Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Stubbles and sensitivity

A man stands next to me in a crowded bus. My heart begins to thump loudly against my chest...from the corner of my eyes, I watch him, scared that he'll touch me or something. I bring my legs together, closer, tie my body into several knots to escape the creep, paranoid about my safety. Suddenly, I feel a brush against my shoulders; I turn around in a flash, only to notice that it is a woman’s handbag. I feel another contact on my shoulders, this time, it isn’t a mere brush...it’s more of a tap. I prepare myself mentally to beat the crap out of the creep...I’m sure it’s him. Making the angriest of all faces, I turn around, fuming, only to see a smiling face greet me. “Madam, yahaan seat khaali hain, aap baith jaiyiye,” he says, and then gets off. The guilt pangs are stronger than ever before.

We almost always give men suspecting glances. For us women, any unknown man is potential danger, most probably a pervert. But do we realise, that our husbands, fathers and brothers are also unknown men for other women? How would we feel if our brother got slapped by a woman, only on the basis of suspicion? Terrible, isn’t it?

Yesterday was International Men’s Day -- a day to celebrate the existence of the men folk. We often crib about them, wear the garbs of the bra burning feminists, but do we do much to appreciate them? Maybe we do, but I decided that I want to dedicate a blog post to some of the most important men in my life. They are the ones who pamper us, make us blush, protect us and lend their strong shoulders for us to cry on.

Dads are the little girls’ first and most favourite heroes. More often than not, they paint the picture of their dream man on a canvas with their fathers as the model. I did, too. My dad is the quieter one in the family. My mom and I, we are chatterboxes. He isn’t too ambitious; he takes life as it comes, sans expectations from anyone. While ammai would be very strict and particular about my grades, appa would just say, “Try not to fail!”. Being the only child, who was born to them after four years of their wedding, appa never missed out on any chance to play the doting dad. Everyday, when he returned from work, there would be a little packet of goodies for me. Big, small, expensive, cheap -- it didn’t matter; he would get me something, every single day. Without fail. One day, as he walked into the house, he didn’t look at me, at all. I looked at his hands, there was no packet. There was nothing for me. My heart broke...you know why? Not because appa didn’t get me anything, but because, I saw him crying. For the first time in my life...he cried because he didn’t have the money to buy even a toffee. I cried because he cried…

The other day, one of my worst fears came true. I realised I was jobless, again. I didn’t know what to do. The tears started streaming down, silently. My husband walked upto me, gave me a warm hug and sat beside me, patting my back and stroking my hair, till the lips stopped quivering, till the tears dried up and till he could hear my croaky voice again. He didn’t say a word, he just smiled at me and that spoke for him. He makes me feel beautiful (even though I’m not), he flaunts the lunch I cook for him, and encourages me to do whatever I enjoy doing. He lets me be the child I am, pampering me, loving me and understanding me…

Being a single child, my cousin is the only brother I have. We might not share the bhaiyya mere rakhi ke bandhan ko nibhana moments, we don’t even call or text each other regularly. But I know one thing for sure, if I am in a spot of bother, he’s one of my safest bets for help. I might have never told him this, but he’s special, very, very, very special!

My stint in Bombay was a success, at least, I would like to believe so. In a city as vast and alien as Bombay, I would have struggled to find my footing, had it not been for family. My aunt (appa’s sister) is settled in Bombay, and Sundays would be devoted to family. That day, there was just one dosa left...and uncle (athimbare) promptly split it into two and made sure both my cousin and I got an equal share. Although it was a very small incident, yet, it left a deep impact on me. I was touched that there was no discrimination…

Whoever knows my in-laws, wouldn’t probably need an introduction to my dad-in-law. He’s the roly poly, happiness exuding man, who can make any sullen face burst into peals of laughter. There’s never a dull moment when he’s around...seems like he’s got some magic potion to keep everyone in high spirits. The mirchi bajji and tea time that we shared during their trip to Hyderabad, our pandal hopping and ‘vettilai pakku’ collection rounds in Calcutta are just a few of the many beautiful moments in have shared with him…

Coming from a small town, I never had guy friends when I was in school or college. It was only in Delhi that I found my first guy friend, Sandeep, who’s like an older brother. He’s guided me, protected me and pulled my ears when I have made a mistake. And talking of friends turned brothers, how can I miss out on Avinash aka Sheela aka Nasheelee, my little brother, who leaves no chance to annoy me? Be it calling me weird names like Chollamma or Kuntalakeshi (refined version of Harish’s nickname for me), Sheela has managed to dispel fears that I would never have friends in Hyderabad (I do have friends in Hyderabad, awesome ones at that!!)

I raise a toast to these wonderful men in my life, who’ve filled my life with colours, annoyed me, teased me, made me laugh, cry and feel good. Cheers to all the men, because they are the ones who pamper us, make us blush, protect us and lend their strong shoulders for us to cry on.