Okay, so everyone loves a good neighbor — you know, that person who brings over some extra tomatoes from their garden or offers to keep an eye on your house while you’re away. And here I am — the unlucky one who won the hundred-to-one lottery and ended up living next to the neighbors-from-hell.
It was a week after my wedding when she asked me, “Why isn’t your hair tied? Where are your bangles? Why are you wearing only your wedding chain? Why don’t you wear more gold? Why are you wearing only a small bindhi? Come here, let me have a look, ohhh… is that a black bindhi?? How can you wear a black one? “
I was confused and didn’t know what was wrong!! And then it dawned on me. I am married now. Though I gave her a plastic smile, what rang at the back of my head was simply outrageous.
‘My fondness, or rather the lack of it, towards a big bindhi seemed to be the vital concern to my neighbor aunt. The fact is, I don’t wear big round bindhis, gold bangles(forget gold, not even a normal one) or toe rings or mangalsutra all the time. Okay, mangalsutra- YES.(I know dear MIL, that you are reading this). It’s not my cup of tea to look like a million dollars all the time. But I just wish she’d stop poking her nose into what I wear and what I don’t! This “process” is so much that she likes to brood over it and I feel like poking her eyes out. I don’t know what it is with most of the people in this country, but minding their own businesses.
I remember her, asking how much I scored on every single test I took – only to compare it with the son of hers. As time passed, the scores had moved to higher grades – to what my “Entrance-test” rank was, which college I got admission into, which Multi-National Company I got placed into, and why I didn’t join it and why I opted for higher studies. God, there was nothing which she never interfered with! It came down to how much I earn and even on whom I should marry. Such concern!! Lucky me!
Interrupting my line of thoughts she had continued, “I don’t know what these girls are up to, ‘Modern’ it seems!!”
Ha! I am living in the so-called ‘modern’ India who
sometimes most-of-the-times have a tendency to gasp in horror at the so-called norms of uneducated masses living in rural places – when they treat their women, like this – like cattle belonging to the family who are brought up merely to be given away to ‘suitable’ people chosen by the family or even killing them for daring to defy marriage norms! What norms!!’ I was strictly warned by my mom to always smile and politely decline her queries. That’s especially because she thinks my mouth is like that of a magician’s hat – one never knows what will come out of it.
Today, when I am home after a year , she is still there with the same probing questions. Apparently, even after a year, I do not carry “the sign” mandated for a married Indian woman. She had come over for a cup of coffee (as she calls it) and this time the hullabaloo was “Ha, heard you are even working late nights. Why so, isn’t your husband earning enough? Oh look at you, you have put on so much weight! Wait, are you pregnant? Oh, you are not! Why aren’t you thinking of a baby? It’s been a year, for god’s sake? Are you having any medical issues? Or is it with him?”
Okay. So that’s it. I have reached my breaking point.
All I said was this, “I have noticed you watching over me
lately my entire life. But please do not worry, I will take care of myself, and please do not stress yourself or worry yourself to look out for me, because I don’t GIVE “a Sugar Honey Iced Tea” about what you think about me. I believe, you should better check on your daughter as she ran away with the milkman. I haven’t done that and I am very happy with my life unlike you, who doesn’t have any other business than having an eye on what happens in our family. If I need any help I will surely turn up to you.”
She didn’t storm out of my home like in some Bollywood movie.
I expected her to turn red as a beetroot. But neither did that happen.
She simply smiled, patted my cheek and said, “Aww.. meri bacchi…”(Oh, you poor-lil-girl). She drank the cup of coffee, ate the entire plate of samosas and left.
It was my turn to go pale and wait for another set of stories to be heard about me from the entire neighborhood. You know, “Monkey See- Monkey do!! “
This post is part of #CONDITIONSERIOUSHAI contest .