This picture was taken in Kodaikanal in 2009 on my 32nd birthday.
A response on Facebook was “you look young” Now readers, since the past two whole weeks I had been scratching my head vigorously, trying to come up with something to write on, & nothing, absolutely nothing, had struck me. (My last post was on Apr 10th). The infamous writer’s block had bitten me again. And this time it was such an excruciating dry spell that, when I got that comment on FB, I thought why not write on this? So bear with me!
Is there a downside to looking younger? I’m not talking of “being young” but only “looking” young, younger than your calendar age. Trust me - there is!
The times I hate the “you look young” stare is during interviews. It gives me a completely unnecessary 2 minutes of initial hurdle to cross. The famous ‘First impression is the best impression’ goes for a toss when your prospective employer doesn’t take you seriously, at first glance, because he thinks, you look too young for the role/position applied for. And in my mind, I catch myself venting my anger, “I HAVE worked for 9 years Sir. I’ve slogged my ass off all these years & you won’t believe me?” The incredulous look on their faces rattles me. Before they open their mouths & ask, “Do you really have that much experience?” I go into an overdrive, explaining all the great things (supposedly) I’ve accomplished, in the past decade, starting with my auspicious birth in 1977 (no, actually, not that!!) to the post-graduation in 2000 & my momentous work life saga from then onwards. It is another story that they are convinced within the next couple of minutes & in my mind I’m back to heaving a sigh of relief & feeling good about not looking 40 when I’m still 35! I make it a point to wear saris for interviews with my hair rolled into a bun, to add a few “mature” years to my appearance. And I’m thankful, as I walk out, for the money spent on hording all those crisp, starched cotton saris.
During meetings, in office /college/seminars/conferences/wherever, no one initially takes me seriously. They don’t even look/glance in my direction. I am left to listen in while the whole room is busy shouting & drowning out each other’s highly knowledgeable opinions. And then l decide “Enough is enough”, drop a few quotable quotes & force them to sit up & take notice.
During my daily evening visits to the neighborhood park, none of the other mothers/aunties involve me in their all-important Child Behavior Analysis sessions, always assuming & looking at me, as if asking, “What can she possibly know?” And thinking, at best, I must be my daughter’s much younger maternal aunt, or at worst, her much older sibling. A couple of them actually asked me to my face, ‘Where is her mother?’ And I am like, ‘Excuse me? I AM her mother’ Till about 3 years back, a question like that would infuriate me no end. At the time I was still very high-strung with all the single parenting I was doing. It’s only now that I don’t take it to heart so much.
In buses, no one offers me a seat even though I’ve officially been an aunty for the past so many years. I’m getting older by the day & though people think I look young, I’m not getting any younger. Can you even begin to imagine my paranoia that I’m getting closer to the dreaded 40?
But hey, there is an up-side (obviously) to the story too. The best thing is even though I’m older than Sathya by a few years (ok, by exactly 3 years 9 months) NO ONE has, till date, been able to tell the age difference between us. Thanks to his build, I’m the petite, young wife to an older, taller, heftier giant of a man! Until & unless we expressly tell them & even when we do, they look at us with disbelief. According to them, it is just not possible that Sathya is younger than me. And no prizes for guessing who is having the last laugh!