The ‘Real’ Real

By Monica Bakre

“Nothing went right …not a thing…”, yelled Vinita in a terribly foul mood. She was pacing back and forth on the heavy Persian carpet in her living room, having sent her children, five-year-old Anjan and two-year-old Antara to the playground downstairs in the building complex with the staff.

There was one thing that Vinita was particular about. She never expressed her negative feelings or thoughts in front of her children. It had been Antara’s birthday and the guests had all left.

“Something seems to be the matter…”, thought Ajit, Vinita’s husband, as he finished his wash and got to coming out of his room.

Vinita was by now close to angry tears and waiting to vent out her frustration further. She began as soon as Ajit entered the living room.

“What a horrible party it was! Nothing went right!”, she screamed.

This shocked Ajit because as far as he could recall, all had gone well and more!

“But…I thought it was a fantastic party that you arranged. I was in fact going to compliment you for it. Everyone enjoyed the food, the games, the gifts…I don’t understand what went wrong!” Ajit was genuinely puzzled.

“What about the balloon full of confetti that you forgot to burst when Antara was cutting the cake? Why did you begin the birthday song CD only after I reminded you? Why did you not click us with Sujay who is a celebrity?” Vinita seemed to have a long list.

“Oh that! Well…these small things happen, dear…In a gathering of over thirty children and their parents, some with their ayahs, there was so much commotion that I missed these small things. But overall, the kids had plenty of fun, I could see.”

“Small things? These are small things? I wanted photographs…of each and every thing that happened.”

“Each and every thing? Even when baby Shayon smeared his specially boiled egg on the carpet?”, laughed Ajit, trying to infuse some humor into the scene.

“Now, you are not so dumb, are you? How could we have stupid Shayon and his equally foolish mother clicked? You very well know what I am saying. I wanted key moments, do you understand? KEY MOMENTS. I need to upload them on Facebook…”

“There! That is the problem….”, thought Ajit to himself, at last having comprehended the root of the problem on hand.

“Ok…here…I will burst the confetti filled balloon…you click…is that fine?” Ajit tried some cajoling.

“Are you crazy? The confetti had to fall during the cake cutting…” shouted Vinita, though by now, her tone slightly mellow, her angst having got spent some.

“Do you know”, she continued, “my friends are so meticulous with their pics on Facebook? Each and every happening, every step, every angle is taken so perfectly…and here I am, with some loosely clicked ones. Just my luck!”

Right then, expressly, Ajit decided to take matters head on.

“I would like to see the pics put up by your friends”, he said.

Being alien to Facebook, he had no clue as to how Vinita’s friends’ pics looked.

“Come fast…before the kids return…” he urged, opening the door to the office in the spacious apartment.

Vinita was actually confused but made to follow Ajit. Logging into her account, she waited. The laptop was placed on a large office table and the chairs on which Vinita and Ajit sat faced an expanse of greenery and the open now-dusky sky, with a million hues of beautiful red, orange, and yellow stripes. It was a calm, breath-taking sight, quite in contrast to the turmoil that Vinita was in.

The account opened and Vinita swiftly scrolled down her friends’ list.

“Here! Look at Sanjana’s son’s first birthday pics …look…just as I explained.”

Moving to another friend’s home page, she opened albums of the latter’s trip to Geneva.

“Look …how perfect! Do you see? Precise, beautiful angles…” Oh my…”, sighed Vinita.

Not unaware of the handy utility of Photoshop features, Ajit nevertheless decided to play along.

“Now, get me out again the pics of that friend’s birthday party you showed me just now”, he said.

Vinita loaded them on again, her eyes filling up with the sorry mess her daughter’s birthday pics were going to be in.
“Ok…have a good look at them again…No, really see them properly,” urged Ajit.

Perplexed, Vinita gazed long at all of the ten pics that had been uploaded by the lucky Sanjana.

“And now…raise your eyes above the laptop…look at the sky…no, no, don’t look at the screen…just the sky…” directed Ajit.

“Where is your friend, Sanjana, right now?”, he asked.

“Well…at her home…where else?”

“And…when were these pics posted?”

“Ummm…maybe three days back? Not sure…”

“And you are seeing them now, right?”

“Yeah…but what’s the point you are making, Ajit? Don’t irritate me…”, sulked Vinita.

“What I am trying to say is this— the imagery of these pics is only in your head now. The event is over in your Sanjana’s home. She has got back to her home and hearth and life has moved on.” Ajit waited for this to seep into his young wife’s mind.

“True…”, she whispered.

“Where are you right now? In your own home. The pics are only in the laptop…a week or so old…they are just a memory now, Vinita…just a memory…do you see?”

“Yeah, but I also wanted pics as perfect as these…”

“Why?”

Vinita had no answer.

Ajit decided to move in sharply now.

“You want your pics to be perfect because these have brought out an unhealthy competition in your mind.”

Ajit continued, “What matters more than the pics is the spontaneity with which our children celebrated today. They were themselves…tiny, free-in-spirit kids. Shayon was squealing in delight as he smeared mashed boiled egg on the carpet, yes, he did. But isn’t that a beautiful memory of his innocence, Vinita? Is he going to do it when he is twenty years old? No… Our stained carpet can be cleaned but the joy that Shayon got form his unbridled enjoyment has no parallel.”

Vinita was quiet.

“As for the confetti, the birthday song and the other thing, oh yeah, and the pic with Sujay…Vinita, is life only about showing others what we do and how we enjoy? And that too perfectly?”

“How about taking a light view of the celebration and laughing at all the ruckus that the happy kids created today in our home? Weren’t they in fact, lucky that they could let their hair down and have tons of fun? As for your pics for Facebook, how about captioning them heartily with generous doses of humour?”

Vinita was speechless…her mind was slowly opening to this possibility.

“It may look like I am lecturing you,” continued Ajit, “But I care for you. I hate to see you unhappy. How about we put together REAL pics of a REAL celebration…spontaneous, joyous, and memorable? Or, would you have preferred all of us to line up like perfume bottles and get clicked only to be displayed on Facebook? Come on…!”

This made Vinita laugh out loud, as she saw a wonderful way to turn her way of looking at the celebration around.
The doorbell rang and Anjan and Antara entered with the brightest grins they could manage on their cute, tiny faces…

“Mamma…what a super party!”, exclaimed Anjan as he jumped in the air, pumping his small fist.

“Mamma…cakey…” pointed out little Antara to the dining table…

This was real…real life…in its raw, unspoilt form…

Vinita walked on air for the rest of the evening. Over the next two days, she loaded the birthday pics on her laptop and went through them carefully. Indeed, she found plenty of love and humour in them! Late that night, she logged in and updated her status on Facebook…

“A UNIQUE CELEBRATION! OH, WHAT GORGEOUS FUN!”

About the Author: Monica Bakre is a qualified counselor/psychologist, with interest in reading, writing, cooking, music, and pets. She describes herself as an observant, absorbing, thinking, speculating, and sensitive individual.

 

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