This article has been submitted by Vipul Kumar for the CLATGyan Blog Post Writing Competition. If you think this article is a good read, ‘Like’ this article on Facebook (the button is at the bottom of this piece) or post a comment using the ‘comments’ section below.
Do you often confuse the PUSH message on a door with a PULL message and vice-versa? Do you always prefer Domino’s over Pizza Hut because they have a strict ‘No-Fork, No Knife’ policy which ensures that your pathetic table manners aren’t showcased to the world (And not just because Domino’s is a lot more cheaper =P)? Do you have trouble striking the right balance between speech/thought/emotion during the day but suddenly discover your alter-ego in the night? Have you ever ventured into one of those fancy clothing brand outlets and found yourselves checking out the women’s section, confusing it with the men’s section before being poked at by the salesman?
If your answer to a majority of the above questions is yes, you are probably a proud member of the Socially-Messed-Up Society. Warm welcome. Since I was not fortunate enough to get into any of the college societies that seem to ‘matter’, this is where I get all my money back. I am the CEO, bitches!
The sudden realization came courtesy the most (un)social family dinner this summer. I have always taken secret pride in the fact that I successfully manage to put up a good excuse for not attending dinners with dad’s ‘annual’ friends from work. An annual friend is one whom you meet (read : bump into) once or twice a year, and whose not-so-random-spouse inevitably greets with you a random remark on your sudden weight/height – increase/decrease as the permutation suits you, and other such frivolous Body-Mass-Index comments. However, in retrospect, I suppose my set of excuses got way too predictable and my dad actually managed to eliminate my secret pride and prejudice by blocking a Saturday well in advance for the ‘royal’ dinner. There. Lawyered.
When you’re shuffling between courts and tribunals, six days a week for a supposedly unpaid internship, an ‘Annual’ friend dinner on the same evening would give you as much joy as getting stuck in a Delhi traffic jam on Friday evening-peak hours (especially when your car runs on Rs 63/litre petrol and not Rs 29.30/Kg gas =P). The only apparent consolations were the lip-smacking starters and live music at Barbeque-Nation, and also bird-watching for hot Sikhnis since the place is frequented by spendthrift Sikhs of Janakpuri.
* * *
I greet Aunty no.1 with a fake grin and a contemptuous look in my eyes, clearly expressing my hatred against any intended Body-Mass-Index comments. She surprisingly is smart enough to realize the severe hidden disgust on my face and limits the first words from her mouth to strictly rosy greetings. Aunty numbers and uncle numbers, just by-the-way are strictly in accordance with the ‘most-in-the-spotlight’ couples. No biases there folks, just in case you’re reading this. Aunty no.1 in the meanwhile takes the seat alongside my mom and strikes a conversation, as if filling her ears about their child’s ‘violent streak’.
If I thought only I had a plastic smile on my face that evening, the manager walks in and greets the 13 people with 13 plastic smiles, each beating the previous one by a truckload of fakeness. He almost managed to frown by the end of the 13th, kid no.1 probably too occupied with his PSP to even notice him. He remarks once everyone has met everyone, “Sir I shall request all the veggies to move and occupy one table and the non-veggies to occupy the other, so as its convenient for you and for us”. At which Uncle no.1, in a fit of excitement, comments – “And where do all the alcoholics go?!” and bursts into insane laughter, hence ensuring even more plastic-smile-currents along the table.
I start munching on prawns and chicken tikka starters as it seems the only way to avoid the liquor being poured for the ‘alcoholics’. While the men are discussing work-place-politics, Aunties no. 2 and 3 in the meantime, start discussing something which the loud kid no.2 makes sure I cannot hear. However, the expression on my mom’s face hints at the topic of conversation. That no-nonsense look on her face convinces me that it’s something only two housewives can discuss. She has that expression on her face very often when in the company of housewives.
A random query on how the division of property should take place at Uncle No.2’s house makes me wonder if flunking family law with more than half of the batch wasn’t too cool. But trusting that alcohol had done enough damage to his nervous system already, and that he would not remember me the next day, I make up a random story and tell him how he should go about the division.
Amidst the sound pollution on our table emanating from the irritating kids, bosses being abused, and other such random gibberish, I try and pick up the only bearable sound waves coming from the band who are doing a rendition of Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive’. However, everyone is too busy with the food to appreciate them. The lead man exchanges a few glances with me, and we have an emotional connect of sorts.
Perhaps he was telling me that I wasn’t the only one who had a socially-messed-up-evening.
4th Year, B.A. LL.B. (Hons.)
Dr. RML National Law University, Lucknow