Happy Women’s Day! (?)

It was 9 in the morning and I was deep in sleep when a barrage of messages popped up on my phone, one after the other, all of them wishing me a happy Women’s Day. And, all I could think was “Oh, joy.”

Now, don’t get me wrong, being a woman is not bad. But I honestly don’t think there is anything in my life worth celebrating. And I wanted to text back to those people who woke me up this morning with their pointless messages, “What is so great about being a woman that you want me to be happy about it?”

Which brings me to the question – Am I happy being a woman in India?

The answer, of course, is no. It is a huge understatement to say that equality has not been achieved in my country. This is true because of various reasons, not the least of which is the fact that gender roles in India are steeped so deeply in cultural and religious views. When it comes to women, India has always had more rigid parameters than the Western countries. I mean, the obviously evil practices of sati and child marriage weren’t abolished until after the British decided to colonize India. Western influence has been good for us in a way.

So, women are considered equals in the Western countries, right? From a very young age, my generation of Indian youngsters have been raised to believe that the men and women of Western countries are shameless, wild people, running around fucking anything that comes in their way. Granted, they do have a very laid back attitude to sex. But in our eyes, they are promiscuous, perpetually horny people with no modesty or family values. Whereas in India, we pride ourselves on our modesty. Virginity is considered sanctimonious and holy especially when it comes to girls. But in western countries, women are not judged based on whether or not they’re virgins. They are not expected to give up their careers when they get married. So, they have achieved equality, right? I don’t think so. Sometimes I find it hard to believe the amount of hatred shown by these “Western” men towards women on the Internet. Some of their opinions make them sound like they came right from cave men times.

But let’s go back to talking about equality in India. In India, women are still expected to cook and clean and wash clothes even though we get the same education as men, the same wages as men and work at the office for the same hours everyday as men.

When I was fourteen, we had guests over at our house one day. When it was time for lunch to be served, my mother called me up and asked me to set the table. I had been watching something on the computer with my brother. I remember whining about why my brother got to keep watching the movie, but I had to do chores. My mother always asked me to do these household chores like folding clothes, serving food to people and washing dishes. It always bugged me when she didn’t ask my brother to do anything. These may seem like harmless examples, but they matter. Equality begins at home. It begins with what we teach our sons and daughters.

Women were once full-time housewives. It made sense for them to take care of all household chores. But now, most of us have jobs, but still we are expected to slave away at home. I know for a fact that many of my lady co-workers wake up several hours before their husbands do, just so they could serve coffee and breakfast to him in the morning. When will men stop feeling so entitled?

And speaking of entitled men, I have never seen my father do one household chore in my entire life. Lunch  or dinner? Someone has to serve him food. Even if it is just reheating food in the microwave, he has someone else do it for him. And after the meal, he doesn’t even pick up his dirty dishes from the table, let alone wash them. Someone else has to do it for him. But the worst part is that my mother cleans up after my father with no complaints. It doesn’t occur to her that it is not normal to act this way. My father drops his dirty clothes on the floor and my mother picks them up and washes them. He litters the floor with trash and my mother cleans it up. My mother is like a servant in our house. Is this what I’m supposed to celebrate on Women’s Day?

Forget about the countless rape cases happening across India. What about treating women with respect and dignity at home? Stop looking at women as second-class citizens and the rapes and sexual assaults will definitely take a downturn.

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Warm Love, Bitter Truth and Cold Desolation

So I went home after a long time. I bid Hyderabad a happy goodbye and boarded the bus to my hometown. I had so many plans, so many things I wanted to do. “Dulhaniya Dilwale Le Jayenge” was playing on the TV. I love that movie. It maybe old school, but something about the movie brings out the romantic in me. The bus stopped at a highway restaurant at about 9 pm for dinner. I was eating roti and paneer butter masala with my dad, who was accompanying me on this trip (my mom has this crazy idea that someone might do something to me if I travel alone) at the restaurant when my dad got a call. It was bad news. My forty six year old uncle had just died of renal failure.

In my twenty two years, I haven’t had to deal with a loved one’s death at any point. Granted, I wasn’t very close to my uncle. We had exchanged a few words at family gatherings and that is it. But I was very close to my aunt and she had just lost her husband. Also, the fact that someone whom I had seen just a few months back is now dead made me feel lost and unsure about my own life. It wasn’t a full-blown existential crisis, but it was close.

The day I arrived at my home, we packed our bags and left for Tirunelveli. The mood at my aunt’s house was depressing. Me, being the selfish bitch that I am, couldn’t handle all the crying. I wanted to leave and then, come back when everything was better. But I stayed. I had to. I consoled my aunt as best as I could. After a day with the mourning family, we came back home.

My uncle had just died, but I was determined to make the most of my visit. I dragged my mom to restaurants and malls and street shops. Thankfully, my dad had some work to attend to, so he had left town for a couple of days. If he had been with us, he would have brought our spirits down to rock bottom.

