Hating people is subjective and so is hating places, but hating everyone from a certain place or locality, for no apparent reason might sound a bit wired and irrational, but I have to shamelessly admit that I have this much unreasonable phobia for people from a certain town, although it’s the native place of one of my immediate family members. But the moment I get to meet or talk to someone from that ‘hateful’ region, my mind is too quick to create a very strong wall of hatred around that I cannot help but be indifferent and unpardonably snooty to them, no matter how good they are. I cannot stand the very presence of any one from that place, as anger soon snowballs in my mind, ready to burst out even from the thinnest of the fissures. With that said I must tell you about the reason why I slip to uncontrollable anger when I meet people from a town that’s very far from mine.
The bitterest of my childhood memories come from this town, where I happened to live in a large ancestral home, with a whole lot of members, mostly males who have the worst ego and superiority complex that one can ever find on earth. The females other than a fifty something matriarch and her youngest daughter had absolutely no say in the family, whatsoever, making the other women much worse than puppets who were made to work according to the whims-and-fancies of the big-headed males in family. Decisions where the monopoly of men, and women were hardly asked any opinions, no matter what their choices where. None of those submissive women knew what it is like to have self-identity or ho it is like to be independent, as they were steeply overshadowed by their indescribably domineering husbands and in-laws.
While the men were free to work and enjoy as per their wishes, their wives slogged every single day, juggling between truckloads of household chores and child duties. Sadly and shockingly I never saw any of those much ‘married’ men turning up even once to lend a helping hand to their wives who toiled each day with tons of backbreaking works. On the contrary, I used to see the flocking to the dining table near the kitchen area during meal times, when women would hide themselves behind the kitchen door, waiting for men to finish their meals, while the matriarch and the snobbish sister in law served the men, thus showing off their dominant position in the family.
While men where served the best potions of the food, women had to satiate their huger with what their glutton husbands left behind. Yet, with absolutely no qualms, they used to enjoy the leftover food and slog again until late night, hitting the bed dog-tired. With about a dozen members to serve and no domestic aids to ease their workloads, the womenfolk in the family slogged like slaves with whatever amenities they were provided with, and managed to serve others in the best possible way, amid all the silly and irking complaints and rants that they had to listen to. Quarrels were never new to them and occasional thrashings were something they were much acquainted with.
The matriarch was no less than the hellish mother-in-laws of stories that we’re familiar with. While she plotted and planned against each of her daughters-in-law, the demonic sister-in-law who was equally conceited gave her mother a great support in side-lining and bullying the women. They left no stones unturned to poison the minds of the men in the family with malicious stories about their wives, triggering ugly spats every single day. As they sat back and enjoyed the men howling, shouting, and occasionally thrashing their wives, these two vicious women slyly and devilishly smiled out of contentment, affirming their unmatched position in the family.
Simply put, the horde of awfully narcissistic men and their pathetically subdued wives gave me the worst shock of my lifetime that I even bore a very strong sense of hatred and bitterness towards men until a few years before. Although I waved good bye to this much conservative and tormenting ambiance several years back, I still have those memories sharply etched in my mind that I find it almost impossible to be cordial to people from that town no matter who they are.
When it comes to waiting for my turn in a long queue, I am not as patient as I should be, the reason why I always make it a point to do things on-time, and if possible a little in-advance, so that I can avoid long and monotonous waits. I do this everywhere, every time, especially when it comes to paying the monthly hostel fees.
Today being the last day of the month, I was all set to pay the next month’s fees, and reached the office room on time. Our warden was on a serious talk with one of the inmates of the old age home, and I was made to wait for about a minute or two, while the old woman paid her fees and had a usual chitchat before leaving. As she was about to leave, after sharing her share of unsolicited advices of which I heard the last part alone, I went inside to pay my fees. It was then that our warden told me about the heated debate that went on until I entered as the much unforeseen interrupt, for which our warden couldn’t thank anymore.
The topic of the debate was the fundraising program to help a cancer patient get his daughter married off. With a few steps more to embrace death, he is almost bedridden, and is desperately hoping to see his daughter’s marriage. Our hostel committee agreed to raise a part of the money required, and wanted the generous ones among us to contribute a little share each. Being the member of a rich and affluent family, she did have ample money to help that poor man, but sadly and shockingly showed her pitiable stinginess by giving just a meager amount, along with a whole lot of reasoning to desperately justify herself. Those who were well aware of the amount of money that she continues to squander each day couldn’t hide their shock to see her arguing fiercely for not contributing generously for a genuine cause.
I don’t intent to blame the old woman, but believe that she could have been a bit more generous. But sadly, other than selfless willingness, no persuasion in this world can make a person donate for a good cause. While people are keen only on futile talks on charity, their noble sounding words would quickly turn into plaintive pleas if they are asked to put them in to practice! What a pitiable revelation of double standards! A charity that doesn’t break the bank is always possible, but all that it takes it takes is a generous mind-set and the willingness to help the needy.
It’s high time to shun our hypocrisy of limiting charity to just verbal juggleries alone. We have to either stop all the talking and remain aloof from helping the needy, or match up to our words and lend a helping hand when required. I’ve seen the old woman willingly participating in many of the events in our hostel, and impressing the audience with her long speeches on helping the poor and needy. But the actuality turned out tad different from all the talking that she did so far.
With all these said, you would have an obvious question in mind – Whether I gave my share of contribution or not? Yes, I did. Although I am not as rich as the old woman, and has been in a deep financial instability, I did give a share without any futile talking, because I believe that my action should speak louder than my words.
Despite the fact that vacations to dad’s village always aroused a whole lot of curiosities, the most pronounced one among them was the unreasonable pride of the much strong headed Nairs. Although caste system was not visibly strong, every other Nair in the village was considered themselves elite and superior way above the others or precisely the Ezhavas, Christian, or the Pulayas. This very baseless and imprudent notion was immovably strong, particularly the grownups.
