“I don’t know how you would label my granddaughter … I don’t even know why you should label her “
“And so it is, just like you said it would be. Life goes easy on me, most of the time. And so it is, the shorter story” – Damien Rice
And so it is! In today’s world, we live from one sensation to the next. We live by templates, and we believe the big glass houses we live in are for real. Everyone has a secret to hide. Everyone has a fetish they are ashamed of. Everyone has one person they secretly wish they could be and one person they wish they could kill. People lie and cheat, sometimes even commit rape and murder.Yet, ensconced in the ring of our socially accepted relationships we wear the mask of “normal” and feel equipped to judge everyone who is not “us”.
So this is the story of one such girl who lived in a perfect glass house which got shattered. My granddaughter Nari was a middle sibling, continuously ignored and teased by her sparkling elder sister and spoilt younger brother. Growing up, she wore braces, was underweight, had thick glasses and managed to stumble and fall over everything. Today, she is a confident professional, an auditor in an international firm. And it wasn’t a fairness cream that saved her!
Nari’s footsteps were dogged with bad luck. She had her perfect wedding when she was 23. It was an arranged marriage, and the boy was very handsome. To be honest, we were quite taken aback when this dashing young swan agreed to marry our ugly duckling. Before her wedding, we tried to fatten her up, sent her for all sorts of therapies and even got her a nose job. We could have saved the money and the effort! After the grand wedding was done and dusted, we discovered that the boy couldn’t care less if my granddaughter had three faces or one, for he was incapable of bedding anyone. Naturally, everyone blamed my little girl. They said she wasn’t pretty enough. They tried to make her sleep with a “Swamiji” for the longevity of the family line. A brother-in-law kindly offered to help. They told her she was no good. She believed them.
Her self-image in tatters, she left one day and returned to her family. She started teaching accounts at a small school and studied to write the chartered accountancy examinations. A bitter divorce followed. Then an old school friend came into her life. He seemed to make her laugh. He was full of good humour, wit and charm. We all hoped that something would develop between them. But if the first “Billy Goat” had the problem of “none”, then the other one couldn’t keep himself to one. So again, my poor Nari was rejected. She caught the boy in bed with someone else on a group holiday. He told her bluntly that she wasn’t good enough. She believed him.
And so it was. Nari started growing old prematurely. Her glamorous siblings built their perfect houses and families. Her parents gave up on her. She started turning into someone to be pitied. Someone who was always called to pose in wedding photographs as an afterthought. The world was determined to make her a living shadow. And then one day, my husband died and I took on a paying guest. Leela was a smart young lady who worked in an insurance company. She was a sweet girl who watched a lot of movies. Nari used to spend her weekends with me. The three of us started – what do you call it nowadays? – hanging out together. We made messy little meals and watched a few movies, I drank a lot and sponsored a weekend trip. When Leela’s office asked her to bring along family for an office function, she asked Nari and me to accompany her. Meanwhile, Nari cleared her exams and got a big grand job. She started travelling around the world for her work and got back lots of lovely presents for us. We were happy. It was an ordinary life, but a full one.
And then, I went and died on them.
Nari responded to my death by getting into my bed, pulling the covers over herself and crying for three inconsolable days. My son and daughter-in-law were useless as usual. Then on the fourth day, Leela brought her a beagle pup who looked at Nari with his big brown eyes and peed on the bedcover. So Nari had to get out of bed and get on with the business of cleaning and packing my things. Since I had left my house to her, she moved in. Leela kept staying on. The two fell in love and for the first time in her life, Nari found someone who thought she was “the one”. She believed her.
Being dead gives you perspective. You see life as a short and terrible sentence, which could have been difficult to live in were it not for that one person who helped you along. Everyone needs a helping hand, a warm hug in the middle of the day, a shoulder to cry on, an umbrella. You need to know that you will be missed when you are gone. People have all these nonsensical ideas about whom one can and cannot be in love with. I have come to realise that loving someone from your own sex is not a statement of being, or a type, or a bad word which you must talk about in a hushed tone. Sometimes it’s nature, sometimes it’s circumstance and sometimes it’s just getting a fair chance at being loved for who you are.
I don’t like terms like gay, because it encourages people to stereotype. It helps insecure people look at perfectly “normal” and “competent” doctors, teachers, software engineers, lawyers, human beings and see only the word “gay” stamped across their foreheads. If you look at my three grandchildren, you won’t see any difference in the lives they lead. They all worry about their E.MI’s , grumble about their parents, fall sick, celebrate their careers and children, are sometimes kind and sometimes petty. And that’s why I find it very upsetting when someone singles out one of them and places her into a box. I don’t know how you would label my granddaughter – a competent accountant, a middle aged spinster, a gay woman. I don’t even know why you should label her, because I see her. And all I see is a good human being, trying a little harder than everyone else to lead a normal life and get on with the business of living.
“And so it is, The shorter story, No love, no glory, No hero in her sky” -Damien Rice
Contributed by one of our women readers