Monday, 11 October 2010

Vulnerability, or, the Damsel in Distress Mode

I am usually not. The Damsel in Distress types, I mean. We used to make a lot of jokes about that in college. Of course, we all never wanted to be that (I think!). Some of the girls wanted to be Tall Dignified Ladies. And EVERYONE thought there was NO WAY on earth, I could be a TDL, like EVER. So that was a big joke too. We all signed a petition doing away with these medals they had at graduation. The medals were meant especially for girls. We argued that:
1. We wrote the same entrance exam as the guys to get in
2. We were ranked with the guys on the entrance exam, not separately
3. We took classes together; and the same exams
So it made no sense to have a separate medal for women. This is regarding the medal that was given for being the student with the best-est grades of all at the end of the 4 years. But while at it, we argued that the other medal, which was for the student with good grades and good performance in non-academic stuff (sports, lit events, other creative pursuits), ought to also not be separated out. We don't need that condescension, we said.
'But you will never get the medal then' they said.
'Be that as it may' we said.
'We don't care for fake medals, we care for R.E.S.P.E.C.T.' we said.
'Idiots' they muttered, but did away with the medals.
So thats why since the early 90s there is only one set of medals, and your gender is largely ignored - I do say it as a good thing! I give credit to the girls who were three years senior to us, they came up with the idea.

One time back in that time frame, I took the Shatabdi from home, It was a rare treat. I usually took the Rs.200 second class overnight sleeper train. The Rs.800 Shatabdi was something that we always talked about but mum always convinced me was too expensive, convenient or not. So it was that the tall husband was allotted the task of picking me up from the station at 9:30 pm. Much against my mum's wishes, of course. Don't remember how I managed to convince her it was okay and no big deal. So anyway he was there and super easy to identify because of towering over the rest of the populace. I think he was surprised when I refused to let him carry my suitcase. I just wouldn't, in those days. I packed it, its my stuff, I will carry it. If its too heavy, I should have been sensible enough to realise it before I left home, I would argue (in my head). (You know I am the bag lady now. I carry umpteen bags, usually stuffed with books, around. The husband, if around, carries about 90% of the bags though, does bicep curls with them and pretends its his exercise for the day. I let him, because, you know, he needs the exercise more than I do!)

I have changed a bit but not too much. Like last year when I was traveling some place with the B-Boy, he said something which of course I took as a compliment. "With you its just like traveling with a guy" he said. I think he meant good things like not fussing, not whining, not insisting on him carrying my bag, and stuff like that. I assume he did not mean my physical appearance (which is fairly androgynous, as are my clothes, my sari episodes of last week notwithstanding). We waited out in the sun for a while for a bus, and walked around rather aimlessly for a fair bit, and I did not wilt. I am definitely hardy, so that helps. I can hold back hunger. I can do without a lot of things. I am not too particular about many things. I am not sure this makes me be more 'like a guy' though as I know plenty of guys who are whiny and fussy. But I would like to believe that he meant that I don't need any special handling or treatment just because I am a woman. I think this works for me, life would be very frustrating if I was not like this, thats the sense I get.

There is a friend of a friend who always ribs about how I am game for anything that is 'not feminine' as she puts it. Beer, sports, shorts, she cites as examples for and jewelery, chick flicks, and pink things she cites as examples against. She is kidding of course, these are all just broad gender generalisations and anyhow I love chick flicks. Really love chick flicks. Don't get to watch enough of them because the husb. hates them. And I really hate a few things that many guys seem to love. Car racing, for one, cannot stand it. Not a sport in my book. Action movies. Video games. Bleah.

So what have we concluded so far? As Guns would put it 'I notice some deep-rooted superciliousness and unreasonable biases in your head' - or words to that effect. Well, if thats what you got, thats cool, I am not trying to be particularly balanced or anything, just stringing words. If that makes me a bitch in your head, well, thats okay, 'cause at least you got the gender right, yo!

But the thing is, right, sometimes I feel vulnerable. Its not a gender thing perhaps, I don't know. The person I see the most inside of is my husband (despite the traveling and so on), and he is quite different than I am, and he a guy. So I sort of believe that its because, despite all the external bravado and clothes and swigging beer, I have this feminine core. I feel all self-pitying and sad for myself and just wish someone would put an arm around me and say 'There Kenny its going to be okay.' Of course no one thinks of doing that to me. I think pretty much no one feels protective towards me, which works out well most times, it would be stifling to have people be like that, annoying, even. I can wonder about this stuff calmly now because I am not feeling like that right now. When I am feeling like that I just feel (unreasonably of course) its because everyone hates me and I should eat worms or jump off the fly-over. So, upon analysis, I think its my fault. I act like that 99% of the time, like I am all cool and not dying inside. Obviously that 1% misses people's notice quite easily. Its hard to believe that anyone loves me during those times.

Come to think of it, this really has nothing to do with gender. All human beings are like that...I guess...We are all a little shaky at times, and in imagined and real distress at times. I guess the important thing to do as a friend, a mother, a wife, and so on is to try and detect the signs and do the thing I am good at, meaning, moral support. And the next time I get like that myself, well, maybe I should just call someone, plenty people I can take such liberties with, for sure. Yeah. Got it.


wordjunkie said...

There, Kenny. It IS going to be ok.

dipali said...

Your last paragraph says it all.
And yes, it's sometimes so damn tiring being strong:(
Nothing that a warm hug won't cure, I guess! Take care.