She reminded me that she’s been reading my work since as far back as 2011 when I posted my first story on an online forum. At the time, I never knew she even existed, because she belonged to that camp where silent readers prefer to remain under cloaks and blankets. It wasn’t till months and another story later, that I finally heard from her via email. This, email might I add came on the heels of me announcing the closure of my story, and for invited readers only. So, as many of those cloak and blanket loving silent ones are prone to do, she sent me an email once that announcement was made.
And, what an email it was. For one thing, it did not contain a “plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plzzzzzzzz let me,” which made me actually read past the first line. In doing so, I discovered not only an honest to goodness and true reader, but also an intriguing and genuinely lovely woman. – We corresponded off and on after that, her thoughts on whatever work of mine she was reading always brightened my day. She grew more and more involved in certain stories, never hesitated to offer me her opinion, and somehow always struck a perfect balance between sharing her thoughts and not crossing the line of suggestion. – Once, she even sent me a properly formatted (complete with bullet points, bolded headings, and several pages of text) document full of technical know-how on certain business dealings for a story I was working on. I found that I was exasperated, shocked, and also very touched by that gesture.
I mean, who the hell does extensive research for someone else’s story without even being asked to? Why did that research actually relate well with a part of the story? Why did I sit down and make notes off it eventually? How did a silent reader turn into this?
Seriously! A silent reader. A SILENT reader. *(&^%#@^
Years later and I still love her (even though she still stays silent from time to time, before she pops up out of nowhere and goes “So hey, about that Guest Post thing…”)
Please join me in welcoming my long time reader, unsolicited researcher, and friend, HungrySoul to the Deranged Writers blog.
Hi! I was educated in a Christian school and we were taught that God fills the hungry souls with goodness. And the glutton that I am, in a moment of insanity I christened myself HungrySoul and have been stuck with that moniker online. And online is where I met Anne who instantly made me fall head over heels with her writing. Reading her works has been a truly amazing experience. She made me fall in love with her stories – bringing to life the imperfect but adorable characters who’ve been indelibly marked in my memories. And along the way I also learnt a lot of things – that passions also possess geometrical properties and that chains are not just forged out of silver and gold but they can be eternal too. Oh and that cloudy skies don’t evoke the same nostalgia as mystic skies do!! All puns intended.
Before Anne throws a bottle of bourbon (that was the last – promise) at me for my insolence I want to share with you a story of a couple that never was. So here goes….
Happily Ever After? Not Quite
Abhishek is 29 years old, lives in Australia where he has a job and a house that’s the envy of his family and friends. He is the kind of guy you would want to be friends with instantly. Add to that his dapper appearance and you have an irresistible combination that is hard to ignore. Seems too good to be true? Believe me!
Ritika has always been the brightest and the prettiest girl amongst her peers. She earned her degree as an engineer some time back and was nursing a broken heart after a failed relationship when her parents asked her to meet Abhishek. Not wanting to disappoint her parents she decided to meet him and at that time it seemed the right thing to do too.
So they met and hit it off quite well much to their mutual surprise. After a hurried engagement and a brief courtship Abhishek and Ritika tied the knot in a spring wedding last year. It was a fortnight long affair at an exotic location with all the usual shenanigans of an Indian wedding.
The honeymoon went off beautifully as well but was surprisingly uneventful. They obviously didn’t know each other too well and the gentleman that Abhishek is he took it very sportingly when Ritika requested that they take things slow between them. Abhishek returned to Australia to resume work as per plan where Ritika was to join him as soon as the visa could be arranged.
Once in Australia Abhishek stopped taking her calls, at all. Turns out Abhishek is a homosexual and has been in a committed relationship since a very long time.
Wait…What? Isn’t this supposed to be the story where a desi settled abroad marries the girl from the subcontinent for dowry and then abandons her soon enough. Well not quite.
What happened with these two wonderful people is undoubtedly saddening. It was infuriatingly inappropriate and extremely painful for all involved. Was he out of his mind, was it a consequence of external factors, or was it their naiveté, who’s to tell? But it did left me wondering a few things.
What went wrong
Abhishek was born into a traditional family who hold their lineage and family prestige in high regard. They are thorough pure bred and no we’re not talking about dogs here but the family members. Ever since he started working at the age of 23 Abhishek was reminded gently that he should get married soon because that was the next step in his life. This gentle nudge towards marriage turned to fierce pressure as the years passed till the time where he had no option but to accede to his parents’ wishes because that’s what children are supposed to do. Not to forget his younger sister was soon to complete her studies and next in line to get married. What was he to do?
Ritika ticked all the boxes in his mother’s checklist – she was from the same caste as theirs, well educated, very pretty, homely and from a rich family. He had run out of excuses and had no reason to turn her down. But was that enough for him to decide to marry some girl or any girl for that matter? Shouldn’t he have at least tried to confide in an understanding family member? He would surely have saved many people a lot of heartache had he not agreed to this marriage. But the issue here is not whether things would have been different if he had disclosed his sexual orientation to his family, neither is the issue here of family honour. The issue is much more basic and primal – he chose to let others make his life’s choices.
