The Other Man

The Other Man

It was day five. She didn’t want to tell her man what was going on with her.

Darkness fell, and her face changed. She felt the presence of something within her, consuming her, she felt her body start to contort. Her eyes fell on the mirror on the wall. In the low lights of her Hollywood vanity she saw her scleras blacken. Something else stared back as she looked at herself in the mirror.

It was less than a week to the wedding – all she could think of was how to get rid of the other man, this demon that had been taking over her body every night. Every night, at the same time.

Advertisements
The Patient

The Patient

Sometimes I want to actually talk to my mother, and tell her she was wrong. I’ve seen her cry quite a few times since I left, but I couldn’t really do anything. Sometimes I try to make my presence known, but I’m fairly new to this and I have no idea how to talk to the living. And my family doesn’t believe in ghosts.

What a sad life, eh?

Nobody believed in me when I was alive and nobody believes in me now either.

It’s been two weeks since I died.

I grew up in a family of doctors, and my dad, who’s now fifty, is the snappiest person I’ve known. My mum is the loudest woman I’ve ever met. She can scream loud enough to give any random banshee a run for her money. But my parents have only been this way with me. With other people, they’re nice as eff. And it’s weird to me.

I was supposed to be married in a few months, and every morning my Dad would body-shame me by way of morning greeting.

“You look like a skeletal vulture,” he’d say, “So ugly and malnourished.”

I wasn’t allowed out of the house and nobody took my symptoms seriously. See, mental health issues are always overlooked in Indian households. And when you’re unable to fall asleep, or eat properly and when the whole cycle of body-shaming and abuse becomes super intense, you end up dead.

Which is what happened to me.

I blacked out and fell down the stairs one morning. No one was home and I watched my body lie there for six hours before anyone found me. My mum screamed like a banshee but this time I wasn’t going to wake up, despite all the slapping.

It’s funny how they ignore the living, but try to revive the dead instead.

Bengali Weddings, Part One: The Ugly

Bengali Weddings, Part One: The Ugly

I don’t know if this is a thing will all relatives, or just some of the people in my (very, very extended) family but…

I have a huge family, okay? Back in the day, nobody had heard of birth control or television or any other form of entertainment. This meant that their only source of um, relaxation, ended up resulting in tiny humans and burning holes in the parents’ pockets, putting the ever growing family into economic stress. They also used to get married in their early teens, making teenage pregnancies super common. Many kids would die of complications following childbirth and their husbands would end up marrying other kids. Sounds gross, but that used to be a legit thing, child marriage.

My grandma got married at a young age too. Her first child, my oldest aunt, was born eighteen years before my mum came along. My oldest aunt is in now her seventies, and my grandma passed away ages ago. I don’t remember her much, unfortunately, but she was a nice person. Same goes for my Dad’s mum. I don’t even remember having met her. The only memento I’ve got of hers is a photograph of me in her lap, and she’s wrinkled as a prune and I’m barely two. And I look mighty uncomfortable as heck.

Having said all of that, it also means that when you’re about to get married, the whole clan comes to town. Irrespective of whether you’ve ever met them or not. They just seem to pop out of thin air. Suddenly you have three hundred aunts and five hundred nieces and you’re a legit grandma and aunt and aunt-in-law. If you’re the bride, your parents have to bear all the expenses – from the relatives stay to their comforts. And when your parents are extra and don’t get the concept of low-key weddings, the budget overflows and puts your parents in debt. Sometimes you need to end up selling assets, sometimes you give yourself depression and stress but you won’t chill with the number of heads on that guest list because you’re a prominent member of the society so you’ve to make your kid’s nuptials a grand affair. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The age gap between my Dad’s siblings and my Dad has also resulted in my oldest cousin being born over TWO decades before I was. He calls my Dad “Uncle” but he’s only a few years younger than my Dad. *Jeez.* The rest of my cousins are way older than I am too, and we never really meet on the daily. I mean, the last time I ever saw any of these guys and their wives would be like, 2013. And it was awkward as heck. I didn’t attend any of their weddings but they’re all going to show up when the next wedding happens. Yikes. And with the estrogen comes the judgements. And with the older women, comes the tongue-clacking and the nosy behavior.

If you hate people and have awful social anxiety, nobody notices you going into depression because they’re too busy making your mum show them your wedding shopping and making snide comments about every saree you’ve picked. And about your weight. And about your dark circles and thinning hair. And the list goes on.

By the time the wedding approaches, it’s a miracle if you have any hair or body weight left.

