When you are 24 and still not found your calling!!

 One question that I have found myself contemplating all my life (especially in the last two three years) is “What is my dream? What is it that I want to be when I grow up?” Well, I am 24 years old now but the question mark about my dream still remains.

Just like I have evolved to be who I am today, my dreams and aspirations have evolved too. There was a time when I would confidently smile (with the front teeth gone) and reply to any good-willed uncle’s same-old-query “what is your dream to become when you grow up?” and say,”I  want to be a teacher !”. My wanting to become a teacher had its own reasons which stemmed from what I call the theory of kyunki saas bhi kabhi bahu thi. At that tender age of mine, I would see all my teachers as the ‘monsters-in-laws’ who would torture me with their homework assignments. And like all daughters-in-laws who secretly wait for their turn to continue the same legacy with their would-be daughters-in-laws, I too built up a desire to become a teacher just for the sake of continuing the legacy of throwing chalks at some unruly student. Well, correcting their homeworks which most of the time included circling innocent spelling errors with a red pen and ending with a sophisticated sign seemed to me a bonus that I could not give away. Soon, the fire within my little heart extinguished and I realized being teacher means to study really hard. The thought itself shooed away my dream in a few days.

Gradually, my dream paved its way to the desire to become Miss India. Oh that crown! That silver diamond-studded crown was just irresistible for me. All I wanted to do was to put that crown on my head and blow flying kisses to the audience.  In fact I had practiced that move almost n times in front of the mirror to hone it to perfection. But then reality check slapped me back on my face. I was too short for the crown and my dream too big for me.

Then a phase came in my life when I wanted to become something that nobody has ever heard of. Teachers and Miss Indias were just too common and suddenly too boring for my ambitious mind. I wanted to take Frost’s road that is not taken (no I didn’t know who Robert Frost was  that time). That time, my understanding of being different and uncommon was something that no one has heard of and my understanding of “no one has heard of” was something that was difficult to pronounce or spell. More my tongue twisted telling about my dream more I felt better about myself and my career choice. So, I chose to be a Lepidopterist-one who studies butterflies. See what I mean. The word sounded so heavy and thus very appropriate for me. By the way, I heard about the term in Tinkle Digest. Yes, I was still in my Tinkle reading days.

Times flew by and butterflies were nothing more than colorful insects to romanticize and write poetry about. Those days a few doctor TV soaps had come up. They made those white lab coats look like one of the best fashionable professional attire one could wear. And above all, I fell for the lead actors too and suddenly I wanted to become a doctor. So that I could wear that lab coat, fall in love with and in the arms of some handsome surgeon and oh well, save some lives too. Yet, it was impossible because my biology was as bad as the plots of those serials. Hence, that dream too shattered into pieces.

Today is the era of inspirational movies. With movies like 3 Idiots, Taare Zameen Par, Udaan becoming blockbusters, everyone chants the mantra “Follow your passion, and success will come by”. The “dreams” got new words- “passion”, “calling”, etc.  These movies encourage people’s passion to wake up from their slumber, or rise from the ashes and take the form of a giant phoenix. There are also people that came across here and there who would invent their own passion just to get rid of what they are studying. Hah! Creative. Isn’t it?

 And, here I am, still chased hard by the question “What is it that I dream to be when I grow up?” but this time with a little modification- “Have you finally discovered your dream(or passion or calling)?”  As for me, I am still dreaming…… in the hope of shooting the right bird.

 

 P.S: i wrote it when i was 22. Nothing changed much except the number!

 

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Why not a housewife?

On a recent talk show on TV, i was amused to discern a tinge of smirk in the host’s laughter, when his guest, a top heroine of bollywood very graciously bestowed the label of housewife to an upcoming leading actress. I was equally amused to see the ever prying media plunging into this very fresh fodder of gossip– “Aaha! Another cat fight in the show business!” – the kind of news they vouch for their bread & butter. The industry supposedly was having a field day at the cost of the gossip so much so that it invariably made its way to the covers of various film magazines. Now that was something that did not amuse me at all. In fact, if i may say, i was mildly disturbed with way the “news” was being moulded.

I have grown up in a family where i have seen my mother building a lovely home out of a brick mortar house. The walls and the furniture bear my mother’s warm touch. The blooming flowers in my garden smell the sweat of my mother’s blood. The “bari” in our backyard is deliciously rich with green vegetables under my mother’s strict yet loving supervision. My mother thinks she is not a great cook, yet not a single day pass when our dining table is not a palette of healthy and tasty meal. Seasonal haak, khar, tita karela, chicken, fish or egg . Low salt for dad, less oil for my sister, more spice for me. She took care of our taste buds as if her stomach depended on our food intake more than hers.

