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Guilt-Reading

I’ve just finished reading my first novel of the genre called DickLit (as opposed to ChickLit).

The book by Mark Mason is called ‘What Men Think About Sex. My initial reaction, one chapter down was,

Whaaaaat? It’s fiction?

and immediately felt cheated.

Despite its seemingly nonfiction (meandering into ‘self-help’ territory?*cringe cringe*) title, it is an out-and-out fiction story set in the form of diary excerpts of the protagonist.

The story itself is quite readable and Mark Mason even manages to pull off making The Clare Jordan Five and Three-Quarter Feet Handicap Stakes sound believable. The above is a contest between two men to seduce women whose names or seduction locations start with the letters C, L, A, R and E. All because the common object of their affections bears the now-offending name of Clare Jordan. Don’t ask. It sounds bizarre but in a funny way, he manages to make it work.

On the other hand, I hate it when writers pull stunts like that, making a book sound like something else in its title. I only bought it because the blurb described it as the male ‘Sex And The City‘ which at least half of you know (assuming an equal gender-ratio split in the readership of this blog) was originally a newspaper column.

I was mildly surprised at how like ChickLit it was. I even flipped over the cover to check that I hadn’t misread what may have been a ‘Marcy’ or ‘Margaret’ Mason. No such thing….an ordinary, if not pleasant-faced man stared back at me from the book’s inner flap. The format is even like Bridget Jones’ Diary!

Okay, enough about what I don’t like about the book…but when did I say I didn’t like it? Such homogeneity with the female standpoint is reassuring.

Except, what is it with men and guilt? A particularly intriguing excerpt from the book goes on about the Guilt/Temptation trade-off. It says that men can and do feel guilt about succumbing to temptation. Exactly why they do succumb then and what’s worse, doggedly chase after such temptation-laden situations is not answered.

“Because he does. Sorry I can’t be more cogent than that, but I’m concentrating on Bloke Feelings at the moment, not Bloke logic. Which is by the way, your answer. Concentrating on feelings instead of logic is precisely what blokes do when Temptation’s hovering.”

That’s cool, really is, since women have libidos too and yes, we give in to temptation too.

What stands out to me is that none of the women I know who cheat, have experienced the kind of soul-searing Guilt that Mason describes. It’s not exactly that they are callous, but they’ve accepted their own folly and somehow made their peace with it.

It may be a fact that there are probably fewer women in such situations than men (okay, let that just be opportunity rather than character tilting the stakes). Be that as it may, shouldn’t it be easier for an average man to reconcile this conundrum? Either be strong enough to withstand temptation & wise enough to avoid it. Or lay your guilt to rest. And yet it appears, they carry it around like a festering, burdensome sore, never resolving it and mostly adding to it.

The old adage,

All men are dogs!

…used to sound to me like Anticipatory Bail. Ever notice that it’s only cheating men who say that? A sort of ‘I can’t help it, I’m a man’ thing.

Somehow I’m not sympathetic. Truly womanlike, I want to say, good job he can’t get out of the guilt then. He deserves it. Consider it my repartee to the guy who told me,

Why do women have periods? Because they deserve it!

At least I only bleed once a month. Guilt bleeds you every waking, conscious minute and if you don’t know how to tackle it, the rest of your life is an endless pursuit of distractions from your own thoughts.

How about the book itself? I guess I liked it. A small part of me, the cynical one still holds out asking,

Do real men, I mean the ones walking around everywhere really think like this? About love and a special someone and the need for a ‘spark’ over and above good looks?

And then I think of Adi, Moksh, Rohan and I have to say, at least some of them do.

A Moral Dilemma: Being Politically Correct & Not Being A Tease

Some months ago, I received an email from one of my readers. She was a lesbian lady who had come across one of my posts on Gaysi and wanted to tell me that she appreciated my support for the gay community. I wrote back thanking her and telling her how some of my close friends were gay and that it had given me a chance to see the difficulties they faced because of discrimination.

At the end of that conversation, she asked to meet me, adding ‘if you don’t mind having coffee sometime with a dyke’. Of course I didn’t I told her, wouldn’t that be silly after all I had said? Later, she invited me to a party, telling me that there would be mostly gay people at the party. I didn’t manage to make it to that party after all.

