All around me, so many people seem to be jailed outside conventional prisons. Indeed, in some ways, I am too.
I see colleagues open their tiffin boxes at lunchtime and whine about the chickpea-salad and spinach rolls they “HAVE” to eat. It is essential, they claim, to eat skinny food to lose weight, even though it makes them feel suffocated.
I watch as people suck up to their bosses, laughing at unfunny jokes, and staying back in the office after everyone has left to build a painstaking semblance of perseverance and dedication. It is a jail that they claim leads to better appraisals; well-versed with the work culture in many Indian organisations, I cannot even argue against this.
I see people who ridicule others only because everyone around them seems to be doing just that. The usual victims are people who have varying opinions on politics, work-life balance, buying an apartment (or not), movies, life. It doesn’t pay to have original thought when people around you are jailed to conformity.
I often find myself complaining to R that we don’t get enough time to spend together. Wait until the baby arrives, my extended family tells me. Just look at those people who commute for hours every day and slice vegetables in public transport. Think about the harrowed new mothers who haven’t left their homes in weeks; many haven’t even hit the shower. We all live in jails, the wise ones admonish me. That is how life is supposed to be. Life isn’t easy.
On most days, I don’t take kindly to preaching. In particular, I detest those know-it-alls who tell me life is a struggle, not a gift. Sorry, but I disagree with a vengeance. Being compelled to live on this planet, breathing in oxygen, making peace with the family you were born in—these might be aspects no one can change. But even if I accept that this life I have been given has preset terms and boundaries, I have the liberty to tweak the details.
You cannot force me to bow down in front of people I disrespect. If I want to spend more time with my partner, even if it means forgoing some other social commitments, I will do it. I will not violate my work ethics to adhere to a skewed workplace dynamic. If you constantly educate people on dieting and “being committed to self-control” and gorge on chole-bhature with extra butter every evening, don’t expect me to pay attention.
Life may be difficult, but remaining tied to the bed-post of conformity and nonsensical niceties doesn’t make it any easier. If it is a jail, we might as well make it comfortable, pretty and entertaining. And pink.
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I am taking up the April #AtoZChallenge 2019 and will post every day of the month, except Sundays. I look forward to your company!
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