Pardon me, friends, for going off the radar abruptly for the last twenty-odd days. I had been preoccupied with a number of issues and events lately and now, to make matters worse, the muse has not just gone on a vacation without so much as a by-your-leave, it is showing no signs of returning just yet. After days of twiddling my thumbs wondering what to write about, I finally sat down today determined to post something–bear with me.
—-I recently happened to attend the wedding of a cousin of my husband’s–a gem of a guy who is very dear to both of us. It was a ‘choice’ wedding and I could so sense the undercurrents of hostility and displeasure in the extended family over the wedding, although everyone was, thankfully, cautious enough not to say anything unpleasant in the presence of the newlyweds.
The greatest grouse appeared to be that the groom’s mother (his father died many years ago) had not put up a stiff opposition to the wedding–or rather that she was not seen to be putting up a decent enough opposition, and that is akin to blasphemy for these people who have spent all their lives in that small town steeped in orthodoxy.
I have been noticing this for sometime now– the society is more forgiving if the parents come out openly with their anguish(real or exaggerated) at their child marrying out of the community( “At least they tried to dissuade. What could they do if he wouldn’t listen-they cannot disown him!!”) If, on the other hand, the parents decide to accept the child’s decision with magnanimity, a collective growl of disapproval goes up in the community. (“Too modern for their own good. Is it any wonder their kids turned out this way?”)
Now , the groom’s mother was determined to have every wedding ritual performed just so as per tradition and I overheard some healthy, wealthy and wise old women passing catty comments, out of her earshot, about the need for all this naatak(drama)–the implication being that this wasn’t even a real wedding in the true sense, so why bother with the rituals at all.
Yeah right, it is not naatak as long as it is arranged!!
—–I read Vikram Chandra’s ‘Love and Longing in Bombay’ last week–a collection of five stories set in the city. Published in 1997, ‘Love and Longing…’ was only the second book by Chandra, yet it makes you sit up with the realization that you have something special in your hands. It becomes quickly apparent that this is no ordinary writer.
One story in particular captured my imagination . A retired army officer returns to his sprawling ancestral house, rumoured to be haunted by the spirit of a child, in the heart of Bombay . The officer believes it could be his dead brother who had accidentally fallen to his death while scuffling over a kite with him on the terrace of the house. He sets about trying to engage the ghost and getting him to vacate the house. After putting in considerable effort to this end , when he finally comes face to face with the spirit, he realizes that it is not his dead brother…..it is he himself!! It is the child he used to be.
The imagery of a childhood which died from the pain of being somehow responsible for his brother’s death and for the subsequent grief and miserableness of his parents, is powerful. It seems to imply that childhood is an entirely different and separate life. I found myself mulling over the hypothesis of the child and the adult being two different entities instead of one, as suggested by the story– an interesting, if disconcerting, idea. After all, children do have distinct personalities of their own, which is sometimes (not always) dramatically different from their adult personalities.
——If there is a gene for being predisposed to getting earworms, then I am sure the gene is amply expressed in my case. The latest to bug me is that extremely silly (but needless to say VERY catchy) ‘ honey bunny’ ad of Idea. Only this time my entire family has been affected. At any given time someone or the other can be heard honey-bunnying and it is getting on my nerves. Grrr!!! I am tempted to provide a link for the benefit of those of you you might not have heard it but on second thoughts, you might catch the bug too, so I’ll spare you!