Monthly Archives: May 2008

>The good, the bad and the ugly…

>…all in a week’s time. And since the last few days I’ve been trying to sort it all out in my head and make sense of it in words that can be blogged.

The last week has been something of a roller coaster at the workplace. After oscillating between a ‘yes’ and a ‘no’ and finally putting an end to the confusion with a crisp, cool lie that troubled me a great deal the whole of last week, by Monday, I thought I’d put the worst behind me. That was till Thursday dawned and brought with it the painful sensation that usually accompanies the act of being stabbed in the back. It hurt to first feel the dagger slice through your skin and flesh and then have it turned around inside you till you writhed in helpless agony. Okay, so I exaggerate and may have taken the analogy too far but there isn’t anything like a small or a big betrayal. If you’ve been cheated, you have been. The truth however is that though I brushed aside the whole issue as being all part of a day’s work, it lingered on, that feeling of being cheated.

And just when I thought I could now let bygones be bygones, the not-so-pretty past decided it was time to play catch up with me. I’m not amused at how the past never does remain that and always casts long shadows on the present. And so there I was, struggling with another sense of helplessness as I saw my life being remote controlled by something/someone that should’ve been history but wasn’t. There’s a strong urge to take revenge now though I have no idea how it’s going to be done.

That was just bad enough.

——————————————————

The ugly part last week involved one of my employees: a young girl whom I’ve grown very fond of and who finds herself trapped in a very, very unhappy marriage that she insisted on, blinded by love as she was one year ago.

In the middle of nowhere, I hear her voice in my head, crying in misery as she watches her dream of a beautiful home come to nought. Two days ago, a relative of hers – a smart, young girl like her – was brutally killed by her in-laws; now she fears, she’s doomed to the same fate. She doesn’t know if she should worry for herself or for her parents who will not be able see their daughter wronged like this. I can tell her to be strong and stand up for herself, I can share her sorrow, but I cannot be her.

Her tears make my smile seem forced. And I realise that the last week, troublesome as it has been for me, has been better than her’s. I’ve fought at work but gone back to a home where I know I would be taken care of. Despite everything, I’ve been able to forget my worries and sleep well.

That alone could be the good bit that happened last week.

>I’m awfully uncomfortable right now

>You didn’t ask me, but I’ll tell you still – I hate lies. Of all kinds: the ones that come out of my mouth and the ones that I have to hear. I hate those lies even more that come out of my mind. Sometimes it’s the only safe resort – a lie, that is. And even then it makes me awfully uncomfortable. I am awfully uncomfortable right now.

I hate myself more for having told a simple lie than I would hate you if you told me one. No, I’d probably hate you as much. I can look you in the eye and tell a lie, but I still hate myself for it. And I hate what a lie does – the agony it cause me, the heart ache it causes somebody else.

If you could take the truth, I would not bother making up lies. And if you didn’t believe my lie to be the truth, I’d probably feel less uncomfortable right now.

>The Great Divide

>

When we were growing up – my sister and I – we never had too much of anything. The toys were few and we didn’t need more because we had plenty of company to keep us busy. We almost never bought books and turned to the well-stocked school library to read all kinds of literature. We got new clothes on special occasions – festivals and birthdays. My sister usually studied from hand-me-down school books that she got from our cousin. My mother still remembers how we never insisted on buying anything, knowing well how much our parents could afford. When we went to the market, if we really liked something, we’d only ask Mom to find out the price. We knew if Mom could buy it, she would.

I saved up to buy my first Barbie. And I gave the money I got on festivals to Dad to deposit in the bank and he promised to put in the same amount from his side. So if I gave him two hundred rupees, he’d put in two hundred from his side. I felt rich when I had a thousand rupees in my bank account. For school fetes, we got ten rupees to splurge on ourselves. And sometimes, even twenty!

