Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What is the purpose?

S is going to China for a week. It is the start of the Eid holidays here in Muscat. Everything will remain closed for the week. This is a personal trip. He is going alone. These are facts simply stated. Another detail, S is my husband.

It is independence day today. The country celebrates its 66th year of independence. We are no longer ruled by others, we are free to make our own choices and be responsible for the consequences that arise from them. But even today, within the society to which you and I belong, the minds are enslaved to years of cognitive behaviour. A fact, as the above, still does not gel with society. "Official trip?" people ask. "No, personal," says S. "With a group? College friends?", they continue. "No, alone," replies he. A crooked smile follows, looks get directed towards me, waiting for an opinion, even an explanation perhaps. I give none. "Let me know if you want massage parlour numbers." say some with a suggestive laugh. S smiles. I do too. Women ask me how I allowed this. "How could you? He should have chosen some other place if you were not interested in China? The kids have their holidays as well. What do you think is the purpose of this trip?" I have nothing to satisfy their query and anything I say will only further contaminate the narrow alleyways of their mind or so I feel. I choose to remain quiet.

His parents, who are staying with us for the time, ask me everyday if I am staying back because of them. I say no. They quiz me individually on the places that he is going to visit, if he has friends there, what is the current weather condition in China. Normal questions any parent would have and I reply to these as best as I can. Then comes a stinging shot out of the blue from my mother-in-law. "You sleep very early, I have noticed. Much before my son goes to bed. Hope you are not pushing him away. Maybe he does not get what he needs from you and so...," My reactions would have made a series of 'never-before-seen' emoticons had they been captured on lens, but unfortunately there was just the two of us in the kitchen then. How much can a mother care about her son, the extent in this case was unbelievable. I could not let this one pass, this was not an acquaintance asking me questions to feed the society gossip. This was my mother-in-law telling me in so many words that her son was going on a solo trip to China because I did not give him as much sex, as she presumed, he would like. No way could I let this one pass. "Let us be direct here, are you saying S is going to China for sex? And if, for the sake of discussion, I assume that you are correct, then what would you want me to do?" She retreats and mellows. Says in a pacifying tone, "I don't know what is the purpose of this trip?" "Ask him," I say to which she says she is more comfortable talking to me than to him and a whole lot of other crap which basically does not mean anything.

I conveyed this conversation to S. I was upset by the lack of privacy I have in my own house. I felt violated. He said, "Why doesn't she talk to me directly?" But this and many other such questions had sown the seeds of guilt. So far S had been factual about the trip. Conversations had been on a need-to-know basis. But suddenly he was making plans to take me to Jordan for the next Eid, which falls during October this year. He was mailing me ticket receipts and hotel bookings. He was planting seeds of suspicion in my head and I hated the feeling. The trip that he had looked forward to was slowly getting soiled. The idea of such a trip, the romance of it, the freedom that it embodied was getting murky in my head. I fought against it, tried not to change my perspective. It was still a trip to China that he was taking alone. It had a purpose for him, which validated the cost and that was a good enough reason for me. I fought to keep it simple. I fought with myself to accept his need to be away from us on a holiday.

And today as I wished my friends on the occasion of our Independence Day, I realised the irony. How are we free, if even today we get pressured by negativity? Why should we celebrate the country's freedom when we are not free from stereotypes? I will drop S off to the airport tonight. I hope he enjoys himself to the core. I will also hope that people realise that everything need not have a purpose that fits. The actual and most important purpose is to be free to make a choice and live with it. Let us be free!

S and I as taken in December 2011


Kavi said...


Heres wishing S a great time in China !

Independence Day is about a few things. About a sale in a mall. Tiranga coloured barfis. Random speeches. And ofcourse, flag hoisting in the housing society !

Or so it has come to be !

Nikita Banerjee Bhagat said...

Doubt, my friend is the biggest evil. Once it is sown, it is bound to grow! :) Hope S has a wonderful trip. And yeah, Independence day is just another holiday. If it falls mid-week, we cherish it and if it were to fall on the weekend, we'd crib that a holiday is wasted.

Balachandran V said...

