My encounter with my regressive society members.
“For god’s sake, shut up!” she hissed, tugging at my sleeve. “Come on, leave it be!”
I stared at her, decently buzzed, batshit angry. The alcohol wasn’t helping. But I controlled myself. I didn’t tell her how much I wanted to punch her nose in. She was supposed to be on my side!
A little background here – I lived in a state of social isolation. Call it an experiment in seeing how long I could go on entertaining myself till I started talking to the walls. I made pretty decent time – go me! But sometimes, one needs a face on the wall to babble at.
So I went ahead and invited this girl over for the weekend. One thing led to another – basically me realising that if there is a face on that wall, it will kind of want to talk back. I decided to take her partying, figuring the booze would help remind me I was supposed to not be a Neanderthal till Monday hit. It worked okay, I realised I kind of liked her company after all, and we got a cab back home. The newspapers told me not to stay out too late these days, and what can I say, I'm a good citizen!
It was just past one a.m. when we found ourselves standing outside my apartment compound, asking the night watchman to open the door. I should add here that I didn’t live in the kind of nunnery where you have to check in before 10 o’clock or sleep on the pavement. Or so I’d thought, anyway.
Because really, how hard is it to open a damn gate? All you need to do is get out of your chair, slide the latch open, and slide is back in place once we’ve slipped through. Clearly, the watchman had other ideas. Big, fat, other ideas.
“What time do you call this? Is this when you come home?”
I gaped at him. What else was I supposed to do? Last I checked, my grandpa was watching his nightly Mahabharata in Calcutta, not standing around harassing good citizens in Pune. There we were, two girls, standing on the street at past 1 in the night, rent-paying, law-abiding citizens, legal adults, asking the night guard to open the gate for us. It’s not an unreasonable request, since he’s paid to
But Mr. Moral McMoralson over there wasn’t in the mood to earn his keep.
“Who the hell comes home this late? How dare you girls stay out till past midnight?”
I’d found my voice. The shock had worn off – my brain was no longer trying to process the why-whuh-what-on-earth. Instead, I snapped, angry and demanding. But it made no difference – this man had decided that girls shouldn’t be out or having fun past a certain hour, and by heaven he was going to make sure we got the message. Even if he got it across by keeping us out till kingdom come – our safety and my right to enter the house I was paying for be damned.
At this point, enter stage left, Mr. and Mrs. I-Have-No-Idea-Who. Lovely couple. Not my parents – I checked their faces super-carefully too. Been out for a late night walk. Naturally, they weren’t happy with the scene that they encountered. Naturally, they looked like a decent, educated pair. Naturally, I sighed with relief at this sight of potential allies.
Naturally, they started yelling at us without further ado. What-sort-of-time-do-you-call-this all over again, with a side order of what-are-you-wearing.
Might I add, `Not-My-Mom ‘was wearing a see-through nightie that looked like it came out of a 90's era Zee TV soap.
We stood there, locked in a three-way argument with my rage going from evil indignant to level volcanic, then a few male tenants came cruising up on their bikes and asked to be let in.
My `Grandad-From-A-Past-Life’ opened the gate without a peep.
And that’s how I was finally allowed to enter my own house.
I think I tried punching him. But I wasn't allowed to do even that. And this time, the creature thinking they had any sort of permitting right over me and my fists and the distance between said fists and that guy's nose, was the same girl I'd decided I liked after all just a half hour ago.
And just like that, like turned to complete loathing.
I guess it'll happen again. Someday, I’ll meet another lady in a sad white nightie, telling me what to do. Someday I might want to speak to my friend again.
That day, I’ll walk up to them and shake them by the hair (neanderthal, okay), and I’ll ask, “What is wrong with you?!”
Something tells me I should be afraid of the answer.
By Asha Naiq
Image courtesy: Furqan Jawed, Roshan Shakeel, Jaiwant Pradhan, Stuti Kothari, Sparsh Saxena