Since I identify with the feminine gender, I harbor all the baggage that comes with it. I vacillate between feeling the need to please and the need to rebel. Doubt and invincibility, enters and exits like lovers dancing on stage waiting for stage directions. Something perhaps many, if not all, modern women feel at some point or the other in my country, India.
The pungent aftertaste of being a pleaser, of having done something to placate a man about his humour, his ability to satisfy, or just living with the subconscious desire of wanting to seduce or impress, that breeds in your spirit also leaves you exhausted of your treachery. The gratification you collect from your rebellion is subdued, because your victories come through deception. The lies you tell your parents when you step out of the house, about who you are meeting or where you are going. You might be seeing your boyfriend, or a friend they don’t approve of, or a guy with whom you are in a friends with benefits situation.
Being Indian, you realise that if you are the kind of woman who has never imagined marriage as the end goal or a future that involves settling down, with a man, your relationships will always end. And you’re a screw up, a disappointment to your family.
Those men you date will always leave because you have been honest enough to tell them that you don’t want children or a house or a predictable life. Those men will run away without looking back because you are the kind of woman they want to experience, not live with. They will say things like, “I always told you we won’t work, it’s you who didn’t listen” even when they were the ones who pursued you.
But mostly, you are the one who leaves. And even the guy you changed for, always thought that you’d eventually leave because that’s who you are. Because you are the one who said, “We will go as far as possible, together. But when our paths diverge, we’ll leave peacefully.” And if you don’t leave, he would leave because you are not the kind he wants to spend the rest of his life with.
If you are indeed that kind of woman – who dreams of the next adventure to be lived every waking moment, who thinks of love as an adventure and who knows that every adventure needs to end for the next to begin – you will see the end of a relationship (no matter how long it lasted) as a relief.
Because, you know that as much as you loved, it also held you back like nothing else in your life. Like your identity that sways between being a people pleaser and a rebel, your heart flutters between commitment and escape. You know that the world is yet to be explored and settling down at 23 was not a part of the dream.
For you your mother is your ideal who you love and hate. Perhaps, because your mother didn’t know how to talk to you until you became an adult, perhaps because your mother is you, from a different generation, only, bound in marriage. Perhaps you see gratification in repeating your mother’s life because at 24 you are tired of being you. And yet, magically, it was your mother who said, “You can’t continue the story I started. You have to find your own.”
And you realise that it was this dream that you had set out to fulfil. Your life’s dream was not about finding the right man, it was about the unceasing search for yourself. It was about traveling with relish, about eating with the abandon of an old man, about making love with no shame, about finding your voice with no censure. It is to this dream that you will return to every day, just like I did.
If you are this kind of woman, I have only one thing to say, trust in your hungry heart because it will take you somewhere enchanting, somewhere you wanted to go but never imagined about. Your story may not be a love story but it will be your story and it will be happy.