We’ve had a few conversations since then, about general topics, the kind that I write about – life, love, friendship, people etc. In the recent past, she had popped up a number of times on my radar, in the form of her thoughts on my posts or just a chat window saying hello. She has also been inviting me to a number of different events and outings in addition to asking me when I’d like to meet for coffee.

I have to say that I haven’t managed to make it to any of the aforementioned events and neither have I made time for the promised coffee. I do have a rather busy social life and when it comes to prioritizing, I almost always place an old friend, a date or solo time over a casual conversation with a stranger.

There has however been one thing nagging at the back of my head for some time now. If it had been a straight girl, I think she would most likely have lost interest in trying to make contact with me by now. If it had been a guy at the other end of this interaction, his persistence would have made me think that he had a crush on me. This actually is the first time I’m making an online connection with a lesbian girl.

I thought back to my friend MJ. I didn’t know she was a lesbian when we first met and neither of us actively pursued the friendship. We just ended up meeting a lot of times, hanging out a lot with friends and by ourselves and had become close when I realised she was gay. By that time though, her major association in my mind was friend and being gay was just one of the many things I knew about her, like her hair colour or her last name.

In this case though, the only real definition I have of this lady is that she is lesbian. And she has been quite keen to meet me. I know that this may be more indicative of her friendliness than a romantic interest in me. And yet, the possibility exists, however remote. I also know that gay people are able to discern other gays and would logically not expect a person to change their sexuality. Then again, one of my lesbian friends did indeed date someone who had hitherto portrayed a ‘straight’ face (pun entirely unintended!), even having had a boyfriend before she met my friend. And also, I myself know that when you like someone a lot, it is quite possible to misread or even read a little too much into their actions.

The dilemma I face is a moral one, not a practical one. Should I meet her and risk sending her a wrong signal that I reciprocate? Or should I refrain and succumb to that archaic belief that gay people are just waiting to pounce on one? Furthermore, considering that we don’t have common friends or interests, am I not willing to meet her only to prove that I’m open-minded about homosexuality? There’s definitely an over-correction in favour of gay people then. After all by my own premise, equal rights means equality and vice versa.

I struggled with all of these for a number of days. Finally, I decided to just come clean and tell her what I thought. I told her that this was what I would think if a guy reader had contacted me and that I could be reading this wrong but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t sending out a wrong message.

She replied,

“Oh god, don’t tell me you got the wrong message!”

and then logged off. Maybe she was offended and I am sorry about that. It was never my intention to insult anyone. But at the end of it, I think I’d rather live with that than run the risk of leading her on.

Note: I mentioned this to MJ who laughed and said, “It’s so amusing to see the hetro community more touchy about gay issues then gays themselves!”

Motherhood – The Great Indian Relationship & The Only One

I was watching ‘Wake Up Sid’ yesterday (ah, the joys of being master of your own time…a Monday afternoon movie with a friend!) when this thought occurred to me. I’ve complained long and hard about the Indian man being a perpetual mama’s boy. I also believe that this ingrained emasculated dependency comes from scores and scores of mothers who bring their boys up in the Mera Raja Beta (my son, the little lord) tradition. And hence I concluded that women have a lot of blame to carry for the inherent insufficiency of men in this society.

But yesterday I suddenly realised something else. The Indian woman is also brought up in a particular way, no matter what kind of family or social strata she comes from. She is groomed, trained and refined to be a mother. Motherhood is the one relationship that we are tutored in, right from an early age and educated by theory and by example. We are taught to mother our siblings, our friends and even our fathers and uncles.

Think about it. We watch our mums manage the entire gamut of activities concering something as basic as clothing for the men. Shopping, washing, drying, ironing, darning, sewing, discarding and replenishment. They even construct the ‘look’ for the men in the family.

Growing up in a liberal family as I did, I was still taught to make beds and clean when I was about 9 and cook when I was 13. I was also taught to watch for the moods of daddy (and grandfather on those native vacations) and be mindful of them. I wasn’t discriminated against or restricted in any way. But in addition to my education in maths, science, social etiquette and life skills, I was also taught to accommodate and take care of men. This was also down to the fact that I may not always be appreciated for my good work, since ‘it didn’t occur to them’ or ‘he’s busy right now’ and such other things. I was resentful of this for awhile but in hindsight I realize it was a sturdy survival kit for the hard knocks of disappointment and indifference that would inevitably come in life.

