BENGALURU: We Indians are a nosy bunch. It does not matter where you are – school, college, a family function, the railway station, security check, maybe even public toilets — people are bound to ask personal questions. Very often, intimate questions are asked, and there is genuine surprise if you take offense at it.
Even with close relatives and family, the questions never stop. Are you single, why aren’t you dating, why aren’t you married, why no kids, why only one, why three kids, why no pets, why dog, why cat, why divorced, why together. There is nothing that cannot be questioned, and no stage in life in which one can be perfectly conforming to some mythical standard of life. A guy friend who looks like he is somewhere in that indeterminable age bracket of 25 to 40 given his looks and how he carries himself, often finds himself being asked, “Do you have any kids?” It really annoys him. It was one thing for the neighbourhood uncles and aunties to ask this when he is out buying vegetables from the street vendor and they are also there. He could dismiss it thinking they are trying to see if they can pass on their kids to his home for play dates and give themselves a free hour or two. It is quite another thing when random people come to him in the gym or on the Metro and ask, as if it is a filtering criterion for making friends.
Of late, he has been answering such queries with, ‘None that I know of’, or ‘Why, has someone claimed they are my child?’ and other such responses, finding that by having a sense of humour, atleast he gets a laugh out of it. The ability to make a joke out of this is not easy and is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea. When you are dependent or in a socially difficult position, or in some other way vulnerable, these questions can be really scary.
It can be hard for someone with nothing to report, and equally scary for someone whose love is different. For example, someone in love say with someone eighteen years older and/ or from a different community or any of the other dozen odd parameters, questions can be really scary and causing one to hold their love secret even when you know that it is a perfectly consensual, adult relationship.
Keeping something as powerful and as personal as love a secret is never easy to do. We are social creatures after all, and want to share, want to be visible with our love, want to celebrate it and live the relationship with a sense of being accepted if not encouraged.
So what do you do if the questions keep coming and you don’t want to answer them at all? The simple answer is: Don’t answer them. Learn to say ‘no’ in a way that is appropriate for you in your social situation.