On Broken Souls and Olive Branches

On Broken Souls and Olive Branches

I’ve been told I don’t try hard enough

I’ve been told it’s my fault things go wrong

They said I was weird and unfixable, with a sad little laugh

They said I don’t know what it takes at all

I’ve been told the problem lies in me

I’ve been told I’m no good

And I whole heartedly agree, because honestly

A year went by and I achieved nothing

It’s hard to find someone who gets it

Someone who feels what you feel

They might try on your shoes but they won’t fit

As comfortably as they seem to fit you

No matter how many olive branches you extend

Someone needs to be receptive there too

Broken people and broken relationships don’t mend

Not one their own, they need a lot of help too

I’m an introvert when it comes to feelings

That won’t ever change

I wish I could stay in my bubble and find some meaning

Meanwhile I’d let my ramblings comfort me in my head

It’s a new year but nothing feels different to me

I feel detached like I’ve always been

Broken people don’t heal themselves, you see

What’s worse, I feel like I’d never find my clarity

Resentment.

Resentment.

I don’t know why I married this thing in my bed. She doesn’t have brains. Doesn’t have the looks either. Doesn’t make money. Has a voice louder than those drills going in my neighbor’s backyard. I look over at the sleeping form next to me; chameleon-eyes open like she’s always watching me. She has these big eyes I used to find beautiful and luminous once but now, all they do is follow me around, grotesquely.

I am a henpecked husband.

I cannot even remember how long I have been married to Her. It disgusts me to even say the name. to think that I wanted a home and a child, or maybe two, with Her, one day. She’s not who I married and she has completely changed. Recession hit and she – very voluntarily and very comfortably – pulled off her socks and curled up permanently on the couch, just watching and being a pain in my neck. She acts like she’s doing me a favor when she gets me breakfast in bed. She lords it over me when she’s folding and putting away piles of my laundry. I’ve never asked her to do any of it, but she acts like she has this chip on her ugly, hunched and emaciated shoulder and uses it against me at every opportunity. I hate being stuck with her indoors all day. Fucking Corona. It had to happen now, now when I was on the verge of going on this business trip to Amsterdam alone. Now, when I’d have a few peaceful days all to myself.

She makes unnecessary commentary when I talk to my friends on the phone. She tells them not to call on the weekends – her voice shrill in the background, making me feel like I would bleed from my ears – saying she wants me to herself and she tries to sabotage my two-decade long friendship with my best friend. We had a go at each other the other day. The rabid cunt thinks I would let her treat me this way, does she? She thinks I don’t deserve her, and she’s right because no one does. Stupid, freaking, crazy bitch. How I wish I could turn back time and ensure this marriage had never happened.

I don’t even remember taking a pillow and stifling her till her writhing body goes still and her silent screams fade away to silence, blissful silence.

Millennials and Marriages

Millennials and Marriages

I asked a few people, who are well into their twenties and thirties, about their opinion on marriage and starting a family. The answers were mostly the same across the board. The group I was talking to did NOT want to get married.

It’s crazy, you’d think that with the wedding industry growing as it is, people would actually want to take the plunge as well – but no. Women say that men change after the wedding happens, and men say that women change too. Millennials are confused as they come, and they say they don’t need any more on their plate. Fair point.

Someone said that people don’t know how to date in their own lane and the same goes for marriage. You marry a super rich someone, who’s had a lavish lifestyle, promising to give them the life they’ve always had, but as soon as you’re married, you want them to tone down so they can fit your mold – that’s not done, they said. Imagine if Rose had ended up with Jack, she would definitely complain at some point about him not being able to give her the life she’d been used to, they said. Another reason why some people don’t want to get married would be the fact that most people make enough to give themselves a comfortable lifestyle – but they cannot cover the cost of having kids and raising them because, to put it frankly: “Kids are expensive.”

A few women that I know have decided to never get married because waking up next to the same person and watching them grow old with you isn’t as romantic as movies make it out to be. At this point, I was going “Yikes”, I kid you not.

All these strong opinions against marriage ended up driving me a little insane, so I asked people the same question on Instagram: and this time, the opinions were divided. Honestly, that’s such a relief because I’m getting formally hitched in two months and I could do with a few people saying they would love to get married, too.

