Ambling along in a leisurely fashion around my block pushing the tandem stroller with Kay and Cee in it late yesterday evening, I enjoyed the quietness of dusk and the warmth of the setting sun. Kay and Cee seemed to be lost in the glory of the everyday beauty surrounding them as well. Smiling to nobody in particular I spied a couple of neighbors open their garage and walk out to their driveway. In the many years I have lived here, I have occasionally waved “Hi!” in passing. Yesterday though, the ladies stopped to chit chat and just like that it slipped out. She asked “How old are they?” followed by “How much do they weigh?” and then a gasp and a remark about how chubby the kids were for their age.
I walked away half amused and half resentful. A few weeks back, another neighbor who has never really come over to our home walked by when mom and I sat on the front stairs with the kids in our laps. She started innocuously enough gushing about how adorable the girls were and then it came out, the questions that make me want to both blurt out everything and hold everything back. Questions such as these. She took it a bit further than I have addressed wanting to know information that is privy only to me and K. I drew a line and politely withdrew.
Back in the confines of our living room the thoughts were verbalized uncensored. “But I thought..” Amma began. “I know! I too thought people outside of India respected privacy!” I continued. We went on to have a conversation about stereotypes and preconceived notions and how a huge myth in our minds was shattered. “They are just like us!” We thought feeling strangely comforted and disconcerted. Like a child discovering Santa Claus does not really exist. It was sobering and disenchanting at the same time.