Contrast that with a boy who is praised for every achievement, fawned over for doing things as per normal and most importantly soothed and pacified when faced with disappointment or difficulty. No wonder he ends up a la Sid in the movie, bewildered and clueless when faced with rejection or failure.

I was particularly struck by one scene in the movie where Sid goes to live with his slightly older friend Aisha for awhile after walking out of his house in a huff. At the end of the first day, she comes home from work to find the neat little flat that she works hard to maintain, all in a mess. With no little irritation, she nevertheless gets to cleaning it herself. And then on learning that Sid hasn’t eaten all day because he doesn’t know cooking, she cooks for him as well.

I understand that doing nice things for each other and being supportive are an integral part of every relationship. But it just seems to me like as Indian women, we are brainwashed into doing too much. The movie may have intended to be about the coming of age of a young man, the maturity of a different relationship. But I found myself thinking, that all Sid did was to substitute one mother figure for another. As for Aisha, even while she worked hard to establish herself as a modern, independent woman, all she ended up doing was being a surrogate wife/mother character to yet another man. Her independence and value as a human being was finally expressed only by her satisfactory fulfilment of one task – taking care of a little boy.

I’m coming to think that we don’t really know any other way to treat men. Motherhood is the only relationship we understand. So beyond the frivolity of socialising, we end up being surrogate mothers for our men, even ones that we are not romantically involved with.

I don’t mean to sound condescending to men; indeed I find myself guilty of this kind of behaviour. When I was in a relationship with a Delhi guy who was in Mumbai to study, I remember being astonished at how little he knew, how handicapped he was by his lack of basic survival skills or even social etiquette. I’d organise meals for him, manage the maid (in conjunction with the girlfriends of the other guys who shared his flat), wake him up for interviews and lectures, figure out his clothes and even pack for him on his visits home.

I also remember an official trip I took to another country, with a colleague. He sat next to me at work and we were pretty pally. As we checked in and waited for the departure announcement, he handed over an assortment of papers and said,

You take care of these. You know how to. I’ll just make a mess of it!

I grumbled of course but I realised he’d just end up misplacing his passport or converting his money into wrong currency. So I arranged his papers by the dates he’d need them, filed the rest away carefully and put them away. Then I organised his money into different sets, told him how much to convert, how much to retain and in the end took over some part of it so he wouldn’t misplace it. At the end of the week, I also had a detailed account of what he had spent and what he would need to convert back. Considering he was an MBA, who had lived away from home for over 6 years, I really think he should have learnt to do all this. But by his own admission, girlfriends had always taken care of such things for him. In retrospect I wonder what would have happened if I had just left him to flounder.

I’ve spent enough of time raving about the inadequacy of men but I wonder now whether I’m part of the other half that actually facilitates this. We’re both mass products of a great social machinery that churns out only one relationship between a man and a woman – motherhood. We seem to be unable to treat men as equal human beings with their own minds so we end up either mollycoddling them or being fearful of them; either way it is a relationship of bullying or resentful servitude. Instead of kicking men for not being able to do things that they weren’t anyway trained for anyway, I’m wondering how do we break out of this behaviour? Is it possible for women to learn new ways to treat a man? And do so without being disgusted of men or giving up on them?

Dancing In The Rain

http://www.youtube.com/v/t0uf5l_OBLU&hl=en&fs=1&

I love this song. Unabashedly. I wish I could dance outside in the rain singing this very song. In fact, maybe I will.

I was talking to a friend about (what else?) a guy we both knew. Nothing much to tell except that he was cute and thought I was too. Attraction is a good thing, even more so when unencumbered by the social mores of committment.

I particularly loved her for saying,

As I see it, it was just a human thing.

Absolutely. It was one of those delightful things that makes you feel good to be human. Then for thought, she added,

Isn’t it interesting how we never got to wondering what he would think?

