When Good is Bad.

We can face the world, but it is difficult to face ourselves. Solitude compels us to look within. It brings us face to face with our ugly self; and forces us to vividly recall the injuries we have inflicted upon many including our close ones, and our unfairness in many a relationships born out of  selfishness, presumption, ego and  arrogance. Our soul knows us well, we can’t lie to it.

Selfishness invents justifications; integrity, empathy, and understanding do not need crutches of justification.

And within us, there is a kind of selfishness which lurks and masquerades as selflessness. Even while thinking for the good of our children, spouse, parents…we think from our angle…we look at their well-being through the prism of our own pleasure, our joy…not from the lens of their space, their feelings. If I am being kind, I do not realize that perhaps I am being unkind. If I am truthful, I don’t realize that truth also hurts. When I am trying to be righteous and upright in correcting others, it doesn’t occur to me that being so very correct is sometimes incorrect. We want to see the image of their happiness in our mirror, and the picture is always blurred. Many a times we try to be good for the selfish reason of feeling good, but is it really doing any good?

We forget the individual identities; that the fist is one, but fingers, though joined together at the base, are still separate; that at the very basic level, persons, persona, personalities and perceptions are all different.

Due to misplaced love and kindness, we grown-ups unconsciously tend to control…be it our adult children or our elderly parents. We try to decide what is good for them, and we preach and specify the ‘dos and don’ts’. Whereas our ‘for their own good’ instructions to children alienate them; the ‘kindly limits’ we set around our parents sometimes compromise their dignity, trample upon their feelings and sense of independence, and end up manipulating them.

Should we be so helpful to our grown-up children and our elders that they look helpless and feel hopeless? But we put them either in nappies or on pedestals. Needed or not, we constantly provide crutches.

We try to control (even if unconsciously and benevolently) because we have the arrogance to assume that we know better. Ceding this control sets everyone free, and there is nothing more beautiful than the sense of freedom.

Lifelong we don’t cease to parent children, and we parent our parents too. Grown-ups want to make their own decisions, at least some of those decisions. No one likes being coerced into a situation or an act. We need to be sensitive to their sense of shame and embarrassment arising out of unwanted dependence. What is needed is understanding and empathy, not control or sympathy. We are sensitive to what we want for them, but not to what they want for themselves.  

By doing away with parents’ responsibilities in totality (in order to give them so called ‘peace of mind’), we also snatch away their involvement and authority…be it personal, financial or pertaining to the family…making them redundant. There is nothing worse than being consigned to irrelevance.

So, let them be….so they can be themselves…in their space…with their identity and their perspective.

And let’s ask, not assume. For, there is no absolute in life. There is right and there is wrong, and in between are the doors of perception. And perceptions differ.

Photo Credit: Old Couple: wonsung.jang; 4 persons: Dimitri Houtteman (unsplash.com)

Shades of Life

“Life is a series of family photos in which you keep moving to the rear until finally you’re a portrait in the background.”

On a serious note, yes, as the polite tag of ‘seniority’ is thrust upon people, the world becomes increasingly irreverent to their relevance; and many retire and retreat to the rear, searching for dignity and solace in their confined corners.

In a lighter vein, unable to resist the temptation to be in the limelight, I keep elbowing my way from the rear; and I do so wearing dark shades, tinting my greying life colourful. And my portrait, though in the background, will be a sought after possession for Rayban.

One must look stylish even when one is no more. 

Sophistication of intelligent minds reflects in the sensitiveness of their souls.

A TALE OF TWO….IN THE CONTEXT OF MY PARENTS

Parents are at Bangalore since mid-November 2019. I tend to their medical needs when they are here…doctors, hospitals, the regimen…and of late I have realized I often lose patience and become irritated when father reminds repeatedly about something. I might hide behind the justification that in the hurly-burly household scenario where 10 humans try their best to remain sane and humane…competing for peace, coping with the pace, jostling for space…nerves do get frayed at times. But what is a family, if not confusion and chaos?

I am ashamed of myself as I compare in my mind and recall how Antima tends to their needs- medical and more at Guwahati…without losing patience, without ever getting annoyed…replies umpteen times… calmly, affectionately…as if talking to toddlers aged two….with love and kindness and a happy smiling face…coaxing them to eat, cajoling to take medicine, persuading to venture out, encouraging to have some fun….. giving them her time, empathy and the warmth of sunshine in the winter of their lives (neither bragging nor blaming, and despite a full-time job and domestic affairs in her hair).

Sophistication of intelligent minds, such as Antima’s, reflects in the sensitiveness of their souls.

Stories such as these must be told…not to belittle contributions of anyone, but for lessons to be learnt…i am learning mine!

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The Dilemma of MIL DIL Duel

{ Just For laughs:  with malice towards none; and the belief that there are exceptions to the rule, and none takes exception to exceptions, and human beings….though animals….can laugh at themselves : ) }

 The eternal MIL DIL duel is a thing of beauty and a joy forever*

 It is that unfathomable equation where perplexity is the constant and reason variable.

 As in all dimensions of human existence, here too the all-pervasive and despicable “law” is the chief culprit. And human beings (assuming MILs &  DILs too are humans despite display of feline feelings, fangs n fervor) have the genetic predisposition to break the law with primitive cries of utter glee and absolute abandon, and indulge in things illegal {not to forget inscrutable and eerie : ) }

 In these unlawful situations where sarcasm adds colourful words to native vocabulary, sulking n sobbing are de rigueur, and the expensive mascara flows smoothly down the dainty tender noses with sweat n tears (Churchill must be turning in his grave), being caught in the clash of the titans is rather unsettling for the sensitive son and the fretting FIL.

