Reflections of My Muse

{March 12, 2009}   She Thinks too Much
This is the first chapter of a story I am writing… or trying to write atleast.
She Thinks too Much- Chapter 1
There is something about looking at yourself naked in the mirror that can be strangely revealing. Try as much denial as you want, you can’t hide from your own self when it stares at you stark, with every flaw seeming larger than it actually is. It’s something that Ira did often.  It wasn’t as if she was obsessed with her body  in a good way or a bad way, but it was like her version of a reality check. After all, what could be more real than your self. Its the only thing you can actually be sure of, the one thing that makes you feel alive inspite of everything else. Tangible, solid and with feeling.
It could be sunny outside, one would never know with the large curtain that covered the single window of her bedroom.  Given the orange walls of her apartment, it seemed like more of a furnace in mellow heat, as the little bit of light bounced off one surface to another to create a warm hue. It was in that light that she stood naked in front of the mirror, to assess herself. She took in the long legs, genetically shapely and thin for as long as she could remember. The shapeless, compact bottom, that never protruded out of her pants or accentuated her skirts in anyway. The flat midriff and the relatively small torso. The breasts, she’d always been embarrased by them: they weren’t large or heaving, but they were bigger than she would have liked them to be, with promininent, brown nipples.
As she took in the slightly sunkissed, warm tone of her skin, she couldn’t help thinking how disproportinate everything was. Her legs and arms too long, her butt too flat and her short upper body. It was like some one had put together a jigsaw puzzle using different sets of pieces. But the end result was quite alright. Not good, not bad- just alright. As she peered close to look at her face, Ira realized that she was blessed with a few good features. She had been taught not to be judgemental about people’s looks but the bottom line, some people were good looking and some weren’t and the rest of humanity just occupied positions in between. It was the truth and anybody who claimed it didn’t matter was just full of it. That may or may not have a bearing on the kind of people they were, but Ira had always found it odd that there was such an effort at trivializing external apperance, atleast intellectually. The multi- billion dollar beauty and fitness industry was proof enough that it was anything but trivial.
She didn’t consider herself beautiful and she hated to use the term pretty. It was a term one would use to describe a frilly dress, not a person. But she did have an interesting and appealing face. A combination of eyes, nose, lips and a complimentary bone sructure that made it all work, just about. It would make one out of ten people, take a second look at her if she walked by which was good enough for her. She wasn’t one for seeking attention anyways. It had never been her thing. She didn’t have a problem, facing big crowds or being in the spotlight, or talking to complete strangers . Ira just had a deep rooted hatred for putting oneself on display, especially if it involved playing out emotions in public. She disliked it when people cried in crowded places , or enagaged in too much physical intimacy or spoke in high tones. She never did any of it herself, maintaining an air of composure, that some would perceive as cold even.  Taking one more look, Ira moved away from the mirror to get dressed. Thinking about herself was really a very unproductive exercise and she really had to stop. As she slipped on some miss-matched underwear, a green t-shirt and a pair of jeans, she mentally made a list of all the things that needed to be done.
This was the part of the day that she liked the best, when it streched in front of you like an endless period of time and each second and minute was an eternity in itself. Running a comb through her wet, brown hair, she imagined for a second what it was like to be a busy person. To rush through all of this without having any time for staring in front of the mirror in the buff. She wasn’t a busy person, not yet atleast. It was the benefit of being a student. In a year and a half she’d be sucked into the vortex of building a career, she probably wouldn’t have the time to think about herself in such a leisurely manner. Actually, she wouldn’t have the time to think at all which was a real shame because she loved to think. It was almost like sometimes, she stepped out of her body and watched everything that was happening around her, breaking it down to make sense. Her friends always said she over analyzed everythng, but she couldn’t help it. She had always been like that, questioning, crtisicing and internalizing everything. Straightforward explanions irked her. They were a sign of complacency, that someone hadn’t been bothered enough to go beyond the surface, and look beyond.  It often happened that her interrogation left things in more of a muddle, than they were to begin with, but it was better this way because she could never absorb anything without having a sound justification for it and when she didn’t find one, she just rejected it outright and nothing would change her mind about it once she did.
That meant she had rejected a lot of thoughts and practices over the years, and questioned a lot more, most of which were sacred cows  to the Indian middle class sensibility. Things like , morality, god, marriage and maternity. She despised the whole glorification of it all, much to the chagrin of her parents, who thought she was being defiant for the sake of it. But she always thought that being compliant for the sake of it was pretty much the same thing so it was all a moot point in the end. Plus her parents were really broad-minded anyway so it didn’t matter and she was glad it didn’t. She couldn’t live her life in docile compliance. It was the one thing she absolutely couldn’t do. It didn’t seem fair to her that people would expect her to. Why waste all this time, staging revolutions and fighting for  freedom if all we as people had to do was wear ourselves thin protecting farcial notions of status quo  and conformism.
