My daughter does not have to be the one to help around the house. You can direct the same request to my son sitting right beside me. The rampant patriarchy that is so entrenched in our community needs to stop.
Our own internalized misogyny, regurgitated on the new feminists of the world needs to cease. The talk I had with my daughter, on the drive home, after a pit stop for some Starbucks, probably sounded like the teachers do in Charlie Brown, an endless drone, just because I stay at home, the work I do is not “women’s work”. You do not have to be trapped by the same small minded beliefs that chain the owner of a thriving pediatric practice to separating helping dad hammer nails to boy’s work and washing dishes to girl’s work.
I was ashamed, for the doctor, and flabbergasted. I wish I had been able to break out of my stunned stupor to correct the her right then. Right there, where and when it mattered. So that same idiotic vomit wouldn’t work its way into my daughter’s psyche.
I’ve lived my entire young adult to grown life in big cities. It takes a certain amount of time to adjust to the still and dark of the deep suburbs. After moving back to the States, from the constant hum in Bombay, it was odd…bleat of traffic missing, constant cacophony of birds, black nights.
The dogs woke up early today.
I woke up to the swish of Clover’s tail, her nose an inch away form mine. Her sharp eyes waiting expectantly, no one keeps Clover waiting. Off we went, swift and unkempt into the early morning. And it was odd. The pitch of night present, too early for birdsong. We three ambled down the road to the spot they like, the shuffle of my too loose Croc’s, the click of their nails against the tar road the only sound breaking silence, until relief.
Inky early morning and finally the dawn chorus began, as I punched in the code to the garage door and we ducked in. The song of birds echoing through the early morning, unexpectedly, oddly reassuring.
I moved back to the United States in the middle of Fimbulwinter, arctic temperatures, whipping wind and extra snow. The winter seemed perpetual, an endless spanse of cold and grey, the melting and refreezing continuing for ever. But then, a warming, the good people of the subrubs appeared out of their houses to tend to their yards, collecting tree debris and leaves into neat brown lawn and leaf bags that stand through the inevitable last gasp of snow and freezing rain.
And then, just like that, forsythia, bright and pert blooms. The pear, apple and cherry blossoms follow suit, the buds turn into leaves and in the span of a week Spring (all caps!). All of it, stunning and sudden, about a month before Summer vacation begins. The greenery, the volume of bird song, boney kneed children louder than before.
How could I have forgotten this annual miracle?
Black sheep, by the time they’re my age, reach a certain level of IDGAF to the nay sayers and pooh poohers. Eyeliner too thick? I lay it on thicker. Outfit a little too inappropriate? I make sure the skirt is a little more leather, heel a little too teetering, plastic flower in my hair, dancing through the produce aisle. Inevitable, the talk, later in the waiting room of the ballet studio. “Did you hear about the woman?” That’s me.
That should be all of us.
Wear what makes you happy. Put on that brazen lipstick. Be who you have always wanted to be. Don’t let anyone tell you what makes you happy is not right.
That should be all of us.
Because I know a little secret. We are all black sheep, we are…
Offend people, try and offend as many as you can. See when you lose count, make it a game. Be deemed unacceptable, scandalous. Walk the line just outside societal mores.) Curse at will, whistle, spit don’t sit properly or upright, don’t smile (especially if you’re told to), don’t be polite or ladylike (unless that is what you want). Abandon people and ideas if they no longer serve you, be ruthless. You’re doing no one any favors and doing yourself irreparable harm if you play the martyr and stay in a stupid situation to be “good” one. No one will like or appreciate you for it. There will be no validation for killing your madness to keep the peace. Be mad, give in to that spark. Even if it leads you to a twisty road, trust me, the twisty roads are the best.
You don’t owe anyone respect, love or admiration just because they are older than you. You are just as worthy of all of these as anyone. Always remember love is not real unless it’s for a pet or maybe your own human child. Your brain will produce oxytocin for any person given the right parameters. Romantic love always blooms like that St. Vincent poem, “strewing flowers and babbling like an idiot”. Don’t give up anything for it. A few well-placed love songs and strong influx of oxytocin and you’ll fall in love with a door stop.
You are responsible for no one’s happiness but your own.
It is not kosher to get a guys name tattooed on one’s own body. I am likely one of the most easy going mother’s out there. Of course it helps that my kid is in the US with my mother and I am here in Bombay trying to carve out some semblance of a career. Sometimes I feel like that guy Stuart Smaley, “I’m good enough, and I’m smart enough and gosh darn it, People like me!” Except I’m sure they do, it’s just this thing I do so as to not appear humble. But yeah, so I would totally draw the line at having some dude’s name etched on her body, it’s ick and it’s ick. Yeah that’s about all the reason. But if that kid is anything like her mom, she’s already squirrelly and I’m already too far behind. No boys names kid? Ok? I’ll let you get that septum piercing!
Names are not a good thing to get, on your body, particularly if they are not a memorial type deal. Neither are foreign names. I had a very white woman, who was nice enough, tell me that her Zumba instructor’s name was Raja and that meant lion. Cue frown, but I let it go..I mean if I sat down and righted every wrong thing a white person had said to me, we would never get past Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom. Snake surprise and chilled monkey’s brains haunted me. Also the way my dad spelled yogurt, yoghurt and idiot blond geek in charge of typing up menu cards was all, “What’s this?” Hey parents? If you go to the states and there’s an international day thing..DO NOT SEND DAHI WADA. Or any Desi sugary thing, fried cheese balls in sugar syrup? Yeah..
Trust me on this.
So the tattoos. For the sake of full disclosure, I got a commemorative tattoo recently, on my upper back. It was way too costly, so much so that I’m embarrassed to even say. I do feel tremendous twinges of regret that this is what I picked, I should have just gotten some decorative thing. The awful thing was that I don’t think it was appreciated for what it was and that sort of sucked. But, I do like it, the ship looks rather steam punk and I dig it, it’s freaking different…just so goddamn high up on my neck.
I’m half way through the gargantuan (I don’t know why we picked it for the book club) volume of A Suitable Boy and as I attempt to speed read through the rest (for our book club meeting on the 22nd of August), I am sort of hating it. Hating it despite the lovely quality of Vikram Seth’s writing. Hating it despite the scope of the work, hating it because I know, Lata can only choose A Suitable Boy and that is not going to be Kabir.