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)

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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REACT WITHOUT REACTING ?

During a recent conversation with my friend Sanjeev Patni, he touched upon an interesting aspect of human behaviour – about not giving a “margin of error” to people while responding to them. While thinking about it I realized how eager we are to react and jump the gun. We make instant judgments (mostly erroneous) about people, and respond viciously based on their one-off act or words. We do not step back for a moment and try to understand their reference point…..from where are they coming…from which situation, with what emotional baggage…? More often than not, their words and acts are nothing but  outpourings of pent-up feelings, nothing to do with the situation at hand but merely finding an outlet.

Can we then, in these situations, react without reacting? Can we speak with understanding silence? Can we let the moment pass? Can we just let them be…? And thus maintain our dignity and salvage theirs ?!

Last night I dreamed of him again !

Last night i dreamed of him again…one of my most favourite persons…….a professor…with whom i have developed a special rapport over the years, a heart felt something difficult to put in words. He was as handsome in the dream as he is in real life. I met him last when i went to invite him for a function. As always he was with his spastic son whom i had often met as a child. After embracing me and giving me tea, he gave me a packet saying this was the money i had arranged to buy a wheelchair for his son decades ago. I choked and understood under what compulsions he must have accepted the money at great cost to his uprightness, righteousness, dignity…but his love for son had prevailed. We argued, we fought…he to return the money….i to make him keep it. I won, but i did not feel triumphant.

There are men  and there are men….He stands tall- heads and shoulders above most others…humane in his humanity, dignified in his simplicity, graceful in his sensitivity. He warms the cockles of my heart and brings tears to my eyes each time i meet him in person or in dreams.

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Of Ageing n Ceding !

Tortured souls they were…my friend (who is many years older than me) n his wife whom I met recently after ages. They have one son, married…both husband n wife highly educated and in good jobs. Life should have been hunky dory for my friend couple, but they were miserable. As they opened their hearts, I was appalled by the attitude of their daughter in law and apathy of their son who remains mute spectator to the spectacles of disrespect n insults thrown at his parents.

Why is it that many educated and well versed in manners and etiquettes throw their civility to winds where parents are concerned ? Why even a harmless n well-meaning question concerning  their or their children’s well being or whereabouts is thought of as an intrusion and interference in their lives ? Why the parents are shouted at in reply ? Why are they misunderstood…intentionally and by design ? Why are they made to feel low, bad, a burden….unwanted and unwelcome…by words spoken n unspoken, by sarcasm nuanced or pronounced, by gestures…in your face or subtle ?

Why is it that in the sunset years, the parents have to suffer the humiliation n disgrace, ignominy n indignity ? They create and provide everything for their progeny…..willingly n happily cede time, space, ground, authority, money, assets..…everything, except the responsibility…..which they continue to shoulder on n on n on. Yet, they suffer, and are hurt. Whereas the so called uneducated n fossilized have no ego and are the ones to apolozise first and always..…mistake or no mistake, many of the so called modern don’t even have the courtesy of being polite, forget the apology….their  methods n manners crude n atrocious.

Wrote this in anguish, hurt by the injustice and unfairness, the shoddy n the shabby treatment meted out to my friend. Story could be the same in some other homes…more or less ! But I am not sitting in judgment, nor am I trying to point out to anyone in particular, or paint all with the same brush stroke. Am sure this is one of the isolated cases. There are good and bad exceptions every where and in every age group. And there are shining examples of love n care, grace n graciousness !

Can there be some soul search ? Can there be little generosity to allow them some dignity to sit atop their disability ? That will be reason enough for their happiness n contentment. They neither need nor want anything more !

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Evolving or Devolving ?

A cousin posted something beautiful on kindness yesterday ! This triggered a thought……when we think of kindness, do we not sub-consciously assume kindness only for those who are not close to us ? How kind are we to our near n dear ones…to those who matter most in our lives….our immediate family members…….mother, father, husband, wife (am excluding sons n daughters for we are partial to them and, therefore, our kindness to them is agiven) ! At times are we not violent to them in words and harsh in thoughts ? And at times, do we not treat them shabbily…… by words spoken n unspoken, by behaviour n gestures, by certain things we do or do not do ? Why do we lose our senses n sensitivity, why do we take them for granted…… ?

The more we evolve, the more we devolve……?

 

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