When Pink isn’t Purple
When Pink isn’t Purple11 mins 103 11 mins 103
Growing up as a child I was quite fond of dressing up, especially on birthdays! Eventually, as my studies and work took the front seat, dressing well took a back seat. But those who know me for a long say I am fine. Not that I care about it… I do and wear what I like and what I find comfortable. It’s a waste of energy I think, thinking about what other people think about you because you can never, please everyone. Also, dressing up is about you, as in me, and, it should be that way!
Anyways, that apart, my favorite color is yellow. I love different shades of it, be it mustard or golden or lemon. The vibrancy of this color is truly enchanting I feel.
A few days back I met Debbie at the metro station. She was wearing a nice yellow shirt and the moment I saw her I complimented her. I think she is pregnant. She didn’t say anything, but you know… Mark must be very happy. Mark, Debbie’s husband.
Debbie was my roommate back in Thailand where I had visited a cousin for a month or so. The three of us had a gala time staying awake to multiple cups of dark chocolate-laden coffee, sometimes, with a tinge of fresh cream in it. Beautiful days really!
I remember I had made my specialty, roast chicken with gravy and naan, for all of us one night. Bhai arranged for some steamy pasta from a nearby deli, and, Debbie arranged for some fries and fish fingers. It was a beautiful time we spent together. I think it was that night that I told the two of them that I don’t want to have children. Bhai was aware, but Debbie needed some explanation because we didn’t know each other that well before that trip.
I think I was 27 or something and had sort of started figuring out where my life was going and what I wanted. Needless to say, my maternal instincts had started kicking in, and anywhere that I would see children or babies I would find myself rushing towards them, cuddling them, picking them up. But I knew there was something inside of me that wasn’t ready. Not that much has changed today, but now I have larger concerns. I don’t want to get there.
Bhai and Debbie heard me out as I did them and then we spent the night chit-chatting over so many other things that we almost lost track of time. It happens with me you know… with people I like…
Eventually, Debbie met Mark in her college and after a good two years of courtship they got married, I was invited, and although it needed international travel, I went because I love Debbie and could not have been happier than to see her happy.
Apparently, they have now shifted to India, after a good three years, I think. Debbie is about to have her second baby. Her first one was a girl. She’s beautiful! Now that they are here, I’ll get to visit her more often and spoil Tessa, Debbie’s daughter.
I wonder what color Tessa likes. I want to buy a dress for her birthday and I am so bad at gifting people, it almost gives me anxiety attacks when I have to. I think I am also lazy about this. Somehow, I am also not comfortable with people gifting me anything. I feel it’s a farce, some stupid activity which half of the world does quite moronically without being even remotely involved in the person for whom they are buying the gift. Anyways…
The other day I saw a beautiful pink gown in a boutique close to my house. After yellow, I think I really love pink. And then, maybe blue. Anyways, when I saw that dress for a moment it confused me if it's pink or does it have a purplish tinge. It was evening and the lighting in the showroom didn't offer much help. It’s strange, how these two colors are similar, yet different in their own way!
Needless to say, I ended up buying it given the shopping enthusiast that I am.
After I came home, I realized that it was neither pink nor purple. It was mauve. And, I loved it!
But you know what, it’s been lying in my closet since that day and I keep contemplating when will I wear it. Sometimes I even think of gifting it to Debbie, but I am not sure if it will suit her complexion. Then I think, “How does it matter? I should just give it away. Whether to wear or not is her lookout.” And then the mauve lures me and I just fold it back and keep it in the closet.
It’s nice how people associate the color pink or red with love. Back in college days, we used to have different celebrations around Valentine’s Day. Rose day, chocolate day, saree day, tie day, blah…. Good fun you know! So many of my classmates would hook up that day and more than that would break up in the week following Valentine’s! But some of my buddies have stayed together for years now. It’s admirable. However, it’s silly how the guys have to rack their brains to impress their girls and how much time the girls spend to look their best for the guy. I don’t think I can ever get anywhere close to those girls for anyone in my life.
Seriously. I mean I love to dress up and look good when I want, but not for a guy… It’s a bit too intimidating! More so, I never want to see myself in a zone where I am waiting for a guy to compliment me. I mean, Hello! There’s a mirror in my house. And I know I am average. Big Deal! Honestly, I have loved hanging out with some of my guy friends in the slobbiest pajamas none of whom were my love interests.
And, honestly, I cannot imagine myself being anything different than that for someone I love. In fact, there’s a joke in my house. Few years back in our house when we all were prepping up for my sister’s wedding and I was all enthusiastic, everyone teased me that if I am so zesty for my sister’s function what will I do when it’s my time.
I had the laugh of my life when my cousins and some of my sisters’ friends said that because I was like you don’t know how much I am pissed doing all this crazy. I just told them, “Dude, I don’t think I can handle this crazy on my big day. So, my boyfriend will probably have to marry me in my pajamas! And, maybe later, we both can throw a small party in a good restaurant for the close ones. That’s it. No grandiosity, no cameras, whatsoever.
