“A new colleague has walked in today morning” exclaimed Arpita to her girl band – Veena, Suma and Smrithi.
“Yes, of course, we all have eyes” smirked Raji with a wink in her eye. She was just joining the monkey batch and could sense the pulse there even before she planked herself in her cozy cushion chair.
“Hope he is not married” exclaimed Suma, who herself was married. The others were teasing her of the limited option she had and she grinned silently.
Thud…thud, like a villain appearing in a Bollywood movie, the boss's steps were loud and clear, hearing this the team vanished into their cubicles in a jiffy. But that was only physical absence from each other, what else? whom else to blame? obviously, those technocrats, who came up with text messages or chat or smart phones!
Whatever be the spoiler, the result is the same, now, the texting option was active until the team realized that they were really running out of their ‘precious time’ to give back something productive for the day, for a change!
Days passed by, it was a prestigious print media company and to see their article in black and white ( their newspaper), all of them knew it takes a individual and team effort. The girls had to challenge their minds, both in content and the quality, all that within deadlines, they could never grow beyond their Editor's words "no one should compete close to our paper's range".
One of the senior correspondents Pratap was often remembered with his famous quote “the day when we cannot think of new stories or news to capture we are simply dead wood!”. “How right of him to have said that” thought Smrithi who was finding the day stretching itself longer as she was running out of all ideas. She fell short of words, fell short of ideas, fell short of even happiness. “What’s up babe?” asked Raji who was passing by to grab a cup of tea. “Nothing” replied Smrithi, “just another lackluster day” she added.
“Then what else are chai-times for? my dear dunderhead, just slip off from you dreary life to step into the doors of my beautiful world of chai-break where you will find me, me and myself, mostly romancing with newness and abstractness ” Raji invited with an impish expression.
“You are such an unimaginable rascal, one who can pop into my life without slightest of the warnings. Who placed your place close to my cubicle? Is there any punishment beyond hanging to them?” Smrithi retorted with a slight mocking frown.
Both of them laughed over the conversation and paced towards what they call the “palatable retreat”, the cafeteria in their office.
Sipping hot mugs of beverages, both of them spoke about Bollywood, perversions in sex among elder generation men and women with the advent of ‘world at home – the internet', then it was about the way the middle class women finally realize that all their life they are taken for granted under different name tags and responsibilities in India. There seemed to be no end to their topics, it could be anything under the Sun. Both were so lost that they were oblivion to the surroundings, their emotions were on a high, all callous and blithe, to the extent of even annoying few around them.
Someone shouted out – “ladies could you please be more lady-like?” and it caught every one’s attention. Though the remark could have been retorted for being sexist, it was taken silently by both the girls for that time. Knowing that they were in an office, both the women mellowed down. But undoubtedly they searched to catch hold of this ‘obviously obnoxious chauvinist’ who somehow escaped to survive in singular form in this ‘intellectual work arena’. Yes, Smrithi raised her beautiful eyebrow and rolled her eyes in a direction to search, Raji exclaimed, “it had to be Partha” and they both started to walk back.
With anger about his remark, Smrithi and Raji somewhere felt they must have disturbed Partha and thought they should leave it there, at least for the sake work ethics. There were three different occasions where women at different instances felt that Partha seemed to have chided them. The one straw that went on to break the camel’s back was when Partha said to generalize women about having perennial emotional issues and for being mental wrecks. This remark in a team discussion while planning a company promotion went on a bit too viral and suddenly Partha was finding himself getting quarantined by his own team, and women in specific.
While such incidents were happening, there was impending work dangling at the edge of everyone’s neck like a sharp knife. Very few girls were seen at their “palatable retreat” now-a-days, for what was getting more inedible was the volume of work and paucity of time and energy.
One of those peak days when the office was in neck deep targets at macro and micro level, it was announced that Partha was given charge to lead a month long social responsibility task in which the company was to work towards assisting some nearby old age homes.
Smrithi and Raji were also among the other five member team and they were very reluctant to join this task, however, they knew they had no options and they gave in to “decree No. 420 from their office”.
Once the social work meetings started, both Smrithi and Raji were highly unappreciative of anything that Partha would suggest, and it was evidently their blatant ego and prejudice, the girls were completely conscious about their indiscipline. After few days, they all went to a nearby suburban province and started working with one of the old age homes.
