This jungle we live in- we love it so much. Yet every so often there is a mass exodus of fauna from this ecosystem- almost everyone, from the jungle *give all kinds of animals*. One may think that hyper-native species like me may see no difference between our weekly migrations and such large scale events- one cannot be more wrong. Our usual ones are purely meant for work (that’s the intent, at least) and recuperation (a heavy dose of TV, sleep and ghar ka khaana is the invariant of this loop). We are reclusive white tigers during this time. The ones that happen after the mid-semester massacre are different. On reaching our native habitat we turn into social butterflies- unless you really are a white tiger, in which case the endless meetings with friends and family eventually force you into a cocoon.
These visits confuse you- both places look like jungles, but which one’s a zoo in disguise? The one with the enclosed by a rigid education system, or the concrete jungle bound by rules of who you must be? I’m no primate to be smart enough to know the answer. My feline brain only knows the horror of coming into contact with so many exotic species in such a confined space- a horror which could easily be mitigated by eating anyone who frightens you.
But apparently that’s illegal. So obviously, I must figure out, with my limited intellect, how to get out of any unwanted social engagement- legally, of course. The few methods I have mastered are obviously species specific- every animal has different buttons to be pushed.
And I just realized I had no idea what the hell an invariant is. No wonder I messed up that test.
Ah, where was I? Species- specific methods. I’ll start with an easy one- the random acquaintance. These pigeons keep popping up during your vacations, and insist on cooing in caps lock. ALL THE TIME. If you’re a white tiger, this doesn’t take much effort- just be yourself for a minute- they’ll back away slowly, fearful of being eaten. For example:
“HIIIIIIIIIIIII. HOW HAVE YOU BEEN? WHAT ARE YOU UPTO?”
“………Cool, I guess. College, I guess.”
“OH NIIIIIICE. COOO, COOOO.” (Note that this response will not change even if you say you’ve been arrested for dealing cocaine)
(Now all you need to do is stare at them awkwardly while till they leave- guaranteed success, 4 out of 5 times)
Wait, this is the only one I know how to do. Grrr. If only I were a primate… Just let me vent will, you? Ok, good.
Then there are your feline friends who you try to meet, but never do thanks to your typical white-tiger-ness. This usually involves saying “We should meet, yo.” throughout the holidays, and not bothering to say more than that. When you do meet, there is almost always that event-leech- that is, the more sexually advanced species of your group who uses your rare meetings to disappear with their significant other.
There’s the neighbours who can be dodged by simply refusing to get out of your lair (The best way to avoid almost everyone, actually). And your brother’s annoying friends who laugh like hyenas and still think poop jokes are funny (Just kidding. Poop jokes are the BEST). The gaggle of cousins who are too old for you to relate to. And worse, that aunty. That aunty who asks you a thousand and one things. Like why you gained weight. Or who your friends are. Or why you got so dark and cut your hair. Or when will you get married (It doesn’t matter if you’re legal or not, you WILL be asked this). Or even worse, does IIT-H even exist (I deal with this by with swiping my paw at her. In my head.)
I prefer the granny/ actual-aunt, who insists on stuffing you till you no longer feel like eating anyone. In fact, you don’t even growl when they ask you the same questions as the not-actual-aunt-aunty. Purr. And the gatherings for the cousin who’s getting married-endless dress trials and photo shoots and food and dancing. Then there’s the ones you can’t avoid. The ones you share your permanent lair with. Generally they interact in a series of grunts- demanding that you take your eyes off the laptop and actually spend time with them. When you actually oblige, it’s insanity- whether you choose to watch the shittiest movie possible, or play Monopoly (this usually ends with your brother eating the board), or show your photos to them (unwillingly) – with comments like “Why were you out so late? Drinking aa? Tell me the truth” (It was 7pm), or “WHY ARE YOU NOT WEARING A BINDI?” (Standard answer: “It ran away”), or “That baboon is cute. Don’t fall in love with it.” (wth? And seriously, ew.) Or your brother cackling at your awkwardness in the photos (A menacing snarl usually shuts him up). The common coping mechanism is to go curl up in a chair with a book.
By the time the season changes, compelling me to go back, I’m even more confused. Do I love the place with unending work, and shitty sleep patterns and deadlines, or the place where I hide from the stampede? I look from jungle to jungle, and suddenly realize- “But I’m from the Himalayas!”
PS- Mommy, I’m kidding. Let me come home for Diwali. Please? Pretty please?
–Sneha The Reddy