Ever run backward on a treadmill?
I have. I do it every day. It is good exercise in keeping your wits about you, and I so need that.
But you know you can also fall and knock yourself out, right? I do that quite often too.
Now that is because I have no less than three strikes against me:
1. I am a woman.
2. I am over 30.
3. I don't want to get married.
In gaming parlance, that makes me out. That is what most people think and I am fine with that. I am a peace-loving person. I live and let live.
But I have a problem when they sic that 'outness' on me.
And I don't care what feminists and post-deconstructed -- or whatever stage of post they are in -- men say, but life can get pretty darned tough, at least where I come from. Try being born as me if you don't buy that.
Just so you know where I am coming from, I swear on a stack of Gitas, I have nothing against marriage. It is a totally cool institution, lot of fun, joy, yada yada. Excellent. I just don't want it. I am happy enough living one degree of separation away from that happiness.
My friends and family will also tell you that it is me who pitches in first for whatever needs to be done whenever there is a wedding: decorating the venue, supervising the food, distributing cards, shopping seven straight hours for seven consecutive days, making sure the guests are well fed. I have rushed to be witness at marriages, even helped engineer a few illicit romantic trysts.
All for love and marriage. All without a squeak.
I will also swear on whatever you want me to, that I don't have anything against any of my married friends. They are all I have left anyway. It goes without saying that I am past the age where I can still have the luxury of single friends. (So all you singles, enjoy your single friends while they last, for tomorrow you will be changing diapers).
All of this is to register a protest: Here I am, this all-round do-gooder, thinking that is enough good karma for one life. But no, that is not enough. When it comes to leaving me alone, I am like this crazy glue, attracting the world and its opinions to me.
I agree all the world loves a wedding. But when it comes to single women -- I refuse to use the word spinster. It sounds horrendously ugly, like bodacious -- all the world totally loves to interfere. Your life is an open book. And every one in your life -- even the peripherals -- wants to paint on it. Over and over. And sometimes the same things, too.
For example, this is how a normal conversation goes at home.
Mom: There is a proposal.
Mom: So why don't you consider it? Talk to the boy, meet him a few times if you want. Only if you like him will we proceed further.
Me: I don't want to get married. You know that. Why do you want me to do this?
Mom: But I am not saying you should get married now. Only if you like him will we go ahead.
Me: But there is nothing to go ahead with, when I don't even want to get married.
Mom: I am not forcing you to get married. I am just saying, why don't you consider the proposal? See if you like him. Only if you
And then there are my friends. Those married ones. Now they have a different agenda. Their motivation for getting me married is simple:
1. Get laid. (Yeah. I have told them enough times I don't need to get married for that.)
2. Join the hallowed circle of mortgaged-for-lifers. (This clan is a very possessive lot. They love being around people of their own kind. And they totally resent those who aren't.)
And then there are the relatives. The well-meaning ones, of course. Most of whom I have stopped visiting -- or invent reasons to disappear when they visit -- because I live in rabid fear. That is so because this is the first thing they say when they meet me: "Aren't you ashamed? Isn't it time you got responsible? What kind of a Hindu girl are you?"
Like, yeah, I am fine, thank you. And, oh, I just got a promotion, which is so much more passé than getting fat, whiny and disgruntled.
As you can see, I still have my sense of humour intact. A little caustic, but sometimes, you gotta say what you gotta say.
What is not funny is the fact that life is a series of explanations. One after another. It is a never-ending circle of defending my life's choices. The music industry has a term for it: stuck record.
How many more people and how many more times do I really need to say that 'single' is a state of mind? That, for me, single does not mean alone. It does not mean lonely. And it sure as hell does not mean desperate.
So there, I did it again. I just explained myself to you.
One down. So many more to go.
Anjana Nair will contribute a frequent column to rediff.com