I completed a month of working last week. And I have acquired a couple of things in the process. Of course, there is the salary. I have also found a friend in my colleague, M.
To have someone at your place of work to watch over you is important. Especially a woman friend is most nice. After all she is the best person who is likely to lend you a sanitary napkin (of the same brand that you use), should you need one.
I liked M, from the very first day I met her. For one, she went to the same college that I did. We even went to the same school, albeit different branches. Teachers, who gave us grief, make for fantastic lunch-time conversations.
Most critically, she is a very good journalist. And a brilliant and envy inducing writer. That is very important. It is years of conditioning. Tamizh-Brahmin snobbery, I suppose. One only associated self with people who were brighter than you. You know, in school it was the kind of people who could solve the most complex of mathematics problems faster than you. Or in college, those who knew more Shakespeare Sonnets than you did and would quote them at will and with immense feeling. It was like, if one also did breathe the same air that they did, it would magically rub off on you and lead to dramatic change in one’s own skills. So you become like a moon, basking on all the reflected light.
M is what people would call a Global Citizen. Her world-view is large. Her heart is big. And she loves the non Tamizh world too. She sings Hindi songs. She thinks that Iyengaar boys are better looking than Iyers. She did her Post-Graduation from Bombay. She had not heard of the movie Paruthiveeran till I told her about it. And she also thinks that going away to Bangalore is the best way to spend her weekend.
I can’t relate to any of that. But let’s just say I am not spoilt for choice here at work. So I have chosen to like her. At least, more often that not, we speak the same language.
However, I was wondering last week, why would she want to hang-out with me? I think, now I know.
I, she and a batch-mate from Journalism school went to see this play at the Museum Theatre, Flame of the Forest, based on Kalki Krisnamurthi’s novel, Sivagamiyin Sabatham. Of course it is a wonderfully nuanced story, seeped in Tamizhness and English can never do it adequate justice. But M kept whining all through. The sudden rains were a problem. The audi was a problem. The music and dance were a problem. And she kept referring to Sivakami as a moron. I found it annoying. How can we complain about North Indians making fun of Rajni, if we don’t love our heroes?
When we met at work on Monday, M tells me, you know I cannot wear my Tamizhness as a badge.
She is perceptive and I am not terribly subtle, I suppose.
Having spent a few years in the North of India, she thinks that being overtly Tamizh is both unattractive and also makes other people dub you a racist. When she was 20 and traveled from Bombay to Madras in a train, co-passengers would be shocked that she was from Madras, because she was pretty and fair. Rather, fair and therefore implied prettiness. That opened the world of non Tamizh to her.
And then she tells me that secretly she would love to have my little Tamizh world view, but simply cannot because she wants to please more number of people and be loved by them.
It is a bit strange. I somehow feel sorry for her that she must sing Hindi songs so that more people can be happy. But she is a very clever journalist. I hope to grow up and become like her. So, I must forgive her. I must like her also.
If she were a Hindi songs singing Tamizh boy, I would find it much more difficult to handle.
The good part is, I finally seem to have become somebody’s sun.