It sounds anti-climactic to say my ‘Aha’ moment in life (the desi equivalent of a Eureka moment) came while watching a chick flick. Except to the chick flick producers though, who probably were hoping for precisely this! Anywho, a few weeks ago I saw an amazing Indian movie called Queen. Now I may have walked in just to gape at the lead actress, one of the most effortlessly stylish women I have ever come across, portraying a young girl who is so awkward it makes you cringe. Imagine brown wool cardigans over traditional cotton clothes on the streets of Paris and you get an idea of what we are dealing with here. But once I actually got into the cinema, I was completely lost in her world. A sheltered Indian girl, who has lived her life exactly according to the plan, got a simple college degree and an immediate marriage proposal engineered and approved by her parents. She should be living happily ever after, she has certainly taken no risks to jeopardize that, but her life is thrown off course when the groom calls off the shindig the night before the wedding. And here is where the magic starts: there is no dashing childhood friend who emerges as her protector and true love, no obnoxious boss who finally shows he has a heart and it belongs to her, no knight in shining armor. Instead, she rescues herself. Rather than staying home to become the object of pity and ridicule, she decides to go on her honeymoon. Alone. She doesn’t speak English, let alone French, and yet she is never lost in translation. She has her fair share of troubles: she doesn’t know how to order food, or book a hotel room, she is devastatingly alone even on a crowded dance floor. She seems to wander aimlessly, but it is on the streets of Paris that she finally finds herself.
I remember watching that movie and recognizing myself in her, the girl who laughs so soon after a tragedy that her laughter is always tinged with tears. The hopeless romantic, the girl who is constantly striving to find some common ground between her two lives (the one I live in my head, which is infinitely fabulous, and the one I live in reality, which is full of problems, and love, and warmth). She Skypes with her parents at home, and then heads off to a rock concert with men she met three days ago, knowing it may well never be possible to reconcile these two halves of her soul. The nomad who longs for a hearth to rest her feet on. The homebody who yearns to be a gypsy. This ordinary girl, with an extraordinary capacity for joy.
And then I realized that my reflection was fading away. As Queen discovered her true self, I was losing mine. I had stayed still for too long, and was becoming dangerously close to being a ‘sadness’. An ‘inconvenience’. One of those people who always talk about what had been, and what could have been, and have nothing to say about what is or what will be. At 22, my life was starting to feel like an epilogue. And before this status could become permanent, I decided I needed to get moving. There is nothing worse than being a sadness, particularly to yourself.
So, very much like Queen, who’s life was also shattered by one man’s whims and not her own inadequacies, I decided to pack my bags and set off. Staying still and turning bitter would definitely be my own inadequacy, and would leave me with no one to blame later! And while I do enjoy guilt, its more fun for me when I am subjecting other people to it, rather than myself. Luckily, I have still not acquired the level of bitterness that ruins relationships, and therefore managed to escape to England to live with, and off, my sister. And it is here, in the land where I gained so much and lost so little by comparison, that I hope to fix myself. No knight in shining armor please. This lady is quite enough on her own.