It’s funny how we inhabit two worlds simultaneously; one that is real, tangible and where ‘A is A’, and the other that is essentially an overlap, crowded by our myriad assumptions about the objects of the real world. People, intentions, books, movies, places, relationships, emotions; nothing is spared from the realm of assumptions.
I am no exception and often assume who is worth letting into my life, and who would be merely excess baggage to lug around. Despite being a insatiable reader, I still harbour prejudices about the readability of a book if they belong to certain genres, or the section of the readers they appeal to. I do it without even flipping open a single page. The same goes for travel choices; often I assume that certain places have nothing worthwhile to offer apart from the usual touristy stuff. I make assumptions about relationships (often equating superficial variables like time spent together, number of conversations to the amount of care; even when I talk only once a month to my closest friends), about emotions (I am/was in love with a boy I met a couple of years ago and had known for just a month, and it was initiated on the assumption that he liked me too. stupid), and even about everyday conversations (what did she mean by that? should I read between the lines?). It is human nature to create our own versions of everything we see, feel and hear; blending with, and sometimes even overpowering the truth. Sometimes I feel guilty about jumping to conclusions without bothering to verify facts, but usually I brush it off as it doesn’t affect me in a direct and immediate manner.

But it is troubling to be on the receiving end of such assumptions. I have a close friend from my junior college days who had suddenly started giving me the cold shoulder. I assumed she was busy and didn’t disturb her with frequent calls and texts. But when it persisted, I confronted her only to be told that she had assumed I was the one avoiding her! Now we are the back to our giggles and gossips, but I shudder to think that a mere assumption might have destroyed a decade old friendship. My sister is home for her summer training and I was bursting with joyous anticipation about all the places we would visit and all the conversations we would have. But she came home, slumped down on her bed, barely talked to me, and didn’t leave the house often. I assumed she was tired, while she assumed that I had cancelled her offer to study abroad due to trivial reasons and harboured a silent grudge. And this would have continued had I not asked her directly about what is bothering her.
It is surprising how often we let assumptions colour our lives. The Anne Tyler books that I have been reading makes me want to tear out my hair in utter despair, what with all those people drifting apart due to mere assumptions and unsaid words. Children drift away from parents, lovers and spouses drift away from each other, and friends separate too. It is such a waste, yet it is happening all around us. This is one mistake that no one ever learns from.

I guess we would do ourselves a favour if we talk it out instead of sprouting assumptions. But that’s tiring too, isn’t it? Sigh!

What The Weather Makes Us Say

Why My Sister is Darwin’s Re-incarnation?
It was a harsh winter in the mountains of Tawang and I entertained the poetic tragedy of being frozen to death and be discovered in spring thaw. But my sister had strong survival instincts as evident in her statement below.
Me: It’s so cold, I’ll turn into ice.
My Sister: It’s so cold, I’ll turn into a polar bear.

The Curse of The Snowy Mountain
My newly-wed friend returns after a honeymoon in the snow clad mountains.
Me: How was the honeymoon?
Friend: (loud, excited voice that reached husband in the next room) It was so much fun. (in conspiratorial whisper) But you know he is still irritated.
Me: Why?
Friend: It was so cold, he couldn’t get it up…(just then friend’s husband plops on the sofa next to her)..couldn’t get up the mountain, you know, it was freezing weather on the trek. (Straight face. Not a flicker of emotion.)

A Family of Helens
On a day when the humidity made me want to jump into the nearest river, a friend called up and told me about their family’s collective summer tribute to an iconic “dancer/item girl in the Hindi film industry.
Friend: It’s so hot, na? We are down to wearing the barest minimum. There are four ‘Helen‘s in our home now. Ma is ‘Big Helen‘, Ba (elder sister) is Helen‘, and I am Mini Helen’. Deuta (father) is ‘Topless Helen‘.

When I Insulted A Pig
After twelve hours of being trapped in the poorly ventilated ‘labour room‘ wearing plastic protective gear and breathing in the nauseating smell of afterbirths, my friend resented when I compared us to ‘sweating pigs‘.
Friend: Don’t insult them. Pigs glow, only we sweat.

The Death of Maternal Affection
An aunt known for her scrupulous attention to hygiene was aghast that her own son didn’t inherit it. On a humid summer evening she made the grave mistake of rebuking him in front of a host of relatives.
Aunt: It’s four in the evening. Why are you so lazy? How can you go through such a hot day without taking a bath?
Cousin: Arrey Mummy, I may not take bath once in a while, but even you take bath  just once a week in December.

Debut of The Dazzling Scalp
It was a hot hot day and I was waiting under the embarrassing small shade of a coconut tree. I could feel the sweat patches growing on the outfit that took me five hours to decide on and worse, the hairspray-induced bounce in my hair deflated and drowned in a pool of sweat. Humidity dealt me a cruel blow.
(Ex-)Boyfriend: Sorry, I’m a bit late. Why are you standing in the sun? Come on, let’s go. By the way I never noticed it earlier, but your scalp is so white!

The Highest Testimony Of Love
Monsoons in India bring out the “Fear Factor” contestants in us when we take leaps of faith over the submerged gutters and manholes in our daily commutes. Cars float and not all of us have boats in our garages. Every morning we bid emotional farewells and wonder if we will be back home for dinner or float down the underground sewer. Add to that the deluge from overflowing drains that makes us want to amputate our legs or soak them in Dettol for a year. A friend waddled through this disgusting flood to her fiancee’s home on his birthday.
Friend: Happy Birthday! I couldn’t go anywhere to buy a gift. But this is your gift. Just look out of the window and see what I walked through. Just see for yourself how much I love you.

When The Wind Blows
While watching Marilyn Monroe’s vain attempts to keep her dress down as she stood provocatively over the air vent: 
Friend: If I had those legs and if I had that dress, I’d wear it only on windy days. 

Photo Courtesy: Isabella Bannerman