The battle for space

I think I need more space than the average Indian female. Only that, and nothing else, explains my paranoia. I stay alone because I cannot stand the typical scheming gossiping fudging-the-monthly-ledger flatmate. My gtalk status is more often red than green because it’s good to catch up with friends once in a while but I do not wish to succumb to the pressure of discussing my life up to the most minute detail, with any friend who’s online. Every morning, I like my green tea cold and my newspaper warm and I don’t like to share that time with anyone else. In office, I mostly join my colleagues in the ubiquitous-in-IT coffee breaks. But sometimes I choose to drink my coffee alone for no reason; then they don’t ask me questions. Thank God for small mercies.

I don’t call up my friends every week or every fortnight; I call them when I genuinely want to talk to them or when they need me. By me, that’s ok. You can talk to a friend every night and still bitch about him or her in the next phone call you make to another friend you call every week. I can never do such a thing. But I’m subjected to ridiculous accusations of being arrogant. I’m infamous for not returning calls and for not replying to scraps. Not returning calls, I will attribute to my absent mindedness.  And not replying to scraps, I don’t even want to comment on. I hardly think scraps maketh a friend. For me, the friends closest to my heart are still the ones I’ve grown up with. Like, I’m genuinely happy that Shakeel, my buddy of twenty years, is wining laurels in The Hindustan Times and living my dream. But how often do I call him? Not very. I’m sure deep down inside, he knows nothing has changed and that I would still mimic his girlfriends and that I still long for the gulab jamuns his mom used to make on his birthday every year.

I refuse to let anyone else control my life. I fiercely protect this space. I cannot see myself glued to the phone discussing with my boyfriend what I’ve eaten, what he’s eaten, when I’ve eaten, when he’s eaten, which colour I’ve worn, which colour he’s wearing, which friend  I’m hanging out with, which colleague is making a pass at me, which teddy of mine misses him so on and so forth. Most of all, I cannot mock cry on the phone when he tells me he’s busy. I cringe when I hear any girl do it. Give the man his space please.  My ex flat mate took invasion of personal space to a whole new high. She told me the first day I met her that her boyfriend approved of my shifting in with her because I was the intellectual type. Huh? Firstly, I’m no intellectual, I told her. And secondly, I could very well do without a seal of approval from him; it was her flat – she decides who she lets in and who she doesn’t. I wrongly assumed that the point hit home and I moved in with her. What followed was an assault on my space. Not only did she discuss her daily life with her; she also gave him a live commentary on what I was doing. “She’s wearing red tonight. She’s watching Dilip Kumar songs on television. She studies all the time and that never shows on her scores. She is smiling because she can hear me talk about her to you (and this was a lie, mind you!). She’s taking a crap the second time today.” I moved out of the flat and resolved to live alone. Life has been a bliss ever since.

To all who have been endlessly complaining, I can be a wonderful friend but I can’t share my space. I can’t talk to you all the time and I can’t accompany you everywhere you go. I can’t inherit your friends and your enemies. I will hang around with whoever I feel comfortable with. I need some time alone in which I do what I want to do or choose to do nothing but curl up with a book in bed. But I will not give away that time for anything else. Please make your peace with that. I’m sure this doesn’t make me a lesser friend.

I’m trying to figure out where this angst stems from. Why am I so fiercely protective of my space? I think it has something to do with my upbringing. My parents have always let me do my own thing. There is a line that no one in my family crosses; we understand that, just because we love a person and care for him, we might not be entitled to possess him. Somewhere down the line, I probably got used to it and any sort of infringement does not go down well with me.

Last week, a dear friend of mine who stays in Delhi, and who I was not in touch for more than a year, for no particular reason, called up to say that he needed help – his girl was pregnant and they were planning to get married immediately, could I help? I responded by asking him what friends were for. I could sense the relief in his voice as he hung up. And, as I hung up, I opened the makemytrip site for the first Chennai-Delhi flight available. The fact that one year had gone by without either of us calling up the other surely did not count. Not , at least, in my book.

Of all the flattered, followed, sought and sued....

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10 Responses to “The battle for space”

  1. Too gutsy to express the feelings; the feel good factor is vivid all throughout the write and one word is just less than the others to follow..SUPERB!!!!

  2. Good first post. Maybe the IT scene doesn’t provide the HS to understand angst and space.

  3. nice start. I could relate to quite a few points you mentioned. I need my space too…there are not many who understands this…the non-conformity to strike up conversations every time I’m with someone I know, or why on earth I would spend an entire day with my phone switched off, cut off from the world and catching up on my reading. I had tried to fit in once…letting in another to share my personal space, the very conversations you describe…and I wanted to scream “Aaaaaaargh”…having to explain my each waking moment, my not “keeping in touch” often. Torture. As for people who really matter, you don’t need to show you care by calling up every week…they know it well enough. Frequency of calls, contrary to popular belief, isn’t proportional to how much we care about someone.
    I’m so following your blog 🙂

  4. Ya dude spread the word…I need hits on my page 🙂

  5. Anil Prabhu Says:

    Thoughts expressed clearly like crystals.. yet there is a tinge of subtlety..
    Leaves you with a feeling.. fresh… positive… encouraging..

    Needless to say.. the photograph nothing but adds to the charm of this amazing piece of lit !

  6. Whoa. It could just as well have been me writing this blog. Friendship can be tricky. It comes along with the burden of expectations. From something as little as remembering a b’day or something more important like being there for a friend in times of his need. My closest friendships are those that are free from that burden. I don’t owe anything to my friends just as they don’t owe anything to me. I share a part of my life with someone for the mere joy of it. This is the beauty of an unconditional relationship. This is what makes it so special. There will be some who understand and some who don’t. Either way its okay. For hoping for our friends to understand is also an expectation.

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