The title is deliberate. It’s meant to throw off everyone except the ones who actually got this far. Even now is a good time to turn the page and move on.
This is really just a shiny new column made up of all kinds of leftover advice. The kind of thing that might call out to you in a flea market full of useful-looking useless things. If you stop to look, you will find yourself staying longer than you meant to, and then you might end up taking home something that doesn’t seem to fit with the rest of your classy stuff. Don’t blame me later.
I might not even be here, if you return to ask me how exactly this is supposed to work.
Make friends. New friends. Waste lots of time talking, chatting, texting, sharing and commenting. Being silly. Friendships that nurture the inner crazy. Friends who make us laugh unnecessarily. Friends are the family we choose. Friends keep us young.
Fight with your spouse. Make sure you fight in front of the children. Being a role model is hard work. Fake it till you get it just right. Put up good fights. You don’t want your children to grow up and not know how to frame a spectacular argument. Look authority in the eye and stand up for themselves. And then move on.
Make a list of everything you don’t want to do.
Make a list of everything you never wanted to be. Negative lists are full of power. There’s not much left to do after the list is made. Day’s work done. Take these lists very seriously. Hidden behind layers of things you never wanted to do, there might be something. I don’t know. It’s your list, you will find it.
I must stay focused on the useless this week.
“Bhabhi,” Kanta Mausi, who cooks for us, calls me from the kitchen. Naseem, the four-year-old boss in the house, laughs out loud.
“Mamma is not Barbie,” she says, covering her mouth with her hands.
“Whatever you say, Naseem,” says Kanta Mausi. “You know best.”
Collect your own silly moments.
It takes three to make a marriage. A couple and a home. Or a couple and a car. Or maybe their playlist. Recognize the moments that are yours. Create cosy corners for yourselves as a couple, the same way you did when you were new lovers. Not physical spaces, small little intimacies that everyone can see but no one else can recognize.
Like teatime, for example. Quick tea, elaborate tea, tea followed by another tea, impromptu tea, tea in new places, unexpected spaces. Tea on the train. I don’t even like tea, but I love the excuse.
I have an elder brother I crave to talk to. He calls regularly. Before I can start saying something, he puts the phone to his son’s ear. Talk to Bhua. Then he says, talk to Nipa. Nipa is my soulmate sister-in-law. The words flow effortlessly between her and me. We share stories and jokes about our lives. This is how Bhai does conversations with me.
Keep talking. Calling and writing. Start texting people who claim they never check their messages, or don’t know how to. Maybe it’s because no one sends them any messages.
What else are we doing on social networks? We practise friendship, love and anger. We get really good at some of it. Then we turn around and bring it home. Why don’t you go away so I can text you, sometimes I say to my husband in my head.
Accept your need for validation. Seek it. Get it. Let it nurture you. Let the voices from the outside drown the judgemental, guilt-ridden inner nag.
It does take a village to raise a child. To raise your inner child. Choose your village.
And please, patience. It takes time to settle a new village. It takes skill. Put the people you find to good use. Exploit their potential to support and admire you.
I know you hate compliments. Just because you hate it, doesn’t mean you don’t want it. Fake your acceptance till you get it right. If you’ve come this far, this is yours to keep. Let it lie around, maybe it will make a good present some day. It might even grow on you, who knows.
Make sure you have a useless weekend after this.
Natasha Badhwar is a film-maker, media trainer and mother of three.
Also Read | Natasha’s previous Lounge columns