Well, who doesn’t know Pammi Aunty today?
The middle aged woman with green mask on her face, a towel wrapped around her head weirdly enough hair rollers stuck on top of that and gigantic pink coloured glasses rested on her nose, always busy gossiping with her “Sarla Bhenji” – Yes, that’s our Pammi Aunty.
Pammi Aunty has given us belly curls, rolling on the floor laughing with her wit, but little do we appreciate the satire behind the humour; little do we appreciate the sadness that once rested on the face making us laugh now; little do we care about the story behind that masked lady.
Well, that mask fell off at TEDx Chandigarh when Ssumier S Pasricha, the man behind Pammi Aunty came to the prestigious TEDx stage to share his story.
His was one of the most awaited TEDx talk of the day, for the reason attendees were looking forward to laugh in person with the man who spread happiness through his videos and surely, they were not disappointed.
Ssumier took over the stage in his classic Pammi aunty style. A lady all clad in Pammi aunty style came to the stage amidst the thundering applause and talked to ‘Sarla Bhenji’ over the phone. “Sarla bhenji, thonu pata ure kaun aaya hoya hai? Ssumier Pasricha! Bhenji, tusi jehda oh hard-soft engineer munda labhya hai na Dinki layi, us nu parah karo te Ssumier naal viaah karvao Dinki da! (Sarla bhenji, do you know who is here at TEdx? Ssumier Pasricha! Bhenji, the hard-software engineer that you have chosen for your Dinky, dump him and get her married to Ssumier!)
Wait, is she even a real Pammi Aunty?
No, she isn’t.
Just in a while, the real Pammi Aunty steps on stage talking to Sarla bhenji discussing her ideas for TEDx talk. “Sarla bhenji, main soch ri haan main na ‘Kiwein Noohan nu Kiwein Apne Kabu ch Karna Chahida Hai’. Haye, Nari mukti wale mere piche pe jayenge. Ya fer, ‘Noohan te Wadd da Atyachaar’, haye nai, meri nooh ne kehna hai, ghare kuch kardi hai bahaar kuch kehdi hai! Main na kitty de nawe nawe ideas dawangi. Mandir wali kitty, cashless kitty, dieting wali kitty, chauthe wali kitty…” (Sarla bhenji, I’m thinking of talking on ‘How to keep your daughters-in-law under control’. No, I shouldn’t; because Women Rights people will be after my life. How about ‘Increasing torture on daughters-in-law’; no, my daughter-in-law will say that I donot practice what I preach. I will share new ideas for kitty parties. Cashless kitty, temple kitty, Dieting kitty, Memorial service kitty…)
If that was not enough, here came Pammi aunty’s masterstroke “Kitty khedega India, taan hi taan wadega India.”(Only if India plays kitties, it can prosper.)
Then, Ssumier in his real voice ask Pammi aunty to leave to which she responds, “Tu hamesha meri beizzati kar dinda hain. Je main mard toh aurat na bandi, bhukhe mar jana si tu.” (You always insult me like this. Had I not turned into a woman for you, you would have died of starvation.)
O yes! That did receive the hell of laughter and applaud.
What happened next was completely unexpected? None could imagine the sadness, discontent and unhappiness behind the face that ultimately turned into Pammi Aunty.
His story is no different from any boy born in Indian family, who is born with the burden of his shoulders to fulfill his parents unfulfilled dreams and aspirations, who is expected to hold the reins of family business and if he dares to think or dream otherwise, how cruelly he is looked down upon, taunted and ridiculed.
He quoted Mahatma Gandhi’s words ‘Happiness is when what you say, what you think and what you do are in harmony.’
Happiness is when what you say, what you think and what you do are in harmony.
Did happiness reside in Ssumier?
No. It didn’t. Far away from his family expectations of “becoming an ambitious and shrewd businessman”, he had his heart and soul in art. He loved acting, dancing and singing. “I was told again and again that what you are doing is not right… In the process of becoming somebody which I was not from inside, I was becoming unsatisfied, unhappy, discontent was increasing and I was entering into the phase of depression.”
“But, I never blamed them or any other person because that’s the system; that’s how things are in India and that’s what we are expected of.” Ssumier took the charge of his life. He declined to become the puppet in the hands of society and chose happiness over sadness and he “jumped into the ocean without worrying about drowning in it…stopped looking for happiness in others’ perspective and focused on having my own.”
I’m a Proud Black Sheep.
‘Believe in yourself’ – that’s what drove Ssumier to accept what he is, gave him the courage to renounce the norms of society, made his family see him proudly and turned the whole world head over heels with his ‘Pammi Aunty’ to what he fondly calls “Aunty-depressant”.
‘Write your own destiny, carve your own path, never be afraid to walk the road less traveled.’ We have heard these sayings more often than not and Ssumier’s success story is an incredible personification of the same. People like these do leave an indelible mark in history and remembered till eternity. As Ssumier ended his TEDx Chandigarh talk singing…
When I’m gone
You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone
You’re gonna miss me by my walk
You’re gonna miss me by my talk
You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone…
P.S. How badly I do wish to share the video of Ssumier’s TEDx Chandigarh talk, but I really cannot. As per the TED rules, nobody is allowed to share it but TEDx Chandigarh. Once they officially release it, ChandigarhX will bring it to you for sure.
Photo Credits: TEDx Chandigarh