I gave it some thought and I realised it didn’t matter. Not that he didn’t matter at all to me, but just that it wouldn’t have made much difference to me either way. Is that modern promiscuity or liberalisation? Who gives a damn anyway?

Really, truly a man’s attention is a lovely thing. Several men’s attention is mind-blowing. Perhaps it is the effect of turning 30 and shutting my ‘planned life’ down but I find I just don’t have the bandwidth to worry about approval anymore.

There have been a number of times in my life that I’ve had the pleasure to think at least to myself,

Hey, it’s raining men!

Aren’t I lucky? We all are. From experience, it is just a matter of attitude. Every single time I stopped worrying about whether ‘the one’ was out there, I found myself surrounded and drowning in a thunderstorm of potentials, prospects, just-flings, men, men, men.

It always made me glow within. All that changes is that I’m grinning real wide now. 😀

God bless Mother Nature
She’s a single woman too
She took over heaven
And she did what she had to do

What Do We Look For In A Partner?

I heard something interesting in a recent Twitter conversation on dating:

adityab@ideasmithy I think men & women actively look for vulnerability in partners. After all, why would we need another person otherwise?

Really? I don’t mean that sarcastically, I mean really, really, REALLY? That isn’t true of me. Honest, it’s not.

I know I’ve always looked for only one thing in all my men. It’s not easy to find which may explain the high turbulence in my love-life and I’ve made plenty, plenty, way too many mistakes. But what I’ve looked for has never changed. It has always been – STRENGTH.

Strength isn’t a simple word or quality at all. After all, how do you define strength? It is the physical aspect of it of course which encompasses massive force, stamina, endurance, staying power and pain tolerance. Speaking of which, it is interesting to note that men score better than women on the first two while women seem to outrun men on the last two. A man may be able to pick a motorbike or even a car up, he may smash a wall with his fists but a woman will outlast him on situations of sustained pressure and well, a dentist’s appointment. 🙂

Coming back, it may have been the obvious thing for me to be drawn to huge Arnold Schwarzennegar types but I actually wasn’t. Well, perhaps the extra chubbiness around all the men I knew back in my early days may have been just that. Okay, end of pop-Freud.

But I was always drawn to a guy who was ‘the most’ in something or the other. The flashiest dude, the most mysterious one, the superbly brilliant guy (and so what if he was a geek with the social skills of cheese). In my mind, each of these extremes required a certain force of character, a certain solidness of mind. That is something I have always and will continue to respect and admire.

I am looking for a man who is his own master and who isn’t afraid of anything. Well, the last one should not be as impossible as it sounds. If you are not afraid to be yourself, believe you me, you’ll not be afraid of much else. I’m looking for a man just like that. Vulnerability doesn’t come into the equation then. At least, as most of us understand it, it is usually displayed as a fear of something, a weakness of a sort. That takes a man down in my eyes. Even stubbornness (which going contra to some of the personality types I outlined earlier) since an illogical attachment to any point of view is just juvenile and weak too.

Okay to come back, I’m still wondering – are other people really looking for partners who exhibit the same fears as them? Or who lack in something that they themselves are good at? Considered from that point of view, perhaps I look for strong men to complement how weak I really feel. How’s that for honest? Hmm, it’s not a nice realisation to know that I’m just as guilty of the ‘a strong man to protect me’ syndrome as most of my sex.

———————————————————————————————————-

A version is posted on Yahoo! Real Beauty.

Well, every day you learn. Thanks, Aditya for the tweet that set me thinking!

Why Committment Starts To Look Attractive

Ever since I’ve put up this slightly controversial (and I’ll admit biased and brash) post…actually even before that, I’ve been hit with the question of why I do want committment at all then if it’s such a terrible thing. My reasons may not be all deeply soulful or romantic or even honorable. As I see it, committment (read marriage) is a solution to a number of niggling, nuisance-ey problems.

Sure I enjoy the liberatedness of being liberated, the freedom to decide my own social life, the no-responsibilities carefree lifestyle that my committed friends seem to envy me for. I have written about the virtues of being single.

But there are plenty of things that I don’t like about being single. Being single means a whole lot of things to a whole lot of people (many of whom in my esteemed two-bit opinion shouldn’t poke their nose into my life at all). Here are some reasons I would like to be in a committed relationship.