It wasn’t a difficult life at all. And people around us weren’t living too differently. There was just enough of everything – food, clothes, books. It was a comfortable life, but there were no luxuries for us. As children, we rarely missed what we didn’t have. It was occasionaly, when we visited friends and cousins who were visibly better off than us or received presents that we could not think of buying for our friends, that we thought of what was beyond our reach. But for the most part, we were thankful for what we had. And more thankful for what we achieved in the years to come as a family. Most importantly, we were happy and valued the little things in life.


So when I look at my nieces and nephews and a whole bunch of teenagers whom I deal with on a daily basis as part of my work, I’m surprised at how much they find to crib about in life. My 8-year-old nephew asks for an iPod on his birthday, gets it and still isn’t happy. My 14-year-old niece has a cell phone but because it isn’t a PDA, she doesn’t thinks it’s cool enough. And in a casual conversation, she asks me why the son of a really affluent family in town drives around in a car worth only Rs. 25 lakhs when they can afford a Merc?! And why does he have only one car? Pray, somebody answer her.

How much is going to be enough for these kids, I wonder. They don’t know what it feels like to want something and not have it, to struggle and achieve it. They don’t know the pleasure that a gift, however small, should give you. They don’t know what goes into earning a living. Who is going to tell them there still exists a world where people struggle everyday to survive? Who is going to teach them to be thankful for what they have?

I look at them and feel there’s more than a generation gap here. It’s the awning gap between the ‘Haves’ and the ‘Have Nots’, the great divide that keeps the children of well-to-do Indian middle class families from looking at the world where a comfortable life is covetous. These are the children of a society that was working so hard to get all that these children could want, it forgot to tell them about being grateful for it. As parents, we might betrying to give our children what we never had, but in turn we’ve taken away from them the simple pleasures of life.

>The sleep-y post

>

When there’s no place to run to, I take refuge in sleep. It heals me when I’m hurt, soothes me when I’m agitated, takes me away from the realities that I can’t do anything about. If I sound like an escapist it’s because sleep lets me escape temporarily from this world. It’s like amnesia for my overworked mind.

And I seek it whenever I can. It keeps me healthy, pretty, fresh. I can sleep off my exhaustion, boredom, anger, pain. When I’m happy, content, drunk, I sleep fitfully too. I hit the bed, close my eyes and there’s no thought between me and sleep then, not unless I want there to be.

I also seem to need more sleep than other people and studies say that’s a sign of stress. Oh well, I didn’t say I wasn’t stressed, I just said that sleep helped me deal with stress better.

It’s all I could ask for. I’ve seen too many insomniacs battle not just their sleeplessness but also so many issues in life. If I sleep well, I take it as a sign that everything’s alright in my life, that I don’t have problems that will give me sleepless nights, that my mind is getting it’s share of rest and is ready for the next day. And that’s more than one reason to be thankful for.

My grandmother had a strange way of sleeping: at any time in the night you would find her sitting on her bed and dozing off. She felt responsible for every member in the family, never could lie back, close her eyes and sleep like she had no cares in the world. Old age does that to you – takes the sleep away.

But this dozing off in the chair runs in the family. Both, my dad and his brother would invariably go off to sleep sitting in the chair and watching television. Now my husband does that too – dozes off while watching TV. He says it’s his lullaby!

The same uncle and a friend from his college days developed a strange relationship years after they had passed out of college. They would visit each other regularly with their families, and while everyone chatted, they both fell asleep on the sofa. Such comfort it must have been for them to be in each other’s company!

On the other hand, my mum couldn’t go off to sleep without reading something. And my sis still wants to hear a story before she can sleep. When we were in school, I’d let my imagination run free, cook up stories for her only to find out she’d slept off much before I’d ended. (I shall tell you more about the art of storytelling in an upcoming post). And when I was staying with friends during college days, we talked in the night till we could talk no more, stayed up till our eyes refused to stay open! Even now, I love a talkathon before I sleep.

What’s your sleepy story?