My creative writing classes at British Council have taught me more than just creative writing. I never thought that the day would come when I would say this, but I actually look forward to meeting people twice a week. I am perhaps the person least likely to enjoy meeting new people. I love my own company and hold on to old friends like a comfort blanket. But put any person for 12 months in a house with only a 2 footer for company who demands that every waking moment be dedicated to her (and most of the sleeping ones too); and watch that person be a social butterfly when the opportunity arises!
(My professor insists that we limit our use of the exclamation mark!! That’s a tough one!)
My classmates are a varied bunch, as different from each other as possible. The age groups range from 18 to 42, career aspirations, marital status, purpose of attending the course – each variable has all sorts of representation. But meeting new friends also gives you a glimpse of what people perceive your life to be (and are too polite to spell it out). So while we’re walking to my car the other day, my new friend T comments on how relaxed my life must be now that I don’t work (I have VERY strong opinions on what constitutes ‘work’ and how it’s not limited to an office but let’s not go there). I smiled benignly and told her that I had a 1 year old baby, a house to run, freelance writing assignments, a travel company to keep afloat and atleast enough responsibilities to fill 20 A4 sheets. “But” she replied, having quit her corporate job a while back too “don’t you just love the freedom of not waking up to go to office, answering to your boss for everything?”
I let the conversation go, after giving her some advise on sticking to her current status (unmarried, living with joint family, taking up freelance assignments relating to her previous career for pocket money) for as long as possible if she wanted to relax. How could I explain to her that I had woken that morning at 6:30am to supervise the cook (woken up is to be taken with a pinch of salt as I slept for a total of 1 hour that night my daughter having caught a cold). While my baby was blissfully asleep (finally), I spent the next 2 hours setting the house in order and serving my husband breakfast. The moment I bid him adieu and sat down on the chair, my baby woke up and thereafter started the process of cleaning her, bathing her, dressing her, feeding her (after cooking her breakfast), cleaning her again. By now, I had all of 10 minutes left to get dressed and rush for my class. Which can be a challenge when your baby wails if she can’t see you even for a micro second.
So finally I rushed out, dropped her to my mother’s place, drove for an hour in terrible traffic to reach British Council and managed to make it in the nick of time.
I wanted to tell T that the 2 hours twice a week that I have class is the only time in my week that I can ‘relax’. That I would perhaps love the opportunity to have an office to run to and forget all of the above for 10 hours everyday. No, I don’t regret my decision even for a moment. I can never do the corporate thing again, it’s just not me. Neither do I assume that my life is tougher than that of my husband who toils tirelessly at work. But a cakewalk it is not. I do not have a minute to spare and despair. I do not sit around the house and have a ball. Superwoman I am not... but I’m pretty sure I’m doing the darn best I can.