I have often been accused of tilting heavily in favour of women. People have criticized me for being sexist because of my constant rant about how it is always the woman who has to suffer. Some have even gone to the extent of calling me a man hater. Nothing could be farther from the truth for I have nothing against men. Men have not found a prominent place in my writings because I really don’t know how a man feels. I have had incessant discussions with my husband on a man’s point of view and let me confess, I still haven’t been able to understand their attitude towards most things. He often rolls his eyes up and says women aren’t easy to decipher. Well … It is true. Women are extremely complicated but that statement cannot take away from men their complexities, eccentricities and idiosyncrasies. I, for one, really cannot understand their obsession with lies … Yes. Most men I have come across lie shamelessly to get away from situations they don’t wish to encounter. Their aim is to escape argument at all costs. Women to that extent are more honest, albeit confrontational. Men are usually desperate to end the discussion over seemingly mundane matters and women on the other hand do conflagrate them into unreasonable proportions. I am a woman and I do it all the time and I have witnessed other women do it too. Anyhow, coming back to my series on character sketches … This time, I decided to neutralize my blog by penning down about a person who believes that he is a gift to womankind.
I have known this man for over 14 years now. Our first meeting was nothing short of an accident … Both literally and figuratively. Like I actually had slipped while climbing on to a train and this person had offered assistance by asking me to sit on his luggage. Being my obstinate self, I walked past this man, into my compartment and sat down on my seat. AC, 3-tier train from New Jalpaiguri to Guwahati. Next, I see him occupy the berth opposite to mine. My pain hadn’t reduced and the slight chill in the air was adding to my drowsiness. Fortunately, I was not travelling alone. My mother and my sister were with me on this trip and they were trying to arrange for some Dettol and cotton. This irksome person (I found him extremely irritating), then took out his aftershave and offered it to my mom … who accepted it smilingly. After spraying his aftershave on my wound and cleaning it up with gauze which he was carrying in his luggage, I felt obliged to thank him. After flashing my “thank you” smile for precisely10 seconds I went back to the book I was reading and he managed to engage my mother in a conversation which was cacophony to my ears. Despite my irritation, I kept quiet because of how he had helped with my injury.
The morning after while my mother and I were embroiled in a heated political discussion, this horrid creature jumps into the argument in the support of my mother. Given how tolerant I am (pun intended) I gave him my most icy look dipped in condescension. I told him to contribute to the discussion only when he is aware of the political scenario of India and Indian history. What I heard from him left me flummoxed … He retorted by introducing himself as a captain in the Indian Army who hails from a politically well-connected family in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Not only this information unsettled me but disarmed me a bit for I was expecting a mute acceptance of the insults I had thrown at him. Anyhow … The station came and the arrival of Guwahati station did nothing to my already sour spirits. I was mad at everyone … I was mad at the Universe for introducing us to him, I was mad at my mom for treating him nicely and I was mad at him for being himself. Basically I was just MAD!!
Mr. Know All, then added to my fury by helping us locate our car at the railway station amidst a maoist procession. The station was in the state of absolute chaos and given the language constraint we couldn’t approach anyone. Seeing three damsels in distress, out comes this knight in shining armour and we find ourselves at his mercy because he was fluent in Assamese … Voila!! I should have been elated. Instead it added to my exacerbation. He helped my mother locate our vehicle and asked me for my mobile number to check on us during our stay in Shillong. Since cellphones were a rarity in those days, I was forced against my wishes to share my number with him (I was the only one amongst the 3 of us who was carrying a mobile phone) and that is how I met the most interesting man in my life.