I hate smiling and looking perfect for pictures and staying in attention for the camera. You just can’t enjoy the moment when you are doing that. And we all know how stupid those candid pictures can sometimes turn out to be. Someone is sleeping or yawning, someone’s angry because something is not in the right place! And those dinner time photos when the photographer takes the most obnoxious picture of people staring at food or taking in huge morsels. Such bad timing …. And all of that as my wedding memories! Gosh… Give me a break!”
Forget about that… the worst thing is how tired you get dressing up, and shopping for yourself and others and buying gifts, and managing everything else along with it. I don’t want all that. I hope whoever I get married to would be okay with that too. I don’t want to be an imposter. So.
You know just next to the shop from where I brought that gown for myself, there was a humble toy store. Nothing grand like the Hamley’s, but it had everything one would need. I felt why not check if I could find something for Tessa there. So, I went inside.
They had a good collection of barbies. I don’t know if I like them. My mother never liked them and so she never brought them for me. That besides, interestingly, the salesman told me that there are some new barbie models which are not yet available in my country, but they could arrange for the shipment for no extra charge. Apparently, Barbie has come up with doll models the structure and clothing of which have been inspired by women scientists in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics).
Apparently, it is their effort to imbibe in young girls the spirit and the love for education in these otherwise male-dominated fields of science. I find it interesting! I thought maybe it would be really good for me to buy one such doll for Tessa. After all, she keeps telling me how inspired she feels that I am into the field myself and that someday she would also want to do something similar…
I ordered one for her and, gifted it to her, and, I was in trouble! Boyyy… she asked me so many questions! Is this model based on a real person? What does a researcher exactly do? How many years does it take to become a scientist?
But I was happy. I was happy that my gift generated curiosity in that little girl. Sometimes, it is these little moments that shape up your life. I remember having no direction at some point of time in my life when one of my professors pointed out to me that I am a thinker. That I should really consider doing a Ph.D. I am forever indebted to her for my stepping stones in biological research!
For once I was elated that the barbie was not only a - pink frock-wearing – sexy looking – just about the looks – kinda toy. She was more. That now may be the perception about the color pink or its allied contours will not be only associated with the beauty of a girl, or she is in a happy marriage or relationship. Nothing wrong with that, but I find it a bit too tacky at times!
I remember in my college days a friend of mine used to say, “It's Pink, not Purple.” when she used to refer to a couple in our class who had hooked up but were not serious about each other long term. It used to amaze me. Why she chose the colors pink and purple only?
Eventually, as I was growing up, that thought percolated in me too. And I felt it’s very important to know When Pink is not Purple…
But the day I gave Tessa that doll, I realized, it’s also important to know that there are things and concepts beyond the pink and purple that people often attribute to a girl as she is growing up…
“Oh… she’s become quiet suddenly… she must have hit puberty.”, “oh look at how full her breasts are…”, “My …. Isn’t she turning out to be beautiful?”
I am sure all the girls and women out there have come across these remarks at some of the other points in their life. But I find all these quite out of place. First of all, because I have never paid attention to myself that way. It was mostly school, tuition, homework, repeat. It was not unless one of my work colleagues told me that I have a beautiful smile when I was 32, that, I had ever thought about it. That day for the first time I looked into the mirror and tried smiling. It was funny!
We never had any cosmetics or overly fancy clothes. In a middle-class household like our’s decency is important. And I have preferred to keep it that way. Not that I don’t dress up for parties and weddings, I do. But that’s not at the forefront of my life. You know what I mean!
That said, Tessa is now playing ‘house’ with the STEM-inspired Barbie that I gave her and her narrative is which college will the doll go to when she will grow up and how many marks does she need to get in her board exams to get admission in the best college in town.
Children are like clay, aren’t they? We can mold them as we want! I am happy that someday Tessa will really become something in life. Something. Anything. It’s not the money or the prestige or the fame that counts. It’s the sense of identity and … a sense of usefulness to society. The society which directly or indirectly is nurturing you. At times, even more than what your parents or family can do. We all owe it back to society, in whatever capacity, big or small.
Today, I felt someday Tessa will also inspire someone because as they say the circle of inspiration always grows and somehow finds a way to pass the baton to the next generation! Just as it happened to me because of my professor! I am sincerely grateful to her to have helped me see life differently. And it is thanks to her that I passed on this sense of individuality to so many of my students. I think they are grateful to her too!
I am going to meet Joshua now. Joshua my boyfriend. We met ten years back and have been going out since then. Just coffees… And movies… and late-night dinners at times!
But I ain’t sure if this pink is going to be purple.
I am sure even he isn't.
In fact, I am sure we both don't want it to. But we like being with each other, speaking about our lives, discussing our work.
Sometimes, I don't even like thinking about it in the context of pink and purple. Why should you tag something? It's not necessary. It really isn't.
Turns out, it's really okay if pink isn't purple for me... What's important is that both the people should agree about it! The problem begins when one person wants more and the other doesn't.
Yeah... That's where the problem lies!