being brown

Posts tagged “activism

The Apology of the Metamorphosee!

She should have been an actress! Every opportunity she gets, she perfects the art of doing or saying something she doesn’t mean. It had become  entertainment. The only downside, she reflected, was that the better she got at it, the more she did it and the more fake, or to use Holden Caulfield’s word, phony, she seemed.

The last few months had offered her lots more opportunity for ‘acting’ than ever before. She had changed jobs, cities and careers leaving everybody but herself in a tizzy. From social work, she started working for a corporate. From being solely in activist circles, she was rubbing shoulders with men and women in IT and business. A cousin asked her in jest, “ So how come you have gone to the dark side?” What he was asking  was , “ Why this drastic change in career?” She didn’t know it then but his words were an ominous sign of what was to come from friends and acquaintances everywhere.

And sure enough, so many people have since raised their eyebrows and expressed shock and horror at her seemingly sudden change in jobs. An activist friend even said, “I see this decision of yours as reflecting some kind of disillusionment that you have felt work-wise and I really believe you should talk to somebody about it. Otherwise what in heaven’s name will prompt you to take such a job??” Another friend said after some consideration, “ I get you need a break from all this. But I think I will really worry if you stick at this corporate job for more than two years. I think I will give you a year and start questioning you after.” Another activist acquaintance, who rarely ever spoke to her, tried initiating a conversation, obviously to make sure she had heard right and to intervene if possible.

Because, obviously she was in need of ‘intervention’. There can be nothing logical or rational about this decision and she must be very very disturbed to have taken it without giving it much thought. Because obviously, she hadn’t deliberated on it and it was clear that it was an impulsive decisions because she hadn’t spoken to anybody about it.

Forget the activist world, an uncle from the ‘normal world’ asked what this huge change in career meant? Which is a normal enough question, because well there has to be some reason why you stop hanging around with ‘activists’ and start becoming a ‘corporate bitch’. In fact, his opening statement was, “ What is this I hear? Why have you joined a business consulting firm when you have worked with the likes of Ms Blah Blah ( name of activist).” Detecting some discomfort from her side, he went on, in a soothing, compassionate voice, about the metamorphosis she was going through, about how her grandfather held on to his ideological beliefs whatever else he did for his career and about how it is ok to compromise. Because, obviously she was compromising.

To be fair, she didn’t protest either, finding it more convenient to go with people’s assumptions than to launch into a philosophical discourse about her decision. So, she dons a melancholic mantle; she wears a face that looks as if this decision has squeezed every ounce of emotional energy out of her; she punctuates her conversations with heavy breathing and supersonic sighs, she nods profoundly when people say, “its ok. We all make compromises;”and, she looks appropriately down at her feet  while talking of this decision. She is  not clear how successful her acting is or whether she is good at it at all ( She loves it, though. And despondency always came naturally to her).

Eyes darting hither and thither, furtively,  hands cupping mouth, whispering, she lets out another of those supersonic sighs, whispering, “forgive me, but I don’t feel like I have compromised anything. I wonder what kind of an activist that makes me?”