Unlike most other festivals, which I either hate or love, Karva Chauth is a festival that evokes rather ambivalent feelings. I think it is a festival that I love to hate. I quite like the air of festivity that in any case is all pervasive in the month of October. The Karva Chauth special goes on to add to this mayhem- ladies going ballistic in the markets , mehendi on hands , plethora of small small customs (sargi) and finally decked up in all bridal fineries in the evening. Honestly I still get mehendi put on my hands even though I bid adieu to the fast years ago. Yet, as the RSS sanctioned Desi Valentine’s Day approaches every year, I’m forced to rethink the ideology time and over again.
Finally I’ve realised that what irks me about this festival the most is the hypocrisy it reeks of. When those very women, who oppose yet another manifestation of this patriarchal set up that forbids women from entering religious places during their periods , fast with a halo over their heads, it irks me ; when women who are shattering glass ceilings at work succumb to the tyranny of glass bangles only because they don’t want to rock the boat and create a controversy at home, it upsets me ;and when the very generation that spearheads movements like “pinjra tod” fasts for their boyfriends , I am truly disappointed. Of course explanations and reasons are plenty….from “it’s my choice and no one is forcing me” to “it’s a way of showing my love” to “it’s a good way to detox” but the bottom line is hypocrisy in which we Indians excel. How about an honest ” I don’t believe my husband is god incarnate but I fast nevertheless ” or “I just like the air of festivity ” or “I rather fast than become the black sheep of the family” or “I just like to pamper myself” or “I haven’t given it a thought. .I just do what’s being done” ? And while you do fast, please be sincere enough to spare the feministic rant.
Considering the all pervasive double standards and hypocrisy that we are born and brought up in , asking for some honest introspection is just asking for too much. So while “unpativrata”women like me eat , drink and make merry , let the pious and loving ones fast and may all be blessed with long happy years of companionship.
After 12 years of somewhat confused matrimony, my husband and I are finally “friends” on Facebook. In a world where virtual life and existence matter more than the real, how did this anomaly of not being friends on Facebook come about, I can’t say. That married couples are more in the league of sworn enemies than friends in real life is beside the point. Appearances must be maintained so politically correct online relationships are a must. Since how long we have been estranged on Facebook, I have no idea. And since neither one of us is much prone to any public display of affection (or acrimony), we have refrained from wishing the other on Facebook while sitting next to each other in real life. No wonder this slight virtual lapse went unnoticed until now.
Imagine my surprise when on a rare occasion of wanting to tag him in a family picture, I failed to find him on my friends list. Now to set matters straight, we are pretty much married on Fb, albeit not to each other. So while my relationship status intriguingly reads “It’s complicated”, my hubby’s is a rather prosaic and to the point “married”. Period! Who or what it is that has complicated my life or that my husband is married to, is left to the reader’s imagination, of which there is no dearth in any case. I remember being asked so very often why my relationship was complicated, if it meant that there was “trouble” in the marriage. This is a question that never ceases to intrigue me. And my answer apparently does not please those asking the ludicrous question- “If there was any trouble, and I don’t confirm or deny the same, Fb is the last place and you the last person, I’d share it with”. Why would people be presumptuous enough to think that someone’s private life and its affairs would be the subject of status messages or relationship status on Fb is beyond me! But then why do people declare their undying love and affection on Fb rather than in person has been beyond me as well. If only we were as careful about privacy in its true sense than just the Fb and WhatsApp privacy settings!
Coming back to the original mystery of the missing friendship on Fb, well the mystery still remains unsolved. If my life was a Yash Chopra or Karan Johar movie, I’m sure I could say that there is more to it than meets the eye. But sadly, my life is as boring as it gets so no surprises lay in store. After an intriguing few hours, and a host of conspiracy theories involving aliens and AI, we went back to our staid existences. The photograph though still remains untagged. However we are friends on Facebook…till the status do us apart!
Today is my birthday….happy or not. Considering that , effectively, one is just inching closer to the inevitable end, whether one should celebrate one’s birthday or not, has been the subject of much intellectual debate. Many of these debates I too have been a part of. In fact, in the good old days of youth, some inexplicable existential angst used to grip me around my birthday. Those were the days when I was quite sure that I had life all figured out and had consequently come to the conclusion that the only logical thoughts on one’s birthday had to be an existential urgency. I remember scribbling one such thought from Bridget Jones on the title page of that very book on my 27th birthday – “Fear of dying alone and being found 3 weeks later , half eaten by an Alsatian”. That Bridget herself is by no means anywhere near sane should be enough of a comment on my mental state at 27.Now that I’m quite certain of just the opposite , that no matter what, life cannot be figured out, I have taken a bathetic plunge from morose contemplation to chaotic revelry.
So here I am, on my 42nd birthday, with my self bought gifts and cake and flowers , ready to celebrate , happily having bid adieu to the angst that plagued me in my 20s. Is life more sorted out now ? Am I no longer scared of being found half eaten by an Alsatian because I’m married ? Not quite. On the contrary life is as chaotic as it gets and if I’m not worried about not being half eaten by an Alsatian it’s simply because I’d trust my pet not to eat me up ! The fear on the contrary is of being left half buried by my better- bitter half 😉
On a more serious note if there is one thing that I’ve realised about life it’s simply that life is for the living. Pretty obvious one would think but very often such apparent truths are lost on us. Rather than moan on our birthdays about getting old, let us acknowledge that growing old is a privilege denied to many and be grateful for whatever time we have, especially with our health and other such things that we take for granted , intact. Moreover, why do we wait for others to celebrate our birthday or make special efforts for our special day? Buying gifts, flowers, cake for oneself is generally looked down upon, as signs of being so lonely and alone that no one will get you these. For a long time I have myself fallen prey to such self defeating thoughts, waiting for others to make my day special. And now I wonder why? I am blessed with lovely friends and family but if I don’t want to celebrate my life myself, why do I expect others to? My birthday for me is today nothing short of an exclusive national holiday that I celebrate fully. It’s a week, if not more, of fun and revelry in the most basic ways…shopping, cooking, movies…anything that I enjoy..with sonny dear and whoever, if anyone, is around at that point of time. But celebrate I must and celebrate I will.
I have often spoken of lack of self love that we, especially, women exhibit. Everything in life is overrated, except love of the self and an affirmation of life as we know it. Can there be a better day to celebrate one’s life than one’s birthday? So here’s to many more such days…such birthdays and a life of loving and living. Let’s not take life too seriously..no one gets out alive. Let’s rock it while we can…Happy Birthday to Me!!