I have known her for the last six years and what has always amazed me about her is her exuberant spirit. No matter what she’d never let life get to her! And God knows life has given her enough reasons to do so. Her tenacity for life is infectious. It’s not a conscious decision to be that way, but she just doesn’t know any other way! Like a Sunday morning lark! Chirpy! Bubbly! Looking up at the warmth of the sunshine, or poking her head out of a window to feel the rain on her face, enjoying the Romedy channel, making a delightful dish and being gleeful about making my diet go for a toss, laughing at anything and everything and shrugging away the hurdles!
She didn’t choose to be single. It was just one of life’s circumstances but she is not hung up about it. If marriage happens, it happens. If it doesn’t well! She shrugs laughingly for that too. She has tried to chase the so-called matrimonial dream, but somehow it’s just eluded her for no fault of hers. But it is indeed unfortunate the world has decided to hold that fact and that alone against her! When in reality she is so much more than that! The same two-faced world of course has no qualms about using her single status to their advantage when it suits them though. Extra work is offloaded to her because her much-married harried colleagues’ think she is anyway ‘footloose’ and ‘fancy-free’ and she doesn’t have anything or anyone to get back home to and hence can put in extra hours at work on their behalf. She complies because she is happy to help.
It is of course the same world that whispers surreptitiously behind her back speculating on reasons why she is still single! They secretly of course envy her, in their opinion her ‘responsibility-free’ life. I wonder if they know or have tried to understand what it is like to come back to an empty house, be greeted by silence, make a meal for yourself and eat in solitude because you have no one to share it with! You pay your bills yourself, no one to palm it off to, you have no one to talk to when you have had a bad day, you buy your vegetables yourself on the way as you trudge home carrying the load yourself!
She doesn’t get a place to stay on rent that easily because the society frowns down upon single women opting to stay alone! It is assumed that such women are rebels and not compliant with expected standards.
The worst one was when she wanted to visit her only brother (and the only other person she has in this world) in the US and her visa was rejected on the grounds that she is single, she has no property of her own here and in all possibility she is likely to immigrate! I was shaken to the very core! Here she is! Single! Not by choice! In a noble profession, content just being there, doing her bit and getting what little she does in a world that decides she is not a good enough candidate to travel to another part of the world because she is so? So if her status changes from single to say ‘in a relationship’ or ‘married’ would that make her eligible for a visa? What double-standards are we honestly propagating!
What was gut-wrenching for me was when she came home the next day after the visa debacle! I paced the floor lamenting and threatening to write to every newspaper about the unreasonable, unjust treatment meted out to her by the authorities, while she just sat there, her smile in place, shrugging away the whole episode and asking me to first sit down as I was making her dizzy with all the pacing and then posed a quizzical question – Kahaan se shuru karogi? (From where will you start writing?)
She knows that everything that has happened to her has ‘unfairness’ stamped all over it, but her only answer was ‘chalega’ meaning ‘it’s ok!’
I can’t help wonder if the world knowingly piles on to her fragile shoulders only because she is so accepting?
She has taught me to look at the world through her eyes. She reminds me of the bamboo that bends in the harsh wind, but never snaps. I wish the world would look at her the way she looks at it rather than it wants her to be! She deserves much better!