It has been almost 14 years since May 21, 2003 and every single day in last 14 years, I have tried to compare other men with this weird creature and every single time I have found other men to be wanting. Chivalry is a dying trait … But when you meet him, you realize, the word was made for him. He openly admits being a sexist (not that being chivalrous suo moto amounts to be sexist) for he says this world is a jungle in which women need to be protected from men else they would be preyed on by men. He will never package his lust as love and sell it to a woman … That is beneath his dignity. He is someone who will walk up to a woman and ask her if she is willing to share his bed. Does is scandalize you? Well … Let me tell you, I have seen more women rely on him than any other man. His complete honesty has won him more friends than enemies. Before you label him as an equalist, let me tell you about him a little more … He is fiercely possessive about women he cares for. He is an over protective father of a young lady whom he wants trained in martial arts so that no man his type can stand on his feet after propositioning to her.
He is the son of soil who loves farming. He loves his fields and never wants to be a part of the hustle-bustle of big cities. He calls himself unambitious and works twice as hard as any man I know. He loves to read. He consumes literature and liquor with equal fervour. He loves his drinks and he loves his books. Take either and he is an unsettled unhappy man who will attack you. He will engage in threadbare analysis of the “War and Peace” over Old Monk. You might be confused while searching for an appropriate label for him in your head and while you are still struggling with your search … He would dive into lentils and loaf and talk about (and justify) election rigging in his village.
Men who cannot hold their alcohol and misbehave with women after inebriation are the lowest forms of life. However, the man I am talking about can consume copious amounts of alcohol (I am talking about almost 2 litres of alcohol here), risk mixing alcohol and still stand straight like a tree, drive like a pro and not behave inappropriately. Now that I have sufficiently painted a white portrait of a brown-skin, grey-character man, let me go a step further.
He is wild and he is free. Find him in one of his jovial jocular moods and if anyone around were to suggest that he has the temper of a wild beast, out would come your sword in his defence. Accusing a mild tempered soft creature? Poor thing is incapable of raising his voice. The truth, my friend is stranger than fiction. He has the worst temper I know. Not only is he capable of utter destruction in his fit of rage but he also loses his sense of discretion. His anger is the most destructive aspect of him and with age I have only seen it grow. It is like this molten lava which burns everything it comes in contact with.
He is a walking talking symbol of patriarchy. He genuinely believes that this world consists of men and men … Women on the other hand are meant to be protected and provided for. The idea of a working woman is abhorrent to him just as the thought of inter-caste, inter-racial, and inter-religion marriage. I have often debated with him and no matter how logical and rational my arguments have been, he has never conceded to the idea of mixed marriage.
Here is a man who is well travelled, well read and well off but none of it has made any difference to the way he feels about empowerment and emancipation of women or casteism in India.
He encapsulates multiple personalities in him and each of those personalities is vibrant. He is a colourful man who has led an eventful life. And just before you start envying his good luck and good looks … Listen to this … He lost his father at the age of 15 and since then has struggled to keep his land and property intact. He openly admits that he suffers from mother fixation and shall never abandon his mother for anything or anyone. His mother receives precedence over his daughter and he shall happily sacrifice his daughter for his mother, should the need arise.
I have lived with him for the last 14 years … Mostly in head and sometimes on roads and coffee shops and I have never met a man as enticing as he is. He flirts unabashedly and is completely unapologetic of how he is or where he hails from. To some he might appear uncouth and rustic and without taking away from him those adjectives, I would like to add that he is thorough gentleman … You will not spot him in a tie and neither will you ever see him in cufflinks … all that is extremely pretentious and “Angrezi” (British) for him but you will never see him flounder in his conduct. If he will break your bones if you eve-tease in front of him and if he catches you ill-treating a woman, well, consider yourself lucky if you are still alive.
Titus Paulo (that’s my name for him) is so many men rolled into one and yet he is like no other man I know … Every mom would want a son like him and every wife would dread having him as a partner! He is your best friend but not your dream boy-friend. He will forget birthdays and anniversaries but will never forget to call to check on you if he knows that you are travelling alone at night. He is a big liar … Trust him to cheat on you if you are in a relationship with him but he can be brutally honest when it comes to your welfare. He will never compliment you to make you feel happy … Praise from him is hard to get but if you do manage to receive his toothy grin in response to your look or to your poem, please cherish it!! His grins are as rare as he is …