As I drive (clutch-brake-clutch) along the most populated roads and breathe in what we now know as the most polluted air, I realise how much I am going to miss this "city girl" living - a thought arising out of my imminent move to a one-horse town in Punjab, owing to the better half's transferrable job.
For me a civilian way of life in Delhi means travelling in a sweaty rush-hour metro; haggling with the auto wallah and the rickshaw guy; and claiming barely an inch of vacant space in public transport, clutching on to your carefully constructed, contemporary look, as you make way to a hot desk in your corporate skyscraper. A life where you hang out with friends over a cuppa till the wee hours, discussing topics from Sahir Ludhinavi's couplets to the latest fashion faux pas in the public transport. A life where contrasts and contradictions co-exist harmoniously without trying overtly to live up to or flout a stereotype to prove a point.
Then your fauji husband gets transferred to a small cantonment town of India. What do you do? Of course, think of moving lock stock and barrel with him. This "sacrifice", as put across by most, is not unusual and should not fall into the romantic stereotypical trap. Unfortunately, as most things, it does. After being almost "third degreed" by people with the questions that suits a corporate merger more than a couple staying together- "Are you joining him? When is he taking over? When is the move?" - you submit that, yes, you will be shifting to the life of a dutiful woman of substance (I believe truly that these are not antithetical forces).
Question: Why are we quick to jump to two conclusions - a, that every woman doing well professionally in a metro wouldn't leave her newly found work feet and settle in a back of beyond place even though it is for the umpteenth time; and b, at the other extreme, that every woman's dream is to have doors opened for her, to be treated as this divine creation of God who is infallible and pristine. This tendency is quite typical of us, no room for nuances, shades of grey, and coexistence of dichotomies. A woman is much more than black and white, throw in a couple of shades of grey and all the others in the spectrum.
There are many things about metro living that I will miss - the theatre (not the cinema one), the opportunities for professional enhancement etc. At the same time, I am all too aware of the quietude of idyllic small-town living. As I get set to paint the second generation (from both sides) luggage boxes yet again, I find myself being aware of what bits of Delhi I will have withdrawal symptoms of and also quickly sizing up what I stand to gain as an individual on my path of a constant learner, waiting to open unknown surprises and shocks. Neither missing the former too much nor lusting for the latter greatly. Zen's the way.
The writer is a Ferozepur-based freelance contributor