Dating : Ranjana’s Rant

h2>Dating : Ranjana’s Rant

Pia Tripathi

Day after day they met each other at the Nehru library canteen, never acknowledging never talking but growing accustomed to each other. Ranjana didn’t remember when and how they started to talk and have tea together, or when Naresh started to sleep in her rented room in defence colony, when they became inseparable. She often resented this, on some days she would wake up, and find Naresh sleeping next to her, she would wonder how did she get to this, how will she ever get rid of him. She would be angry and pout and tell Naresh to leave. Naresh would quietly leave looking shocked and amused. Ranjana would spend that day roaming alone in connought place or a mall but by evening she would miss Naresh, call him, and it would be same old, same old.

Naresh on his part considered himself bound to Ranjana for life. He never entertained the idea of having her out of his life. He was brought up to commit to a woman in that thoughtless, unassuming way. He came from a joint business family and he was used to people filling his space, his life. His initial days in Delhi were lonely, and Ranjana had become his family he so missed and longed for.

Their relationship was largely platonic. Out of boredom, they occasionally had sex. Naresh enjoyed it to a great extent. Ranjana enjoyed it a little. Sometimes Ranjana screamed with pleasure as Naresh made love to her. Unskilled but sincere, Ranjana thought of him as a lover. Sometimes, Ranjana gave Naresh a blowjob but mentally she would be thinking of her next assignment or be lost in a distant memory. At least their bodies enjoyed whatever it is they did, but their minds were never in sync, and they would therefore never quite get into it unless absolutely necessary. That’s the thing about sex, it can be enjoyed as a physical process. The body is morally blind. That is why we hear of grown up men sodomizing toddlers. Their body seeks pleasure, blind pleasure. Their morality either never existed or is stifled in the rush of sensations. Body never betrays its cause. It hunts and satisfies. It is primordial.

The winter was long gone and India was gearing up for Lok Sabha elections. The TV channels couldn’t get enough of it. It was everywhere, thought Ranjana and she tried to avoid it as much as she could. In the evening Ranjana and Naresh decided to have Chinese. The dinner at Golden dragon had all its usual joys for Ranjana. A little bit of beer and greasy, starchy, and spicy fare made her a relax a little bit more. Naresh didn’t stop talking the whole time. She kept listening to him, tuning in and out of his conversation on current political scene. Ranjana couldn’t help but be disinterested.

‘Well, how does it matter if it is the Gandhis, or Nehrus, or Modis, or Mukherjees. People do what they do, if we are used to shit, we will never do anything to change it. Humans are creatures of habits and habits are hard to break’, she interrupted Naresh’s monologue after getting tired of his projections of seats in all the states. He was sure the incumbent far right would not win.

Naresh stopped midway in his calculations. It took him a while to switch from his mode of talking, like a startled leader who had been shouted at from the audience for in his mind he always made a speech, rather than talk. Luckily he was trained in the general rules of conversation, and Ranjana’s bored half-hearted interruption was enough to give him a pause.

‘Really Ranjana, you think it doesn’t matter who gets elected? I thought you would care more for the future of the country. After all as a woman don’t you have much at stake?’

‘Yeah, I do have much as a stake as a woman and a human being, but I don’t see how our system will change anything until we change. Don’t we, as people, have to change before we expect our representatives to change? They will come and voice the mass opinion that remains jaded.’

‘Surely, our policymakers will have to think ahead and go with the need of the times. Given we don’t elect blockheads and buffoons, of course.’ By this Naresh meant the far right. His family had voted for congress and he couldn’t digest the shift of narrative from liberal-cultured to conservative-mob, as he put it.

Ranjana was already regretting picking this argument. She hated when Naresh tore her half-hearted remarks into bits and made her admit she was wrong. Why does he take everything so seriously, she wondered. Naresh went on the importance of elections and democracy but more importantly in the criticism of the right conservative government that was sure to sweep the upcoming elections.

Ranjana in her mind drifted in and out of her care for the world, and the general ennui that she was experiencing with the heavy food and the beer. She would have liked to go for a long drive, and listen to music, but perhaps Naresh was not in the mood.

She continued.

‘Why take all of this so seriously. What is a big deal about having a right conservative government? America had Bush for 8 years and he is already a distant memory, but the wealth they ensured would be here and now, to be enjoyed, even by women who probably didn’t enjoy the anti-abortion rhetoric, and even by those atheists who made fun of him talking to God, or the American pacifists who mildly protested the two wars he started. A mild murmur is all it takes, but to truly give up comforts of one’s life for one’s principles, who does that? Not America, and not India.’

Naresh looked stunned. He said, ‘how can you say that. This government is regressive to women. You will see. Don’t you care for your freedom?’

‘Why should women care? Aren’t they ordinary human beings? Women too object only to the things that is uncomfortable to them. Who has voiced the tragedy of millions of women who have lived and died a million little deaths in these years of independence? Indian woman is busy with the cares of her family and husband, not more or less. A good husband will lull a woman into a comfortable numbness about her feminine condition and a bad husband would make her suffer as a human being. No leader will come and save her from her domesticity. That’s family’s role. Thats her role. Besides, all women too aspire for power and control. They hate, they kill, they take revenge. In a passive way, inconspicuous way, but they do. They all do. What do they care who leads the country.’

Naresh astonished said, ‘ So it doesn’t matter to you that the state dictates what a woman does with her uterus? What if she doesn’t want to have a child, or is forced by the family to a male child?’

Ranjana replied, now angrier than before, hellbent on saying the truth, ‘For starters, most women also want a boy, sometimes more than their husbands. I can’t blame her, let her be. What special pleasure will she get by having a girl? What is the use of wanting a girl child without changing any conditions for her? Exterminate the predators and then talk to me about a girl child. Till then, what for? To supply more innocent flesh for these animals?’

‘So you agree that the state has failed the women?’

‘Who is state but you and I? And who understands women? Not you and I. Not anyone. What do we call India? Mother India? Calling the country your mother, self-less love, pooh. First of all, give the mothers a breather! Aren’t they supposed to be human beings? Give them a damn life not a damned life! Besides, country is not a mother or father or a brother or a sister. Country is country, what else can it be? Land, resources, economics. Why make a caricature out of such a vast and complex land. May be country is company, a custodian of ones’ basic needs. Just pay the bastards to do their jobs. Stop the speeches and tamasha and the rhetoric!’

Ranjana’s face was crimson red. She felt angry at Naresh for ruining her perfectly good evening. She was enjoying her beer, and here he was going on and on about elections. Men, she thought, will never get their priorities right.

Naresh paid the bill, and they left the restaurant.

In the car, Naresh asked if she wanted to take a drive to the India gate, and she said yes, she always enjoyed that.

He looked at Ranjana, and tried to imagine what she was like as a little girl. Her face is so quiet, as if she was never a child. A timeless face. Like this city.

What if Delhi was a woman too, like India? He thought.

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