My daughter leaves for college next year. College = Boys. So, I have these long, imaginary interview sessions with imaginary college boys. I begin with pleasantries and polite inquiries. But, those don’t last. The phrases that get shortlisted for the actual conversation are, ‘I will kill you’ (number 1), ‘I will powder your bones’ (number 2) and ‘What’s your father’s number? (tied at number 2).
The only boy who could enter a 20-metre radius around her has to be mature, sensible, honourable, well-groomed, polite, respectful, with good BMI, teeth and hair and without any family history of diabetes, osteoporosis, Gaucher’s disease, Huntington’s disease, coronary atherosclerosis, high blood pressure or hyperlipidemia. I might, personally, set up a medical testing kiosk in the campus.
Other than avoiding boys, she should make most of all the opportunities that college provides. Each day has to be carefully planned to include library hours, meals, classes and co-curricular activities.
Well, times have changed and she’d no longer be needed to showcase embroidery, painting, singing and cooking to be considered ‘good’. The benchmarks are different. Our girls have to study well, get a good job, give back to society and so on. I worry if I am being a good role model? I send her videos of Marie Curie’s story. Or, Michelle Obama. The standards have to be high. The aspirations, beyond the sky.
A life cannot be measured by income alone. Or, by a degree. Or, a fancy job. It has to a perfect blend of all that and family life too. A not-so-recent, but still popular buzzword is work-life balance that dictates that you aspire to strive for career, home, family, and hobbies in a complete, fulfilling package. What it does not clearly tell is how. So, nobody has been able to achieve it so far, but as a sop, we are allowed to blame the boss for it. Which ruins his performance rating. That, roughly speaking, is as rewarding as actual work-life balance.
So, coming back to aspirations, she should aim to be the best in whatever she does. And, happy whilst doing it. That’s it.
I share that, wistfully, with her father, who mutters that she should drop a year before college and go backpacking. My head rises and flattens like an angry cobra’s. If he doesn’t back off immediately, he would soon need to be attended to by someone manning a medical kiosk.
What kind of aspirations do men have? Lofty? Dignified? Towering? I look for evidence. I am intrigued that the men in my residential community have named their WhatsApp group ‘Sultans’. One might conclude it is about aspiring to be a magnificent, benevolent king, to rule over one’s self by conquering desires or some such thing.
Then, I discover that it is named after Sultan, the prized bull from Haryana. He is a regular sperm donor, whose typical day is about eating, drinking, resting and umm, making the donation. The ‘donation’ making process is assisted by fancy equipment (which does not include photos of naked cows). He releases around six milli-litre of semen in round, which makes 600 doses, each costing around Rs 250. Sultan produces 54,000.
When asked, they say a life like Sultan’s is their aspiration.
(Bestselling author Rachna Singh is a sit-down commedienne)