It’s NOT Love

It’s NOT Love

It’s true that you fall in love

That doesn’t mean you can’t rise in it

Doesn’t mean when push comes to shove

You end up alienating every human being

It’s not love if you’re being psychotic

It’s not love if it’s baseless,

If it only ends up being chaotic

Both for you and for them

Love teaches you to be selfless and kind

To let go so it comes back someday

Love doesn’t cast evil shadows on your mind

If it does, you’ve got it confused with something else

It’s not love what you’re feeling at this moment

It must be hormones, the need of the flesh

It’s not love, putting your mum through torment

It’s not love, if you’re acting like you’ve been blinded

Oh it’s not love, you’re being selfish

Why must everything go the way you want it

There are better ways to make a wish

It’s not love if you’re being consumed by the Devil.

Dugga Dugga

Dugga Dugga

The festive season felt ominous for some reason. He hadn’t called. And he hadn’t let her know when he’d be home.

She’d been dolled up for hours: she’d had her hair, nails and makeup done, and she’d put on the new saree he’d got her for Pujo. But he was supposed to be home a few hours back and he wasn’t. And she couldn’t get through to him on the phone either. It kept saying that his number was unavailable.

An expert at overthinking, she’d paced ten times around the room and scolded herself for not having said the customary Dugga Dugga when he left. Bengalis do that a lot and it had been their thing too, and she was scared something must have happened to him because she’d forgotten to say it. But she hadn’t called either set of parents yet because she knew they’d worry. And they were all super old. At the same time she’d contemplated asking her father-in-law how much time it took to buy a few haadis of roshogolla and some boxes of sondesh in Kolkata on a Saptami evening, but that would have given the whole thing away and they’d have asked questions about their son anyway.

She was about to give up, when the doorbell rang, revealing a very haggard man in a now-wrinkled set of panjabi-pajama, who was panting and out of breath.

He looked annoyed and exhausted and sweaty as heck but she smiled and smothered him with kisses and hugs.

“Ah, Anu, never send me to buy mishti for baba-ma on any day of the pujo. My phone died, and the shop was crowded and I had to wait in line. Now let me go shower.”

“Cubic Zirconia”

“Cubic Zirconia”

“Look, I just got engaged”, Mel said, showing off her enormous diamond ring. “This is a five carat diamond, babe! I mean, have you seen me? I’m a solid ten. And have you seen my dear fiancé? Oh my God, fiancé. Kinda weird saying it out loud but I mean I’m WAY out of his league, so the bald old dude has to keep me happy, right?”

Taken aback by shock at Mel’s choice of words for her new fiancé, Sylvia did her best to act happy. She smiled at Mel and raised her glass to her.

“I’m so happy for you Mel,” she said quietly, feeling miserable that she didn’t even get a real ring from her fiancé. That cubic zirconia sat on her finger, almost reprimanding her. Sylvia could hear her mother’s voice telling her, from somewhere far away, “I told you not to marry Tom, you could have found someone so much nicer, let’s see how he takes care of your stupid high-maintenance butt.” She pictured her mother, fresh from a Botox session, saying no vehemently to meeting Tom for the last time. And that had been the final straw. Both women were headstrong but Sylvia was also obstinate to the point of no return. Or at least she had been.

Her mother had married young and had Sylvia at twenty one. They had been wealthy. And she grew up spoiled and then, fell in love. That was three years ago. She’d married against her family’s wishes and her parents had cut her off. She and Tom lived in a tiny shoebox apartment, barley managing to make ends meet. She worked as a teacher and Tom, a struggling entrepreneur. They didn’t have much; but Tom was an amazing husband and they loved each other. As she remembered their very, very tiny court wedding, she felt a warm glow in her heart and realized that her mother had been wrong and that Tom was indeed, the best she could ever get.

Her phone buzzed loudly; and she snapped out of her reverie and she saw a message from Tom:

“Home early, I’m going to pop into the shower and order takeout. You’re going to take ages to choose so I’ll just order my favorites. BUT you are my favorite and I want you to know that. How long are you going to be out with Mel? I miss you!”

Tom had been away the whole week, meeting a few investors and trying to pitch his ideas, but with zero success. And he didn’t want to be upset about it, because Sylvia was a compulsive over-thinker and would stay up late if she found out that he was feeling low.

Sylvia smiled at the phone and replied to Tom’s text, saying she’d missed him too and that she’d be home just in time for dinner.

Sometimes you don’t need a five-carat diamond, you only need a five-dollar takeaway meal, and love. Pure, unadulterated, beautiful, love.

“Tattoo”

“Tattoo”

Madison had just moved into a new apartment with her boyfriend Jonah, a tattoo-artist.

Maddie dressed up as as a vampire on Halloween. Jonah said he loved it, at least a million times, while they were going down to their friend Pete’s, for one of those epic Halloween parties. It was tradition practically. They’d all get drunk and eat too much and just have a good time, and catch up with old friends.

“I wish you’d do your makeup like that everyday,” Jonah kept saying.

Maddie just smiled and looked happy. He’d never complimented her so much before.

The party got wild. Maddie couldn’t remember when or how she went to bed: she was completely wasted.

