Tyranny of the gossip mill

2013-10-28 00:00

NO one wants to die alone, but if you believed the nosy concern about your relationship status, this might seem like a real possibility. And why must we live in fear of gossip?

Indian mothers, who try to hold onto their offspring for as long as possible, will hound them — even when their child has grown up — with “Do this, don’t do that, what will people say if you arrive home pregnant?”

Do they realise that falling pregnant outside marriage is taboo in most cultures, not just the Indian ones? Face it, people will always find something to gossip about. The new craze is all the aunties who have recently acquired Facebook profiles. I have a few notifications pending on mine.

If you don’t accept them, there they are calling home and sneakily saying: “Oh, I’ve invited you on Facebook”.

“Yes, and you know why I haven’t accepted? It’s because you are bored with your life and will find something to sniff out on my profile and hence I don’t want to be the topic of gossip,” that’s really what I want to say. Maybe someday I will, but then again, they are probably reading this right now.

Whatever happened to boundaries? Socially accepted ones of course. Whatever happened to freedom of speech?

One should be able to put up a status as you please, without having family members analyse it and call home. As for the Facebook check-ins — yes, I’m in Durban, Cape Town and Gauteng all in the same weekend.

Now, a given among the Indian community is that when your parents get older, the eldest of the family is supposed to take care of them.

Indians are appalled that the old people should be placed in retirement villages. If such a thing happens everyone is up in arms calling the next one, saying: “Did you hear so and so’s parents are in a home? So and so is so wealthy yet she can’t take care of her own mother?”

It’s annoying, to say the least. What if your parents want to be in a retirement lifestyle village? My grandmother recently announced that she’s moving out to one of these places because she apparently wants to live “like the whites”.

To me, it simply means she wants independence and peace. We should respect that.

But the gossip circle is up in arms and Telkom is overwhelmed due to each aunt calling the next and abusing the call-more time.

Another Indian thing is going to weddings and eating the food, then bitching about everything, such as who’s with who, or how much money the bride makes. The complexion of the groom is another hot topic and the gossip gurus have a field day if the wedding is cross cultural or, God forbid, interracial. Sometimes a good tongue lashing is called for. Be straightforward and tell the gossips to mind their own business (but be careful they don’t start a Facebook page about you).

Entertainment is always assured by the fat, ghee-dripping, jewellery-adorned aunt who is forever trying to hook me up with some random stranger.

And if you are Indian, you can’t miss the infamous question: “So when is your big day?”

My answer depends on my mood. On some occasions bitchy me might flare up and ask: “How’s your divorced daughter doing?”

Ah, the joys of marriage. But you’ll never hear from that nosy parker again.

Thank goodness my mum doesn’t have a heart condition, I’ve thus far gotten away with murder.

But what happened to live and let live?

In a world plagued by disease and despair, we find irrelevant issues to make the centre of our lives.

I’m hounded by broadcast messages about passing the prayer on that will save someone from cancer or some other calamity. I say get off your laurels and go donate to the Cansa foundation, instead of clogging up my instant messenger service.

• We will be publishing stories by the finalists in our True Stories of KZN 2013 competition in the next few months, before announcing the winners in the last week of November.

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