“I cannot entertain them anymore”, I said to my husband. “But they are your relatives”, he replied. I looked at him in utter confusion, how could I have missed it? “But still”, I said, “I am tired of the small talk now”. Nevertheless I went outside to attend my guests, only praying fervently that they leave as soon as they can.
This is me, the part of me which I don’t know whether I hate or love the most. If I am portraying a picture that I am anti-social, let me be clear I am not. I just like my kind of people, I am OK to keep my circle limited. Those close to me can vouch that I am big-big talker, but with the ones where my wavelength does not match I come out to be the most snobbish person around. I find it very difficult to continue having conversations just for the sake of it, I can do it for some time but after a while my thread of patience snaps.
This aspect of my personality is very difficult to maintain and live with especially if you live in Punjabi family, and as my good luck would have it, I am a part of a big fat Punjabi family. It is a task to make them understand that I am not rude but just this is a way I am. Entertaining guests and relatives is a huge part of Punjabi household, and when I say entertaining it means that they are not left alone or bored when they have for all three meals, probably even for days. It is considered outrageously rude in a Punjabi family if you are not capable of making and fabricating conversations. I mean I am not talking about just finishing the conversations after the pleasantries, or making sure they are fed and are comfortable. It goes way beyond it, it involves count of breaths you have taken, liters of petrol filled in your car, number of times you visited washroom, to topics which are way beyond your comprehension. And if you are like me, after sometime the whole aura becomes claustrophobic as all you hear are conversations which are loud, cross conversations where no one is understanding what the other is saying, but still continuing with the conversation, or just nonstop talking with no end. The constant pressure of proving yourself in the Punjabi household is enormous. The word “Introvert” is non-existent in a Punjabi dictionary.
And when the family is not enough, you have your office. I always believed that your work should be able to speak for itself, but I could not have been more wrong. In today’s cosmetic corporate world everything hangs on whether you are a glib sycophant or not. I am an opinionated and informed person I love talking about a subject if I know about it, but to talk just to climb the ladder of success or be in good books is just not me. I mean complimenting for genuine things is one thing, but to keep having conversations just for no rhyme or reason when everyone knows you are not best of friends is absurd to me. I am bad at this, and trust me I regret it, it affects me both emotionally and financially and comes with a baggage of insecurities, but there is nothing I can do about it. I cannot fake conversations.
I understand the importance of small talk, I realize that I come out as a very self-centered person to many which I am not and I am very sure of that. I know small talk is so essential in today’s time and time and again people have tried to make me understand this but somehow I fail to. I love the cocoon shell I create for myself, of thoughts, of ideas, and perspectives. Conversations are personal and sacred to me, I have my reservations for them. Being genuine is a very important facet for me in anyone hence small talk is not for me. But yes I need to improve on my social skills to be able to survive in a Punjabi family, but that’s a separate story all together which I will take up some other day.