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Gender Gap

February 2005
Gender Gap

By R. R. Iyer

Suresh Sundar alias S2 unplugged his shaver and turned his visage slowly left and right, like a young lady examining her makeup. He inspected his cheeks and the contour of his chin, did a skin-feel test with his fingers to assure that the shave was indeed close.

He was well past middle age and the reflection on the bathroom mirror betrayed that with remarkable clarity. The wrinkles, the graying of his hair, and the receding hairline, all told a story. As his mind wandered, he remembered a story he had read long ago in school; a tale of a man caught in a menopausal crisis, standing in front of a mirror contemplating a dramatic move to forsake his wife of so many years, in favor of a Jennifer. The author of the story was a modern day European, the text a crisp vernacular translation. Was it Pirandello, the author of Six Characters in Search of an Author? He could not remember. The fact that every thought embedded a story within uplifted his spirit that was already soaring. It was what Shree would call a good hair day.

As a young boy growing up in the post-World War forties India, Suresh had wanted to be a writer. He was so fascinated by stories and novelists that he found reading and writing not only delectable, but also what he himself would describe as aggrandizing. But alas, somewhere along the way his plan went awry. His friends and relatives convinced him that writing was nothing more than a fool's errand that would condemn him to a life of perpetual penury and repeated rejections. They omitted to say that there are exceptions. They also told him that he lacked the basic tool, viz. a typewriter, which was an absolute must if he were to pursue a literary vocation. He was disappointed, but took it all in stride. He decided that when he grew up he would marry a girl who would do the typing for him, thereby eliminating a crucial handicap without much effort.

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