"Kab poora hua?"
"Hafta toh ho hi gaya"
"Dekhna bua ni aayi"
"Haan.. wo kese aati"
"Kyu kya hua? Shaadi pe toh ayi thi"
"Gold ring de ke bhaga diya.. ab kyu ayegi"
"Acha.. gold ring hi di thi (in whispers)"
"Haan (conspiratorial tone) haan thik thak hi thi shaadi"
"Chalo hm toh gaye hi ni the"
A serious situation turned to gossip. How does someone's death (‘poora hona' is a colloquial word for someone's death) become an occasion to talk about marriage? How does the joy of a wedding become measured by the free stuff distributed to relatives? There were so many things that troubled me about this conversation. And the fact that the words rang on in a sad environment like this made me turn away. Someone dies and every detail is discussed like it's a soap opera. The excited way in which the events are chattered about... it was no different from the quick banter shared among friends during the ads when one of them asks what she missed ... "She inherited the money. She divorced him. He was hospitalized. He died." Such an offhand relationship that the mind has with an event that's full of sorrow can be hard to digest.
These women have loved ones in their lives too. Feeling this detached from the situation, to be able to comment on a dead person like its entertainment ...But more shocking is that it's accepted in our society as a normal way to talk. We are expected to make observations and comments on other people's jewels, the way they dress up, what they presented on an occasion, what they DIDN'T give... Naïve ones, beware! Gifts are no longer supposed to come from the heart and your budget... they're supposed to come right out of your pockets. If your pocket, in this whole process of maintaining relationships, doesn't lighten up, then the relationship could easily get burdened.
Such occasions have become a tangle of formalities. There's no affection. You just want to please everyone. Recently, a family friend got married. And the father kept asking us, "Are you sure it's a good wedding? This is all I could do." I paused my dance, I took a look at his worn-out face and realized sadly that a grand marriage like this has obviously not been looked upon kindly by a certain samdhi and now it's worrying times for the ladki waale.
All our relaying of the truth didn't work. He was convinced something was missing. He was right. A true feeling of being a participant in the union of two people was the missing piece that suddenly made it for a soulless extravaganza. It was all for show. It was all for the benefit of the people so that the next day they can say they attended a wedding of such-and-such amount and the plate cost of this wedding was more or less (God forbid) as compared to the one they attended recently. It's not just about making sure people have a good time, inviting the ones who are truly happy for you or about celebrating with your loved ones. Now it's practically a competition. Who will provide the best gossip? And it all boils down to money, to fake relationships that we consistently feed upon, grumble about, but beam at and show our ‘selfless' love whenever we can.
Gossip is such an integral part of our lives and such an important source of our second-by-second validation that even a relevant piece of news loses its value and its original intention as it becomes the talk of the town. Gossip tends to come along smugly with its whole family- rumors, defamation, crudeness, hurt. The action is forgotten and it becomes about the people involved - or NOT involved - in it; then it becomes about the clothes they wear, the money they were born into, how poor they are, their sexual partners, and it just keeps going on morbidly after that.
Gossiping has no cure. But at least we can pretend to be better people by visualizing ourselves in the shoes of the ones we're doing all that khusar-pusar about. If you pass on something that's malicious, then you know it's just going to come back to bite you. Just wait for it!