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Your business or mine?

They may call themselves do-gooders, but they are actually ‘busybodies’. Deepa Gahlot rages against invasion of privacy.

sex and relationships Updated: Jan 08, 2009 14:54 IST
Hindustan Times

I don’t know about you,” said a single friend, “but why does my single status trigger off everyone’s latent ‘busybody-ness’.” He was fed up of everyone, from the relatives to the neighbours and even office colleagues asking him the most personal questions — “Are you gay? We really don’t have a problem with that.”

All this was said without batting an eyelid, and casually impinging on his privacy by suggesting names of girls to date, ways to get hitched, phone numbers of matrimonial services and what not. “Implying,” he grumbled, “that I’m totally inept or a perfect idiot.”

Can’t shut up
“It’s worse for women,” I told him. Not that it helped. And if you also happen to be self-employed, it’s a double whammy,” I added. Just about everyone will try to find you a spouse and a job, then expect you to tell them all your inner thoughts and feelings, while you gratefully accept their help. And the next thing you know, everyone has heard about your imaginary hard-luck story.

Some people are just too intrusive for their own good. They seem to thrive on what they believe is other people’s misfortune. We used to have a domestic help, who worked in three to four houses in the building. She constantly carried stories from one to the other and you simply couldn’t shut her up. So whether you wanted or not, you heard about a couple’s quarrels, problem children, people’s food and bathing habits. One day, the employers compared notes and were appalled at the slander and half-truths that had been going around the neighbourhood. And she got a collective sack.

Spice it up
Then there was this chatty masseuse, who would ask seemingly innocent questions, and added spice to the innocuous answers and passed around the gossip to her clients. It was scary how you could be portrayed to an acquaintance, and worse, if they were stupid enough to believe what they had heard. She was soon dropped by a lot of regulars. Everyone enjoys a bit of gossip and keeping track of what’s going on within their circle of acquaintances. But some are morbidly curious about other’s lives.

Do-gooders.. busybodies
They are happy to hear unpleasant news, as if other’s troubles, somehow make their own lives better. Such people will then put on their most superior and sanctimonious air and pass on yarns, clucking with sympathy, while actually pretending to be a well-wisher of the absent friend, whose ‘problems’ soon become everyone’s business.

They may call themselves do-gooders, but they are actually ‘busybodies’. Everyone has to figure out for themselves when concern becomes meddling, and when minding one’s business turns into apathy. A very thin line divides the two.

First Published: Jan 08, 2009 14:48 IST