Sunday, October 19, 2008

Stripped

"Are you so and so?"
A strange man accosted me at Charing cross this morning. He needed some details from me and said he'd visited home yday and found it locked.
After 24 years of living in a small town and with a husband in active Govt.service, I can't be too surprised if someone knows me and I don't know them.

But its not a pleasant surprise any more.

It gets me wondering who am I? Stripped of so-and-so-'s wife, so-and-so's daughter, would I get any recognition?

I don't work any more so I've lost that identity which acts a good front that people can relate to. And slot me easily.

When I travel, I do find the loss of identity and instant recognition rather disconcerting. Then I can draw comfort from the people I am travelling with; the group feeling which protects one from strangers.

If I take me alone as a person, then its the clothes I wear, the educated tone of my voice that defines how people behave with me, those I know and don't know. People are reacting to the visual image.

Even this can be misleading as I discovered yday. At a family function, a young woman and I were getting on famously. You must come home she said often during our conversation. During lunch, she asked casually, and what about your kids? I said they were quite grown up. She was taken aback visibly, and said "Oh, I didnt realise you were... you don't look that old." And after that, I could see a stepping back. She couldn't see herself relating to a person a decade or more older. The new image of me came in between.

Without money to spend that commands respect in shops, would the shopkeeper give me any ?

Without all these image-making externals, without comforts given by other people, can I survive on my own?
Without all these trappings, if I had to live in a strange place who would I be?

Stepping out of the supermarket I was accosted by a cheerful beggar woman. When I refused to give her alms she engaged me in a discussion of the cost of soap and rising costs. Disarmed by her cheerfulness, I did give her a coin.
But she made me think, 'but for..there go I.." Could I handle life if I were her with such equanimity?

Do these thoughts trouble other women, other people? Or am i just complicating the life given to me?

9 comments:

Devika said...

Hi Kallu!

I can see the thoughts clearly....it somtimes pass through me too :-)

and you ask me if it troubles-- It does and it don't, i should say...

perhaps, equanimity is my second nature despite my education...and level headedness -- seeing oneness of all with God --- is something i strive for....With my education perhaps, i try to influence others, mostly through the handle of love..

But then as you say, if I put on an certain image it may get difficult...so I believe in looking ordinary, amongst the most ordinary....and extraordinary ones doesn't need our equanimity, perhaps...If they still need, our education helps us in becoming 'extraordinary' for them...

you may find me talking a bit 'out of the ordinary' here...but then its only a matter of time ..we got to know each other more, perhaps...

to me looks of a person never really speaks of/for the person...and I can see you being concerned over the most womanly of all issues, despite what you call your image-making externals...

at the core -- we are all more same, than different Kallu..

loved reading the post, and the mind behind :-)
will visit again later...

wishes!
devika

kallu said...

Devika, You are not supposed to see beyond what I project:-))
One thing is, Im glad these thoughts pass through someone else too.
But you are able to deal with them better.Because you are centered more deeply in God and your beliefs perhaps? As you say, I can only understand and learn with time.
Good to talk with someone 'out of the ordinary' altho you say, we are all the same underneath. I suppose so though its hard to accept that.Easier to keep harping on the differnces.
"..equanimity is my second nature despite my education.."
liked that:-)))
Keep writing.
And visiting.

Indrani said...

I don't think these thoughts complicate the life as you said in the last line, it is a natural thought process.

I have faced that first situation many times. I take it as a compliment and move forward.:)

Swarna said...

What a thoughtful and thought-provoking post, Kallu!
(If I were to pose the last question to my life-mate, he'd say 'Yes'- he is used to giving me that opinion - without me asking for it!)
On a philosophical note - I wish you a happy journey as you walk the path of finding an answer to the 'Who am I?' question.

RAJI MUTHUKRISHNAN said...

Great post, Kalyani.

I got some pleasure, after years of being someone's appendage, when a couple of people referred to my husband as Mr. Raji Muthukrishnan. :-).

Seriously, I have never minded being the appendage.

But that stepping back by outsiders the minute they know you are a different generation - I have faced that situation often. But don't let it bother you, they may feel they are not good/wise enough to hobnob with you (closer to the truth).

kallu said...

Indrani, you handle it better and I should learn from you to accept it as part of life.

Swarna, thank you. I guess the journey lasts as long as we do. Nice note about your life-mate:-)

Raji, that was a honest and fun reaction to 'Mr.Raji.'
Acceptance makes life much much easier I think. Not to fight against what is but to go with it as natural.

Thanks everybody for sharing your thoughts and making me feel - it alright- its all part of life.

Raja Basu said...

Madam,

You certainly have your own identities that you are tending to overlook. Let me highlight two of them -

a.) You are the manager of your home. That everything at your home is in order that is onky because it has an efficient homemaker (read home manager) like you.

b.) You are an efficient blogger, who has enriched the Indian blogosphere with your nice postings.

All the best.

Raja

kallu said...

Raja Basu, that is a nice view of life. I'm sitting up straighter.
Thank you.

Devika said...

HI Kallu!
i sincerely feel that 'education' today is a curse than a blessing..and i continously keep that off for the pure joy of living :-)
i meant that you quoted, really...
wishes!
devika