Lessons learnt in 2020

Twice a year, one sits down to take stock of one’s existence. Once on or around my birthday and at the end of the year. The Wall will be here then , I doubt I will get the time. Since one’s at home today, might as well, go through the horror, na! just kidding.

First things first, this has been a terrible year for all of us. People have lost family members, homes, livelihoods and the worst is, some have died all alone. Therefore, for you to read this maybe a futile exercise, you must have plenty of your own experiences to dwell on. I write this primarily for myself, as a reminder for the days, when I feel weaker, when I need a pep talk to get me through my existence and for my future kids and especially my daughters ( who drive most of my decisions in life) for days when they won’t be able to navigate through society.

Self Love Is Absolutely Essential– I grew up masochistic, with an equally masochistic mother and a father, who told my mother and I day in and day out, how worthless we were and that we were the cause of his misery. He has his own issues, embedded in his own childhood. Self worth, love and respect, is something, I have always struggled with. But never in my life, have I felt prouder of myself, as I do, today. For getting through, not only my entire life but especially the past nine months, I give myself a few pats on my back. Taking a leaf from Snoop Dog, I shall say, ‘ I want to thank myself for believing in my own worth. I want to thank myself for having the courage to not buckle under pressure. I want to thank myself for healing my relationship with my mother. I want to thank myself for managing, while people betrayed me left right and centre. I want to thank myself for not letting anyone convince me that by respecting my Mum’s wishes and not signing away my legal rights, I’m being bad, spoilt or privileged. I want to thank myself for not jumping into the arms of a man, by marrying one, hoping he will solve all my problems. I want to thank myself for not having or adopting a child to fill a void, or give my father a male heir. I want to thank myself for rejecting such regressive ideas. I want to thank myself for wiping my own tears, lifting myself and being my own damn hero.’

Whatever Shall Be, Shall Be- Years after my brother died, I felt guilty I wasn’t home the night he passed away. ‘ If only’, haunted me for a long time. After, Mum, thankfully I had my relatives to do the deed for me. So, my mind took over, my emotions, which reduced the long term psychological damage it would have done. Due to the fact that I was cornered ( in a way I hope I can flush out of my system someday) I had to go through everything, video recordings of my mother’s death, prescriptions everything at a time, when I should have been weeping. What does that do a person, at that time? Makes you hate the entire world and its mother, let me be honest but now, nine months later, it’s something I’m very grateful for. It really drove home, the point, that the religious, pretending to be holier than thou, read day and night in their books but have not an ounce of understanding of – Whatever shall be, shall be, you can do what you want! Spend crores of rupees in a fancy hospital, to stroke your own ego and show the world, the end result will be what is written. Not you, nor all the money and power in the world can change that, otherwise Steve Jobs, would still be alive.

Pretending to be good and actually being good are two very different things- Since one is the quintessential, rebel without a cause, a bad girl getting worse with age, one does get fooled by ‘niceness’. I’m beginning to understand, that people have agendas and in my situation, I got to not get swayed, by anything. But one is human, one wants to believe that if someone is around, they are there out of genuineness and not with ill intentions. This one is tough, to get used to.

Stay Away From People Who Are Frustrated With Their Own Lives– The advice and the judgements of a person, who is unhappy with their own choices, should not matter to me. But my anger and my hyper sensitivity are my Achilles heels. Till I don’t learn to deal with other humans better, for the time being I should just stay away from anyone, who is going to dump their frustrations on me.

Keep Away From Other People’s Issues- The other day my Dad, was yelling at me. ‘ Why do you have to argue with your brother’s for the sake of your sisters? How did your sisters behave when your Mum passed away? Why do you care, whether they get something from their parents or not or whether their husbands treat them, well or not? None of them stand by your side, it’s only your brothers you’ll be able to count on, for anything, when I won’t be there!’ It may sound terrible but it’s a fact. The same people, I side with, are the ones who were justifying the drama, that was taking place, in fact they were pleased as punch. This might sound misogynistic but let me tell you the background. My relatives and females friends, got married because they were supposed to. Some married at 19 and other’s even as late, as they thought was 26. Some of them gave up their work and part of their identity is being the daughter of so and so and the wife of so and so. Some of them have and the others will get pittance compared to their brothers, who they will begrudgingly sign away everything to because society has convinced them that, it makes them good and women you know, na should always be good.

