So what do you do?
This is a question that comes up invariably ten minutes into a discussion with a person. Quite often I am bored of getting into the lengthy answer of “I am a corporate lawyer, cum policy researcher who’s done her management and now is into the business strategy field …. Blah, blah blah” so instead I said this time “I am an author”. He continued to stir his coffee and without looking up said, “That is ok, but what do you do?”
It wasn’t the first time that I have heard people shunning the ‘author” tag as a profession however the recent developments in my life made that situation to be an oxymoron. I am these days practicing a fake smile whenever I complain about work load and people tell me that why do I need to work when I can live off royalties! So, the crux is that being an author is not a profession, however it is implied that since you have the tag you are wallowing in money.
Sigh! The pretensions we live with and how hollow is our perception of people’s lives I wonder. I look back and try to see if there is any Karma at work, I must have ridiculed a profession somewhere, refused to give it is due credit, I console myself. However, deep down I know the truth, the dark ages we are surviving in.
A mother who refuses to step into a 10×10 feet cubicle here is said to “give up her career dreams”, without anyone actually asking her dreams. What if all that she wanted to be was a homemaker and raise the next generation? Would you then ask her the same question about “So, what do you do?” after she’s told you that she’s a SAHM.
A lot of my friends are amazed that a few years down the line I want to give up my corporate career be a SAHM and pursue my career as a writer. To them it seems as if I am throwing my education away. I am not amazed that fail to make them see the point that it is my life and I have the right to decide about how much of it is really wasted. Instead, I am amazed that they overlook the “writer” part and instead go on to note that they wished I pursued my career to the fullest. They ask me didn’t I have the zeal in my young eyes to be a lawyer, the passion in the youth to be a good strategist? I smile at all of them and just keep quiet, for the writer in me knows that she’s won the tortoise race, sadly though the people still know the story of when the rabbit won.
“Choices” I feel is the most mis-understood word in the Indian context. We say we are given choices; however we forget to say that they all come with a fine print – The fine print of judgment. Take up a choice, however read carefully how the world around you is going to judge you. It is the same thing what are politicians are doing to rape victims – be sure of what you wear, for when raped you shall be judged accordingly.
Worst is the narrow minded list of profession and career. Having been a part of the rat race were all that you could be loved for was your grades and an ability to get into the IIT’s I feel it is a vicious cycle. The children too then start expecting the same from their off springs and thus tomorrow when my little niece wants to open a pet salon, it is almost as if I can hear my brother say, “It is high time you grow up and start thinking of what you want to do in life!” Ear buds anyone?