An unpardonable injustice that existed decades before my birth, an unjustifiable and unfair tagging that I would never agree on, the dislike towards people from the lower caste was profound in my dad’s village until a couple of years back. As a child, I was totally new to the idea of caste differences, while the natives including my cousins strongly believed in the so called age-old segregation. I found it quite strange to gulp down the oddity of indescribable discrimination that the snotty upper caste, or the Nairs, showed towards the supposedly lower castes.
There was this Ezhava family close by our ancestral home, with Kunjiraman and Sumathy and their kids who were our immediate neighbors. While Sumathy helped my aunt with household chores, Kunjiraman was the trusted aid to my uncle, and managed our paddy fields, along with rearing and taking care of the cows that we had. Growing up hearing everyone addresses them by name, the entire clan of children at home, except me, too started aping the elders. Much to my disbelief, both Kunjiraman and Sumathy were absolutely fine with this, and never showed any sign of uneasiness. But I couldn’t agree on this gross disrespect and indecency, and addressed them as Kunjiraman cheettan (brother) and Sumathy chechi (sister). Their children too were much elder to me and I addressed them as cheettan (brother) and chechi (sister), for which I was relentlessly mocked by everyone. I never knew my sense of respectfulness would irk people around, but the worst was yet to come. Needless to say, regardless of being right, I became the butt of the jokes for defying the indigenous beliefs by respecting the ‘sub humans’, and giving the rightful dignity they deserved.
Being born to parents who have always been uncompromising when it comes to respecting elders, I knew I was not wrong, however, was badly ridiculed consistently for being respectful to Kunjiraman and family. I was called an outcaste and people left no stones unturned to make a mockery of my innocence and frankness.
Humiliations heaped upon me and I burst in to tears on several occasions. Yet my dad kept asserting that I must address them as cheettan (brother) and chechi (sister), as they were elder to me. I knew my dad was right, and I knew I was right too, but there was no way out to prove myself. It was hard to be a one man army and win over a dominant number of boorish and big-headed people on the other end, who never stopped bullying me for being respectful, not just to Kunjiraman and Sumathy alone, but to everyone whom they called low caste.
Years passed by and with a hectic work life that drains out a whole lot of time from my life, I almost stopped visiting my ancestral village. Yet these memories flashed through my mind the other day, when I read the story ‘Charlis and I”, a stellar piece of writing by Shashi Tharoor. I could very well relate to Neel, the protagonist, as I underwent the same shock and disbelief, when I was scorned for respecting someone who was elder to me, just because he /she belonged to a supposedly lower caste.
It’s my seventh year in the big city, but sadly, I don’t feel it as alluring as it used to be. Far away from the hustle of a metro and the maddening crowd that throngs around, I was brought up in a not-much developed town, way far-off from the big city. Growing up in a traditional middle class family, I was never familiar bewitching cities and addictive lifestyles, as all those were confined only till the television programs that I got to see, after pretty-much ‘censoring’. With no Carrie Bradshaws and Lizzie McGuires to boost my rather diminutive dreams, I never aimed big or wished for a world beyond the limited surroundings that I was confined. Moreover, living in an overprotective family that never exposed me to the treachery of the world outside I trusted and believed things and people in the way they appeared to be, and never felt the need to delve deep, as I blindly believed people around and trusted them as I trusted myself.
But destiny had other plans and I moved in to the big city which enticed me with a whole lot off nerve-tingling excitements that were nowhere found back in my home town. Although I was new to the city life and took considerable time for being a part of the fast paced urbanism, I got attuned to the new lifestyle, yet curtailed myself from getting lost in the totally new world that I was in. Months and years passed by, moulding and remoulding me from the much simple, sometimes downright silly, to an independent and serious woman with a vivid idea of how to live and move on, even in the toughest circumstance that I get thrown in to.
The journey was not as easy as I felt it would be. Along with a good share of gains, I got to experience equal or perhaps more share of losses as well, when unexpected happenings unfolded with several unforeseen moments. While small and medium-sized victories brought moments of joy and pride, what fueled my growth more was the hard experiences of being exposed a whole new world without any notions of how it would be. With no idea of people and situations around me, I went on living every day in my own way. I fell down and failed very many times, but stood up again taking-up lessons from every experience, both good and bad, and making them the catalysts to move forward. My never-give-up attitude strengthened me to rise-up from every fall, no matter how wounded I was. Relieving from the burns and wounds, I moved forward each day, leaning on to every single ray of hope that made me dream about a better day and a brighter future.
Outgrowing the pain of being ignored, dejected, back-stabbed, deceived, unrewarded, unheard, and unappreciated was not easy for me, but I fought and won those battles all alone, whilst withdrawing myself and creating a cocoon from where I hardly go out now, to get close to people around, in the way I used to.
I came to explore the city that I’d been dreaming about for so long, but it has nothing more to tingle my senses and excite me to remain here further.
Seven years bygone, and the consistently appealing big city has lost its charm to monotony and lackluster. The sunshine is dulling each day and I want to break free from this long default setting of my life. Life is almost akin to a very mechanically running machinery which keeps moving in the very same way at the very same pace, uninviting and unexciting. On a professional front I am more or less in stagnancy with no upward movement to hope for, while on personal level there’s nothing further to excite and motivate me to remain further. The anticipation that brought me here, the feeling of being on a roller-coaster and waiting for that adventurous start, is no more alive and vivid in my mind. I feel as if I am constantly walking towards boredom and monotony, only to keep pulling me back from reaching there.
Yes, I want to move on and start afresh in another city, possibly unknown and unfamiliar of, preferably far away. Is there any way in which you can help me out?