There’s a light breeze this morning, and I can feel the monsoon preparing to let loose on us in a month or so. Monsoons are the loveliest times to be in Bombay. I feel calm and peaceful, and many things that bothered me earlier have been resolved. A couple, the major concerns, still remain, but I’m more patient now, because I’m not stretched on my resources. Looking at the bigger picture has helped me to maintain a relative calm when waiting for the consequences of these events, or else I’d be in tatters.
Inspired by that thought, I’ve written the short story below -
He was upset. He had no sleep last night, and felt bloated, constipated, stupid and ugly. After everything else that had happened, this was just the cherry on the cake. He could not drink the barbituates that he had mixed with alcohol. Drinking it all would take the continued courage he didn’t have. He lit a cigarette. The last of his pack. Why should he buy more in such expensive economy, when he didn’t plan to live?
He went to the terrace of his building. He wondered what a site he must make. A 3 day stubble, a faded grey t-shirt and short. He stood on the ledge. He hesitated. He could see the cars. Tiny as mice. He closed his eyes. This was the only way. He walked on with eyes closed, and simply slipped off. He didn’t open his eye no matter how scared.
He started losing consciousness, and last he remembered, he fell on something soft. A field in heaven? Perhaps, he thought.
He could hear electronic beeping of some kind. He opened his eyes. He was in a .. hospital. And a pair of beautiful, deep, intelligent eyes were staring at him.
“I’m the resident clinical psychologist. A new recruit actually. Just joined. I wanted to look in at you as they said that yours was an attempted suicide. Oh btw, you got saved because you fell on an open garbage truck“
He made a face. He could not even die successfully!
“I know what you’re thinking. Stupid garbage truck. But wait a moment. Both your ex-girlfriend and you ex-boss have been here.”
“What did they say?”
“That they’re sorry, they had no idea what they did would hurt you so much etc etc. One dumped you, the other fired you, if I’m right?”
He felt stupid and grumpy again. He grunted in consent.
“You liked my eyes, didn’t you? I saw your expression. I was blind until a couple of years ago, when after a matching donor and years of collecting money, the operation could be managed. You have no idea how difficult it is to manage exams and practicals with such a handicap. But if i’d ended my life before, I’d not have lived to see the day when I could..see, so as to say.”
That broke the ice. He looked at her in a queer way. And he wanted to tell her all that had occurred. But it all seemed so trivial when compared to her ordeal. And then he realized, your own problems will always look big because you are looking to closely at them. It’s like looking at pixels of the picture. You need to take a step back and look it at all to make sense of it, the big picture.
Still, he blurted all of it to her. Even this latest insight.
Then when she was leaving, she said, “I would’t mind a 3-day stubble actually. It’s sexy in a rugged sort of way”.
What do you feel when you are waiting for something? Results or consequences of an event? I realized I’m not a big fan of these periods in life, maybe, because the waiting period for too many things have coincided. More importantly, I’m proactive and so, waiting without being able to contribute much to how the outcome turns out to be, is all the more frustrating for me.
My board exams stretch from 6th april to 22 May, yes, and in between they called us for practicals, sent us back as the examiners didn’t show up (teachers’strike) and then called us again before a tough paper. But at least I’m glad its over. I’m waiting for a friend to be free so that we may go sightseeing here in Bombay, but even that isn’t conclusive yet.
There are some very weird things going on at home, the verdict of which I’ll know, after my exams. They have to do with my further education, and so of course, I’m tensed and anxious about how things are going to be.
I applied to TISS for my masters. They said the results would be out on the 12th, then delayed it to the 24th. And on the 24th I saw that I’m in the (wait for it) – Waiting list. Sigh. So if someone cancels their admissions, I may get in.
Lastly, I’m stuck in my weight loss regime. Need to lose those last 5 kilos that won’t budge. I’m even waiting for sequels of a book and TV series, but those are minor matter. I know that its only a month more, and that by May, the conclusions of all of this will start to cascade one after the other. Hope I have the strength to face things then.
I’m burned out by all the anxiety and I just want to hibernate for a while, till things, hopefully, take a final turn for the better. Until then, hoping that these events are worth the wait. I try to engage myself but the thoughts creep in.
My only fear is, I do not want to stop living life, while I wait for it.
The other day, dad donated some money, and came home and boasted about it. My mother rebuked him with a ”If you are giving something in the name of God with one hand, you should be so discreet, that even the other hand should not come to know”. (Giving to the poor is equal to giving to God – no doubt a smart belief of major religions to encourage helping the economically backward)
That is all well, I thought to myself. But why do we insist on such pureness of spirit from someone who helps? It’s as if, in the back of our minds, we feel that either the person be a complete angel and be secretive about altruistic behaviour, or if he can’t shut up about it, then he is better of not helping people.
Some people told me that if this is not insisted upon, people will not help in order to help, but to gain fame and to tell everyone how nice they are. So, the spirit of helping is lost. People should only help when they really want to, or let it be.
Now, I had a chapter on Helping behaviour in Social Psy last year, and the reasons we help, according to the author of the book (based on lots of research and studies) are -
1. It feels good to help others.
So basically, its a selfish act. We do it, because we feel good. Like eating or watching porn. Only difference being, it involves other humans.
2. It reduces our negative feelings.
Helping others gives them joy, and gives us a relief from negative emotions.
