“Good news?” agog strangers unabashedly ask me first thing on knowing I am married.
Very soon, I realized that in India, “good news” is the euphemism for “Have you been f***ed and more importantly, are you going to produce tangible result of the act?”
Being an inquisitive Indian that I too am, I made a few faux pas in the US on this subject as well. Then my husband taught me: “You don’t ask people if they have or are expecting a baby. It’s considered rude here because people value privacy. They’ll offer the information themselves if they wish.” I bobbed my head like an obedient school girl.
When we returned to India after two years of our marriage, every other woman of varied acquaintance level with me, of varied age, of varied (mostly zilch) stake in the query asked me if I was a carrier of “good news.” I would reply with the no-but-hope-to-be “not yet” and they would assume the role of infertility experts: “How long have you been married?” they further investigate. I tweak 43 months a bit to palliate the offense: “Three-and-a-half years,” I say. Still I almost hear them tut-tutting under their breath. “Both of us were studying for two years,” I justify involuntarily. They are not satisfied.
I can understand why our mothers and grandmothers would inquire (subtly most times) into our “planning.” They would tell me to eat more of Indian sweets and to do more of prenatal yoga saying, “It’ll be useful for the future.” They would stare at me until I assure them by nodding that I understand their connotation of ‘future’.
I can also understand why toddler-hauling friends of friends we meet at friends’ parties ask if we have kids. They want to know if we could be their friends in case the answer is in the affirmative or we would just remain friends of friends.
But I don’t understand why a cousin who makes it apparent that she doesn’t like me and who knows I don’t like her either would be nosy about my “good news.” Or what a friend of our mother would have to do with my “good news” at a society party.
With a chip on my shoulder, I now tell them “If you are referring to my developing paunch, you must be joking. It’s the sign of post-wedding prosperity you see.”
As hard as I may convince myself that “when is the baby popping out?” is not having any effect on me; I found myself telling my husband before couple of days: “I think it’s time we have our baby.” “Why,” he snaps back, “because people want you to have a baby.” “No,” I drawl unconvincingly. He interrogates me further as to why I (with emphasis) want a baby. The biological clock argument doesn’t appease him. I struggle to introspect for an answer. Finally I come up with a creative reasoning: “For how long can I blog about you? A baby will give me perennial topics to write about.” I tell him about all the popular blogs of Mormon women who just clip a picture of their cherub in diaper and get thousand likes. I also tell my husband about how I sweat out about the structure of my dissertation on him and still manage to get handful of readers.
He sighs. I tell him, “Do you still think I want a baby because I want people to stop pestering me?”