Dawats are spaces where realities collide
Ghuray feray yet another chinta on dawats; probably because so much of my time here has been consumed by attending lunches, dinners, and whatnot. Yes, yes, not to worry, many women have told me that they have “better things to do”, as in, I am not as fortunate as them because I remain a lowly housewife with invitations as my succour, while they transcend into the world of work, *raised eyebrows*.Therefore, clearly it is with the envy of being unable to attend a deluge of meetings that I write this piece.
Achcha, harping on a bit more, by confessing to be a regular dawat goer or giver, I am letting my guard down. I am actually admitting that I gossip, spend far too much money on clothes and jewellery, and do not use my brains; whereas if I loudly state, “amar aiguli korar time nai” at every dawat that I attend, I will instantly be catapulted into the supremely intelligent realm of “busy busy busy”, where there are no vices, only productivity. Clearly, I am losing out.
But I feel I am not, as dawats are much more than mere social gatherings. They are psychosocial spaces with the interplay of power relations and ambivalent emotions, conundrums and complexities, and much more.
As I reflect on the recurring disavowing utterances such as, “I am so happy I am not invited”, or “I am so glad I do not go to such events”, I wonder how not being invited to something can be a source of exhilaration? And how easily I can make someone happy then…I just have to never ever invite that person to ensure his or her lifelong pleasure and joy.
And then there are the daam barano invitees, the ones who feign surprise, rather badly I might add, and wherever they go repeatedly loudly wonder keno and kemne they are on a guest list. I feel like saying please can you get over it? Either attend or do not attend, whichever, I do not care. Meanwhile it is excruciatingly painful for me to be subjected to hours and hours of contrived astonishment at an invitation, especially when the guest so desperately wanted one.
And let us not forget the highly vexing, “I completely forgot you were hosting something.” It is so obvious this line has been rehearsed in front of the mirror and delivered at a suitable shunai dilaam moment as a form of one-upmanship. It is so rude and difficult to digest—especially from stalkers. I know that when I do not invite this person, his/her memory will drastically improve. (S)he will be able to recall the minutest detail of my party without attending it. In this very same bracket, I place the types in hyperventilation mode with eyes glinting in triumph, “OMG! I completely forgot to invite you.” I am sorry, but how long have you waited in anticipation to say this, methinks.
What about the “mind korlaam” when not included on a guest list? Uff! Why? Get real! Hosts have their limitations, and it is not possible to have everyone at every event, but granted the ‘minding’ sorts are slightly better than the motlobi mehmaan, or the ones who wait to see who else is going before they accept.
And I must tell you about the perfectly normal guests, or so you think, but who begin to vie with one another about how specially they were invited. “Amake choy mash agey theke bole rakhse” versus “Amake message korlo, phone dilo, ebong nije ashlo dawat dite”.
There is also the khocha fying crowd, “YOU got invited? How?” or the snide, “How come YOU of all people are not going?” or the feeling left out projection, “Oke dawat dilo aar tomake dilona!? Taiiii!?” All quite entertaining really, as I remain slightly detached from it all.
What am I saying?! Why would I even be writing all this and thinking much more if I was such an aloof party. Dawats are spaces where realities collide, perceptions confront each other, barriers are broken, and boundaries are drawn, and I love being immersed in the dynamics of it all. As I conclude this piece, I cannot think of a suitable line other than my usual screeching, “Taratari share istiri koro! Bahire jabo!”
Chintamoni grew up in Dhaka, where she will always belong, but never quite fit in. She is an enthusiastic traveller, a compulsive procrastinator, and a contumelious raconteur.