Thursday, March 03, 2011

Life Doesn’t Have To Be Perfect

I’m reading ‘Marrying Anita’, a memoir by Anita Jain, a thirty-something Indian-American.

Disillusioned with the men she meets in NY, Anita returns to India, the country her parents had left decades earlier. She regales the reader with recounts of her escapades as she searches for a mate in cosmopolitan Delhi.

She lets the reader follow her trials and misadventures as she shifts through the men she meets and as she kisses frogs in the hope that one magically turns into a prince.

Good book! Read it!
This is more than a story about the writer’s desperate search for a soul mate.  The author also writes about the dating scenes in both Delhi and the small towns, arranged marriages and the stigma of divorce in old India.

Reading about her parents—they insist she finds a husband—and her encounters with men, I can’t help but recall what it was like when I was single and fancy free!

I’m sure my parents had hoped that I too would find a mate and settle down so people would quit asking them why I was still single—especially when my younger sister was tying the knot and there was still no sign that I had a boy somewhere on the horizon. And I was an old maid in my mid twenties. (Those days, the adults were very solicitous if at eighteen you didn’t have a potential groom!)

Don’t get the wrong idea. It wasn’t that no one was interested in pursuing me. It was more like I was so steeped in romantic fairy tales that I was not interested in my ‘pursuers’.  There was always something not quite right. I guess I was looking for a friend more than a husband for a life partner. I wanted a man who could talk about things other than himself—his problems with the boss, his past conquests, what he had for breakfast, the boils on his backside—okay, you get the picture.  I wanted someone who could understand me; someone who could accept me without feeling the need to change me. And definitely some romance. Was that too much to ask?

I loathe the common perception that the woman is less able and less intelligent than the man and that like a lump of clay, she needs to be thrown onto the potter’s wheel, slapped this way and that and shaped into the man’s (and his family’s!) idea of perfection.

Deep inside, I didn’t want to be a ‘wife’, a position normally interpreted as subservient, someone who had to bow down to the husband. Someone who must walk those three paces behind her lord and master, or else…

However, despite all my ‘cleverness’ I must have been giving out wrong signals because I was attracting the wrong kind of men. Some thought just because I was willing to do something for a lark… sharing a smoke, going for the late, late movies, gulping the occasional beer… I’d be easy picking. OMG! My mama smoked sigup like a chimney and she could drink anyone under the table but try messing with her and see if you didn’t go home with a  swollen skull and your tail between your legs.

Now that reminds me of this guy who must have thought that a bottle of beer would reduce my inhibitions and give him the opportunity to do with me what he would… not having an inkling that  I had ‘inherited’ the ability to hold my liquor well! You can imagine my dismay when I realised he was getting drunk on a single bottle of Carlsberg, and a small one it was too, while my own bottle wasn’t even making me tipsy!

Picture this, if you can… a grown man staggering to the toilet where he fell heavily, taking the porcelain cover of the cistern with him! Needless to say, the heavy lid exploded on impact with the cement floor making me jump and waking the dead.

That was not all. When my guest wobbled out of the toilet several minutes later, he was rubbing his mouth and complaining he could have broken a tooth. I had to suppress my glee at this well-earned reward for his kindness in supplying the beer.

My suggestion that I should get help from the neighbours to bring (read: carry) him home fell on deaf ears. He was embarrassed, he said. Well, he deserved to feel embarrassed, I told him crossly! What did he think I was? A whore? I locked my door as soon as the stupid nincompoop stepped out into the cold, night air. And, no he didn’t try it again and I’m relating this for the first time in a hundred years.

You see, if we, women, treat the boys nice, they think we’re cheap and take advantage of us. When we hold them at arm’s length, they think we’re stuck up or there’s something wrong with us—not with them. Either way, we lose. So the better option is to do what pleases us and to hell with what people think. 

Sometimes in the dead of the night when the house is asleep, my old friend, Insomnia, comes to visit. She brings with her memories of the past; maps of roads not taken; and reminders of the sacrifices one normally makes to fulfill other people’s expectations. At times like this when the heart refuses to be still, I’d sometimes remember the frogs I’d kissed, the eternal mama’s boys I’d met and even the practical men who wanted a chattel instead of an equal.

In hindsight I know that happiness does not necessarily mean bagging a spouse. I know that we can be quite happy living on our own. We don’t need to become a husband to feel whole. And certainly there’s no need to become that wife who has to walk a few paces behind her master.

Maybe to most people living ‘happily ever after’ means sharing the stage with someone else. Perhaps other people do better as a solo performer.

Cheers, everybody! Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful!

Pictures from Google Images


  1. Cheers for writing this, Tina. I really enjoy it that I read it twice!

    I can relate to every point you put there. Isn't it a saddening fact that men generally, although not all, still think of women as inferior to them?

  2. Thanks, Gunaqz! Glad you enjoyed it.

    Miss Jain's book is great. I'm sure you'll like that too!

  3. I enjoyed it too :) and I really love the title cos that's how life really is. It's up to us to make ourselves happy :)

  4. Hi Lizee, glad you liked it too. Yes, it's up to us to make ourselves happy! Cheers!