelihood and a life. That’s all it does, mostly.

The rest of the people sell it, broker it or want to build something over it. People who have a habit of cleaning the mud from their bodies before dinner do not know what they will do when it is all taken away.

Some of them fear the police; some the marching armies; some their own people who are not afraid as they have enough, so to spare. But mostly they are ready. They are ready to show that they will not give up. And they will tell you to tell the people who do not think they exist, that they exist very much. They have come a long way from listening what was told to them. They now are talking. It is better if those with no ears, listen, and right away.

Adam: “Honey please pass my laptop charger. Client call. Urgent.”

Eve passes the charger silently from the bedroom, murmuring curses about wanting to have children all the time and then slams the door back.

*She logs onto Facebook and checks review of 50 shades of grey*

*Goes to attached balcony and lights a cigarette*  

“The book was better for sure”. *puffs lightly*

The question on land is not purely of learning why the country is facing so many crises, of why the news anchors find something or the other to throw pens at each other during ‘discussions’ everyday. There is a reason behind all those farmer suicides you are told happen in faraway lands – where the poor and the farmer live.

There is no value of the labour of the poor. Apparently they only exist because you throw them subsidies – of food and education and health – and the lists go on. Because you pay so much taxes and all that is wasted because they are just so damn poor and lazy and want to do no work – and want to just sit and watch Ajay Devgn’s Himmatwala all day long.

And of course they have no idea who to vote for or plan things about themselves. That is all educated people’s job; because we need degrees from colleges to be able to think. And apparently this is how the world functions. The constitution makers were all idiots. They did bad copy-paste. Because only you can do ‘good copy-paste’

And hence they still fight to get land distribution – but the people who have so much, own all that much and want to own even more will continue to not listen,  will act to take away whatever little they have, and will call it development.

Yes, true, very development-y!

Someone told me it is in the Constitution, What – Article 21. What is that? Oh yes the Fundamental Rights. (ones which we believe we all have, just like democracy) Yes, we have that. Why? Because look at Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. We have so much better.

Feel Proud. Feel Outpouringly Proud.

*Activating your version of patriotism…activated* Yes, I feel very proud. Now don’t kill me. Please go.

*Meanwhile, Adam and Eve eat the apple after the client-call is done* There is no law for eating the apple. Oh Damn, there is. What is it called? Oh it’s the Lets-Not-Promote-Uunnatural-Things-Law. But it is their right to eat the apple. Oh, screw your Rights-Rights. Where will all the babies come from?

Yes, that is what we should worry about.

Oh and do not worry about the land. Someone will take care of it. The government right now is hell bent on taking very good care of it.

Dear Poor People – “Dear Government, I am poor. I only have little or no land. I can barely produce and compete with all that you have put me in competition with. I have to do so much work. I can barely afford all the things.”

Government – “Oh dear, I am sending our most faithful sponsors. They will take good care of you. Here, take a bank account. You don’t know anything. This is all you need.”

“But I can produce food and…”

“But you don’t have to! They will take care of everything. Go visit them or visit us and we will tell you how to deal with this. We will give you more money. See, take a TV”

“But I don’t want money.”

“Then you won’t get any.”

“But it is my land.”

“But it is no longer. See, here, it is gone, just like that. We have the law.”

“We will come to the streets, we have rights.”

“Well, we have the police. We will kill you.”

“You can’t kill us.”

“Who will know? Tell me, who will know?

Nobody will. Mostly. nobody will.

To the rest – with love (Part 4 of 5)

They had to break the door down. The smoke was clogging the other windows nearby. Living in an upscale high-rise apartment still has its demerits. It was on live television – the fire from the windows of the 28th floor.

Arun was standing with the police outside, shouting his lungs out. Mother still would not open.

When they could finally turn the door down, he rushed to the place where his father had last breathed. He was not there anymore, atleast not how he had left the body. There were three plastic bags kept where he had initially stabbed the father. The last one was packed loosely enough, showing just enough for people to cover their face with their handkerchiefs. He rushed to the balcony from where the smoke escaped, going straight to national television.

Everyone was watching the same thing – ‘FIRE IN ACE BUSINESSMAN’S HOUSE. MURDER SPECULATED      ’

A rolling text scrolled at the bottom – ‘Whereabouts of wife unknown, she had called the police last 45 minutes back with a murder confession.’

Arun saw mother in the last room, on the armchair in the corner – with lights out, the expensive blue lamp hanging near the end of the door, barely affected with the smoke from the master bedroom that had filled the room.

She had put the entire bedroom on fire – the site where her chastity was tested so many times, in front of so many strangers, and in so many ways. She remembered her husband had never spared any effort to prove his voyeuristic capabilities to all these people – who took turns bringing their wives at times as well – you know – to just add to variety.

She turned around when her only son called her by the name, and showered him with a smile, a genuine smile, as she turned around to face him.

“I made sure I chopped him in as many pieces as I could”, she said, as if trying to conjure up a smile. There was no horror in that voice. There was no remorse, no pain, no repentance. There was delectation, a delight in the account.

A fit of silence had struck the room. She had committed no crime, atleast not in the eyes of anyone in there. There was no such doubt. Still, an argument was about to break out.

The firefighters were trying to extinguish the fire while the great Indian middle-class held their breath, sucking whatever drama which could come their way.

“You cannot do this. I was the one who struck him first. If anyone is responsible, it is me. I will not let you do this”, Arun shouted at her, sensing she was in no mood to let him take the fruits of the work he had done.

The trap was laid. He was at the door with the police, with the house locked from inside. There was no way he could convince the police that it was him. The neighbours also had deposed of having seen him wandering in the park around the time that the killing took place. There was no way he could win this fight with her mother. She had played the final trick.

He might have struck the body, but the right to take away that life belonged to her. Nothing else was said.

He sat away, as headlines reported the ‘MOST GRUESOME ACT BY A WOMAN IN THE DECADE’ for the night – playing a 8 second clip of his mother being taken in custody. He saw nicely-combed reporters, half-drunk and half-sleepy, brooding over every tiny detail – of what was told to them, or what they could imagine.

The house was sealed by the police, all important evidence with the plastic bagfuls of body collected and sent away to determine if there was anything they could find from it.

He sat there in the park, in his favourite place once again, perplexed at how the night had turned out. Nothing he had imagined had transpired today. Dawn was almost there – just on the horizons. He stretched his neck, trying to think what to do next. He did not feel like smoking.

He searched for his phone in his pockets. He found a disk drive with a label – ‘So this never dies away! Love – Mom.’ She had somehow slipped it in his pockets before he could even know.

He found a place where he could see it, safe and sound. She had recorded something to give away to her son, before the police took her. It was a recording from the room – of everything she had done.

He watched it over and over again, till noon. Then he stood up, and called his lawyer. “Time to take this story out, where it is worth telling”, he had decided.

It indeed was worth telling. Only to someone who cared. And as it turned out – someone did.