Friday, December 20, 2013

Introspection, and angst.

All your life you overdose on saturated fats and rely on your metabolic rate to do things you are too lazy and too stupid to do. Then one day you wake up morbidly obese.

I am told life catches up to you like that. That you keep running to keep pace with it, taking every hinge and every cranny as another logistical consideration, till one day you wake up and you realise you don’t even know who you are anymore.

Myra felt like that often. Her father was ape shit crazy.  At first he used to be just another Asian man who had made his life as a cabbie in Birmingham and then one day decided the wife’s  income and his entitlement to unemployment benefits were enough to get him by quite comfortably. He had paid tax to these bastard goras and he was going to get every penny back. Things changed when he discovered religion through sheer idleness. Validated by a beard and pir sahib who was equally useless and an equal strain on other people’s bank balances, he felt he had found his true calling in life. His life’s other mission was to get his children married and so he searched for a husband for Myra among the men of good virtue that enjoyed his pir sahab’s favour. The daughters were expected to stay away from the evils of men on their own, unless it was pir sahib, who had access to their hands to touch in a handshake of pure goodness and their heads to pat his blessings on and their backs to say enchantments into to cure them from the evil of men.

When her university boyfriend left her, she was in a bad place. What sort of relationships didn’t result in marriage? First she cried secretly, pleaded with him to reconsider, he did, then stood her up multiple times, then she realised it was over and it was time to find something else to fill the vacuum in her life. It was all very angsty and unfair. That was around the time she transitioned from being angry to really, fucking angry on the inside and girls weren’t allowed expressions of anger in the household – because it is unbecoming, because no man wants a wife who is miserable and complains, because her father was an asshole, because.. she didn’t really know exactly why.

It also didn’t help that all her siblings were married and manufacturing babies with appalling regularity. She spent a large part of her time taking care of these babies, changing their diapers, feeding them, putting up with their tantrums, waking up in the night because they couldn’t sleep, and then sometimes she felt like she was doing the exact thing for her siblings and their spouses too. The world was no place for a single girl. Yet, she thought she had a reasonable deal because she had her pharmacy degree and a job that paid well and no rent to pay. The money just all went into a savings account because there were no beautiful things she wanted to buy because what was the point of looking beautiful when you felt miserable inside.

One day, her father found a boy of good virtue for her – her second-cousin who had some business degree from some college. He looked like a villager and spoke like one but he was sufficiently domesticated, she had heard. He’d never cheat on her, and since she was better-looking and more educated, she’d retain the power in the relationship, according to her mother. She was twenty five too, so the perpetual doom of being a spinster forever was a real possibility. Her father told her that it wouldn’t be long before the men who came to ask for her hand in marriage would start devolving into cripples or divorcees or both, so she had better hurry the fuck up. The second-cousin wasn’t a divorcee and he wasn’t a cripple in any of the usual senses of the word, so she said yes. I mean, why not? What else was she supposed to do? Maybe he’d be entertaining and she’d be the centre of his life because, let’s face it, where else would he find a girl like her?

In a whirlwind, Myra packed her bags and went back to Rawalpindi to meet this second-cousin for the first time so she could cross off marriage from the list of things you do without always knowing why. The honey moon was a week, at some hill station from British times which was almost pleasant. Her new husband had clearly never been with a woman before so he tried to be gentle. It was a little pathetic and it felt a little like those elephants doing it on National Geographic. She had thought about her first time for a very long time. In reality, it was more grotesque than it had been in her thoughts so she wanted to re-visit it as many times as humanly possible in that one week to try to recreate her version of it. The hillstation may as well have been a wasteland. There was a day there when the sun may not have risen and she would never had noticed.

Then the week was over and it was time to go back to Birmingham. The second-cousin-turned-husband waited in Pindi for the paperwork for his visa to be sorted out. She came back and soon found out she was pregnant.

That morning when she woke up after a hellish few hours of pushing and sweating, there was a baby twisting his face and crying for her and then she realised it was hers. A little person born out of a week of protection-free screwing with what was the memory of her husband who was still waiting for his paperwork to be finalised. 


They told her post-natal depression was very common.