  • Wives of guy friends do not view you with immediate suspicion assuming that you’re just scheming to steal their man away, never mind that fact that you’ve probably had a chance to do that if you wished much before they even set foot in the man’s life.
  • You are not required to be a last-minute escort (if you’re female) or chauffeur (if you’re male) for out-of-town single friends of friends/family.
  • You don’t get mysteriously dropped out of movie/dinner plans with friends who are all now part of twosomes each.
  • Other women (even your friends) don’t make direct or indirect references to your supposedly exciting, fast-moving sex/dating life.
  • Eyebrows don’t shoot up when you pick up a baby or coo to a child. Who says single women can’t be maternal?
  • You are not automatically put into one of two buckets – repulsive/sick/defective or flightly/fast/sluttish .
  • You aren’t the target of unwanted and embarassing attention from married men of the neighbors/schoolmates/husbands of colleagues/ex-boyfriends variety.
  • You are allowed to have problems too and no one shuts you up with “What do you know? You don’t have to run a household/adjust to a man/kids to look after.”
  • You don’t have to leave parties and social engagements early so as to avoid imposing on friends to drop you home.
  • Your family is willing to let you live your own life.
  • Your personal life and social calendar doesn’t become everyone’s personal property for value judgement – relatives, colleagues, acquaintances, neighbors, co-passangers.

Obviously these are not ALL the reasons to get into a relationship. If anything these are the ‘fringe benefits’ of a relationship that have started to become so important that I’m inclined to think a good number of women would want to commit just so they can enjoy all of these. I’m really tired of having to fight a battle each time I want to do something, simply because I’m single. The same thing seems to move so much faster for women who have an ‘attached’ tag on. Granted social engagements and lifestyle options aren’t the most important things in the world. But that’s precisely why it seems like such a waste to have to go to so much effort for something so minor – or go without.

A relationship has its uses and I’m unabashed in saying that I intend to enjoy all of them fully when I get into one.

Settle For To Settle Down

I’m reading a book called Rubbish Boyfriends. But hang on, that’s not all that’s responsible for this mood o’ mine. I’ve been talking (and talking and talking) to the following women:

A has been steadily (as opposed to happily) married to a ‘Who says we get it right the first time?’ pedigree-carrier.

B is married to the man described by Barmaid as the ‘Good On Paper Indian Guy’ a.k.a. GOPIG (also M.C.Pig). She’s also momma to a 3-year-old and a useless daughter-in-law in the eyes of the matriarch who stays with them.

C has been hitched for four years and has to show for it the following:
– 3-year-old adorable coochie-boo
– 4 home addresses
– Career chart resembling a diagram of the universe (spotty) rather than a straight graph.

A says she stops short of being murderous at the sight of her husband, especially on certain days of the month. So she’s gotten herself a dog. Dog answers to ‘Gabbar’ (despite fancy names conceived by A, on account of pesky husband getting there first) but Gabbar loves her every day of the month, PMS regardless. Arre O Sambha, ek hi aadmi tha par chodo…they’re all the same!

B, juggling phone on neck-shoulder, scrambling about for change and yelling at the taxiwalla, bemoans being called a bad mother for working till 2 am. Then she adds that papa dearest sleeps in late right through baby’s sports day preparations. Her tired tirade ends with,

So long as he isn’t alcoholic, abusive or cheating on you, assume he’s Mr.Perfect. That’s as good as it is ever going to get.

I want to wail about committment-phobias, male insensitivity and thoughtlessness. I want to talk about my non-conversations about my non-relationship with my non-boyfriend. But I can see she’s not quite in the state for it so I take my woes elsewhere.

C, straight-faced as always listens to me and offers this sage advice,

Remember I used to say I’d never leave Mumbai. Do you know all the places I’ve lived in in the past four years? Do you know where I’m going to be six months from now? I don’t, either.

