I was late for a meeting with my client. When I reached, he was waiting at the site, tapping his toe. When he saw me, he glanced at his watch and mustering an accusatory look, glanced at me inquiringly. I busily shuffled some drawings, opened my portmanteau, arranged my papers, fixed a bright smile on my face, and apologised. With this pre-work ritual done, I surprised my client and myself too with the statement: “Ramesh, the difference between you and me is, you have a wife, I don’t!” That said, I know I have expostulated the weighty truth! The age has dawned when a career-wife needs for herself a deputy-wife who reports to her! We are familiar with deputy Prime Ministers, and the sundry deputies that abound in all manners of fields.
Into my growing years, one thing was most clear: I wanted to be a 21st-century woman going on the 22nd century i.e. a smart, presentable, career woman. In addition, my family was in general agreement with me on most subjects. They even applauded the most important item on the 22nd-century woman’s manifesto: my aspirations to be progressive, ambitious, presentable, capable, informed, and no lord and master to lay down the law!
Things worked according to plan. Till date I have a career I enjoy (interiors and design) and at times I carry work home in the form of cement in my hair and paint under my nails. But there are times when an acquaintance enthusiastically yells, “Hi Nisha! You’re looking fabulous” as he navigates the skyscraper of a canapé to his mouth without its dome of mayonnaise dislodging on to the dress-shirt front, I radiantly smile a response, and wonder if the veracity isn’t a bit mellowed by the contents of the wineglass he holds aloft in greeting.
I vaguely remember there was that recurrent hint of down. The nouveau-millennium-perfectionist me banishes it with regularity, but it has the tendency to surreptitiously make a reappearance from exile at unaware crucial moments!
When did I last spend a long leisurely moment gazing languorously at my magnified hand mirror? Probably some time in the late nineteen hundreds.
Something strange has happened with the post-millennial era. People were expecting some momentous event, and it’s happened. The new millennium package has come with the fabric of time stupendously shrunk.
Consider the demands of the various television channels and the spate of beauty queens and movie icons. They all urge, psyche, command: work on your health, work on your mind, your body, your looks, your love-life, your wardrobe and of course work on your work, and contrarily work on your leisure. Since all of it is work, dotcoms earn their millions in the sale of the prodigious number of manuals that put the methodology into the 1-2-3 steps of ‘how to’ work this that and the other podcasts, right through the list.
New theories, new trends, new nutrition plans, less time and more and more competition. To lead a life is to continually race, race and race. Stop, take a break, and think. Relationships, life, happiness is really about stopping to think. What is it that would really bring meaning to your entire life, unto the end of your days?
It doesn’t require high philosophy to tell you that you need to give yourself a break and stop trying so hard to be, do and achieve all that people and life expect of you. It’s important to do what you want to and what makes you happy. Because if you fulfil yourself with your dreams and aspirations, the people you live with and for share in that happiness.
The writer is a columnist, designer and brand consultant. Mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org