One person said they wanted to do it and didn’t care who the other person was as long as they were good people. Arranged marriages are still BIG in India. A couple of people said they wanted to do it because premarital sex, unfortunately, is still frowned upon. And someone else said they wanted to do it because they were deeply in love and couldn’t imagine being away from their partner for one more second. This made me feel warm and fuzzy on the inside. Go, girl! You get him.

Ooh, and someone else said they wanted to wear Sabyasachi and be featured on the designer’s Instagram page. Girl, if you’re reading this, I hope and pray that it happens one day. And soon. This brings me to the last thing I want to say – What do YOU think of marriages?

Bengali Weddings: Part Two, The Bad

Bengali Weddings: Part Two, The Bad

To read the first part, click here.

It’s getting super hard to keep up with things at this point. We barely have two months left before some major life changes happen. I’m about to become someone’s lawfully wedded wife, and oh my God, I couldn’t be happier. And ooh, about that.

Bengali weddings, of course, come with their own set of rituals. The one that we’re already done with, the Aashirwad, is the first step towards the madness that the actual wedding almost always is. At least, I’m pretty sure mine is going to be nuts. I have crazy family friends who say the most inappropriate things. And my dad has crazy friends who have questionable motives. I’m sure you’re familiar with such people, they exist everywhere.

On the day of the Aashirwad, people got wind of the fact that the Mister would be coming over to my place with his parents, officially, for the final talks of the wedding. And I kid you not when I say that everyone in the whole neighborhood actually appeared to be queueing up outside my house, or even leaning out of their balconies, trying to catch a glimpse or two. My guy belongs to a very refined family from Bangalore and all of them were taken by surprise to see this. What decent community does things like this? And my neighbors have all built their houses SO close to ours that they could see everything through my open windows. I think I died of embarrassment, a million times over, that day.

As if that wasn’t enough, I had people come up to me and ask me what the guy’s family had gifted me. Apparently that’s the culture, the norm, to ask someone what she’s been given as a gift from her husband-to-be and his family. I still fail to see the culture bit, but okay. I’m waiting to post about the good, if there’s any, about this particular Bengali wedding. Stay tuned.

The Patient

The Patient

Sometimes I want to actually talk to my mother, and tell her she was wrong. I’ve seen her cry quite a few times since I left, but I couldn’t really do anything. Sometimes I try to make my presence known, but I’m fairly new to this and I have no idea how to talk to the living. And my family doesn’t believe in ghosts.

What a sad life, eh?

Nobody believed in me when I was alive and nobody believes in me now either.

It’s been two weeks since I died.

I grew up in a family of doctors, and my dad, who’s now fifty, is the snappiest person I’ve known. My mum is the loudest woman I’ve ever met. She can scream loud enough to give any random banshee a run for her money. But my parents have only been this way with me. With other people, they’re nice as eff. And it’s weird to me.

I was supposed to be married in a few months, and every morning my Dad would body-shame me by way of morning greeting.

“You look like a skeletal vulture,” he’d say, “So ugly and malnourished.”

I wasn’t allowed out of the house and nobody took my symptoms seriously. See, mental health issues are always overlooked in Indian households. And when you’re unable to fall asleep, or eat properly and when the whole cycle of body-shaming and abuse becomes super intense, you end up dead.

Which is what happened to me.

I blacked out and fell down the stairs one morning. No one was home and I watched my body lie there for six hours before anyone found me. My mum screamed like a banshee but this time I wasn’t going to wake up, despite all the slapping.

It’s funny how they ignore the living, but try to revive the dead instead.

Bengali Weddings, Part One: The Ugly

Bengali Weddings, Part One: The Ugly

I don’t know if this is a thing will all relatives, or just some of the people in my (very, very extended) family but…

I have a huge family, okay? Back in the day, nobody had heard of birth control or television or any other form of entertainment. This meant that their only source of um, relaxation, ended up resulting in tiny humans and burning holes in the parents’ pockets, putting the ever growing family into economic stress. They also used to get married in their early teens, making teenage pregnancies super common. Many kids would die of complications following childbirth and their husbands would end up marrying other kids. Sounds gross, but that used to be a legit thing, child marriage.

My grandma got married at a young age too. Her first child, my oldest aunt, was born eighteen years before my mum came along. My oldest aunt is in now her seventies, and my grandma passed away ages ago. I don’t remember her much, unfortunately, but she was a nice person. Same goes for my Dad’s mum. I don’t even remember having met her. The only memento I’ve got of hers is a photograph of me in her lap, and she’s wrinkled as a prune and I’m barely two. And I look mighty uncomfortable as heck.

