WHAT HAPPENS IN MY ROOM…
- There is a huge mountain of ice cream at one corner of the room. (No, it’s in boxes)
- No, there’s no chocolate, I don’t really like chocolate so much.
- I run around naked and there are crazy drunken orgies in my room regularly.
(As Sheldon Cooper would say, and make that expression which I find it difficult to replicate on paper. Also please stop imagining me naked, that is gross!)
Now that I have sufficiently managed to get your attention, let me change the tone of this text to make it impossibly boring. Bwahahahaha.
WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS IN MY ROOM
I sit at this desk. It is actually my sister’s. But I have taken over hers. It’s probably an intrusion since everybody deserves to have a room of their own. I don’t really have one. When I wish to watch TV, I go to the living room. When I need to work on my laptop, I sit at this desk. When I want to read a book, I read at the most convenient location depending on the ambient temperature at the location. (Well, it’s torturously hot!). Where do I sleep, you’d ask, if I don’t have a room? I sleep in the guest room. Sure, it’s technically ‘my’ room. But it isn’t. Sure, it has a cupboard full of my clothes which I don’t wear and a cabinet full of my books which should prove that it is actually my room. But I don’t seem to spend time in it. Then how is it my room?
Let me explain. My parents are not heartless ogres that don’t wish for me to have my own room. And I do have one, technically. I am not happy with it, that’s another fact. I did have one before, when I was in school. Then we moved and I went to college and then started working. Now I am again in college and only come home during breaks. So, it’s not exactly practical to make any changes to that room which serves as a guest room. And then when I finish my studies, of course I will be married off.
I couldn’t paint the walls. ‘What would people who come to our house think?’, my mother exclaimed.
And then I put some rice lights in the room. I wasn’t really satisfied with them but they were all that was available in the house. My mother looked up at them and made a face. ‘I had them in my college room’, I said in my defence. I had gotten used to them in the room which I shared with another girl. I thought it would be prudent not to mention that my roommate didn’t exactly look comfortable with them too at first (But I think she grew fond of the lights, after a while). ‘How cheap they look, as if you are in a bar!’, she exclaimed (my mother, not my roommate). To tell you the truth, they did. But not in my room at college. I bet the first thing my mother will do when I go back is take off those lights.
Now, let me change the topic and leave you hanging there. Don’t worry I’ll come back to this business again and then this will start making sense. Maybe.
Yesterday, I started reading A Room of One’s Own, an essay by Virginia Woolf.
“But, you may say, we asked to speak about women and fiction- what has that got to do with a room of one’s own?”
So starts the lecture which mainly focuses on: (a) why neither Jane Austen nor Charlotte Bronte could have written the mammoth War and Peace; (b) the fate of Shakespeare’s gifted (and imaginary sister); and (c) the impact of poverty as well as chastity on women’s creativity. (Lifted verbatim from the back cover)
As I read through the first chapter, I paused and wondered, is this even relevant today? Gone are the days when women weren’t allowed to own property. Gone are the days when women were not allowed to study or did not have access to libraries. Gone are the days when there were no women writers. But I forget. Most women in the country do not get to go to school or study in one of the best colleges like I do. And whether I will do something with my education or happily settle into a life of domesticity is another matter.
Yes, it is still relevant, I decided and I continued reading. I even wondered at one point what was the point that she wanted to make when she went on and on about her life and how she spends the day. But then it seemed as if somebody was silently connecting the dots.
“Why did men drink wine and women water? Why was one sex so prosperous and the other so poor? What effect has poverty on fiction? What conditions are necessary for the creation of works of art?”
So asks Virginia Woolf. I remembered a conversation over breakfast with a batch mate regarding the circumstances that give birth to great writing. My friend was of the opinion that the writer has to be sufficiently unhappy to truly write great literature. And I remember arguing that that was not always the case. Yes, most writers are usually unhappy but not all unhappy people are writers. How is that related to Virginia Woolf? Well, she says that most great authors were educated and came from well to do families. It is only because of their upper class upbringing that they were exposed to an environment that facilitated thinking. However, the same was not true of their female counterparts who did not have access to education and an environment that encouraged their participation. They were primarily dependent on men as there were no sources of income. They were expected to be subservient, as an ego booster for men who revelled in their superiority. Women never had a room of their own, where they could just be themselves and do whatever they wanted, without having to hide, without any disturbance, no child demanding her attention or the maid calling out to fix a problem, no husband demanding servitude. At the same time, there were few women who perhaps wanted to change the status quo. They were happy being dependent on their husbands or men in their society. And that is why Woolf exhorts women to make her voice heard.
Wouldn’t things be different if women had access to an education and great writing, some money of their own, freedom to travel, and most importantly a room of their own? Can you imagine what greatness that could inspire?
And now we come back to my room again. Or the lack of one. There is one room that is all mine. It is waiting for me back in college, waiting for me to paint it a nice disturbing color and hang some pretty curtains. The speakers connected with my laptop would silently emit familiar and melodious sound waves (I mean music, of course). There will be a desk and lot of books. Not to forget the lights. This time maybe I’ll put up some blue ones. No, red has always been my favourite.
Now, can you connect the dots?