After seeing S's face for the first time, I must say your son is really a chip off the old block! That said, Sujata -

As a man who pines to be away in the Himalayas all the time yet finding it equally painful to be away from P and Sancho and K, let me tell you this, as I have told many a young lass I have known -

A person needs his/her personal space; maybe more does a man than a woman. It is the biological need, as you might see in the rogue elephant, the lone male Lion, the lone mountain goat. There is a great space of solitude in every man and in every woman there is that innate urge to POSSESS, to OWN, the proprietary instinct. Let the man get away for some time and like in Jonathan Livingston Seagull - “If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they're yours; if they don't they never were.”

I am sorry to learn about your mom-in-law, but really sorry to add that it is 'typical'.

In the final count, Sujata, we are all alone; relations are make-beliefs, for our own sense of insecurity.

Cheers! Take care of the kids and Max! S will come back with more love and life!

And you may tell those concerned that for 'massage' people go to Thailand! Not China!

Makk said...

I dont remember if I have commented before at your place here.

but this post makes me feel sick...

thats why I never beleived in this society so far and I dont think I getting any chance change my opinion later or sooner...

God help them... and God save us.

Sumandebray said...

Hmmm ... A Mystery of a Mysterious kind!

Happy Independence day.

BTW... this intruding nature of our people is what our people different. They do judge you and they probably use themselves as the benchmark. But if you live in a society that is indifferent to you, you might change your opinion :)

Divya said...

Independence Day for me just means being free from work! Unfortunately, the day has been reduced to something as trivial as that...It is just another holiday for me...

We should celebrate true freedom when we are free from all stereotypes, misconceptions and faults - as long as you can eliminate one shortcoming of yours, surely there is some cause of celebration!

Destiny's child... said...

I hope S has a great time on his trip. :)

The post reminds me of Rabindranath Tagore's poem 'Freedom'. We are not truly free, unless free from negativity, doubt, and baseless insecurities. I would say you handled the whole thing smartly.

anilkurup said...

Independence day! Freedom!
Freedom from what? The yoke that was the alien white man is now replaced by our laundry , laundry of the mind.

Your post is candid incensed and smoking with outrage. Rightly so. Why do we find it difficult to be impervious to such nonsense talk and simply trivialise it?

There must be much decorum in putting across something like this. The misgivings which the mother in law or others have is none of their business.

Certainly as you mentioned and as also Balan said, privacy and the little nook for ourselves is a cherished need and want. It is outrageous and cruel to be denied that .

Wonder why people think that such a trip your spouse undertakes undermines his relationship with you.

The lone way is to ignore them and ensure that your mind is not defiled by such outlandish suggestions.

Well massage and instant sex joints are a plenty in the middle east , why then to China? I think you must innocently ask back the question.

deeps said...

Dropping in after a long gap…

Looks like holiday mood is blooming all over and so are surprises…
So why not let him have some freedom after all it s ‘freedom’ season too :P

Sneha said...

Gosh, Sujata.
Women have to endure so much. I don't know how great it's going to be with your in-laws for company; but I'm sure your husband would have a good vacation in China. I'm sorry if I sound rude, but please tell the mil that he's gone to China so he doesn't want to listen to your bickering. Sigh! People and places really haunt me.

Sneha said...

Well, the 'your' means that of the mil. Did I have to say this even!?

G S Pillai said...

so that's how you look like! Happy independence day

Sakshi said... look absolutely gorgeous and err you sure you are married to an Indian guy? ahem...he looks like those gorgeous Greek hunks you know ;)

I think the best thing you can give your spouse is some personal space be it some me time locked away in some room in your home or a much deserved adventure to some place where they can explore and unwind. sigh...but I know many Indians think this as outrageous!!

sujata sengupta said...

@ Kavi Thanks for the wish :)

Don't forget the impoverished children who should ideally be going to school, selling the tri-colour on the roads

@ Nikita After a certain age and maturity, I think you just stop doubting.