 With this rampant affectation of unbearable affection, the son beats a hasty retreat to the nearest watering hole with the farthest friend to forget his failed attempt at prudent ‘animal husbandry, and the FIL flees to his nook with a book of inspirational quotes, look of sorrow, and quivering brow. (Let’s call it his hangdog expression, and therefore, add pleasures of paanparag+, peg or prayers to his survival paraphernalia depending on his worldly or other-worldly fancies).

 Though, in the end it is much ado about nothing (khoda pahar aur chuhiya bhi nahee nikli++), time and tide do not extinguish the raging fire within.

 Age cannot wither MIL DIL duel, nor custom stale, its infinite variety** : )

The Show must go on…..lights never dim….and its never a curtain call.

But, pain will be the occasional episode in a general drama of happiness***, if ‘Love’ replaces ‘Law’ : )

 (with thanks & apology to *John Keats, **Shakespeare, and ***Thomas Hardy)

( + An Indian mouth-freshner ; ++ “Didn’t even find a small mouse after digging the whole mountain”)

 

How to destroy personal relationships and perform harakiri !

Two most obvious ways:

ONE: when relationships become transactional…a selfish calculation;

TWO: when we become so adamant, egoistic, and self centered that even the most logical and common sense suggestions and requests fall on deaf ears.

These lead to slinging matches and fights, breed intense dislike and contempt, and culminate into indifference.

Destruction is total, final and irreversible.

 

HORSE SENSE

LET’s NOT IMPOSE….NOT EVEN GOODNESS!

Subtly show the right choices to the family’s young adults, but don’t make their choices; they will make their own intelligent ones…..when they want to.

All are comfortable in status quo and instinctively resist any change, and therefore, become defensive and defying to defend the ego.

Why insist or instruct, and come across as interfering? Let them sing loud and dance electric to Dr. Alban’s “It’s my life”, and join the party. Why be a spoilsport.

Forget coaxing, cajoling, cautioning and correcting. In today’s world, we can’t even bring a horse to the water, forget making it drink. Horse Sense!

Someone’s Pain, My Pleasure ?

The dead depart and the accused are arrested, but the world around rest of the crestfallen family falls apart. We relish gossiping about and deriving voyeuristic pleasure from tragedies befalling others. Gruesome details, innards and all, are shared and forwarded endlessly and instinctively with glee and become fodder for free entertainment. It is forgotten there are none without dark hidden side.

As evolved beings, can we curb this primitive urge, and show sensitivity by shunning the senseless and being sensible? Can we search deep within and allow a semblance of dignity to those who have to suffer ignominy for no fault of theirs? Can we just let them be?

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The Other Side of Midnight !

The Other Side of Midnight !                                                                                                   (with thanks & apology to Sidney Sheldon)

 Ok, they can’t “cool it”, nor are they “hot”, but can’t they warm up to the idea? It’s high time the seniors also looked at the changing times and relationships through the prism of the younger lot. They talk about the generation gap, but where is the effort to fill it?

 Whereas minimal discipline and civilized norms of behaviour can’t be dispensed with, why keep clinging to the past, the unnecessary and the unwanted? Resolve the crisis of confidence. When in doubt, give benefit of doubt.

The body ages, but one can be young and contemporary in mind. No doubt, “the in” vocabulary and behaviour do not decide the primitiveness or modernity, it wouldn’t harm to follow these simple survival rules: Suggest, not instruct; Listen, not ask! But by no means give in, rather give! Give space, even if void  : )

Constant complaints, criticism and cross-examination only widen the chasm. “Who, what, where, why, when” alienate. Leave interrogation to IT, IB and CBI. Excessive curiosity will surely harm if not kill the cat.

 Besides ignorance, ignoring too is a bliss!

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Of Faraway Families, Maddening Maids & Drivers Driving Us Crazy!

Stop clapping imperiously n shouting “koi hai” the moment you are out of slumber n sleeping bag. ‘Raj’ and “Raj-Idiosyncrasies’ no longer exist, not even in Rajasthan. With the helping hands becoming aspirational (rightly so) and maddeningly moody , it wouldn’t hurt to pick up your empty plate n wash it. Shun dependence even on the cuddling n befuddling family members. Apart from powdering your nose or splashing after-shave as the sole arm-lifting exercise, begin brewing your tasteless tea, burning your toast and holes in your shirt/skirt by ironing out wrinkles of your expectations, for family members have their own 1,2,3…lists (nothing wrong with that). Mastering the art of measuring sugar miserly will come in handy when you are salt n pepper and children take wings with their own families due to compulsions of work/kids/creating their own space (absolutely understandable). And in the foggy age when you pretend to come to senses n see life squarely in the eye, your wife may not see eye to eye, turn religiously religious, desert you in favour of God, n delicately but devilishly decline to pour wine in your goblet leaving you low in spirit n dry as desert. And if you happen to be a woman, you run the ultimate risk of being saddled with a spent sentinel sans senses slowly but surely sliding into senility. Dependence, like proximity, breeds contempt. So, ladies n gentlemen, tighten your belts, loose motions n emotions and wield a broom with gusto and a wild Woosterly “WHAT HO”! Waiting in the wings, Jeeves will approve!

PARADOX…LONELY TOGETHER!

 PARADOX…LONELY TOGETHER !

Headline Today:

“Indian birth rate going down, literacy rate going up!”

 Some have no offsprings… live on their own,

Some stay together yet live alone… though progeny abound!

Lonely coz together…

Ensconced in their cocoons!

Severed connections, shattered communications…

Deafening silence or silencing shout-downs!

 Yes, we are progressing…

After all, literacy rate is going up!