Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bring it on because I am ready!

Recently, at one of the Bollywood award ceremonies, Bomin Irani won a significant award for his role in 3 Idiots. In his acceptance speech, he said that he got into Bollywood at the age of forty-four. And so if he could challenge himself at that age, anyone could follow his or her dream. I was beyond impressed.

A couple of months ago, I had hinted that I was going to make a change in my life. And I promised to share the news when the time was right. Well, here it is: for the first time in my life, I have decided to do something for myself – not the daughter or daughter-in-law or the wife or any of those socially measurable qualifiers in me. Something that I, as an individual, have wanted to do from the time I was a child. Something that brings me joy. I am finally following my lifelong dream of being a full writer. It’s been two months since I made this decision, and I can promise you, I have never been happier. Not that I am not one of those pessimistic, whiny types in any case. But this is different. I feel inexplicably content on the inside.

Many years ago, my sister-in-law (husband’s sister) had said: “Bhabhi, if I am happy, I can make people around me happy.” At the time, I couldn’t relate to her words; today I see the wisdom in them.

The last couple of months have been interesting. It seems, change is more unsettling for the people in and around your life than it is for you. I have been making mental notes of people’s reactions and actions - some hurtful and others comical. And few really sweet. This is what my oldest, 11-year old niece had to say about one of my stories that recently appeared in an anthology: “iv already finished reading the book. i have finished every story and i think they are really nice but all of themm are not as good as YOURS!” 

I believe people fall under three categories. A handful of family and friends who support you regardless of anything (I have a few of those, and I truly feel blessed); people who are genuinely curious about the change in your life and ask questions (I totally get them and appreciate their presence); and, the moronic group that is an epitome of insecurity.

This post is an ode to the third category, populated with people from different age groups, that has a diminished or minimal sense of almost anything. Maybe because they don’t have much going for themselves. Or they are unhappy in their personal lives. Or they survive by being malicious pests.

I wanted to share a few of those imbecilic rants. My husband, one of my dear cousins from my husband’s side, few close friends, and I have discussed, cussed, and laughed at them over and over again.

I have had people ask me what I do with my day, now that I have quit my full time job. I am tempted to say, “Dumb-ass, writing is my full time job,” but I haven’t reached that point of verbal boomerang. Not yet. 

Some have said, “Now you have time to cook because you don’t have a full time job. No wonder you bake cookies at home.” The lazy butts out there, I have been cooking three meals a day for eleven years now. I didn’t wake up one fine morning, drowned in guilt, with the thought that I should celebrate festivals, go to the temple, or have people over. I am consistent with what I do and cooking, taking care of my house, and entertaining folks aren’t a passing phase in my life. Just because you enter the kitchen once a month and feel the need to justify your apathy towards your house, don’t bite my head off!

“What a waste of a masters degree. All the money spent on an Ivy-league education.” Well, clearly I didn’t borrow money from any of you. They are my loans, and I am paying them off. Happy? Unless you can take care of my debts, zip it.

When I travel to writer’s residencies, a prestigious feat for anyone who wants to understand what they are, I am asked how I can abandon (Yeah, that dramatic) my husband for those weeks. Interesting how traveling on work is a sexist thing too. My husband makes business trips all the time. As he should because that’s the nature of his job. He doesn't expect, but, when I travel, I cook and clean for those weeks ahead of time, so he doesn’t have to come back and figure things out for himself. 

The best one yet: “You are so lucky, your husband is so accepting. Poor guy. Double income to single income.” Never mind the fact that I worked, earned, and saved for the decision that I made. Also, isn’t that what spouses do – support each other? Nothing in the world is one-sided. But most importantly, I don’t see how it’s anyone’s business.

I get career tips from people who have never earned a dime of their own. Flurries of relationship management tips are thrown my way from selfish brats: “Don’t work late nights. Come home together with your husband.” All of a sudden, I am supposed to be nothing more than a woman whose identity is to cook, clean, and serve her husband. Every relationship is different, and you will never be privy to mine, so don’t pawn off advice. Neither of us needs it.

Another thing that irks me is voicemails during work hours. People wanting to hold telephonic chats when I am making breakfast or packing lunch or rushing out or in the middle of a project. And the surprise in the tone when they don’t find me at home. Are you crazy? Again, read slowly because I empathize that you are challenged-learners: Writing is my full time job. For eight hours in a day, at least, I am not around. The way I wasn’t available earlier. Nothing has changed. I still leave home rather early in the morning, and no cell phones are permitted at my writing space. Even on the days I work from home, I am still working. Just because you don’t know what to do with your day, don’t lash out at me!

Over the past couple of months, I have conceded that I can’t change people. I am not even trying because everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, however asinine. And if anything, I like opinions because they nudge me out of my comfort zone. What bothers me is the conceited intrusiveness. If my spirit intimidates you, then it’s your problem.

My husband once said: “At least you have a dream. How many of us can even say that? Just follow it and think about yourself for once.” I am appreciative of the people who support my aspirations of defying the ordinary. I understand that this is my decision, and I am responsible for the outcome. Good or bad. 

For those of you meddling, make your peace with it because it won’t take me long to cut you right out. I am over the feeling-offended and angry stage. I am no longer a child, and I might not keep quiet this time. Don't mistake my niceness for my weakness. You know who you are, but I won't really care who you are!

More until next time,


Copyright © 03. 18.2010


“Opinion has caused more trouble on this little earth than plagues or earthquakes” - Voltaire



rajiv said...

something / someone sure riled u up bad ; all i've seen is complements galore , yet most of your post is devoted to a minority of individuals who are vastly outnumbered by your well wishers.
you've always come out as a genuine person and i cannot understand this.
you are managing to do what very of us do - live life they 'want' to , rather than 'need' to...........
my best wishes - and, lemme add, i feel jealous !

Rujuta said...

As usual I loved your blog. I agree with you totally. Just ask the persons who are asking you and giving you "tips" that I can cook, earn, clean and take care of my family but can you be the writer. No... then shut up and do your wrok.....

P.S. Really happy for you. You are following your passion. Very few people can do it.

Anonymous said...

good one swets.

S said...

Love it! Good to hear your true fearless self. I am a Woman, hear me roar!

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