Monday, 28 June 2010

How can you be a ‘Cinderella?’

An article I wrote for London Bangla in May 2010

Most young girls, if not, all girls, have that ‘Cinderella dream’: Meet a handsome prince, get married, and live happily-ever-after,’ not really thinking of what that ‘ever-after’ consists of. Of course, once these girls become women, they will realise and perhaps will be unprepared for, REALITY.

Many women are single, divorced, or unhappily married. But some of us, like moi, have fortunately reached that ‘Cinderella dream.’ So, what is wrong with today’s society? Society-such a general term; in fact, one of my University English Professors from the USA, told me that when I say ‘society,’ I should state what sort of society I mean.

The fact is that there is no categorisation in this case; ‘Western,’ ‘Asian,’ ‘African,’ ‘Caribbean,’ and ‘Latino’ societies all face the previously-mentioned unhappiness of experiencing or realising that not everyone can reach that ‘Cinderella dream.’ It’s all circumstantial.

Take ‘Sex and the City,’ for example-the movie, not the series. Carrie and Mr. Big are happily living together, but Carrie wants to bind this relationship with a legal contract called, marriage. However, Mr. Big, who wants to live with Carrie forever, suddenly gets nervous about marriage. I thought he wanted to be with her. It’s only a contract and he said that if it makes Carrie happy, then he’ll do it. Anyway, he stands her up at the altar and Carrie loses faith, yet again, in ALL men.

Faith is such a beautiful word, yet so difficult to obtain and maintain these days. Could lack of faith be the core of all relationship issues and by relationship, for those who are single, I mean, the relationship within one’s self, faith in one’s self?

I don’t’ mean to brag, but no matter how many men I am acquainted with for business purposes or how many times I’m late coming home (late for me is 9ish), the hubster does not complain or interrogate me. He trusts me wholeheartedly and that is the core of our relationship. One must have faith within one’s self and within others. Of course, if one’s trust has been broken many times, as was the case with Carrie, it is difficult to stand up again.

So, what should one look for in a potential husband?

1.Sensitivity, however, if he cries during ‘The Titanic,’ I’d question his sexual preference.

2.Understanding: He lets you punch him to release your anger, but his silence might only make you more angry. He takes it anyway.

3.Family Values: This doesn’t mean that you have to live with his family (though I do, but that might not be everybody’s cup-of-tea). When a man is family-oriented, it means he loves spending time with them and he wants you to share those moments with him. He also, in turn, will get along with your family. Chances are, in this case, there will be no ‘monster-in-law.’ Remember that it was that family who shaped the man you love so much.

4.Faithfulness: ‘How can I tell?’ you ask. The most innocent-SEEMING man might be a ‘Tiger Wood.’ You can tell he is faithful when he rushes home to you, when he doesn’t get jealous if you talk to other men, when he praises your beauty and your intelligence, when he looks into your eyes and tells you that he loves you (a factual cliché), and when he comes closer to you every time you push him away.

5.Flaw-ful: He’s not flawless. He has bad habits as in cutting toe nails on top of the bed or leaving the toilet seat up. He might have had a horrible past. He is not perfect and that makes him REAL. We all need REAL men, who have flaws that we can learn to love because we have flaws too.

I’m no psychologist or therapist, but I’m a married woman and I was in search of a life partner once too. Fortunately, I’ve bloomed into a ‘Cinderella’ and I hope that the five qualities I’ve outlined above help you to become one too. One more thing, if the guy is a ‘Fonsie’ (character in ‘Happy Days’), he’s not husband-material.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

The Tree

I've moved more than ten times in my life.

When I was no taller than a pinky finger...exaggeration...I lived in a dainty Bronx flat and outside of the sitting room window, there resided a rather grand tree, the web of branches through which I grew acquainted with my neighbours.

I was a spy. The girl, within whom I would find myself a peer in an all-girls private Catholic high school, used to hang out with her friends outside of our building. I was not sure where she lived or any of my neighbours at that; however, I knew them. I did not know what they liked to eat or where they shopped, but I kind of, sort of, knew them. This was MY neighbourhood. I did not own it, but I felt some sort of attachment to it.

That girl was Michelle. She was a Spanish girl, whose dirty blonde hair ran all the down to her buttocks. Her hair was beautiful; it reminded me of the medieval Lady of Shallot who boated down the lake to her death. Michelle is two years older than I am and we used to take the bus together to school. I never told her that I had seen her before...I guess I didn't want to freak her out. Imagine being told that you were observed through someone's window many times....

Then, there was the dancer. She lived across the building from us. By now, you probably find me a little creepy, but every writer is inspired by his or her surroundings and I will never forget how much I wanted to be a dancer because of this unknown individual. I did not discover her name nor did I ask; the only reason why I knew Michelle was because of a formal acquaintance via school.

The ballerina had brunette hair, always tied up in a ponytail. Her window was directly across from my bedroom window and I could see her prancing grace. I was about 9-years-old, thinking how cool it would be to be a dancer. I pretended to be one. I played the music in my head and danced, hoping that someone, somewhere, would notice me dancing and be inspired by me.

There were many others who I recognised, chatting away at the corner of our block. Every time I went outside and saw them, I wanted to say 'Hey, I know you.' But that never happened because I was conscious about looking foolish.

When it rained and there were heavy thunderstorms accompanied by crackling lightening flashes, I left the sitting room window open and watched the drops pound against the emerald and trickling down until it falls off the point, the point of the leaves of that tree, the tree that made me feel at home...the one that introduced me to my neighbours.

I'm now in London; there is a tree across the street from me which reminds me of what a home is. I look at its proud appearance through my large rectangular window and it just makes me want to paint it. However, that rectangular window and that tree is already like a live canvas. Why paint something that is already real, a rare portrait?

Our neighbourhood is quiet and none of our neighbours appear to like the outdoors.... How will I get to know them? Knock at the door? But, then again, what's the fun in that? There will be no mystery behind each person. So, in a way, knowing Michelle, who her boyfriend was, what her favourite boy band was...disappointed me. No enigma meant that I really did not know my neighbours.... I liked imagining what each one's life was like; was he her brother? Was she married? Did they have loving families or troubled ones? I did not want to KNOW.... I do these things even today, on the train on my way to work, when I look at the people gliding along beside me or sitting across from me.

The tree is still there and when I visit the Bronx once a year, I see it there and I see my old window. I grow so sad looking at it.... I grow sad thinking about how many people the tree has gotten to know and how many have moved away. I grow sad knowing that life is a one-way journey; there are no round trips and what remains in reminiscence gradually fades away, becomes a fog and more.

When I saw the tree in front of my current house, I smiled as if saying, 'Hello Watson' to it.