Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Of Faux Pas and Morals - Part 3

In case you haven't read part 2 and part 1...

It came to me like an epiphany...

That the greatest morals...

Are born...

Out of the greatest Faux pas…

I was having a girlie problem. Let’s leave it at that. Now, to explain that to an all-male team...and a male manager, is not such a joy, as you would imagine. But you gotta do what you gotta do. Because coming to work every day was becoming a nightmare. I’d rather sit on my bed with my laptop on my lap and work from home. My company allowed that.

So, I guzzled my embarrassment with a piece of digestive biscuit and a glass of water. And wrote an email with the words “gynaecological problems causing acute and constant pain”. One can always guise the most awkward moments using serious clinical terms. I did too.

My manager (nice fellow, god bless him), read the email and came up to my desk to say “No worries, do what you have to.”

I gulped and sneezed....and then pulling myself together, I thought I better make a statement. So I said “I may not work from home at all. If I need to, I’ll figure out in the mornings.” And even this wasn’t enough to shake my manager’s poise. So he said “Yes, D. Whatever suits you” and walked away.

Now in the next few minutes, I visualised my reproductive organs being projected in the boardroom and my all-male team sombrely looking at a PowerPoint presentation that my Manager had made, titled “Let’s Make Our Womenfolk Comfortable at Work, Folks”. And he didn’t trust if his employees’ parents had explained the birds-and-the-bees story well enough. So he left no brick (organ) unturned.

Now, all of it was my imagination, of course. My team continued to write SQL code or talk in their usual database jargon that I still don’t understand. In short, they were far away from the birds-and-the-bees story.

But I shuddered, nonetheless. In an attempt to “clarify” my problem further (as if the poor man hadn’t had enough), I wrote another email. This time, I wrote:

Oh, just figured that I sounded very “strange” when I said “I’ll figure out in the mornings”. Just so that you know, I am not pregnant :). (there was no awkward just used a normal smiley)

No warning bells sounded when I hit the Send button (and I was told Microsoft Outlook was so clever, huh!). But since I hit Send, I fidgeted on my chair... playing my email over and over in my head. If there was any “dignity” or “grace” ever associated with my name (I doubt, though)....I had poured acid over it. What an ass I had made of myself! Why on earth do I give silly unnecessary details to the most important people of my life? Why do I take a completely serious and logical situation and manage to make it hilarious to the point of being tragic? Where did “pregnancy” come from? True, in my last India trip, that’s the word I heard being used in as many emotions and contexts as could be:

As a “question”: An airline attendant, after carefully scrutinising me, asked A, “Is your wife pregnant?” And A, with a serious face, told him “No, she’s just had a big meal.” (Of course, A tried to make up to me later by saying that it was the “dress”, not me)

As an “exclamation”: Old aunts with nothing better to do or over-curious neighbours: “Married for four years and still not pregnant!”

In sympathy: You poor thing! Don’t worry. It’s all in God’s hands. To which I wanted to say, "It’s not a matter of “hands” anyway ;)”

As an advice (unwanted): "Have you tried doing the Supported Headstand yoga posture?"

Of course, all of these people assumed that we’d been trying to conceive and failed. Myth. So my irritation at all these people expressed itself as nervous humour (or a miserable attempt at it) directed at my poor boss (of all people).

And just when I was about to write my resignation letter (a suicide note would have been more apt, perhaps), my mailbox flashes with a new message. And my boss writes:

No worries ... I’m a man so I made no such conclusions :)

Yippee! Bless that man. Somehow, this one line convinced me that I can continue to work here. Nevertheless, will the ghost of Bridget Jones please find somebody else? Thank, you.

Moral: There is a reason why people don’t openly talk about certain things. Still. Not because they are taboo or awkward. But because very few people have the poise to talk about it without growing donkey’s ears.

Monday, March 21, 2011

We are Six...but we are One

I thought I’d hug them when I see them again. If I ever saw them again...all together, that is.

A tight, bear that would last at least a minute. One that would take their breath away, (literally)...till they screamed “let go of me”.

I thought I would stare at their familiarise myself with the lines I hadn’t seen forming. Just like we counted pimples when we were in school.

I thought I’d tell them how much I missed them...even though I told them so, every single day, for the last four years.

I thought I’ll scold them for thinking that visiting me in Australia...all of them together... was too impractical a thought (considering family commitments, job responsibilities and tours, financial constraints). Maybe I would squash them with my hug till they promised to visit. Like we said “god promise” in school.

When I really did see them this time, after three long years...T-H-R-E-E, I acted like a lunatic. I screamed out gibberish in public, as if I was having an epileptic attack. I gave them wet kisses too...much to their discomfort. But I couldn’t see their faces till I wiped off my misty eyes. And they turned misty again.
The reason I have never written about them in my blog is that I never thought I could explain the relationship we shared. “Friendship” doesn’t quite describe it. It’s not powerful enough for us. For what we have, only we can feel...and only we know. What we mean to one another, no words can describe.

We have known one another for years...since the days when F wore thick roundish Horlicks-bottle glasses, J could eat only chilly-chicken and fried rice in restaurants, A was a sports captain who made us proud, S was so thin that we had to hold her in strong winds, P had a mushroom-cut hairstyle and said the most inappropriate things in critical situations. Of course, I was, and still am, the Hitler...disciplining, correcting and trying to make brutal reforms in them.

Together, we have seen failures and successes...marriages and broken hearts....sicknesses and tragedies. We have shared a smoke, spilled more tequila than we drank...and laughed till we cried. In fashionable concerts, we have snorted like pigs, much to the dislike of the elite company. In movie halls, we enjoyed just sitting with one another...more than we ever enjoyed a movie. Till some of us parted cities, we spent every Durga puja together. We went on our silly boy-watching expeditions, where nothing fruitful ever happened. We simply watched our “secret” crushes...and came back home to talk about it through the night. We went shopping for earrings in Gariahat (every dress needed a matching pair)...and dress materials in New Market. We shared everything...from tailors and tutors, college notes and clothes, crushes and stresses, money and even blood. We spent nights consoling or comforting or gossiping or confiding....and woke up puffy-eyed next morning. We have praised and criticised one another...and our intentions were never less than the best. Some of us have flown across cities to be with the celebrate or to mourn. We have made long distance calls across time zones to share a laugh...or a tear. We have woken one another up in early mornings before exams...and also put one another to bed in times when even sleep deserted company. Gracefully taking care of one another...and our loved ones (be it aged parents or ailing siblings), we have been more than family. Our bond cotton-balled us during crisis...but also triggered us to overcome our weaknesses. Our united voice has fought with the world when needed...because a finger pointed at one of us is like a finger pointed at all of us. We have couriered gifts of love across even, (coconut-flavours from Naturals travelling in iced boxes from Mumbai to Kolkata). Our photos hang in our living rooms...the memories of which can soothe a tired soul. Blood isn’t thicker than water. But our relationship is. We are six...but we are one.

No matter what life throws at us, we know we are blessed. For to have just one such friend is a joy...and we are S-I-X.
So here’s letting you know...all over again...
You are the health in my sickness...the joy in my sorrow...the reason in my madness.
Love you all.

Image: Courtesy Santanu