I spent a lot of money and didn’t feel guilty spending it. I had delicious home cooked meals. I spent hours talking to my mom. It was wonderful. My mom who had been miserable living alone with my dad seemed to like having me around. Then, my dad came back.

My dad has this power to make everyone around him wish they were somewhere else. I had been so happy to come home, but when I started to spend time with him, I wanted nothing more than to take the next bus back to Hyderabad. I am not quite sure if I completely hate my dad, but I hate at least 99.9% of him. He is loud, obnoxious and rude. He picks fights with everyone. He is controlling. He is paranoid. He treats his family like shit. He is a top-class asshole.

A few days later, I left for Hyderabad. I felt sad and guilty about leaving my mom with my dad again (for some reason, he doesn’t treat her so badly when I am around). But I couldn’t stay in that house any longer. It was depressing.

It had been a weird trip filled with death and heartache and love. On the way back to Hyderabad, I kept thinking about what I took away from this whole experience. But the truth is – nothing. I still feel like the same person. I haven’t been enlightened. I have one less person in my life and I still can’t stop thinking about how much I hate my dad. I still can’t stop trying to isolate myself from others. I am a lost cause.

I Like Him, I Like Him Not

So, there’s this guy in my office. I kinda, sorta like him. I think he likes me too. The only problem is that I think he likes me more than I like him. This is a problem I often face. I like guys, but not so much that they’re all I think about.

At first, I thought this guy, S, and I wouldn’t mesh. He seemed too conservative, too “South Indian”. But then today, we bonded over our mutual love of a particular TV show. We talked about our opinion on Hindu – Muslim weddings. After today, he seems a bit more compatible with me. But only a bit, mind you.

So, here’s my dilemma. Should I encourage him when he flirts with me, or should I nip this in the bud? Should I flirt back just because we like the same things, or should I act more friendly, less flirty with him? Or am I overthinking this whole thing? Should I just go with the flow?

S doesn’t make my head spin, so I can’t really like him that much, can I? Or maybe this is what crushes feel like once you’re an adult? Maybe they are not as intense as teenage crushes. Maybe the kinda love you read about in books and watch in movies – the kind which makes the blood boil in your veins, which makes your heart pump frantically, which is all consuming and passionate – only exists in books and movies. Or am I confusing lust with love?

I wish there was a way to tell if this is the real deal.

Relationships are not for me

I’m starting to think I don’t have a single romantic bone in my body. I mean, I’m a girl, for God’s sake! I’m supposed to be graceful and gentle and loving and kind and patient, aren’t I? I’m supposed to get excited about the prospect of marriage, right? I’m supposed to be over the moon about having kids and raising them, right?

Oh, but I am not.

The idea of me having children is repulsive to me. I mean, I can’t even take care of myself. How can I be expected to take care of some other life? I’ll probably be a shitty parent. And I don’t want to be a shitty parent. Cause I have a shitty parent and I know how much it sucks growing up with one.

And don’t even get me started on boys. It’s been so fucking long since I’ve had a crush – at least three years I think. And when a guy does express some sort of interest in me, I run away. The thought of committing myself to a relationship scares me. Because I know I’m fickle. I know I change my mind faster than I change my nail color.

See, I’m no great and terrible beauty. But I can be considered cute in a petite sorta way. And guys seem to like petite-and-cute. Maybe they think petite-and-cute is harmless. Maybe they think petite-and-cute equals sweet-and-naive. I don’t know. I don’t pretend to understand guys. The truth is I am neither sweet nor naive. I care about no one but me. I am a cruel, selfish bitch.

For example, there is this incredibly sweet guy, let’s call him Sam, in my office who seems to like me. And although I don’t return the sentiment, I flirt with him. I know it is bitchy of me and I know I’ll never like him that way, but I still can’t help myself. I want him to like me that way. I’m fake-flirty not just with Sam, but with every guy who seems to be interested in me. I want every guy to want me, so I lead them on.

But.

There is another guy at my office, Sean. Ever since I met him, I’ve been having thoughts about giving this whole relationship thing a go. He is sweet, cute and seems like a good guy. But I don’t want to end up hurting him. I don’t want to toy with him while my interest lasts and then throw him away.

I wouldn’t say I have a crush on Sean. The word ‘crush’ brings to my mind the time I felt giddy and light-headed because that guy with the cute smile passed me in the hallway in my school. I don’t feel giddy when I’m around Sean. It’s been a while since I’ve felt giddy around anyone.

I’m intrigued by Sean. I wonder if I will start acting like a normal girl I get into a relationship with Sean. Because Sean seems like perfect boyfriend material. He is Cameron from 10 Things I Hate About You. He is Pete from Win A Date With Tad Hamilton. He is Cal from Crazy, Stupid Love. He is Tom Hansen from 500 Days of Summer.

Which is exactly why I should tread lightly. He is the archetypal nice guy and I don’t want to break his heart like Summer broke Tom’s.