I take my swollen, post-call1 manhoos 2 face to both weddings, because the schedule changes only allow for so much leeway, and “better post-call than not at all” has become the mantra of my life. How many weddings can you miss before you’re no longer considered part of the family? That’s not a question I want an answer to.
It is a peculiar kind of face though, the post-call face. Swollen both with lack of sleep and the evening nap you took to ensure that you don’t doze off in the middle of the wedding – snoozing in the biryani, or worse, next to the bride and groom on stage. Body tired, with just enough strength in it to sit but not enough to sit straight. (I am developing a permanent slouch.) The constant interactions at work mean that by now all I want to be is taciturn and grumpy, but the sleeplessness loosens my tongue enough for some indiscretions sometimes.
Once, in a post call state, I praised a certain senior’s gray-blue eyes – the relentless teasing that followed from my colleagues lasted two days.
The weddings themselves are a bit more evidence of my manhoosat – the younger cousins are getting married now, while I, according to my mother, approach the old and wrinkly age of 26.
I tell my mother I shan’t marry before 30 anyway.
Her rejoinder is that there’s no rush, I should marry by 60.
To which I say, that’s when I plan on having my second marriage.
My glee at her outrage dims the ache of the open ulcer this discussion has started to cause on my heart. I love my mother, but her parental concern is as senseless and persistent as a fly against a glass window. I try not to be too bothered, but it causes me invisible heart ulcers.
By the time I am 30, they will be heart cankers.
I will be wrinkly at 30.
My friend of 13 years was the one I admitted this to – I want children, sometimes desperately, and this is exacerbated by visits to the peads ward – but I have no desire to marry. And this is an incongruence that does not fit well into our conventional society, or even into ideas of conventional parenting. The problem is not marriage though, it is finding someone I would want to have a child with in the process.
Even by 30.
It seems important despite everything, though, to continue enjoying weddings, whatever my oppositions to marriage. So even though I’m tired, of social conventions and the whole business, I will pick out a pretty dress, and put on my blingy jewellery, and carry my post-call manhoos face to the wedding.
And I will damned well have fun.
1 after a 30 hour shift, known as ‘call’ or being ‘on call’
2 Urdu word meaning, roughly: unlucky, misfortunate, ugly.