Let me apologize for the constant delay in giving you a ‘piece of my mind’ and picking your brain occasionally, although I imagine, you wouldn’t have missed it one bit. Either ways, efforts are in place to obtrude your fine world with my words by attempting to follow ever-imparted and rarely practiced advice, the likes of Seinfield’s chain technique, morning pages and what not? Should I succeed, let me warn you that your e-mail will be harassed once a week. That being said, today’s post is something I’ve been meaning to write for a while – consider it the plight of the maiden (unmarried).
Coming from any traditional family ( add to that the keywords ,’Keralite’, ‘Christian-Syrian’), you will never be surprised if your parents gently start having the ‘talk’ with you. Don’t get carried away now, we are talking of the talk that involves ‘tying the knot’ or the ‘noose’, should I say. If any of you non-Indian folk are still not aware of it, let me give you a hint (South-Indian style)
Allow me to narrate the night I first met that kind, yet insensible and ignorant soul. The nature of it’s being was rather baffling (and I say ‘it’ because ‘it’ is not human, but a congregation of multiple ideologies, emotions and rules that the humans of the Indian sub-continent laid down eons past). While I was aware of the System’s impact on my life, it was the first time I understood the extent of it. Something akin to one of the many substances of abuse, sending you off into a parallel world that seems flowery and wonderful at first but once the effect wears off, you get a sinking sensation of having been cheated.
‘It’ sat in a dreary and cold cave, awaiting my arrival with the list, just like clock-work. You see, we all have lists, multiple check-lists which are activated once we reach a certain age – a time, like a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot what has been planted, as is written in the Holy Bible. And when our time comes, the system sends us constant reminders, until, checked-off. Not surprisingly, my time had come. After passing through many tedious lists for the past 24 years and checking off my obligations, (be born-check; study – study in kg, study in school and study in college, check; get a job, check. So, of course the next was the most obvious, get married – ugh, sorry, not checked) I was summoned to meet ‘it’.
“Please, call me –the system,” it said in it’s soft and intoxicating voice. It was a dashing man, who was none other than my all-time crush, Brad Pitt. (Make no mistake, The System, can wear any number of faces, voices and characters to deceive you, and the smart girl that I am, I wasn’t going to be fooled).
The chill seemed to sink into my bones and the dim light, courtesy, an old lit wick, next to Mr. Pitt who looked like he was geared up for a board meeting of ruthless negotiations and results, did nothing to help my confused state of mind. “You have been summoned here so that you learn the rules and follow them accordingly,” he answered.
I rolled my eyes. ‘Here we go again.’
“You have been dodging your task, a very important one, may I add,” It told me in a matter-of-fact manner. “The task that involves getting eternally bound by the ropes of matrimony leading to co-habitation and co-existence, following the responsibility of reproduction,” pseudo-Pitt continued. “This task accounts for the highest number of credits, and the earlier it is achieved, more the brownie points.” It told me in his sexy, laid-back voice. My eyes concentrated on the cute dimple on faux-Pitt’s cheek. “If only it were really you,” I thought to myself.
“Any explanations on why you dodge your most imperative task?,” the System re-directed my thoughts to the issue at hand ( a very grave one these days, I assure you).
I patiently told The System how I was not ready for an eternally binding moral contract. I had more important things to do, things that I would’ve liked to do much earlier, which didn’t accurately get ticked of my list back then and no one seemed to care. You see, it has nearly been a year since I had my first professional brush with being a writer and ever since, I have been involved in an obsessive –romantic relationship with it. Not to say that I had an epiphany one fine day – I always loved reading and writing as a child. But when it was time to choose a career, the System only had a few options, the likes of Engineering, Medicine, Accounting and perhaps to the service of God and Church ( a priest or in my case, a Nun). So, I took commerce, the lesser evil. When it was time to check into a college, I decided ‘Literature’. “Are you going to become a teacher,” it asked me. ‘No, I wasn’t.’ And so I graduated with a degree in Business Administration and a Masters in Fashion Management, each time with something that was further from the opinionated System. But sadly, that wasn’t enough and nothing was until I learnt that there was an option called ‘Write’ in the list, and I employed the same to mine, put a check mark against it and I have never been happier since.
“So, what’s the problem now,” The System, asked, slowly taking the form of my beautiful mother, looking as young as ever in her short hair and flawless skin. (People still find it hard to believe I am her oldest daughter. Psst. Can’t figure out what kind of list she had on her)
“I have only just begun. A writer’s life is not easy. There is freelancing and going places and reporting from the ends of the earth,” I tried telling her. She suggested finding a guy who was supportive.
Now I am not a revolutionist who envisions changing the world and breaking every rule in the book, but I realize that I have always lived by The System and if I don’t attempt to change it, I will even die by it. Yes, there are days when the adult woman in me pictures myself caring for a child, my own. There are times when I wish I could embrace myself in the cocoon of my family. And again, for much of it, I yearn to do those many things a woman on the brink of adulthood dreams of – renting my first apartment, writing stories that will not only sell like hot cakes but also make a difference, pay up my insurance on time, see a six figure number in my account and inspired by many movies, travel the world to find a certain cause and meaning (which is probably rubbish, but my ego will demand the exciting journey nevertheless). And moreover, why would I submit myself to the bonds of the Marital System with a complete stranger.
“Many people have married strangers and they have never been happier,” the System replied, camouflaged behind my dad’s face and voice this time.
I’d like to tell you that The System is like a dubious entity that hides behind every face and every mind, you know. The System, over time, has taught people to live by the rulebook, so as to avoid any chaos, disruptions and Standard deviations that could arise out of mere free will. You are allowed to see dreams and view visions but within the limits of what is permitted. The System keeps everyone in their place. The maidens are supposed to have nuptial responsibilities at a prime age when they may ‘bear fruit’ and hence, ensure that their great grandparents genes live on. The rich mix with the rich to have rich babies, the middle-class with their kind and so on. It is the same factor that keeps a light-skinned man from marrying a dusky girl or a Doctor from marrying an Artist. Thus, the System grades individuals and order is maintained. This is how it works, folks.
Now, I’m not here to provoke you or encourage a fanatic rage. Rules were made for a reason, but when it hampers your passion and comes in the way of your free will (considering that your will resides in moral causes, not involving self-destruction or that of any other being), I say it is time to bend the rules. Create your own time-line, after all time is the only factor that evades you. A time to be born and a time to die – the beginning was predetermined, perhaps the end too. But what happens in between is yours to decide.
That evening, I resolved to dump the weird hallucination that resided in the nook of my mind and bid The System goodbye. After all, I had many check-lists to work on, a thousand ones that I came up with and a million more to go.
Have you ever felt this way or connect to what I’m jabbering about? If so, let me know how you have bent the rules, or defied the System.