“Becoming Social”: a Mission Futile
Posted by Mann
Recently demise of a very young man in the native place coincided with my visit there. Social courtesy called for a condolence and my mother too insisted that I should meet the family in grief as it is considered as a good social gesture. However to me, it is nothing less than a challenge and incase I make an effort, ‘what am I gonna say?’ I am so naïve!
Anyhow, this ‘not-so-social-being’, took the challenge and joined countless ‘so-very-social-beings’, busy in their respective tasks at the poignant abode. Some were sitting close to the family of deceased with typical facial expressions and tone in their voices, putting all their might not to let their tears dry; constant poking and drilling was on. I preferred to take the back seat and observe. I wished for my presence to be sufficient and I didn’t want to follow the suite. But my mum signaled to move ahead and I was like, “No, I can’t do this.” Her eyes said, “oh yes baby, you can do this! Everyone is doing, can’t you see?”
I reluctantly wriggled ahead just to sit like a lifeless figurine, again. I tried to concentrate on what was being discussed there. So I heard the same story umpteen times (besides I knew it already). Next group of social ladies would take the seat alongside the family and start afresh, “So how did it happen?” and the ‘miserable’ would retell the entire story, over and over again. I was bewildered by the lameness of the so called ‘socialites’ and the patient spontaneity of the ‘victims’.
Ultimately tired of my slothful progress my mother asked an elderly woman to kind of introduce me to the grieved-mother and wife; she did. I must admire their civility, even in such mournful mood, they claimed to recognize me. Their eyes searched mine as if asking, “Won’t you ask what has happened?”
I felt so helpless; the words refused to come out of the throat and my tongue was glued to the palate.
“Why is it so hard to utter those, many-time heard, well- rehearsed lines?” I collected all the strength but even then I couldn’t say the usual what? How? Why? However, I managed to speak, “I am very sorry for your loss, I can understand!” (The truth is, I can’t; No-body sitting in that room can! They were there to register their presence, to be noticed that’s why they keep on replaying the same act, time and again. Otherwise, what is this if not an emotional torture?).
“Have faith in GOD, You will have to be strong and take care of each other, especially the children!” I added.
Only, I know how difficult it was! Two women were literally crying; their eyes were swollen red and their faces were pale; bodies etiolated!
I took their leave and mom pointed towards a bunch of women and guided me to sit there, for a while; I obediently followed. What I witnessed there just killed any further desire to be ‘social’. After a mourning spell these so-called ‘social ladies’ were on their usual stuff; discussing people and to my amazement they were not kind, even to the ‘grief-stricken’.
“You know two siblings don’t get along well. Moreover, the mother-son duo was having rifts for long and she was staying with the other son. She didn’t like the deceased and even cursed him in front of masses….” I was trying to believe what was being said while looking at this sorrowful mother. Then the ladies switched to other social topics obviously in low whispering tone.
I was feeling like an ‘alien’ there.
“I don’t belong here. Is this the ‘social behavior’ that everyone keeps talking about? If yes then I feel sorry but I can’t handle it. This is not my ‘cup-of-tea’!
And I am happy that I am not ‘socially’ so social…call me anti-social or whatever? It’s up to you….