Around the Dinner Table in 28 Days

A still from Eyes Wide Shut (1999), Image via Warner Brothers

You sit with a group that you belong to. Or maybe a cult you follow together, maybe part of the success coterie and they are all very nice people. Well dressed, perfumed and oh-so-much-love between one another, you know, just like how everyone in Bollywood are besties and get along?

So, as the evening progresses, the vodka, the whiskey, the wine is flowing like nectar.

Now each of them there need to feel nice about themselves. That’s why we party– to unwind and talk about ourselves, to fan our insecurities and pass them off as confidence. Here the richest one has the loudest opinion. Sometimes, next in the queue, the most intelligent one also holds forth, beating you senseless with fancy English, the latest book release, the next merger, the next political upheaval. I stuff my face with cheese in such situations. Pro tip: It’s pretty hard to get intimidated by anything when you’re stuffing your face with cheese.

Now they might start off with lofty topics like secularism, greek philosophy and human trafficking, but in half an hour they’re talking about all the awful people they know. Their “friends”, frenemies and adversaries doing immoral things and perhaps failing at some part of their lives.

No one can see the other person cringe inside when someone goes too far or touches a nerve, as they inevitably do at some point. It’s lucky we’re all sitting under the glow of the candle light, where we look pretty, the blemishes on our faces are hidden and shadows occasionally fall in sexy ways upon our expressions.

But imagine if the world had no Salman Khan, no Kangana Ranaut, no Arnab Goswami, no bitch who ratted on her husbands pristine reputation and broke down dramatically, imagine if someone didn’t fail, didn’t ever cheat on their spouses and was always honest. How on earth would we know we are good people?

So it’s extremely important to have a few enemies in life. Some haters. You hate them and they hate you and you can discuss till the wee hours about how you wouldn’t do such an awful thing. Alternatively, you can keep it to yourself and really stew in it for a bit.

But I am awful, I imagine a yacht with six tall Turkish men, lots of booze and sunlight, like the female version of DiCaprio on vacation. But I also want to crawl into the bed stand in your room, when the lights are off and you are alone.. and stick with me here.. I want to just watch your expressions? What does your face look like when you’re no longer pretending?

I’m intensely curious about honesty. I think people lie to themselves that they don’t like having enemies and don’t like being a little materialistic and that those things in the right amounts may actually be good for you.

Don’t you actually want that great holiday? Lookers in your life? Wanting the trip by the sea and the perfect designer mask too? Yet call out the idiot who got caught for being honest or wrong? What is that feeling of proving a hater wrong, or self-actualizing by having a frenemy you use as a yardstick for how not to be? Is that actually pleasure or guilt you feel, or some emotion or need we haven’t come to terms with yet? I don’t think guilt, pleasure, fear, competition or even Schadenfreude capture the essence of it well enough.

I think it needs a new word: phonymony.

What I do know, is that as far as I am concerned, I just love those enemies who once made me feel lesser because it helps me feel noble about myself. Occasionally, I too experience that rarer, more spiritual version of this, where a strong enemy shows you you’re on the right life path. So, bring it on, haters! You make life worth living!

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