Hangover of Halloween is looming large even after celebrating it with aplomb in our country also (my daughter asked me why don’t the schools declare holiday on Halloween!!!) and still the green eyed monster is hovering around the corner. And it’s not screaming Trick or Treat; neither is it dressed in some gruesome outfit. No, don’t scare your kids when the little ones refuse to eat or sleep, this MONSTER is everywhere, inside us, in the society by and large.
I shifted to this quite posh high rise last year- well our only motto was to let our daughter enjoy outdoor sports instead of being hooked up into tabs or phones or laptops. Mission accomplished, little miss sunshine is happy with her badminton and tennis classes, the mister is divinely happy to sip his morning cuppa enjoying the view from his eighteenth floor living room balcony and hence by default I am happy too. More so I had found out this cozy corner to accommodate my small library, my writing table and finally I could enjoy reading and writing in peace. My laptop, my stack of diaries, my throw away pens, markers all found their places and cohabited in utter bliss, life could not have been more perfect .
But who said life was always a bed of roses? Sorry, gardens without SELFISH GIANTS?
So my first tryst with my first neighbor- a brush with the monster happens. Oh no, my neighbor is not a monster, she is, hmmm, just another person, curious by nature.
It so happened I went down to pick up my daughter from her school bus and I have a confession to make – I was not dressed to kill. My comfort clothes were on, with NO makeup, hair rolled up in a bun. I was just another mom going to pick up her daughter and bring her up home. And the moment I stepped into the lobby, I did a double check. Am I in my own residential complex or attending some award functions? Trust me, everyone was immaculately dressed at 1.30 in the afternoon and everyone has come to pick up their children. I literally felt like disappearing into thin air, but life is not folklore. I had to remain visible in front of inquisitive pairs of kohl rimmed shadowed eyes. By now, I was sure they have thought me nothing less than an alien, I even checked if I have suddenly developed two pairs of extra hands or a third eye or my nose is in place in the lobby mirror.
So now comes up this lady with a forced cheerful smile and in a jocular vivacious accent (nowadays it’s cool to use accent after our very own ex Miss World, friend to Duchess of Sussex and now a Hollywood bride have conquered that part of the globe!) extended her well manicured hand and asked in an animated tone, “What does your husband do? And which floor do you stay? Tenant or owner?” All three missiles launched at me at one go!! Poor me confused me!!!! Poor because I become very conscious when someone asks about my social status, this is most definitely NOT defined by my husband’s profession and confused because all my life I have known that one should ask names and exchange pleasantries in order to introduce one or to befriend the other person. I sensed, someone whispering in my ears, and then I saw this green eyed monster spewing venom to announce its presence.
I got the picture. So, my husband’s profession will define my social status, the floor I live in will speak about my worth (read, financial) and my type of occupancy will decide my inclusion in their social circle.
Now I too can be a hard nut to crack when I come across this dubious nature of people and where I find a human being is judged by these superficial veneer and not the by inherent qualities he or she has.
I gave her my most efficient “Catch me if you can Smile” and just told her my name. Her face fell, she knew she could not trap me and I was playing the game according to my rules. In my mind I gave a thumb down sign to the monster and he muttered, “Wait you ignorant fool, this is just day one, more to come.” “We will see” I retorted and he went off huffing and puffing.
True to his word, the monster appeared again. Different setting and I was again not dressed for the Grammy’s. I was attending my daughter’s first badminton class and I was overjoyed to see my baby play. I did not actually notice a pair of eyes giving me THE looks. “You are in 18B1 right?” asked the sing song voice, I turned to see the owner of the voice which almost sounded like POO, saying “How dare you!” in the Karan Johar drama and was immensely relived to find a common human being and not a star. “Yes I stay in 18 B1 and you?” I said with a smile. “Oh that white hatchback belongs to you then, please ask your driver to park it properly, it gets difficult to park our BMW because of that clumsy parking.” To begin with I was shocked and “Hiiiiiiii, I am back” the monster was happily dancing encircling me flashing green vibes, got me over the edge. “Mam, yes that white hatchback does belong to me and my husband drives it and in case you have not noticed, there is another black SUV parked beside it, it too belongs to me. My husband must have parked his regular car properly, ask your chauffeur of the BMW to be little more hands on in his job.”
These two separate incidents taught me many things. These days we all have become so materialistic that husband’s job, place of residence, schools of kids, brand of cars, even the brand of clothes, cosmetics we use, holidays we take- these have become the parameters of basic friendship. Holidays have to be international, otherwise you are not invited to ladies club parties where you can’t talk about your international trips and holidaying in our own country is oh-so-boring!!! My child’s school is an entry pass for the elusive kitty parties, club memberships of an elite club signifies you have class, otherwise you are totally massy. Now what’s the harm in being massy? I am one of the mass, why put up a fake show then? Sipping on red wine is fine, I enjoy it- but that does not stop me from having tea from a road side stall in an earthen pot. One will be ally with me if these parameters match, otherwise go take a walk. I might be the saint of the society, but that hardly matters. My intrinsic qualities have long ago taken a back seat; nobody cares to judge my worth as a human being. It is as if the embellishments on my bare soul are being taken into account but my soul is somewhere left neglected and disowned. And this monster is uproariously entrapping all these souls and bellowing in pride. What a pity! Children these days are hardly scared of monsters like we did in our childhood, but as an elder I am totally scarred of this MONSTER which is engulfing our sense of right and wrong, judgments and injecting rancor of supremacy, vitriol of jealousy and malignancy of capitalistic bourgeois high handedness.
Beware the MONSTER is up for grabs!!!!!s