When i look back at my childhood, i see the memories inevitably sprinkled by my mother’s silhouette cascading somewhere in the background. If i reminisce about our Sunday mornings, i remember how we would wake up with the hummings of Rabindra sangeet, Bhupen Hazarika, Lata Mangeshkar, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Bryan Adams, Pink Floyd, Beetles, Don Williams, etc while our mom would be dusting the drawing room, the guest room and then the bedroom, and the numerous bookshelves adorning our walls. I wonder if our summers would have been the same if we were not welcomed with cold mango shake or Lime juice at the door when we would come back from school, sunbaked. I wonder if our evenings would have been the same if our drawing room did not echo “Jyoti Prasad agarwala’s bhoot puwali, if the floors did not thump with the little feets dancing on the beats of khul or if the beautiful chaos of kids’ laughter did not seep into the evening silence. I wonder if I would be standing on my own feet today with head held high if not for the values induced onto me by my mother – a housewife.

My mother left her job of a teacher to take care of us – 3 equally little babies. But then, a job seldom has anything to do with being a housewife. For, my mother was a housewife even when she was a teacher, even when she was not married. She took care of her ailing father, she bought the first set of furniture for her home from her first salary, she stuffed old blankets beneath outgrown sador to make sofa set in her humble drawing room. She taught ABCD to her brother’s daughters and weaved gamusas in the “taat shal”. And all this, while she was working as a teacher as well as an actor in a local theatre group that she led on her own. She had a job, but she was still a housewife. Wasn’t she?

This is why i was amused to see the smirk tinged laughter of the host when his guest called her competitor housewife. I just wished that the now married heroine should have known that a housewife can neither be a career choice nor an ambition. You are not paid for nurturing your own home nor do you “aspire” to become a housewife. I believe if i am a woman, i am a housewife by default. It is in my prerogative to take care of the home i belong to because by now i have soaked myself wet in the pride and glory of a woman’s ability of multitasking – of counting figures and caring for family, of handling accounts to monthly budgets, of following boss’s orders to earning Mother-in-law’s brownie points. Yes we do it all and we do it with the smile intact on our face. Yet, we stay at bay from being called a housewife. Why?

At the cost of irking maybe some of the readers, I refuse to accept “housewife” as a pejorative remark nor will I take being called one as finger pointing towards my credibility to “do” something more substantial. As if i am called a housewife because “i am good for nothing”.  As if it has to be a “catfight” or a verbal spat for an actress to call the other a housewife. Hello, isn’t housewife a compliment??

Since the time my mind had been stirred by the absurd “housewife” remarks, for the longest time i took solace in the fact that the problem lies with the term “housewife” that alludes a sense of slavery. Indeed, being called a housewife is derogatory to a woman’s sensibility. Maybe that is why the term “homemaker” made its grand entry into the picture to appropriately define the role of a housewife – one who makes a home and not who marries a house. But soon enough, i kept bumping into the prefix “just a” whenever the term homemaker was used.

–          So, what does your mother do?

–          Oh! She is just a homemaker.

–          Is your mother working?

–          Nah! She is just a homemaker.

And the bubble burst. Just a homemaker? Really? We don’t say just an engineer, just a writer or just a doctor. Do we? Then, why just a homemaker? I am afraid but i will tell you why. Because in reality, the term homemaker was not produced to “appropriate” the meaning of a housewife, but to pacify the sulking feminists. Homemaker is maybe a euphemism for housewife. Because, even if we keep changing the term from housewife to homemaker to something more befitting, the role will still remain the same. Because, as bitter as it may sound, the truth is that we never really had a problem with the term but the role – the role of cooking, cleaning and caring. A role that we think is mundane. Homemaker or a housewife, it doesn’t matter until the baggage of “good for nothing” is carried along with. Until the eyebrows are raised on being called a housewife.

Being a humanist (because i consider the feminists  humanist) and a daughter of a housewife (like so many others), i take the onus upon me to condemn anyone, any snide remark, or smirk tinged laughter that attempts to belittle the true essence of nurturing a home (which by the way is the most toughest thing to do). I condemn anyone whose ignorant mind thinks that an ambitious or a working woman is not a housewife, stripping off her the credit of running her own home and i condemn those who think that all that a housewife does is sit on the couch watching TV and peeling potatoes. Because if i don’t, i would be disrespecting my mother who, sitting thousand miles away from me, is figuring out which colour curtain would look good with the new furniture or my physics lecturer aunt who just came back from university and is headed off to the kitchen to prepare the meal of the day. Because if i don’t condemn, i will let down my own conscience.

 

P.S: Please suggest me a better headline.