Koi kuch kehta hai

Abhijeet Kini
Saturday, 2 February 2019

No matter how many tons of ‘skills’ you throw at them, it never seems enough. I always use the Indian translation of the term ‘people skills’ in my day to day life, which is ‘Log kya kahenge’! That’s the mantra we all live by here!

They always say, you need to have good people skills. ‘People skills’ is such a nice term. It sounds like it’s going to keep you in tune with people, making them happy, keeping you happy as well and at the same time reminding you that it’s an acquired talent. Alas, whoever coined that term, definitely isn’t a desi! 

Because, you see, around here, people can be rather testing. No matter how many tons of ‘skills’ you throw at them, it never seems enough. I always use the Indian translation of the term ‘people skills’ in my day to day life, which is ‘Log kya kahenge’! That’s the mantra we all live by here!

Every decision taken, every plan made, every conversation made revolves around Log kya kahenge (LKK syndrome, let’s call it that). The syndrome afflicts you from the very start of your life cycle. You are born, and about to be named…would your aunties like the name? Would a random uncle say he hates it? Uncles aur aunties kya kahenge? A few years later, it’s time for you to start your school. Is that particular school status-worthy for your folks? Folks kya kahenge? You sit with your classmate of the opposite sex to the tune of Teachers kya kahenge? You aren’t the sharpest tool in the box, and still you make it out of the rat race that is the board exams…with 40 per cent marks….Relatives kya kahenge? You decide not to go in for mainstream vocations like engineering or medical and go in for something else. But society kya kahegi?? You graduate (actually, scrape through) college and get a job. The new tune is, Bosses kya kahenge? And of course, the time you have random hands grabbing your head by the hair and making you dunk into this unknown territory called ‘marriage’. You dare not say, ‘Nahi nahi! Not now please. I need some time’. 

If the youth wants to pursue further education or take their time with marriage, do the majority of families allow this? It’s borderline blasphemy if you say you will marry only after the age of 28 or 29. 

Does this loop of LKK syndrome stop once you are married? No, it doesn’t! “When are you having babies? It’s too late, don’t you think? Oh, you had babies, now which school? What grades/marks? Bright kid or average kid? What college? What profession? What salary? When are you getting married? When are you having babies?” Thus, continues this never-ending circle. 

Over time we have gotten ‘judgier’ and ‘judgier’ (I don’t like that made-up word, but it works for this rant) and there’s no denying that no matter what you do, or don’t do, you are being watched and judged. Who is to take up the mantle of explaining to our well wishers that times they have a-changed! We are no longer that same society who lived by the templates. For all the lives we have seen wasted thanks to the LKK syndrome over the decades (centuries actually), and for all the opportunities lost for deserving people, it’s refreshing to see a new India emerge. Albeit this new India maybe is as big as a city suburb. But it’s there. 

I personally knew friends and relatives who had taken up careers such as fashion design, hotel management and hair styling and were simply referred to as tailor, cook and barber respectively. I’m happy to say that this didn’t stop any of them from pursuing whatever it is that they wanted. 

I often get asked at comic cons, events or workshops, to give youngsters, who are budding artists and writers a piece of advice. I always start off by saying that I would address not just the youngsters but also their families. It is high time you stepped out of that LKK boundary…explore the world and pick what’s best for you. People will keep ‘peopleing’ (haha, I just made that up)…but it’s your own life that you’ve got to lead. School, marks, jobs, marriage, babies, divorce, cars you drive, homes you own…they are all yours. Hopefully, it all changes from Log Kya Kahenge to Kya Log Sunenge? 

(The writer is a comic creator, illustrator and animator)

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