That makes me pause and think. So I watch SATC, drink a bottle of wine, laugh with a friend, read Chick Lit, go shopping and write XX Factor instead. Settle for if you want to settle down seems to be the order of the day. While there’s love (for the uncynical ones), sex, children and stability, no one told them about shrinking expectations (and fading dreams), comfort meshed into indifference, dreams replaced by ‘the best way to end the argument once and for all’. They change, they modify, they sigh a bit, wash their faces and carry on. All of them seem to be echoing that men will be men, at the end of it and there’s just this much you can make them care about things outside themselves.

Resignation appears to be every committed woman’s uniform emotion. And inter-twined with the single girl’s need to find someone special is a sense of relief at not having done so yet.

Why Men Don't Get Tattooed

Message from Friend-Man,

I got a tattoo!

I call back and yelp,

Tattoo!! Seriously?

After much detailed description (and a few conversational blind alleys regarding location and image and colour), he admits that it’s a temporary one, ending with,

I’d never get a permanant tattoo!

To which I retort,

Yeah. It needs committment. And the willingness to bear pain. Not a man’s strong qualities. It takes a woman to get one!

He pooh-poohs the idea and khee-khees off the call. But I am tempted to call back and tell him that every single tattooed person I know (self included) is female. Yes!

Q.E.D.

Chick Lit

My new literary obsession is Chick Lit. Helen Fielding, Sophie Kinsella and Marian Keyes keep me in chocolate-box mood while Meera Syal and Advaita Kala add the desi tadka. Why, even fellow-blogger/’I-know-this-girl-friend-acquaintance’ Compulsive Confessor flashes her characteristic grin at me from my bedside bookstack.

I found this rather interesting piece on the internet, describing Chick Lit:

“Chick lit” is a term used to denote genre fiction written for and marketed to young women, especially single, working women in their twenties and thirties.

Now, I know I’m doing an about-face, especially after such rabid commmentary. I’m coming to this acceptance with much prior reluctance. I still have trouble accepting the term ‘chick’ to describe me or any woman I know. It’s degrading. However, I’m willing to lay down my shackles and admit that I’ve been reading (and enjoying) the genre called Chick Lit.

Chick Lit is the new Romance Novel. And it isn’t. As a genre it certainly is finding as much favour and spawning as many writers (and books) as the ubiquitous M&Bs. On the other hand, one may argue that romantic fiction was a genre built on common women’s fantasies while Chick Lit inter-twines what we consider our ideal life along with the proverbial gang-cribbing that each of us indulges in with our galpals over men, weight loss problems, career concerns and PMS.

Chick Lit, as most of the definitions state, is usually about twenty-something women, career-minded or not, married or not, successful or not. One thing they all are, is discontent with their lot. The careerwoman struggles with loneliness and jerky boyfriends, the beauty queen is slapped around and paraded as a sex toy/trophy partner and the housewife is wistful about missed opportunities. The Chick Lit heroine is Superwoman who survives on a steady dose of galpal advice, gay friends, alcohol-and-career swings and roller-coaster relationships. Friends are family, chocolate is the manna for all evils and the root of all evils can be summed up into one word – MEN.

Bosses, colleagues, friends, lovers, ex-boyfriends, flings, husbands of friends, partner’s buddies, friends’ partners, gardeners, milkmen, grumpy old men, uncles, teachers, fathers, cheery grocers, lecherous neighbors….men in every possible shape, size and relationship are examined back and forth. It is the Chick Lit’ter’s favorite hobby – Men.

If the Indian versions are different, it is only in that they’re usually set in Mumbai/Delhi instead of London/New York. The protagonists gorge on chicken tikkas and grab their capuccinos from Barista instead of M&S or Starbucks. Their mothers want to see them ‘well-settled’ instead of ‘settled down’. The men are just as committment-phobic, the careers just as unsatisfying, their bosses are just as demanding, their married neighbors consider them just as flighty and sluttish and their credit card bills are equally long.

Why do I like the genre so much? Simple. Because it is about me. That’s my life, my friends, my mistakes and my victories that are getting written about. Every page brings a, “Don’t I know it!”, an “Aha! You got ‘im there, girl!” and a “Bullshit, I heard the same thing from my second boyfriend when he was cheating on me.” It’s almost like having a new set of friends with every book.

You might even say it’s the modern, literary woman’s Soap Opera in a book format. If the women of yore wanted fantasy to keep them entertained, at least this I can say for my generation – we’re thriving on reality…or some warped version of it. Who needs a perfect fairytale when our own messed-up, vodka-spiked, overstressed lives are so much more interesting?

