It’s festive mood everywhere. My society too had arranged a one day function on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi. Everyone was invited to attend the function and make it a joyful and successful one. And there started my dilemma. I am not really good at attending these functions. I get nervous when I have to confront strangers. Now you must be thinking how come the people from the same society you live in be strangers to you, right? Trust me. I have been staying in the same society for the last 11 years and I hardly know anyone from my society, except for a few people who stays in my building - that too a hi-bye relation, nothing more. Sigh! Now you must have realized how socially challenged I am. But this time I was adamant to improve my social skills, so I went ahead and attended this function. You may think I am an introvert who doesn’t talk at all. But it isn’t like that. I can talk for hours together with people if they take the initiative but not the other way round. I don’t know what the issue is but I terribly fail at taking the initiative and if I do take then it ends up in a huge disaster. The same happened at this occasion as well.
I got all dressed up – dressing up for me means just wearing a plain cotton kurta and legging, this time a shawl (odhani) was an addition. See! now you know how serious I was about building my social skills. I went down all dressed up. The ambience was energetic with huge dhols reverberating through the society, people dancing insanely to the loud dhols and long slithering string of crackers exploding, deafening the ears and polluting the air. There were bystanders enjoying and clapping to the raucousness of the dhol. I too joined the bystanders and clapped to the music. The moment I stood behind the bystanders I felt bodies turning around and strange eyes settling on me. People looked at me oddly as if they saw an alien. I started sweating nervously. I felt like turning around and running away from the spot. But I stood there with an embarrassed smile on my face. Nobody returned my smile. Happens to me all the time. This is why I don’t take initiative to start a conversation. People are weird. Anyway, I retrieved my smile and faked a poker face. Suddenly, out of nowhere, fat Sharma aunty, who stays in my building came running to me. I felt relieved seeing her. At least, there was one person who recognized me. She forced me to go forward and dance with others. I really love dancing; especially I love dancing to the dhol during Ganpathi but never did it as I was shy. I dance vigorously at home in my bedroom when these dhols pass from the streets during Ganpathi’s arrival and visarjan. You won’t believe, my dream is to lie down on the street and dance to these grandeur beats like the boys do. Oh! How I love it! So now you understand how much I was excited when Sharma aunty invited me to dance. It was a dream come true for me. Though with awkwardness, I plunged amidst people to shake my leg with the fat aunty by my side. I tied my odhani sideways and raised my hands in a 90 degree angle and guess what? The music stopped. I stood there like a statue with people and band retrieving from my side. I cursed myself for venturing out to dance. I looked up in the sky and asked God, ‘Why? But why? Why always me?’ The band people were tired and needed a break so they had retrieved. But why at the exact moment when I got geared up to dance? Embarrassed, I recoiled my hands, removed my odhani from sideways, and strode back to the place where I stood before attempting this adventure. I could hear people murmuring with a sly smile on their face. They must have been murmuring about something else but the embarrassed I believed they were ridiculing me. Sigh!
Taking all this in a stride, I moved onto the next difficult level of the evening – The dinner. I really find it awkward to hog food in front of people. Especially the buffet dinner is a nightmare for me. I mean how silly it is to stand in a queue, gather food and then eat it, that too standing. Bleh! I hate it. But again my rescuer, Sharma aunty, came to the scene and forced me to eat. I took a plate, went to the nicely arranged buffet, took spoon, salad, pickle, curries and when my chance arrived to pick puris, the basket lay there empty without even a single puri in it. I looked here and there for help but no one seemed to be bothered. I looked behind for a support from the people standing in queue behind me but there were none. A man from the caterer’s team came to the buffet table. I asked him for the puri and rudely he replied, ‘Madam, have patience, puri is being made.’ He said as if I emptied the puris in the basket. Groaning, I dumped the plate on the table and turned around to go to my flat. Again the fat aunty called out to me from behind, asking whether I had my food. I felt as if she is doing all this deliberately. Cursing her from inside, I replied, ‘Yes aunty.’
‘Arre, don’t go home immediately after hogging food. Come mingle with us,’ chuckled aunty.
I couldn’t contain my anger anymore. My face reddened. Tears welled up in my eyes. But I maintained my composure and went to her with a smiling face. She introduced me to women standing near her. They were her friends. I politely smiled at all of them, now my nerves calming down. Finally, something fruitful came out of the evening.Naah! That was just my thought.
‘Beta, you are expanding day by day like a balloon,' guffawed Sharma aunty.
That was it for me. The sarcasm in me could not be contained and pat came my reply, ‘Aunty, I’m inspired by you.All the ladies, standing around, laughed unanimously.
Everyone went silent.
Everyone went silent.
Fuming with anger, Sharma aunty stomped her foot and walked away. Alas! I stood there dejected, losing the only acquaintance I had in the society.