Sunday, March 23, 2014

What's in a relationship, sans gender talk?

"Everything," I'd say! Explain, I shall, if you permit me a few digressions.

A day, a story, and a perspective:

"A man who really loves you and wants you to be in his life forever will never give you reasons to doubt him. He will never take you for granted… He will always keep you above everything else. He will fight for you and not with you… He will remember your likes and dislikes and will not forget what is important to you. He knows you the way he knows his own shadow… His own soul… His own life."

I read this on Facebook a few days ago and was wondering, once again, about relationships. Why should the above things be true only in case of the man, the husband? So, does it mean that a woman need not really love the man in her life and need only wait to be loved? Suppose it was posted by a man instead of a woman, words like the 'man' and the associated pronouns would have been replaced by 'woman' and related pronouns. Frankly speaking, not in Arnab Goswami style of course, I feel the onus lies on both the partners. How can love and relationship issues be different from one gender to the other?

'The war of the genders' is a highly misused, and abused, phrase. So are terms like 'love' and 'respect.' I really love, and totally relate to, what Sridevi says in 'English Vinglish' - 'I don't want love. I want respect.' Once both partners learn to respect each other - respect the significant other's opinions, ideas, tastes, likes and dislikes, interests, and passions, love will happen quite naturally. And then the battle of the sexes will end automatically. And naturally! Somehow, I feel, it all boils down to ego which is a deep-rooted emotion and plucking out which takes a lifetime of futile efforts.

Another day, another story, and another perspective:

On the first day of their marriage, wife and husband decided and agreed not to open the door for anyone! On that day, first husband’s parents came to see them, they were behind the door. Husband and the wife looked at each other, husband wanted to open the door, but since they had an agreement he did not open the door, so his parents left. After a while the same day, wife’s parents came, wife and the husband looked at each other and even though they had an agreement, wife with tears on her eyes whispered, I can’t do this to my parents, and she opened the door. Husband did not say anything.

Years passed and they had 4 boys and the fifth child was a girl. The father planned a very big party for the new born baby girl, and he invited everyone over. Later that night his wife asked him what was the reason for such a big celebration for this baby while we did not do it for the others! The Husband simply replied, because she is the one who will open the door for me! Daughters are always so special !!

This story hit me real hard as it was a bit unpalatable to me. Its appeal to me was much different from all the touching/ sentimental comments that flooded the status update. I felt this can be looked at in a different perspective where the moral of the story can be perceived as below:

"The husband changes himself completely for the wife and sacrifices everything (including his own parents) for her sake, in order to keep her happy always. But the wife doesn't really seem to care for him or his parents as much as she does for her own family."

I agree that daughters are extra special... being a daughter myself and a mother of an amazing daughter, at least I should know that daughters are indeed special. But I also know that the world around is cruelly ignorant and our actions can be perceived in so many different ways - highlighting the grey areas especially! This story, to me, is not really a happy one. It's a real sharp comment (probably in the most subtlest possible way) on the sad state of affairs clouding the most amazing institution called marriage! :(

As my husband insists - always - understanding and trust are the keys to a successful marriage. And those are the very same things lacking in marriages these days - and that's probably why so many couples are falling apart. If the husband can support the wife in a joint agreement, I wonder why the wife cannot do the same for him! If the husband is willing to accept his in-laws' family with open arms, why does the wife find it so difficult to do just the same! I always wondered if it has got to do with the mental make-up of both the sexes. And if what everyone says - Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus - is true!

A different day, a new quote, and a newer perspective:

In yet another equally disturbing quote that's doing the rounds on social networking sites, the ultra-modern, educated, economically-independent Netizen women preach that the man shower his love on his wife in abundance "in order to gain their children’s respect. Love your wife, show the children that you care for her! So they’ll learn how to love, and respect women when they grow up!" Or something to that effect! I’d still hold on to my point and say, this is quite so true in case of the woman too! "Show your children how to love and respect the man in your life… and in doing so, you’re doing a favor to your girls by teaching them how to do the same – without bringing in biased concepts like ego, sacrifice, independence, individuality, and so on!"

