“To live longer than forty years is bad manners, is vulgar, immoral. Who does live beyond forty? I will tell you who do: fools and worthless fellows.”
~Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes From The Underground
So, I have now celebrated my 40th birthday. Phew! I had so much expectations from my own self, let alone the people I was meeting. To recap, at the start of the year I asked myself how do you turn 40, when most of the people you called friends left you mid way after 39. I thought of an open public invitation, whoever wants to meet me (as if I am some queen), raise hands, pizza and coffee is on me. A few of them showed interest and I finally arranged a get-together for about 12 of them, most of them women, some of them I was meeting for first time. I deliberately planned this a week ahead of 23rd Jan, my actual birthday and decided to go out of Delhi on the actual day. Because I thought if I stay in Delhi I would invariably build so much of expectations from so many people and will end up being disappointed. I didn’t want to take any chance. On the road there are on expectations because there are no before or after.
It was quite an unusual way to celebrate your birthday. I created an illusion for myself, by the time I am forty, I am left with no real friends, have alienated everybody, so I formed my own fan club and invited them to spend time with me. Quite sad and narcissistic really.
But that’s what makes me happy, what can I do? I had spent the first half of 2016 hearing honest criticism from my friends. How my whole approach to life was wrong, how I needed to self-introspect and find meaning in my life, how i needed to just get better and be better. They told me true friends are those who say good things behind your back and bad things on your face. But too much honesty didn’t go down well with me. I asked myself can you really be friends with people who are not your fans. The answer was no. I guess I was shallow but truth is I need people’s love, because I clearly don’t love myself enough, so somebody need to compensate for my self-deprecation (Raghavendra remember what we talked this morning).
So the get-together on 15th was attended by new friends (one old) who came with lovely gifts, wrapped in shiny papers and bows and strings. Little things that steals my heart. The venue was Chez Jerome – G Café, Delhis first LGBTQ Cafe. Sambhav who manages the cafe, is a friend, but that’s not the only reason why I chose the venue. Doing my party there was my humble effort to build a bridge. I wanted to bring straight allies to the Cafe which is a safe zone for queer people and by implication a safe space for women. We felt absolutely at home at the roof top Cafe overlooking the Qutub Minar and lush greens. Sambhav is positioning the Cafe as LGBTQ Cafe and in days to come, hopes to turn it into a space for collaborations, activism, book reading film screening and so on. Above all, they have awesome authentic thin crust pizzas and lovely mocktails.
Today, I was supposed to travel but I cancelled it. So I just spent the birthday at home. My sister came down from Dehradun. She won’t stop saying sorry to me for not doing more for my 40th birthday. I am so embarrassed and feel so horrible for terrorizing her so much in the past by being over demanding on my birthdays. I always demanded lots of gifts and attention. I am the elder one, I should have been the bigger, kinder and wiser one, but I wasn’t. I was shallow. Last night, she took a bus at 12 from DDN reached Delhi in morning, went straight to JNU for her classes, came home in the afternoon, spent all day with me and she hadn’t even slept last night properly. She has been going through a stressful time, with her study leave issues (VC won’t give any) and her teaching courses back in Doon University (She is an Assistant Professor in Spanish language, pursuing Phd in JNU). Yet she tells me sorry. I am truly sorry for who I am. Or who I was.
Earlier this morning I tried to dump two old acquaintances from my friend list. Both are men I have had some sort of romantic interest in past, like really really in the past. To one of them I said, I don’t want to be friends with someone who doesn’t like me anymore. To the other I said, I don’t want to enter the 2nd chapter of my life with loose ends. But I retained both of them by the end of the day. And the third man, he came this close to getting dumped but saved himself in nick of time by nothing but a phone call. What a man.
What else, parents. Two kindest human on earth who have given me everything possible, every freedom, opportunity, happiness and in return I have only been nasty and violent to them. I have yelled at them, verbally abused them in my worst moment of having lost my temper. By my 40th birthday, I have learned that my behaviour towards my parents cannot change. I cannot anymore rationally explain who and what leads to the fights, and how we can avoid them. But I do know that I love them and they love me till the end of earth. Its just that I cannot live with them under the same roof when I am probably losing my mind every day with my lonely miserable life. A day before my period hits when I am emotionally at the worst of myself, they owing to their old age, have no clue what I am going through. They say random things and I flip out. I cause them tears, my mother specially and when that happens, all our happy moments just fizzles out. Happiness is effervescent, pain is forever etched in your heart.
I have gone beyond the point of saying sorry or seeking forgiveness. We are all humans and we make mistakes. I make mistakes. But I don’t think I can change. I also don’t think my changing alone would help. I cannot expect them to be anything else than who they are. The only way to avoid more pain is to avoid living together. A forty year old single woman shouldn’t be living with ageing parents. Period.
This goes out to so many people on Facebook, this bitter embarrassing truth about my life. But I have no other way of dealing with truth. That was that, my 40th birthday.
I was live on the birthday evening, here’s that video clip:
Life Is Best As An Illusion
Life would be so wonderful if we could meticulously create the scenes we want to be in with the kind of people we want to be with. I have this list of things I want to do at least once, things I see in films, let’s call them movie scenes. I would plan out every last detail of the scene, like filming a script, creating a perfect illusion for myself. Of course you need people to fill the scene and they need to play their parts well, the role of friends, supporters, boyfriend, partner just for that scene, that moment, that one evening or weekend. My birthday celebration was one such scene, one such illusion. It was perfect and I was so happy. I even had a perfect man with me to play his role for the evening. It was like the movies, I was high and he held me, I was cold and he put a jacket on me, I was too drunk to drive, he drove me home, tucked me in bed. He was wonderful.
I think I would die a happy and contended woman if I could create all the scenes on my list just once. I think real relationship is about attempting to have that same scene last a lifetime, but I don’t think I can even stand the same scene for a lifetime. I need to continuously keep dropping the curtains, changing the sets, the script, the actors, the roles they play in my life.