HYDERABAD: Having born and raised in a cosmopolitan city like Hyderabad, studied in a co-education school and college, having guy friends and wearing what I want is part of my lifestyle. I never knew it was ‘uncultured’ until a man from my neighbourhood slammed me.
Apparently that man had been monitoring my daily grind. One fine day, when I was taking my dogs for a walk, he shared a courteous smile and went past me.
All of sudden, he called out my name. I turned back with a puzzled face. He walked towards me (again with a smile). “I am very proud of you. I love to read what you write in the paper. But.......” Immediately I asked, “But what uncle?”
“Despite having such a beautiful career, what weighs you down is your conduct and character!” he said in an unapologetic tone. I was taken aback yet without losing my cool, I asked, “What’s with my character and behaviour? I don’t think I have ever done something that doesn’t reflect my family morals.”
That uncle, who is well-educated and employed with an international firm pointed his finger at me and said, “That is the major issue with this generation. They do not know what they are up to. They think they are right. Your career is not going to add brownie points to your personal life. I have seen you hang around with boys more than girls! I have observed a lot of boys drop you back home late night. I was so disappointed when I saw those boys hug you, when you say bye. Had you been my daughter, I would have butchered you,” he voiced out loudly.
P.S: He also has a daughter!
Supplementing his comment, his wife, who joined him for a walk said, “There are many girls in the colony of your age. I observe you all everyday. Look at the way, they dress up. They look so decent in those beautiful cotton kurtis and leggings. I can only find you wearing off-shoulder tops, sleeveless shirts and skin fit clothes. You are a journalist. Journalist are supposed to conduct themselves properly. Wear a nice khadi kurti and legging. You have to gain more respect.”
Just to add a personal touch she went on to say, “Don’t think aunty is advising you. I am telling you all these because I want to see you on the right track.”
I froze for a moment. Both of them told me something I had never heard before in my entire life. His finger pointing at me, made me feel like a slut for a second but that feeling didn’t last for more than 30 seconds.
I cleared my throat and said, “I thank my stars that I am not your daughter. You claim to be working for an international company but unfortunately, your standards seem way too local. Those boys are my friends, in fact my best friends. They drop me back home late nights, only because they are concerned about me. Those hugs are not what you think, they are hugs of pure love. A hug is just an expression and nothing more. Yes, I do not have as many girl friends like I have boys. That doesn’t mean I am characterless. I just made friends with those who match my mindset and are in alignment with my frequency. I do not care about their gender. Kindly slaughter your parochial thoughts.”
There was a moment of awkward silence between us.
He looked at me with irate eyes and said, “I am ashamed of you” With a gentle smile, I replied, “Same emotion reciprocated!” I immediately looked at the already furious aunty and said, “Please think beyond the box. A journalist need not be wearing a cotton kurta and jute bag all the time. Bless your insular thinking. I have love for both fashion and journalism. Perhaps I am proud that I am updated with the global trends, despite being on my toes.”
I walked away with my head held high. I told myself, not to be ashamed of who I am, for if I don’t respect and accept myself than who else would! Just shame the shamer, instead of being demoralised.