I’d personally love it if my daughter can punch in the face of the man who troubles her in any way – not to protect her ego or her superiority complex, but only to uphold her self-respect and push her self-confidence level up by a few notches. That’s the positive spirit I’ll try to inculcate in her and make sure, as a woman and as a mother, that she knows how to be feminine without being submissive, how to be a woman without being a feminist, how to be independent without being arrogant, how to be selfish without being mean, and how to be herself without being egoistic…

I hope mothers – everywhere – are listening! Mothers with daughters, mothers with sons, mothers all kind, and mothers from around the world!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Whither have thou all gone?

Whenever I hear this song, I wonder where have all my favorite things gone! Each time I end up making a mental list of all things that I love. Or those that I used to love. There was a time when small and simple things were the very reasons of my happiness. These small little things were what made me genuinely happy.

As I now try to recollect something – anything – that makes me happy, I realized how much I've changed… With a surprise I note how I am unable to recollect most of what brings me happiness. Or when was the last time I was actually happy! Why, oh why, did I lose myself and my happy-go-lucky spirit amid the chores of life and the cares of the world! When did this transformation happen… I have no answers now but I’d surely explore and figure it out soon – very soon!

S keeps telling me – Be happy. Forget the past. Move on! How can anyone do it – when they’re shrouded in the bitterness of the past memories, and surrounded by misery! Happiness is not just a state of mind. It's a whole lot of things put together. Happiness, just like love, is such a fleeting thing, an ephemeral feeling. And yes, it indeed is difficult to understand what makes me happy and bring it all back into my life… welcome my old friend with a smile!

Nevertheless, I did manage to come up with a not-so-long list of things that still make me happy – genuinely happy.

  • Beautiful and colorful butterflies
  • Rainbow
  • Jasmines
  • Pink roses
  • Honey
  • Chocolate chips ice cream
  • Shiny glass bangles
  • Romantic songs of the Golden Era
  • Flying dupatta
  • Raindrops
  • First sip of freshly brewed hot coffee
  • A good book (preferably a feel-good romance or a racy thriller)
  • Smile of a baby
  • Hugging my daughter
  • A word of praise
  • Bright sunny morning after a week of incessant rains
  • A loving touch
  • Cooing of the birds
  • An indulgent gesture
  • Memory of my daughter’s face just after she was born
  • A walk on the wet sand
  • A deep wet kiss
  • Roasted peanuts with jaggery
  • A tight, therapeutic hug
  • An off-white sari with a red border
  • Touch of skin on skin
  • Picking up flowers that fell from a roadside tree
  • Raw mangoes with salt and chilli powder
  • The scent of the fresh mehendi
  • A romantic movie evening
  • A shared chocolate
  • Corn on the cob
  • Kalakhand
  • Satin ribbons
  • Melody chocolates
  • Fresh orange juice
  • Pani puri from a road-side vendor
  • Childhood black-and-white photographs
  • Natraj pencils
  • Watching Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi episodes on youtube
  • Photographs of breath-takingly picturesque locales
  • Waking up to Venkateswara Suprabhatam
  • Snuggling in a warm quilt on every winter morning
  • Finding money in a jeans pocket or a discarded purse
  • Reading a romantic Telugu novel (secretly)
  • Buttered popcorn
  • Star ice cream
  • Cadbury's five star
  • Nanna's creative stories on how the rats left sweets for me and my little bro
  • Staging dharna at home to make nanna take us to a movie
  • Praying to God every evening to make our toy birds real
  • My lovely ‘Lily doll’
  • Bournvita and Horlicks
  • The soft touch of an infant
  • Scent of Johnson baby powder, baby oil, milk, the baby scent
  • Hopscotch
  • Making love in the rain
  • Gudiya ki shaadi and the goodies that we got at my doll's marriage feast
  • Birthdays and new clothes
  • The smell of brand new books
  • Pocket money
  • Greeting cards
  • Key chains with names engraved
  • The scent of the agarbatti
  • The chiming of the temple bells
  • Delicate anklets and toe rings
  • Nail polish, and lipstick
  • Kaajal and kumkum spread on to the face
  • Amma's rustling silk sari
  • Bell earrings
  • My first lemon yellow and brown churidaar
  • A cute, white, soft, cuddly puppy
  • An hour-long oil massage, and bath
  • The scent of the sambrani...
I miss all these and many more. And I miss the happiness. I miss the small joys of life. I miss being happy. I miss being myself. I miss my childhood. I miss being loved. I miss everything. I miss my loved ones. I miss my friends. I miss the long walks and talks. And I miss you!