the Silver Lining
clouds are so dark and dreary, it's a task finding the silver
lining. Take for example: sexual harassment. My optimistic
friend Shireen tries. She says if you are over fifty and
getting sexual harassment at work you should consider that
as one of the perks of your job and not complain. Nice try,
Shireen. But no. The Jury is back on that one and they are
a unanimous 'guilty on all counts'.
all clouds in one's life are as hopelessly dark as that.
Most clouds have some kind of a silver edge, sometimes so
fine it is difficult to view it with the naked eye. Also
a dark cloud in one person's life could very well be a piece
of rain-bearing blessing in another's.
another example: weddings. Not so bad if you are part of
the immediate family or the groom's or bride's close friend.
The time passes in a variety of activities. You are on stage
dancing to meri churiya-a-a-a or off stage posing
for the video camera. You are throwing rose petals at the
bridal party. You are sitting at the reserved tables. You
are being served lamb leg roast in addition to the chicken
tandoori. Life is good.
if you are the lowly creature called a guest, there is little
by way of a silver lining. Unless you count the one on your
sari, orange with silver border, which is the colour code
of the evening and which you had better be wearing as they
have put it on the card. So there you are, showing solidarity
to the host and hostess by putting on whatever colour scheme
they've asked you to wear, staring glassy-eyed at the meri
churiya-a-a-a dancers on stage, wondering how many
times you'll have to be listening to this same song, this
December. And that's only the holud.
interesting bits -- the nikah ceremony with its
drama and tears, the arguments on the amount of den mohar,
the jewellery box contents, the quazi's exhortations to
the newly-marrieds, Quran recitations, the signing of the
register with trembling fingers -- now take place at home.
So the only things left for the guest to do are: arrive
(gift in hand), eat, view the couple, leave. If you are
lucky, the host might ask you if you have eaten when you
are leaving. You don't get asked anything when the host
is busy with the 'elite of the society' ( ministers and
MPs) he has invited.
if the PM herself is there, the host doesn't care if you
have eaten or have collapsed and died.
the silver lining in that? No, all is not lost, there are
still some pluses. Your ancient kataan saris get
an airing. The men look romantic (from a distance) in their
Devdas outfits. You can spend time interestingly, observing
some of the young women and lads who had got married with
the same pomp and ceremony only a year before but got divorced
before the biryani got cold. Take your pick.
hard-pressed-to-find silver lining situation is a seminar.
Before the Internet got invented, the major silver lining
for the speakers was amazing the audience with the depth
of their erudition, wisdom and knowledge. Those good old
days are over. Most speakers now unload the same litany
of facts and figures from the Internet. At a British Council
seminar on The Importance of English Language, the British
High Commissioner informed us that English is becoming the
world's language of the 21st Century and is the second most
widely spoken language of the world. He said it is the official
language of the European Central Bank and the working language
of the Asean trade group ASEAN and/or words to that effect,
and then, the then President of Bangladesh informed the
audience that English is becoming the world's language of
the 21st Century and is the second most widely spoken language
of the world, it is the official language etc. Then the
Director of British Council told the audience that English
is becoming the world's language of the 21st Century and
is the second most widely spoken language of the world,
it is the official' etc. By the time I stood up to speak
and tell the audience that English is becoming the world's
language of the 21st Century and is the second most widely...
etc. the seminar had become a comedy show and the audience
had started mouthing the words with me as I spoke. Some
of them had tried to sneak out earlier but faced with the
firing squad of the President's bodyguards outside had come
back in quickly.
afterwards, the President lost his job. I do not hold this
seminar responsible for that, but you still wonder a little.
Some big-shot among the audience at the seminar must have
really got bored.
where's the silver lining for the audience at a seminar?
If it's high summer and the venue is air-conditioned, a
comfortable nap. If there are tea and samosas at the end,
another plus. But wake up on time. Because there's rarely
enough. And the speakers always dash to the table first.
cloud that defies the discovery of the thinnest of silver
linings is going through the ordeal of seeing a doctor.
The patients? waiting area outside the doctor's chamber
is almost never less than drearily dull; the reading matter
on the tables are old copies of the Daily Star Friday Magazine
(wait a minute, maybe this is the silver lining?), your
name may be the first on the list of patients but there
will be a crowd pushing in before you with little slips
of introduction in their hands and your wait will be interminable.
This long wait usually causes all symptoms to disappear
and when the doctor asks, suspiciously, what is wrong, you
don't know what to say.
finally, where's the silver lining of the dark cloud of
writing a column for the Daily Star Magazine every fortnight?
The writing part is not really the dark cloud. That is the
silver lining. Being allowed to pontificate or moan unbridled
about whatever strikes your fancy certainly beats going
to the therapist. The cloud here is the resulting aftermath;
such as more unwanted notoriety, manifested for instance
by phone calls saying, it's you isn't it, no need to pretend
it isn't, how did you cook up that name, you made a mistake
in the quotation by the way, if it isn't you what is your
photograph doing there etc.
I don't really know the purpose of the photograph. Some
of my friends have suggested that when the police come in,
the photograph will come in handy for identification purposes.
With friends like these, who needs enemies is a question
I often ask myself sadly.