@ Balan Yes so he is :)

I agree about the personal space, I need it too and take it from time to time. You know what, when you know what is the worse that can happen and are ready to embrace it, there is no doubt or self pity left. Before being my husband, he is an individual and I respect that. Thanks for the comment, you are always such an encouragement:)

sujata sengupta said...

@Makk Thanks for dropping by. I am sorry the post makes you sick. I also don't think God can do anything about the way society is, because he didnt create it, we did. So to improve society, we will have to improve ourselves.

@ SDR Lol!! occasion calls for Feluda, no less. Gondogol of the gombhir kind:)

@Divya thanks for visiting. Yes, I agree. Surely we will get there and ever step in that direction is cause for celebration.

@Destiny's child Thanks for the wish, I hope he does too.

What Tagore said will forever be valid. There is no freedom as long as we are closeted in our minds.

sujata sengupta said...

@ Anil: It is sad how the mind works. Why so presumptuous? Why always trying to derive at baseless conclusions? But all I can do is not let it affect me. I have to care about my mind and the minds of my children. If I manage to keep that linear, I think it is enough.
Thanks for writing in detail.

@ deeps: Welcome back. Yes indeed and who does not need freedom from the chores of the daily grind!!

@ Sneha: We have to ask the men what they have to endure, I am sure they are doing their part of enduring us too:)

@ GS Pillai: Hwey where have you vanished?? It has been really long since you wrote a post.

@ Sakshi: Greek hunks?? Are you sure you are on the correct snap? Never ever heard that before about S. It will thrill him to hear that. I actually went back to the picture to take another look. ROFL

Arun Meethale Chirakkal said...

The two posts, this one and the previous, though entirely different, describe situations that demand delicate handling. You did admirably well. Kudos!

Makk said...

Hey Sujata

I dint mean that for your post, I was referring toward those people and their thinking but I guess I chose wrongs words to express my self in my tempo...I am really sorry

but I know you got my point because our point is same.

though I differ with you,when you say we have to improve, I can improve myself but others?? I am not sure if its really worth putting efforts there.

Makk said...

and i am visit your blog a long time now but I guess never dropped any comment earlier


Indrani said...

Hmm...a very non serious matter turned so serious.
I would like to travel alone some day, wondering what kind of doubts will people have then. ;)

Sneha said...

Absolutely true, Sujata. Btw, if I may, don't you think you should mark this post for 'Mature audience only?'

sujata sengupta said...

@ Arun Thanks

@ Makk :)

@ Indrani you will have to take the step to find out.

@ Sneha Do you think I will be able to ward off underage people by labeling the post? If a person is mature enough to understand the post, he/she should be mature enough to deal with the content, no? I think labeling it will only raise curiosity and give me a false sense of being responsible.

Sneha said...

Yes, Sujata - you have a point there. Btw, I remember a few lines Shakespeare once said ... Hell hath no fury as a woman scorned :D

KParthasarathi said...

Brilliant and candid.
This shows the nauseating human trait in being curious about others and in what and why they do something.It requires tremendous tact to keep smiling without feeding on their curiosity.

The Holy Lama said...

Spat it out, feel better. Now back to smiles and being nonchalant. There...that's brave girl.

BTW good looking sensuous Chinese are plenty. just trying to help

Dipankar Sarkar said...

Hi Sujata...I am just choked with emotion after reading are amazing and so is S...he is my best buddy...and I know he is the luckiest person on earth to have someone like you as his companion. I in fact asked him whether Sujata was ok with this trip. I miss you both...remember the good time we had sometime in Rishra, Kolkata, Pune and even in Valsad. You are just amazine.

sujata sengupta said...

@ The Holy Lama LOL!! yeah feels wonderful.

@Dipankar Sarkar You are one of S' friends whom I have known since before my marriage. Remember your office in Esplanade? Then the wedding, followed by Rishra, Valsad and kolkata. You are always cherished and I hope to see you and Mamata soon with the little prince. Take care till then.

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Pradeep said...

I just chanced upon your blog while blog surfing.

A good thought.... A lot of people are too curious about other people's personal matters. It's disgusting. Such matters are strictly between you and your husband. I don't know why other people should be judgmental about it, and give unsolicited advices.

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