The other day, while we were supposed to be working, Rajni and I were poring over the photographs of a few friends on Facebook. In varying shades of green, we watched our friends partying, visiting exotic places, posing in front of brightly lit malls – generally having the time of their lives. (Both of us share a love of travelling, though unlike Rajni, most of my travels have been in my head, through books.) “You’d think that’s all they do with their lives, right, Minichechi?” But no, that was not all. Then we went on to discuss how hard they worked, and how accomplished they were at their careers too. We marvelled at how well other people were living their lives.
I was reminded of our conversation when later that day, in the middle of our chat, a friend told me that she knew that I lead a busy (read exciting) life through the pictures she saw of me on the Facebook. I had heard this before as well, from other people, said with varying undertones. Something I had not given a thought to, prior to this. This time, it made me pause and think, for some reason.
Oh yes, I lead a busy life, alright. And you haven’t seen half of it.
I don’t have pictures of the mornings when I fumble through breakfast and lunch at break-neck speed, racking my brains at the same time to find a way of introducing the required nutrients into my son’s diet inconspicuously (the fussy eater that he is), wearing well-aged housecoats, my hair sleep-disheveled, a part of me sleeping on my feet. The house would be a complete mess, with every flat surface filled with things that have forgotten their rightful places, but there is no visual proof of it. I have only pictures of a bright, sun-lit apartment whose walls are covered with paintings – but not of the weeks of work that went into each of the paintings.
There is no picture that I can share on the Facebook when I stand staring into space, wondering about my life, the equations there; my parents, and how I am going to balance their needs with those of my family’s – and mine. Longing to make some sense out of it all, some logic or reason, so that I can cling to it… Nor of those moments when I dump all the other work and head for the computer because writing is only way I can get my thoughts organized, just so that the situation doesn’t overwhelm me.
No one has bothered to take a picture of those moments when Shiva and I confront our worst fears, both of us burdened by more than our fair share of responsibilities, the future looming large and menacing ahead of us. Not even of those moments when I think of my elder son who is now living so far away from us, and the sudden attacks of panic that he is safe, that he makes the right decisions at the right times, that he has friends who will stand by him should a need comes… the panic that I finally place at the feet of the one above because I don’t have the strength to carry it anymore.
Nor do I have a photographic evidence of those times when my younger one and I have these all out, heated arguments, both of us hurting each other verbally until tears run from both our eyes; nor of the making-up times when we hug each other and apologize, making promises to clean up our act – promises that last only till the next fight.
I have pictures of those happy moments with our friends, but I don’t have any of the two days of hard work that go into creating those moments – from standing for a good hour at the bus-stop waiting for F8 to show up, to the pile of dishes that lie there until I gather the energy to wash them. The energy that finally comes from the memory of the happy faces of the ones I love, the ones that mean a world to me – my family, my friends.
I’m certainly not the pictures that you see of me in the Facebook. The parties and the beaches and the parks and the blow-dried hair are just random, once-in-a-blue-moon occurrences – moments I cherish and want to share with the world. They are just one tiny, gilded part of me. I’m much more than that.
So then, why do I put up those pictures? Facebook, to me, is like the Mumbai local train that used to be my favourite mode of transport back in the days when Mumbai used to be Bombay. Get into your regular train and you will meet close friends, casual friends, acquaintances and perfect strangers. You share your wow moments with all, but your woes you save for your close friends. For friends who don’t mind your streaming eyes or running nose.
My woes are not for public display; they are only for my ‘starred’ friends, so there. No, I’m not just my Facebook pictures. Nor, I’m sure, are you.