x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Desi girl: Why it's best to just keep calm and carry on

Who needs soap operas when there's Facebook, where there's a new episode every five minutes.

I don’t watch soap operas. I have Facebook, where there is a new episode every five minutes. Or every five seconds, I have been told by various people, if you have me on your news feed.

Just the other day, a guy on my Friends list updated his Facebook status with these exact words: “Today I wish I were pregnant so I could go home early from work ... can’t wait to crash the bed.”

My immediate reaction was to jab blindly and violently at the keyboard trying to figure out the fastest and nastiest way to put down in words the many, many ungracious comebacks that were coming to my mind.

Every fibre of my being was itching to leave a really snarky comment, but 10 deep breaths later, it sank in that I really don’t know this person well enough to engage in textual discourse on that level – which also kind of got me wondering about what it says about me, having this person on my Friends list. But that’s a conundrum for another day.

I was not entirely convinced about starting a world war on the web on somebody else’s wall, where their friends would inevitably come to their rescue and I would most certainly be outnumbered. So I decided to take it up on what, in my opinion, is the most democratic space on the internet: my own Facebook wall.

I started composing my comeback: “That status could only have been more offensive if it said something like ...” But I was stumped.

What could possibly make that status update more offensive? The answer: nothing.

I just want to pat that guy on his back and tell him: “Good job, mister!”

Everybody knows that pregnancy is only really an excuse for women to get shorter working hours out of their employers. Forget the fact that they are carrying a whole human being inside them 24/7, battling a slew of hormones and facing an onslaught of physical changes, all while being expected to carry out their domestic duties as normal. You can’t expect husbands to automatically start cooking, and the laundry and dishes don’t magically do themselves just because you’re pregnant. Pfft! Woman, go make me a sandwich.

In what world – and on what basis – should pregnant women be allowed the concession of shorter working hours once in a while? Isn’t it enough that they get an incredibly generous 40 days of maternity leave when the deed is done? Just imagine, a whole 40 days off for having carried a human being inside them for nine months. And what is this I hear about nursing breaks for two months after maternity leave is over? They want to give these ladies even more time off? Preposterous.

I worked myself up quite a bit and my husband just laughed. He said if I wasn’t careful, people would start thinking I was pregnant.

The whole incident did make me realise this, though: sometimes in life you just have to close your eyes, count to 10, take a deep breath, remind yourself that you wouldn’t look good in prison stripes, smile and walk away. In real life – and on Facebook.

Ujala Ali Khan lives in Dubai and loves all things desi

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