Wednesday 25 July 2018

Letters of Love 1 - Ma

My most loving Ma,

The first letter of love I write, has to be to you. Who else, if not the woman who bore me for 9 months, breastfed me for 2 years and then has loved me unconditionally alongside her man for the last 34? 

The truth ma, is that when I think of you, when I write to you, when I speak to you, when I fight with you, I am never not teary :D Either of joy, or of concern, fear, sadness, solidarity, love, irritation, frustration at the distance and what not. But there’s not one moment when I don’t feel intense love for you in some or the other form.

As you age and as I do too, I see your tiredness in perspective. I see your life in as much perspective as I can. Since your mother and MIL have left this world, I dread the day when I will (for we all must) face your loss. Will I be able to cope with the strength that you showed? Will I be graceful as you are?

When I consider having a family, I wonder ma. Will I be as giving, as loving, as selfless as you have been? I have never seen you argue with anyone except in rare circumstances. I’ve seen you serve one and all. I have seen you adopt one and all, my friends, those of your sons, those of your husband’s, the neighbour’s children, the orphan maid with 4 children of her own, labour that made our home, plants, stray animals, what not.  Yet, you’ve managed to make each of us feel like we belong, in our own unique way.

You may not have read to us as many stories as papa did, you have given us enough that mattered. Your own stories, I will never have a dearth of, to tell kids in the family and to the kids of the larger family in the world. The realistic stories of a loving mother who has dealt with happy times, the not so happy, the easy, the tough and more.

Had you not been the mother that you are, I would have never learnt to share your love. I remember you asking me in rhetoric with your gentle voice when I was throwing a fit over the maid calling you ‘mummy’… “Munna, kal ko bhabhiyaan aayengi, tera apna pati bhi to mujhe ma bolega beta, tab bhi aise hi ladegi?”

That moment, you explained to me what motherhood really is about. It’s not just about bearing and rearing children, it’s about giving. Unconditionally. 

I have seen you give in different roles. To your elders, you have played the role of their mothers when you nurtured them, when you served them and continue to do so. With your peers, I have seen you play the role of the fairy Godmother, no matter what advice, support they may need. With your youngers, I have seen you hold them as children in your lap, and as secret keepers when they needed it.

I see you fight for me, when I won’t; no matter who you may face; your relatives, or dad’s or the ever-meddling general public. I see you fight for dad, without him even knowing. I see you fight for the boys, when they only partially realize what you have done and continue to do.

I am happy that you have looked after your health and I want you to continue doing it. As I approach later thirties in a few years, I hope to be able to see you happier, relaxed, settling in your role as the matriarch of the family (though you’ve ruled like a queen in your own right anyway, all through).

I wish I was a worthier daughter, married, a mother myself. However, I also know that you will understand better than any other person in this world that I need to be out there and go get much more for myself. You also understand my insecurities, my hurt, my disappointment, my fear, joys, sadness, anger and the myriad of nuanced emotions that I experience and let spill over to you.

I realize in hindsight that I haven’t been an easy child to raise. But for you mother, I would have been a disaster. And but for you, I am anything but a miracle. 

As I close this first letter in what is hopefully going to be a series of them, I hope to be a better and a more loving daughter, a closer comrade, the friend that you’ve made in me, the patient adult that you have so patiently nurtured in me. It is time now for me to step up and nurture you, protect you, love you as unconditionally as you have done all my life this far.

With that ma, I’m glad that you’ve learnt to say ‘I love you too, Munna’ rather than a thank you, when I say ‘I love you Ma’. 

Much love to you,
Your loving daughter

© Anupama 2018 

Tuesday 1 May 2018

Day 7 - About Matchmaking

So, here’s the thing about matchmaking. I dislike it in all possible forms. I dislike it in the vanilla space, I dislike it in alternative spaces. I dislike it in social gatherings, in schools, in colleges, in weddings, in when relatives do it, when friends do it, when colleagues, acquaintances (specially acquaintances do it). I do not like being put out there as a showpiece.

For most of the people who care for me, it is very difficult to understand why I wouldn’t be happy with people trying to find me people. Well, I didn’t understand it for some time either. Now I think I kind of understand it.

The thing is, I am an extremely extrovert person and I enjoy meeting new people, knowing them, interacting with them, making friends with them. However, I have realized that whenever I do that with an agenda – the agenda of making them my partners; a relationship goal so to say; I end up making a mess.

So, the way I see it, I would be able to really date someone only when and if we have known and interacted with each other for long enough. I need to know and reveal myself when it comes to a partner, in full, moles and warts and farts and all.

However, when people are trying to be my matchmakers, they are portraying what they think is the most relevant aspect of my personality in terms of the person they are introducing me to. This means there is so much more which was to be stated in terms of my non-negotiables that they didn’t. There was so much in terms of my must-haves which they didn’t reveal. My insecurities, my personality, my smile, my excitement, my whims and fancies do not get revealed in their full glory.

In the meanwhile, those that get matched are another story. Listen to this fun song. Mine aren’t even remotely this hilarious.

Yet, people who are trying to be matchmakers usually will ask me SO MUCH about my life in order to share with a third person (who I yet don’t know about), that I wonder, what’s the point. I mean if all you want to do is make an introduction, well, ask my non-negotiables and introduce us. Period. We will discover and figure out the rest.

Anyone who wants to sit in the centre of the relationships’ web and control, isn’t certainly welcome as a matchmaker in my life. All relatives, most acquaintances, most friends fall under this category. I understand when relatives attempt such things, because they are in my opinion, so used to schemes and machinations of human connect that some of them can’t give up. I also understand when some friends do it, but I totally get pissed off when mere acquaintances try to play games like these. 

I recently had an acquaintance, a guy, older, married, looking for a casual (claims non-casual) fling tell me that he needed to know the graphic details of my sexual preferences because he wanted to introduce me to someone. I told him off in polite words and wow, it was a shitstorm! The hidden misogyny, the façade, the mask, all came out shining its shitty glory.

On the other hand, another friend, peer, female, currently dating, almost my age, asked me just tonight if I was dating and if she could set me up. All I had to say to her was – “You know how I look, you know my preferences, you know what I want. If you really think you want to make any introductions, I am open to it”. Her response – “Yay!!”

Now that’s the kind of matchmaking I can happily handle. 

The trouble is that conventionally matchmaking worked. It worked because people lived far away, so it only made sense to pay priests, ‘nai’ and other such people to find matches. Then it got delegated to relatives, specially those married in distant cities. However, the troubles existed even then. Mismatched couples, lies, power centres and more.

I think the dating and match making apps do the same but the only reason why I can handle it is because it feels impersonal enough. If they started asking me in so much detail my sexual details over a phone call or in a face to face meeting, am sure I’d tell them to fuck off as well.

That said, I may still be OK with some people asking me all that information, since it would just make sense. Since these people know me well, have taken time to build comfort with me and to know me well enough, I am OK with them knowing about the gory details of my life. Rest? No please!
So, the next time you want to make a match of someone with me, please ask me the basics and let us explore the detailed graphics ourselves. Thank you very much! 😊

© Anupama 2018