This despite the fact, that all the women I know are smarter and more hardworking than their male siblings and myself. When they look at my life, they see someone who has always done as she pleased and unfortunately, will reap the benefits inspite of being bad and rebellious, which frustrates them. Now, they aren’t going to fight with their parents, brothers or husbands or whoever they think is making them miserable, so other women, such as myself, their friends, their mothers in law, sisters in law etc become an easy target. It’s a total crab mentality, pull the one who is crawling out because we can’t get out of the bucket, ourselves. The worst thing, though, was I know someone who got out, someone whose parents gave everything to her who was the first person to tell me, I should do what my mum’s relatives want. I was physically sickened by the hypocrisy, of it. So, I’m going to just mind my own business and not get into other people’s problem because it ain’t worth it!

‘Sometimes you have to be a lion, so that you can be the sheep you truly, are!’– This is Chappelle’s line but it’s a very important lesson. Though, one is naturally like a porcupine, one’s quite open about one’s life and mistakes. But now, one needs to be more careful. The more aggressive, don’t fuck with me personality needs to always be dominant. The other one, can come out to play, when one is alone or with the few, she trusts.

Stop judging people according to your life and background– I’m terribly judgemental of other people. Now, I won’t care about the more superficial things, like what are they wearing, wealth etc. But lack of courage, that I’m brutal about. This is something I will have to learn and I keep reminding myself off, these days. Especially, with men, I shit you not, most of the time they’re beating around the bush, playing safe and in my head on a loop is playing, ‘coward!’ That’s terrible, to judge people by your standards or even the standards of your family.

My mum forty three years ago, had a secret marriage with my father and though, her brother’s had actual guns and they warned my father, to stay away from her, my Amma, was stubborn as an ox. I also have a few uncles and cousins who have eloped and have been through the drama, of threats, even court cases but they were unflinching lovers. Having said that, it’s not fair that I go through life, being so harsh on regular men. Just because I come from a family, that’s driven by passion and a touch of madness, doesn’t mean everyone will be like that. I better accept this sooner, rather than later.

The kind of man I want- One doesn’t have any particular taste in men, other than the fact that most of them have been quite tall, there’s barely any similarity between the men I’ve been with. Intelligence, money and creativity haven’t been a common thread, either. If I try to break it down, before 25, they were older and after I turned 25, they’ve all been younger. The ‘good ones’, ‘channge munde’ with stable minds, moods and professions were the one’s who stayed longer, one did get more serious about them. The more creative, moody types, not so much. ‘There’s only so much room for crazy in this relationship and I got that shit covered!’ is on a poster I love. But recently a boy I know, made me realize that, I need someone who listens to me. This person was being sarcastic but it’s actually spot on. Look at it logically, I’m someone whose alone most of the times, in all probability, unless God and Death are kind enough to take me before my Dad, I will be the only surviving member of my family, with nothing to hold on to. If I end up with someone, narcissistic and moody like myself, God help us both. So, yes, it’s absolutely correct I do need someone who I can talk to endlessly, otherwise I’ll be very lonely. Now, if that makes a man, a ‘joru ka gulaam’ like this person was insinuating, well I don’t blame men, who have seen their father’s enslaving their mothers, thinking that. My mum was the Alpha, of the house, so for a man to assume, I’ll be able to play second fiddle, well, that’s having high hopes in hell.

Anger and depression are my superpower and my Archille’s heels- The other day, I was watching something on FB- some person called Sandeep was giving these young people a talk on how to use their anger positively. It’s something that Greg, my photography teacher and mentor, would tell me too. ‘Work with your hands and just work a lot because you need to control your mind.’ Anupam, my tutor, believed in astrology, so he would say, ‘ you are a number 9 and number nines are ruled by Mars- the planet of war and destruction. Used positively, it’s your strength, otherwise it will destroy you!’. Some, people call my anger, my uncontrolled passion. I’m learning, to but I don’t know whether I’m succeeding. But photography, writing, dancing and driving do hep me channel it and control my upward and downward swings better.

Karma, Matters Most– I’ve fucked up, many things in life, especially my relationships with men. Someone, said to me recently that maybe I haven’t met the right man. That’s not true. Let it be on record, that I have been with really nice men, they were a little weird, that they chose to be with me but they were all very nice. Being with me is just like a roller coaster ride, how long can someone be on it? So, I was an adventure trip for some and a transforming mission for others. Most of them treated me better than I deserved to be treated, some not so much but that’s okay. It all got equalised in the end some broke my heart and I broke my fair share, too. But I don’t want anyone to think, badly of any of them, especially the last one, who spent a decade dealing with moi, trust me, which is impossible.

Having said that, karma has been kinder to me than my reputation. Which is quite a relief honestly, makes me worry less about what the future holds. Many a times, when my actions haven’t been great, my intentions have saved me. So, though one frets many a nights, one knows somehow things will work out. My angelic brother and my incredibly naughty mother, watch over me and God and the Devil both have my back!