Having said all of that, it also means that when you’re about to get married, the whole clan comes to town. Irrespective of whether you’ve ever met them or not. They just seem to pop out of thin air. Suddenly you have three hundred aunts and five hundred nieces and you’re a legit grandma and aunt and aunt-in-law. If you’re the bride, your parents have to bear all the expenses – from the relatives stay to their comforts. And when your parents are extra and don’t get the concept of low-key weddings, the budget overflows and puts your parents in debt. Sometimes you need to end up selling assets, sometimes you give yourself depression and stress but you won’t chill with the number of heads on that guest list because you’re a prominent member of the society so you’ve to make your kid’s nuptials a grand affair. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The age gap between my Dad’s siblings and my Dad has also resulted in my oldest cousin being born over TWO decades before I was. He calls my Dad “Uncle” but he’s only a few years younger than my Dad. *Jeez.* The rest of my cousins are way older than I am too, and we never really meet on the daily. I mean, the last time I ever saw any of these guys and their wives would be like, 2013. And it was awkward as heck. I didn’t attend any of their weddings but they’re all going to show up when the next wedding happens. Yikes. And with the estrogen comes the judgements. And with the older women, comes the tongue-clacking and the nosy behavior.

If you hate people and have awful social anxiety, nobody notices you going into depression because they’re too busy making your mum show them your wedding shopping and making snide comments about every saree you’ve picked. And about your weight. And about your dark circles and thinning hair. And the list goes on.

By the time the wedding approaches, it’s a miracle if you have any hair or body weight left.

Dugga Dugga

Dugga Dugga

The festive season felt ominous for some reason. He hadn’t called. And he hadn’t let her know when he’d be home.

She’d been dolled up for hours: she’d had her hair, nails and makeup done, and she’d put on the new saree he’d got her for Pujo. But he was supposed to be home a few hours back and he wasn’t. And she couldn’t get through to him on the phone either. It kept saying that his number was unavailable.

An expert at overthinking, she’d paced ten times around the room and scolded herself for not having said the customary Dugga Dugga when he left. Bengalis do that a lot and it had been their thing too, and she was scared something must have happened to him because she’d forgotten to say it. But she hadn’t called either set of parents yet because she knew they’d worry. And they were all super old. At the same time she’d contemplated asking her father-in-law how much time it took to buy a few haadis of roshogolla and some boxes of sondesh in Kolkata on a Saptami evening, but that would have given the whole thing away and they’d have asked questions about their son anyway.

She was about to give up, when the doorbell rang, revealing a very haggard man in a now-wrinkled set of panjabi-pajama, who was panting and out of breath.

He looked annoyed and exhausted and sweaty as heck but she smiled and smothered him with kisses and hugs.

“Ah, Anu, never send me to buy mishti for baba-ma on any day of the pujo. My phone died, and the shop was crowded and I had to wait in line. Now let me go shower.”

“Cubic Zirconia”

“Cubic Zirconia”

“Look, I just got engaged”, Mel said, showing off her enormous diamond ring. “This is a five carat diamond, babe! I mean, have you seen me? I’m a solid ten. And have you seen my dear fiancé? Oh my God, fiancé. Kinda weird saying it out loud but I mean I’m WAY out of his league, so the bald old dude has to keep me happy, right?”

Taken aback by shock at Mel’s choice of words for her new fiancé, Sylvia did her best to act happy. She smiled at Mel and raised her glass to her.

“I’m so happy for you Mel,” she said quietly, feeling miserable that she didn’t even get a real ring from her fiancé. That cubic zirconia sat on her finger, almost reprimanding her. Sylvia could hear her mother’s voice telling her, from somewhere far away, “I told you not to marry Tom, you could have found someone so much nicer, let’s see how he takes care of your stupid high-maintenance butt.” She pictured her mother, fresh from a Botox session, saying no vehemently to meeting Tom for the last time. And that had been the final straw. Both women were headstrong but Sylvia was also obstinate to the point of no return. Or at least she had been.

Her mother had married young and had Sylvia at twenty one. They had been wealthy. And she grew up spoiled and then, fell in love. That was three years ago. She’d married against her family’s wishes and her parents had cut her off. She and Tom lived in a tiny shoebox apartment, barley managing to make ends meet. She worked as a teacher and Tom, a struggling entrepreneur. They didn’t have much; but Tom was an amazing husband and they loved each other. As she remembered their very, very tiny court wedding, she felt a warm glow in her heart and realized that her mother had been wrong and that Tom was indeed, the best she could ever get.

