Coping with the loss of a very close person who used to be the true pillar of your family can have very unusual implications. I have heard about these things before of course, but it’s only when it hits you personally that you get to know the strangest depths of human nature.
I’m living in a country that has been trying so hard lately to fit into the most advanced values of the contemporary planetary human society, yet it’s still centuries if not millenniums far away from paying true respect to female abilities to do the great majority of things just as well as any man could do. Women still earn up to 30% less than men for performing exactly the same job and are still highly encouraged to think that their only true life purpose is to find a good “opportunity” to marry well, which in turn usually means to stay at home, cook, clean and raise kids, which are all tasks Serbian men in vast majority of cases wouldn’t tackle even if their dear life depended on it.
In the spirit of these cultural values and taking into consideration the fact that my little family consisted of my dad, my mom and me, the attitudes of people who know us changed dramatically after my dad passed away. Life is now about two women only, and the consequences can already be felt. There is that lost sense of security and protection, as though we’re suddenly living life in a house without a roof above our heads. Everybody thinks it’s their duty to give us advice, to remind us of our vulnerability, of our incapability to perform men’s muscle related tasks, and some people are surely trying to take advantage of the situation. One day not so long ago, I was warmly advised to hurry and marry as fast as I can, because I can’t go on without masculine support in my life – basically according to this person I had just about enough of “fooling around” till now, I could have done so as I had the support of both of my parents but as this support is reduced by 50% now, I should urgently do something about it. Besides, your clock is ticking you know, this person added among other things, obviously forgetting that my biological clock is my own business and nobody else’s, but never mind anyway. I’m not really sure how somebody’s father can be replaced by hurrying to marry the first guy that comes along and how this can erase the images of the last month of his life that will haunt me as long as I live (not to mention my ongoing PD issues which are a “wonderful” recommendation for any possible groom-to-be of mine), but from this particular person I wouldn’t expect anything different, so I managed to accept the words and dismiss them as fast as I could.
But hey, these things are like weed, no matter how often you pull it out of the ground, they still grow back. It happened again. This time it came from a person I considered a friend, in the sense that I thought I could lean on her at least to the extent of the fraction of how much she had leaned on me for many long years. She had met a wife of an important person and it turned out that the couple has two sons, both single. Considering both the fact that this woman is not of an advanced age and also the fact that her sons are single in this country, I told her well in advance that it would most probably mean that they are too young for me, and that anyhow I’m clearly not interested in anything arranged in a similar way, now in my situation or never in general. She went on a relatively long trip with this woman and insisted on mentioning this crazy idea to me again on several occasions, even though as it turned out she never ever mentioned to her friend that I existed in the first place. She had to “secure her position” in this important family first, so she had to make sure that I don’t jeopardize it in any possible way. Then all of a sudden she calls me last night to tell me that I shouldn’t have hopes, that she apologizes if she kept me falsely hoping that I would marry soon????!… because you know… both her sons have a… PhD title! Yep, you heard well, a PhD title. OK, just like many other people in this world, and with that?? (much more important would be the fact that they are some 10 years younger than me, but she doesn’t care about the age difference at all). Well you know Tanja, you don’t have a PhD. You’re not at their “level”. Differently speaking, I have nothing to look for in those circles. Besides, they’re very well off as well and travel around the world all the time, they wear just famous brands, they have perfect complexions and great looks… WOW WOW WOW wait a minute, hooold on…. I had to pinch myself to verify if that was just another of my usual nightmares or some badly twisted reality, but very sadly enough it was more real than these words I’m typing right now. Later I was lying in my bed in darkness, staring in emptiness and trying to count how many times exactly she offended me in those descriptions. And what’s even more weird, I still can’t get why. I didn’t ask to marry anybody. I didn’t ask to meat anybody’s friends, no matter if they’re good, bad, handsome, ugly, educated or illiterate. I didn’t ask for anything AT ALL. I don’t give a damn. The only thing I do give a damn about is that I don’t have a father anymore and that I miss him more and more with each day that passes without his return. I didn’t ask for anything, I didn’t express any opinions, I didn’t explain the hardships I found myself in since the dad passed away… and most importantly, I never offended her in any possible way. So what on Earth was all this about??
I don’t have a PhD, that’s a pure fact. I “only” have double Bachelor of Arts degree which I earned after being a student of generation in both my primary and special secondary school for very talented kids. God wasn’t very generous with me in this life and I don’t have much extra special qualities and abilities apart from a few talents, but the only thing I’ve always had in spite of everything were “brains”. Or simply speaking, I’ve had that IQ somewhat above the average and it helped me stand out and recompense for all the other things I lacked and all the health problems I had to face. That head is one pretty big reason why I’m still alive, in spite of the episodes of truly total occasional disability due to a really hard case of PD. And now this woman calls and tells me that I’m not smart and educated enough to be introduced to some people, that I’m simply not at their level. When agoraphobia wasn’t limiting me, I was attending conferences with really important people and translated complicated things in real time. I think I knew really well how to act and talk in front of even famous people in my country and abroad. And now, all of a sudden, I’m unfit for a conversation with her friends because they have a PhD? What kind of friends do they have, just those with the same title? Speaking of that, I failed to inform her that there are postdoctoral studies nowadays as well, so I’m wondering if these guys would be fit for talking with those people who took their education even further…
To sum up… I’m a woman without male protection any more, which is bad by itself. People pity me and take me much less seriously. I’m not educated enough, I’m not rich, I don’t have expensive branded clothes, I don’t travel the world in the first class and visit 7 star hotels, and I don’t have perfect complexion nor I can boast of some drop dead beauty (by the way, I’ve never heard that grief made anybody look particularly nice, shiny and beautiful). All in all, I’m a total loser, unfit for either scientific or rich circles. I don’t belong anywhere. Maybe I’m not even fit to write these lines, as I don’t have a PhD. I’m just curious, if anyone with PhD is reading this, how important is that title to you when it comes to human relationships? And do you occasionally just speak with common mortals like me?
I forgot to mention, the woman who attributed all these “wonderful” qualities to me doesn’t have a PhD herself, which makes me wonder how well fit is she then for making friends with this family. And she can only dream of speaking English the way I do. But that doesn’t matter I suppose, she must be much better person than me for some reason which I’m obviously unable to grasp. Intellectual flaw of mine, I’m afraid.