There were old men, old women, some of them with respiratory troubles while some with history of cardiac arrests. Despite such records, it was simply superb to find that some elderly people managed to be cheerful and acknowledged the work and presence of the team that came for their assistance from the famous media house.
As days progressed, Smrithi felt that Partha was ironically a highly compassionate person and it was clear from his words and deeds towards the elderly. He would set a routine to monitor them personally and speak to them, one on one addressing by their names and histories. She slowly realized that there was something to learn from this ‘chauvinist’ whom she christened some time back in the office. Raji too had felt that Partha displayed another interesting angle about himself, not the least to impress anyone. This took the girls by surprise, while they were doing their social task to be as humane as possible keeping in mind the timelines to finish it, Partha’s benevolence towards the elders was obviously infectious to them.
One day Partha was working on a plan to complete the task well before the timeline and indicated his intent to the team members. While others could not read in between the lines about his idea to quit the media house, Raji intuitively guessed it and mentioned it to Smrithi.
Smrithi’s was taken aback initially by Raji's words, but her observations gradually lead to an unusual incident after three days. She was interested to find truth around her doubts that Partha might leave any day, she followed him silently to see where he escapes most of the evenings. He would walk into a terrace and sit there for hours, though she did not stay that long, she now knew his personal haven. She would tiptoe back and kept this to herself. As Raji, the smart cookie guessed it, on the day the team was to celebrate their success for accomplishing the task above the set expectations, the five member team found their Team leader to be missing in action.
They searched for him fervently and later moved on to continue with their celebrations. As a leadership style Partha never made the intellectuals- team fall prey to Authoritarian style, his style was almost Free- reign as a leader and naturally, this was to the liking of all his members.
The next day, the team was to sail back to their city and it was then Smrithi found something that completely changed Smrithi’s opinion about their ‘missing chauvinist leader’. Smrithi picked up a small old diary from the leaves lying on the terrace in the silent corner of Partha’s world where he would escape every evening. It was his diary and knew she was trespassing to see it, and she did. Most of it was about the social work plan along with his team and rest of it was scribbled bits of daily activities, this was not very fascinating to suit her highness’s amusement or ‘readership.’ What caught her attention was an excerpt that made her reflect on basic issue:
Source: An excerpt from Partha’s diary
......( It read as if Partha was describing about someone who bullied him, victimized him throughout) ...... In a delirious state, I could see the episode of verbal and psychological abuse once again. People who are insecure create insecurity in others. People who walk in with very strong in-built prejudices are prone to create prejudice in others minds, very diligently. All this is a parallel world they believe and live in and limit themselves throughout to live in unless they are ‘forced’ to come out of it. You abuser! Beware! I will not fall prey to your taunts anymore.....
They identify their targets easily and have a well planned mechanism that might be a conscious effort or sometimes not (rarely) to corner the target, like me and invariably seek the pleasure through vengeance from the deepest of their hearts. This is not less than any syndrome, I do not know how to call this in the psychiatrists’ parlance but these people are mentally sick and are way smarter to convince any average person who associates with them or comes in contact in their life.
Further, their goading and sustained efforts are so believable to turn anyone's mind so much so that they naturally make anyone or victims like me hate even the fondest person or thing that they would have been attached to, right from their birth.
Like I mentioned they need to be forced out of the parallel world of theirs, it could be through positive or a negative reinforcement. To treat them it depends on the depth of the problem to match their ( abuser's) in-built wickedness and dubiousness.
There are so many like this among us, right next to us. We acknowledge their presence and behavior with inaction and camouflage this 'inefficient- goodness' only to find that after many years, an appropriate change could have been initiated, most importantly the way it should have been....
In alternate cases, most other victim/s choose to remain silent like me, as if cosmic intervention is an inevitable affair to sail them across this quagmire of emotional stress.
You did what you wanted Smitha...to fend for your family, you were a heroine in your family and this never necessitated breaking the peace and ruining the happiness and bonds in my family, despite this I supported you and your family.
Now, at this point, all I can say is I will not forgive you and your grandmother whom you always mentioned with pride to be your role model. I thought she was a positive inspiration.. it seems she was herself an epitome of spite and what else can I expect from such a deep rooted 'agri-culture' from your family ancestors? Specially those that was imbibed by women, throughout?