While brushing her teeth after having overslept, she felt a sharp pain in the face and noticed she’d forgotten to take off her makeup. It was only after she’d gone through two bottles of makeup remover that she realized that Jonah had tattooed on the dark cranberry lipstick on her lips.

Joy.

Joy.

You feel lonely, you get used to it

Pretty much how you get used to pain

Specially when it’s so intense

That it numbs you all over again

You initially miss people’s company

But soon, you build walls around you

You lock yourself in

And nothing can break you

You could go days, months, years

Being in self imposed solitary confinement

Never needing anyone or anything

Happy with this emotional realignment

Brimming with joy

Because you have nobody to please, you see

Not a care in the world

Comfortable in your skin, comfortably lonely.

Happy Blogtober!

Happy Blogtober!

September was awful: I didn’t even post consistently. The whole town was flooded for the most part and I hate it when it’s so gloomy. I mean, rains are nice and all – but it’s supposed to be fall weather and NOT monsoon. Maybe the world is actually about to die sooner than expected. Scares me to death, really.

Okay, all depressing thoughts aside, I’m actually looking forward to October. A few key events are coming up and I’m so excited I could pop a vein.

• BIRTHDAYS:

The love of my life celebrates his birthday tomorrow. Although I’m not around to actually celebrate with him in person, we’ve only got three months to go till we’re actually living together. I cannot wait!

My very good friend and adopted “grandchild” turns twenty one on October 16th. And Egg, if you’re reading this, although this makes you eligible to get drunk, I hope you don’t drink too many margaritas, *snicker* only kidding.

And finally, my fellow GRANDMA EM, also has her birthday in October. Precisely on October 25th. How exciting! Girl, go easy on the sugar. I worry about those crowns on your teeth. Bye.

PUJO:

Every Bengali living in West Bengal or other parts of the planet actually count down the days till Pujo happens. This year it did look like Pujo would be a flop show – thanks to the rain – for a little bit, but we’re good now.

Kids buy new outfits and everyone overeats. Time to say bye bye to my Keto diet for a few days.

HALLOWEEN:

We don’t really celebrate Halloween in India but it’s catching up quickly. If you’re into makeup, you’ll know that this is the time of the year that people go ham with FX makeup and other Halloween inspired looks. I cannot wait.

Also, happy Blogtober! I’m going to try and go back to posting everyday. The three month window is making me nuts. Pray for me.

Why Does Everyone Want To Be An Influencer?

Why Does Everyone Want To Be An Influencer?

How many of us have actually thought of starting something of our own, because the nine to five job wasn’t cutting it? I’m sure you’re guilty of it too. It sucks, I’ll give you that, having to work for someone else when frankly, you’d be much happier being your own boss.

Every influencer comes into existence this way. Full-time or otherwise, influencers become influencers because they are really driven by the will (or often, the wish) to start something new. There are two kinds of people: one, that create content based off of actual talent, and two, that buy followers because brands often believe in the numbers game. Which essentially means that the more number of followers an influencer has on social media, irrespective of how much engagement they actually have, the more the recognition they get from brands. Indian brands are one hundred percent guilty of this: not naming names, but I’ve seen brands sending PR packages and handing out sponsorships to XYZ influencers because they have 54k followers, when they themselves follow only seventy people.

So when you follow a very limited number of people, but you’ve got a considerably huge following, it gives the illusion of importance.

Who exactly is an influencer?

From the Internet:

A Social Media Influencer is a user on social media who has established credibility in a specific industry. A social media influencer has access to a large audience and can persuade others by virtue of their authenticity and reach. resources. Discover Brand Influencers to Expand Social Reach.

So, why the sudden rise in the “Influencer trend”?

Simply put, it’s easy money, and it never asks for a degree or in many cases, talent. People with awful content sometimes end up as successful influencers because they’re really, really good at handling sponsorships.

Many influencers in fact are so good at sponsored content, the audience won’t know they’ve been taken for a ride – not until the end of the video they’ve posted. By then the views have already been garnered.

And many people are actually ballsy enough to email brands asking for free stuff so they can showcase it on their Instagram. This is a cringeworthy tactic but it’s worked for someone I know. It’s working for someone I know, as we speak.

With a rise in social media posts, and a few carefully bought followers, it’s easy to make the quick buck just by endorsing a product, a process much less tedious and way more enjoyable than a desk job that would give you headaches and backaches and too much stress.

In conclusion…

…the euphoria induced from reaching a cult-status, the fame and the brand-sponsored-trips, the power to be pseudo Twiggy and Coco Chanel, has reached a manic frenzy and it’s like this apple that everyone is dying to have a bite of. And the power to promote consumerism and to make profit from it is something of a greed, that becomes insatiable. The more you have, the more you want. The more you want, the more you push. The more you push, there’s no stopping. It’s like an inflammation that keeps intensifying. And it feels good.

The next time you see your former best friend promoting Mama Earth, remember you can shoot them an email too. Everyone has access. It’s just so easy.