The necessity of choice
Knowing what went wrong and at what point of time with Abhishek and Ritika is not of much consequence now either to them or to anyone else looking for answers to their broken marriage. Both of them are presumably mature adults and were expected to make a sensible and reasoned decision in choosing their life partner. The issue of import here quite simply is that you make your own choices whether in marriage or otherwise.
It is often enough said that life is hard and so are the choices that you have to make. When standing at life’s crossroads how are you to know the right path from the wrong. But is there a right path in the first place? At some junctures you may not know what you want and asking for others’ opinion on matters would not be completely inappropriate. Sometimes you get wonderful insights from what other people have to say about a situation. But only you know what you really want. A sense of indecision is not a bad thing – you may procrastinate, drive yourself up the wall with internal dialogues, have a feeling of utter and complete cluelessness and basically feel that you can never make up your mind. Don’t beat yourself up thinking you are letting your family down, or what the society will think or how you will be seen by your friends and colleagues if you don’t do what is deemed to be the right thing.
With any choice you make, no matter how big or small, you can never be a hundred percent sure whether you made the correct choice. So don’t think in terms of right or wrong, choose what you feel is the best for you irrespective of whether it is supposedly right or not. After all, you are the one who has to live with your choices. If you pause a moment here to introspect a little I’m sure you’d realize that the choice that you felt was the best is the one that always turned out to be the right one, irrespective of how others perceived it.
Marriage does not give meaning to life
Marriage in the subcontinent is a life altering event. It bestows a whole host of rights and privileges to the married. A married woman is accorded more respect by the society for, well, just being married. And if you are newly married then be assured of a warm reception at every gathering you attend. You are also legally and morally entitled to have a libido. Oh I digress.
Often times you will hear girls tell you how blissful marriage is and how it has meant a whole new life for them. But you ask bewildered that it’s just been a while and how could your life be altered so profoundly in such a short time. And she says, “I’m married, I know”.
Marriage will most definitely not give more meaning to your life unless your life’s dream was to see yourself wear a wedding band on your hand or the mangalsutra round your neck. This is not being said out of cynicism or a misplaced sense of feminism.
Life is not defined by such externalities neither by the amount of money you make, the extent of your professional achievements or by the number of people you know. Your life is a sum total of its experiences where marriage and your life partner are integral but not the whole. Your life will not become more meaningful merely by adding a spouse to the equation.
Don’t marry for the wrong reasons
Abhishek decided to get married out of cowardice and some misplaced sense of responsibility and gratitude to his parents. Ritika on the other hand married because she thought she had to get married someday so why not sooner than later. That and the feeling that since her choice in boyfriends had never really been great, so rather marry someone who fits the definition of a perfect match than repeat her mistakes.
These two are not the only such cases. Each day in the subcontinent youngsters, boys and girls alike, marry for reasons ranging from financial stability, social status, parental and societal expectations and a myriad of reasons in the same vein. Or sometimes just for the simple reason that all of their friends are getting married so they should too.
Wanting to have a good looking or a rich life partner seem to be the choice of a very shallow personality but honestly who hates being rich? And it certainly doesn’t do your ego any harm if someone calls you beautiful. So let’s not be judgemental here.
No matter how perplexed or indecisive you feel at any point of time, in your heart of hearts you know what you really are and what you want in life. If you still haven’t reached a place in life where you are sure of what you want then worry not you will. But eventually being sure of your reasons and expectations is important not just for you but also for the person you decide to marry. They deserve your honesty not just in words but also in intent.
So for anybody who has bothered to read till here I say – Marry not because it seems the right thing to do, my friend. Marry because it feels the right thing to do.
Oscar Wilde may just have been saying the same things as I did but way more eloquently.
“I won’t tell you that the world matters nothing, or the world’s voice, or the voice of society. They matter a good deal. They matter far too much. But there are moments when one has to choose between living one’s own life, fully, entirely, completely—or dragging out some false, shallow, degrading existence that the world in its hypocrisy demands. You have that moment now. Choose!”
The HungrySoul is based out of India where she is currently busy playing Sherlock in the capital market and enjoying every moment of it. And keeping her doubly excited is a dream project that is consuming a better part of her days and nights. Never mind the dark circles.
Just a hair breadth away from touching the ‘God awful’ age of 30 she is the subject of many a worried relative and auntie’s sympathy, speculation and ridicule – much to her and her rock star parents’ amusement.
To her parents’ delight she started reading as soon as she could put alphabets together. Their pride at her accomplishment was unfortunately short lived as it soon turned into a pain in the arse when she started reciting every signboard, every chit and every scrap of paper that came her way. Thus started her never ending affair with the written word – one that has stood with her in good stead
Her heart beats for Sherlock (of course) and that special someone who is man enough to put his girl’s plans over his.
If you’re an aspiring writer, poet, or just have thoughts or an opinion to share and would like to Guest Post on Deranged Writers, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org for details and guest post schedules.