Her phone buzzed loudly; and she snapped out of her reverie and she saw a message from Tom:

“Home early, I’m going to pop into the shower and order takeout. You’re going to take ages to choose so I’ll just order my favorites. BUT you are my favorite and I want you to know that. How long are you going to be out with Mel? I miss you!”

Tom had been away the whole week, meeting a few investors and trying to pitch his ideas, but with zero success. And he didn’t want to be upset about it, because Sylvia was a compulsive over-thinker and would stay up late if she found out that he was feeling low.

Sylvia smiled at the phone and replied to Tom’s text, saying she’d missed him too and that she’d be home just in time for dinner.

Sometimes you don’t need a five-carat diamond, you only need a five-dollar takeaway meal, and love. Pure, unadulterated, beautiful, love.

“Tattoo”

“Tattoo”

Madison had just moved into a new apartment with her boyfriend Jonah, a tattoo-artist.

Maddie dressed up as as a vampire on Halloween. Jonah said he loved it, at least a million times, while they were going down to their friend Pete’s, for one of those epic Halloween parties. It was tradition practically. They’d all get drunk and eat too much and just have a good time, and catch up with old friends.

“I wish you’d do your makeup like that everyday,” Jonah kept saying.

Maddie just smiled and looked happy. He’d never complimented her so much before.

The party got wild. Maddie couldn’t remember when or how she went to bed: she was completely wasted.

While brushing her teeth after having overslept, she felt a sharp pain in the face and noticed she’d forgotten to take off her makeup. It was only after she’d gone through two bottles of makeup remover that she realized that Jonah had tattooed on the dark cranberry lipstick on her lips.

Why Does Everyone Want To Be An Influencer?

Why Does Everyone Want To Be An Influencer?

How many of us have actually thought of starting something of our own, because the nine to five job wasn’t cutting it? I’m sure you’re guilty of it too. It sucks, I’ll give you that, having to work for someone else when frankly, you’d be much happier being your own boss.

Every influencer comes into existence this way. Full-time or otherwise, influencers become influencers because they are really driven by the will (or often, the wish) to start something new. There are two kinds of people: one, that create content based off of actual talent, and two, that buy followers because brands often believe in the numbers game. Which essentially means that the more number of followers an influencer has on social media, irrespective of how much engagement they actually have, the more the recognition they get from brands. Indian brands are one hundred percent guilty of this: not naming names, but I’ve seen brands sending PR packages and handing out sponsorships to XYZ influencers because they have 54k followers, when they themselves follow only seventy people.

So when you follow a very limited number of people, but you’ve got a considerably huge following, it gives the illusion of importance.

Who exactly is an influencer?

From the Internet:

A Social Media Influencer is a user on social media who has established credibility in a specific industry. A social media influencer has access to a large audience and can persuade others by virtue of their authenticity and reach. resources. Discover Brand Influencers to Expand Social Reach.

So, why the sudden rise in the “Influencer trend”?

Simply put, it’s easy money, and it never asks for a degree or in many cases, talent. People with awful content sometimes end up as successful influencers because they’re really, really good at handling sponsorships.

Many influencers in fact are so good at sponsored content, the audience won’t know they’ve been taken for a ride – not until the end of the video they’ve posted. By then the views have already been garnered.

And many people are actually ballsy enough to email brands asking for free stuff so they can showcase it on their Instagram. This is a cringeworthy tactic but it’s worked for someone I know. It’s working for someone I know, as we speak.

With a rise in social media posts, and a few carefully bought followers, it’s easy to make the quick buck just by endorsing a product, a process much less tedious and way more enjoyable than a desk job that would give you headaches and backaches and too much stress.

In conclusion…

…the euphoria induced from reaching a cult-status, the fame and the brand-sponsored-trips, the power to be pseudo Twiggy and Coco Chanel, has reached a manic frenzy and it’s like this apple that everyone is dying to have a bite of. And the power to promote consumerism and to make profit from it is something of a greed, that becomes insatiable. The more you have, the more you want. The more you want, the more you push. The more you push, there’s no stopping. It’s like an inflammation that keeps intensifying. And it feels good.

The next time you see your former best friend promoting Mama Earth, remember you can shoot them an email too. Everyone has access. It’s just so easy.