Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Fafda Files: The Stress Factor

Our esteemed editor asked me to write a column about what I found similar or dis-similar between people in the United States, Canada and India. Immediately my brain started  on a slow course down a winding trail shifting into high gear as it donned the avatar of a Ferrari on a formula one racetrack. After a few daredevil stunts the said brain slam dunked on the present day state of mind encompassed by the Stress Factor.

As of recent the ‘S’ word has become a household go-to for anything that remotely shifts one’s equilibrium. Particularly among women as men through eons have dodged situations and mastered the art of passing the buck. Believe it or not this species does not sport an agenda, it’s the nature of the beast cliched with the atonement that boys will be boys. 

Women per the philosopher’s dictionary are described as curious creatures who process information willfully defying all logic. These enigmatic offsprings of nature overcome by the global pandemic found themselves in the throes of conflict. I, an observer for the sake of this discourse will side-step this stereotype, take diligent notes and fulfill our collective need to know how differently American, Canadian and Indian women handle stress.

For instance, the slightest shift from the usual norm could make an American curse, throw their Waterford at the wall, go on a wild shopping spree, hit the nearest confectionery and release their stress over a large cupcake filled with cream and lathered with icing courtesy of several spears of sugarcane. Exactly, fifteen seconds after the last bite as she wipes her mouth, remorse settles in and she charges to the nearest gym straddling the treadmill at an incline of ten with a speed to match. Satisfied and limping she makes her way home to clean up the mess assuming a stance neither sheepish nor remorseful.

The Canadian woman – a brief introduction is due here. This poor contradiction of purpose was blessed with lungs that could outdo any Opera singer to supplement what she was cheated of in her cranium. With the first advent of possible stress, she screams her way into hysteria, gets under the covers that she lovingly sewed with her Celtic Quilting Bee group. After she recovers from this dose of self-inflicted pity, she gathers herself with decorum and silently makes her way to that cabinet atop which lying in wait is Grey Goose. With a subtle dexterity, she unscrews the top and goes bottoms up with the contents. A few minutes later ecstasy makes its way in an otherwise unsteady body which eventually ceases to resist and comes to lay with a thud somewhere between the landing and the stairs. The cycle may continue tomorrow but for now  she sleeps in sublime peace.

The Indian woman known to take things in her stride somehow feels tripped by the pandemic and its unreasoning ways. She thinks, ok, I beat on steel plates, rang bells and what not for the first wave.  With the second wave, I held the family firmly to strict rules and enforced a screen time schedule with Netflix, Hotstar, UTube, et al. She even survives the third wave despite its attack on her mustered grit.  But with the advent of the Delta variant, she snaps. All upbringing with years of Vipassana attendance goes flying out the way of brutish beasts and evolves into a force that draws images of thunderstorms, earthquakes and fireworks.

Household pets run and hide in nooks and crannies, but the humans get cornered. She bears down on twelve year old Bittu who at an inopportune moment makes the sign of the cross to thwart evil gets his ears twisted like a pretzel, Guddi of the teen years gets her cellphone yanked and Dhondu the cook cum driver cum errand boy gets a rapping about his unworthy skills. The final encounter is none other than her saat phere ka saathi, Ramesh. The beration starts with a long list of woes against sasu ma, the tightwad sasurjee, the hussy nanand, the mawali brother and her incarceration into the torture chamber referred to as home.  Tears follow, she packs her bags and announces she is going to her maika and resolutely walks towards the lift only to turn back sixty seconds later remembering the curfew and lockdown. She marches into the kitchen, bangs on some pots and pans and shrieks, “does everyone want to die of starvation?” and proceeds to pile plates with sabzi and parathas.

Above is conclusive proof that continents do not divide the psyche of a personae shaped by nationality, race or religion. What is ingrained are tolerance levels and breaking points.

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