Chick Lit is empowering in a very strange way. It tells me that other women are having a hell of it too. That having a zero social life at twenty, in favour of slogging away at work was not a mistake. That getting married at twenty-three would not have spelt ‘happily ever after’ either. That my smug married, whiz-in-the-kitchen housewife friend acts superior to me but also thinks I’m living the glamourous, carefree life she only reads about in magazines.

It tells me that it’s okay to not feel diva-like at all times, to nurse worries over weight gain and cellulite. That it’s even okay to worry more about these than a missed deadline. That bad temper, unreasonableness and pukey-head-feeling are permissible once a month.

Chick Lit tells me life isn’t perfect (yes, I know someone said that long ago but catch me listening?). I mean look at the titles – The Undomestic Goddess, Life isn’t all Hahaheehee, Shopaholic, Almost Single. It also tells me that each of us is figuring out a new way of perfect. And who knows? Maybe Perfect will be the way I do it – My perfect!

Superwoman

I am the only kid on the tree in pigtails
I am rejection & peer pressure superimposed on intelligence & expectations
I am the daughter who will one day be the ‘man of the house’

I am the big attitude-no boyfriends Alanis Morisette of the peer group
I am the feminist preaching to ‘the boys’ in between hanging out with them.
I am the second lead in an ‘all-male’ rock band.

I am the token female candidate in a job selection group discussion
I am one of two women at a client meeting, six months later
I am the slender figure balancing a laptop, files and a mobile phone and refusing a seat on the bus.

I am a solitary memo marked “Dear Madam” atop of a pile of “Dear Sir” notes
I am one who knows which detergent brand sells highest but not which cleans best
I am a woman who hates cooking and is proud of the fact

I am the one publications write about when they describe the new work ethic
I am the inspiration for a new wave of soap operas and talk shows
I am the author of a scathing article on fairness creams

I am the center of a marketing model titled “High income single decision maker”
I am the brief given to fashion houses when they design the new Prada suit
I am described as ‘Joan of Arc meets Helen of Troy’

I am a social butterfly, the party animal, the cool lady who always leaves alone
I am a modern day Cinderella looking for a perfect foot to fit her shoe…and none ever do
I am the last of my friends to get married but mine is the grandest wedding of all

I am an overflowing inbox of memos, bills and ads after my 2-day honeymoon
I am the ‘expert cook in 10 days’ since I am always the best
I am the 5 am alarm for the milkman, the 10 am board meeting, the working lunch and the home cooked gourmet dinner on my first anniversary

I am a romantic SMS keyed in surreptitiously at a meeting
I am two daily planners to be co-ordinated for any family function
I am performance anxiety, loneliness, guilt, fear and ambition all masquerading as PMS

I am the ‘equal half’ of a DINK
I am the face that receives a slap for being better
And only sometimes, am I the fist that hits back

I am the luggage with a tag from every single metro in the world
I am the signature on the exclusive gold card
I am a posh address that is more a museum than a home

I am the employee code on a maternity leave application tacked to the bottom of a report
I am the voice on a conference call from home to 2 countries
I am the emergency Ceasarean operation due to hypertension

I am the lovely lady at the end of the day while my mom is mom to my kids too
I am the signature on a delivery receipt for a dollhouse and an encyclopedia set
And on a resignation letter that speaks of ‘time for family’ and not a word about sacrifices

I am music lessons, art classes, camps, sports teams and tuitions after school
I am the good manners, language fluency, social etiquette and grades all at 7
I am the hands that dress the star of the show in a kindergarten play
As also the signature on a report card that says “Shows aptitude for figures. Is very quiet and withdrawn”
I am the mother of a brilliant, talented 3-foot stressed know-it-all
….…..the wife of a resentful, guilt-wracked escapist
…….…the lover of a ‘new-age’ sensitive weakling
and the owner of a picture perfect 40 going on 25 face

I am the compartmentalized fragments of what was born a human being
And lives as ..and will one day die as…..Superwoman

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A version of this post appears on Yahoo! Real Beauty.

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