I just read an article titled “Mind your own womb”. It spoke of how different women have such elaborate reasons and stories for having or not having children.

So often, the questions that are but a casual enquiry leave you in a fix where you don’t know how much to lie and how much to reveal. Particularly in India where there is no one sense of what is personal. Starting with the simple “How are you?”. I agree it’s a routine civil enquiry meant in all goodwill but is the question ever meant as seriously as to elicit a honest response? No one is fine all the time. But are you ever prepared to hear anything but that?

People always ask me why I don’t smile. When it’s actually more a rhetoric than a real willingness to know, I can’t be explaining my inability to. There is more to things than meets the eye. I can’t smile because though I might appear as normal as anyone, I suffer from facial palsy which means that not all my facial muscles are in my control. This is not a fairly known thing so it’s not as easy as saying that I’m deaf or blind. The mood of the answer is diametrically opposite to the question which comes amidst a crowd as a light remark. Answering in earnest would make the atmosphere an irrelevant sorry state which is not a desirable thing to do.

Similarly there is this colleague of mine who refused to come out in front of us all and demonstrate marching. Everyone thought he was just being arrogant. But I only later discovered that he had problem of coordination between his lower limbs. This made me realize how many of the things we think are casual enquiries end up prying the deepest recesses of one’s life. Many times have I asked my friends why they aren’t having a child yet. Reading the article I wondered how many sore wounds I might have scratched.

India can’t be India if not for its teeming humanity. We care much for our neighbors and friends and colleagues. That’s why we talk but we should be careful to not pry. Not everybody is comfortable talking about their self and their problems. In fact, people feel embarrassed without sufficient cause. Nonetheless, employing some caution would help in not hurting someone unintentionally.



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