Thoughts on ….
Emancipation is  such a completely bogus concept when it comes down to the basics. You can be educated, but know how to filter those ideas so that they fit your context. Don’t think more than you should. You can have a boyfriend as long as you marry him. You can have a career, but you have to compromise if your family demands it off you. You can wear a skirt, but only if it covers your ankles. Take what comes your way and make the best of it. Work within the system. Sometimes it seems like all that happens is  the limiting of possibilities in the guise of liberation. The dissaproving eyes of nosy relatives when they meet you.They always find your ideas too radical, too absurd, too out of place, too unlike anything that a nice Indian girl should be thinking even when you barely shared an extent of your  thoughts with them.( Have you ever had an orgasm in your life? Do you really love your children?) It’s  like, We allow you the private school, and the college education and the Levi Strauss and the Rock Music and the male friends and the MNC career and the late nights. What more do you want?
Wish I knew. Ira thought as she lay back on her bed staring at the ceiling. She was a focussed girl, always had been. She had gotten good grades, had an excellent and ambitious career plan and had taken all the right moves to ensure it stayed on track. All her life, she had been a quintessential ‘good girl’ . She never actually got into trouble for breaking rules or cheating on tests or being a diificult child. She still didn’t. Having a succesful job and a relationship were very much part of the plan.  But reducing life’s meaning to proffesional and social success was so plebian to her. It wasn’t intellectual enough to her liking.
Thoughts on….
To live for an idea, something extraordinary and completely removed from the trappings of anything wordly or human. The air you breathe and your core belief. Nothing else matters because you’re in the pursuit of something beyond you. Yeah right, could you be any more pseudo.
Grabbing her laptop lying next to her , she clicked it open to check her mails. Stifling a yawn at the slew of unopened messages, scrolling down to find if there was any correspondednce of relevance.
Facebook              Sub: jag41 has sent added you as a friend, to confirm request…
Facebook              Sub: Neelima has written something on your wall, to read click….
Washington Post Sub: Technology: Fast Forward: Tiny PCs, Full-Size Problems
NYTimes. com      Sub: UrbanEye: They Know Whereof They Speak
Dad:                        Sub: Dont forgget meeting
Ignoring all of it she clicked the one that had come from her dad.
Just wanted to remind you that you have to be at Dev Uncle’s house for dinner today, I mean your today, not ours. Its so tough remembering the different time zones. Don’t make an excuse about not wanting to go, they’ve been mailing me  ever since you moved to New York, asking you to come over. You should meet them so that you’ll have someone like family there. They also have a son, about your age. You two can be friends. Take care, your mom says to dress nicely and not talk about any of your gender perspectives in front of them. Hope you’re eating well. I sent you their address in my previous mail.
Crap! The Momentous dinner, that had been planned for two weeks now. It was today wasn’t it. Dev and Asha Bhatia, friends of a neighbour of their’s back in Delhi. An NRI couple from Conneticut, whom she had met four years ago at a Diwali party for a whole ten minutes. Apparently it was enough for them to qualify as her family in a foreign land. It was a thing that Indian parents loved to do, find obscure, second-hand and third hand, Desi connections from the
intricate web of friends and relatives across the globe, so that their offspring could feel less alienated in far-away country.
“She’s Savita’s niece, doing her B.Tech in Hofstra. You should meet her.”
“Pankaj’s friend from school, Ira, you remember him. He’s an accountant with Barclays now.”
” Lovely aunty’s daughter lives in New Jersey now. Give her a call.”
Of course, having agreed to the whole thing, when her parents had called without thinking, she couldn’t get out of it anymore. To stand up Dev ‘Uncle’ and his family even if they didn’ tknow the first thing anout her, would relay all across the globe back to her parents, like a twisted game of Chinese Whisper.  She could imagine the conversations in the kitty parties.
That girl, no respect for elders, Didn’t even show, and after all that food they made. Always trying to behave like an angrez ki aulad. Must have been french kissing with some gora.
Shuddering at all the unnecessary ammunition it would provide to the gossip circuits, Ira decided the antagonism wasn’t worth it. A free dinner couldn’t be such a terrible thing after all right…Ok sure ,there could be some greasy puris and limp nans, and some force feeding and some prolonged fake smiling but it should be alright in the end.
I am  really an ungreatful person. Most of my Indian classmates long for such pampering  and ghar ka khanna. So, appreciate the nice gesture and be a gracious guest..I’ll wear nice clothes, some Chanel No.5 and show them that my parents are well off, compliment them on everything from the decor to the food and go on about missing home, even if I don’t really. Ira shut the shut the laptop sighing to herself. She really had to stop thinking about herself. It was such a waste of time, and she had a term paper to write. Grabbing a bag from the chest of drawers. Ira flung in her laptop, and her books, she left for the library.

et cetera