How could I be a victim to my wife's prejudices against my greatest friend, my guiding light and my second self, my own brother? I can never see him back alive, I can never get to hear his bubbly voice chirp through my rough days. I humiliated him before all our relatives. Just because you did not want him to be even an option in our life? You were jealous of him and I took pride when you said I am possessive of you, never did I dream the cruel intentions you had, to weed him out of my life. All this just because you were scared that he will disturb your plans to uplift your family? Disturb your plans to own me like a piece of wood or furniture? Shame on you!!!
I broke his heart into thousand pieces, taking him for granted as if he never existed, all this to dance to the whims and fancies of my lady love? my spouse and only because you are my spouse and I am your possession?
Every relation has its importance and being in India, a land known for its family values and bonds, look at where you made me stand, as a counter example? to be selfish all my life? If there is any relation that is sacred on earth after mother, it is that of a sister or a brother, that platonic natural bond that I was gifted, I strangled it with both my hands, gradually, step by step, all this in the charm of the lady of my life. What a disgrace? As a husband and a son-in-law I exceeded the scores, maybe 150%, as a human being, I admit, I failed pathetically. As a brother, I did set an example, a counter-example for many families.
Here I am standing alone in this big bad world, after my parents departed, I have no one to call mine, today I can't even ask my little brother to forgive me, isn’t that the gravest punishment to a fool and a stupid like me? The last words I recollect from him were " Beware, women on prowl" BROTHER ….I miss you, I miss you...I miss you, from the core of my heart.
Smrithi was not just feeling guilty for harboring strong sexist feelings against Partha, who himself was a victim of an egoistic and self-centered woman, his wife who swears to justify her ego with her self dependency and pseudo lordship status conferred upon her by her own family and siblings, obviously to get their share of support and money from her, smoothly.
Smrithi shared the write up with Raji. Raji exclaimed "what we see about our women may not be true and what is true may not surface out at all" . Both of them instantly knew on what to focus their immediate series of write-ups and articles. It was on making readers be aware of "women on prowl", the mentally sick and insecure women who victimize their men and other women.
While female feticides happen day in and day out, women are ill-treated for dowry demands in many places in India , and many are burdened with unfair share of domestic work in the guise of culture, on the other hand, there are women who consciously manipulate new relations and families along with the peace of mind within it, out and out. It need not be always ‘Sans bahu’ genre, but when women get hyper reactive about their spouse, they can change the history in families, forever.
There was an instant acceptance to their story “Beware: Hyper reactive women on prowl” and articles that centered on egoistic women as perpetrators to crime and social disgrace, both in companies and homes. Smrithi also suggested to her editor about conducting a poll to know if any sufferers would support this new trend. The results left the media house aghast and surprised, the poll was responded by many urban and village people with almost similar responses indicating that it was much higher than average expectations, villages were no exception to such women in India, maybe, it all started there, never know. From the result, the articles from psychiatrists flooded about potential action to curb ‘egoistic and spinelessly selfish women syndrome’ at its roots.
Raji said, “If a woman cannot see through her hatred and goes to the lengths of bringing up her children with inbuilt prejudices against her immediate family, the world will be very less fancier to live in for the future generations, children who look up to their mothers, imbibe hatred and spite as their birth right and one day use it against their own mothers. Upon any questions asked they would counter question the uncontrollable and disgraceful conduct of their mothers, the perpetrators”. Where is the future heading in India that takes pride in its culture, what culture are we talking about....?
Smrithi needed a tea-break after all these questions popped in her mind, she blurted to Raji with a sigh of solace “I am lucky that my roots are from my adorable grandmother, who even with minimum education, always taught me to keep up the bond within in the house and be the peace-maker in the house. How can I thank God that she was never one of those dirty grandmothers who ‘devalued’ her granddaughter only to hate the families they walk into and break their hearts as their right beyond recognition. Wish those old hags reversed their lessons to love a bit more and live a bit more to make earth a happier place to live for people like Partha's brother...”.
Raji and Smrithi looked at themselves as they set to write their questionnaires, as part of a research study on contemporary women. Women questioning women? They giggled with a reassuring look and felt it was impending while they walked back to their work stations, after all, in this continuously changing financial freedom struggle and family roles, there is so much India should wake up to learn.
To know the pace at which contemporary women are changing and integrating their ‘success’ ( mostly money) with their in-built software or their own values systems. Of course, it was more about ‘the roots and wings’ pertaining to future generations, and swan songs to some unfortunate bygone brothers and sisters, as in Partha's brother.
First question, yet to edit: What kind of a woman do you consider yourself to be? Breaker, maker? or much more? a wreck or even worse, an epidemic?
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