3. Helping is an accomplishment.
I helped someone, so i’m the cool dude.
Oh, you donated 10k? I will donate 15k. Who is the better helper now, huh?
5. Kin selection theory -
I will help those who maybe related to me, or those, who will benefit the world if they are helped. E.g, save a young woman first in an emergency situation, because she may bear children which helps continuity of mankind.
Ok, so some of these motives are nice, some are not. My mother, for example, would not agree to helping if it were any of those above, except out of the pure goodness of ther person’s heart.
But I feel, that no matter why you help, you certainly are helping. You gave the beggar food, for whatever reason, but the fact remains that you helped him to have a meal. His stomach, as well he himself, will be thankful to you, regardless of what your motives are.
I think its about time we overcome this “either be a noble helper or no helper at all” psyche and accept people who help as well as boast about it. Why shouldn’t they? Isn’t helping an achievement in this world of cut-throat competition, when no one looks kindly at fellow humans?
If they took out the time, money to be kind, they have all right to be proud of this achievement, just like they would of winning a prestigious award.
Further, I also feel that if such people were accepted, many more people than currently do would act in helping, prosocial manner.
Lastly, the argument that, unless done purely, they might help only to show-off, and so it will be a one-time act and not a continuous act of helping. I feel that precisely the opposite is true.
When only you are to experience the joy of giving in privacy, you may experience it twice, maybe thrice. But since you can’t tell other people, your motivation will keep lowering and secret self-joy won’t be enough to push you.
Quite often, we are hassling over decisions, when the solution seems to occur and we realize that it was ‘within’ us all this while. Only, we happened to clear the clutter so we can see things clearly. I don’t know who apart from Freud and other neo-Freudians would support me, but ever since reading this book called ‘Subliminal’ by Leonard Mlodinow, I am all the more convinced that our unconscious holds more answers than we are willing to give credit to it. Maybe we are reluctant to accept it because the mysteriousness scares us. Within ourselves is something deciding for us, and yet we are not aware of how or why.
If all that seems too much of a jargon, I’ll give a simple example, that I suggested as a tip to someone a few days ago. The person in question wanted to unclutter his PC desktop, and did not know what to delete and what not to. I suggested that he put everything in the recycle bin, and retrieve only what he felt the need of the most, in a couple of days. I know this is not so deep into the unconscious, but it helped him look through the layers of ‘this is a good app’ or ‘this reminder will be useful’, down to the things that he truly needs.
So why does this happen? What I think is, that we are bombarded with suggestions daily, in fact, every minute. So instead of adhering to things and habits that we need, we adhere to those we ‘think’ we need as well. The result? We end up having loads of acquaintances, but few friends; No time for exercise, but always one for a swig or a puff; no time to read blogs or other useful things on the net, but all the time in the world for Facebook/Twitter etc. I’m not saying that social networking or knowing people is bad, but we have forgotten our priorities.
What should be our primary concerns, tend to be the least ones, and therefore, is it a wonder that we always seem to be at odds with ourselves? Our inner selves are revolting for some time for themselves, some peace, some priority, and less clutter.
So, the next time you want to know whether you *really* like someone, or whether you should keep doing the current unsatisfactory job, let your unconscious decide. Try not to force this inner voice with what you ‘think’ should be the right choice or course. This voice will tell you the right answer, even though it may be hard to take sometimes.
With time, when you are one with this voice, you will be at peace. For atheists, the voice is the unconscious, the smarter self within our selves, that understands more than we do consciously. For Believers and agnostics, maybe it’s the universal under-current/God trying to guide us. Who knows?
A wet pillow, a heavy head,
twists and turns, on the bed,
staring at the ceiling,
trying to find a link,
How to evade the sorrow?
How to ‘look forward’ to tomorrow?
The future is certain,
and not necessarily advantageous,
would I have the strength,
to face the coming years?
The question looms in front of me,
And I could have used
the comfort of a friend,
But turns out that when you really need someone
you’re all alone, the broken glass is yours to mend.
You know, once in awhile this frenzy seizes me. I know I get seized by frenzies quite a lot, but this particular one, its about clearing things out. Making space. Throwing/recycling what you don’t need. And its not just my cupboard I’m talking about.
With the academic year coming to an end, with only the Final exams left, I realized I could do away with rough documents of a large quantity. I don’t know why this is – because I don’t clean often, or cleaning just makes you feel like that – once I was done, and everything was stacked back neatly, I felt like I had a load off my shoulders.
Whatever stuff I could use to make some craft – bits of colourful papers and all that, I’ve kept in a pouch, to be attacked soon. Yesterday, at a stall at Kalaghoda Arts festival, they had a stall that had the most beautiful recycled products, and that has inspired me to be at my eco-friendly best.
The thought which occurred to me after the cleaning, is that quite often, we do not let go of what’s no longer useful. Be it emotional baggage, or keeping in touch with people who either hurt us, or we just don’t feel connected to any more, we need to let go.
There was a joke-book I bought when I was in school, and over these years, I haven’t thrown it away. The jokes are too childish now, and there are many other things to act as mementos of the old school I was in. I finally decided that it had to go. I gave it to my maid, for her daughter, who will begin school soon.
As much as we don’t let go of what isn’t required any more, we also feel that things may and shall continue as they are. But here’s the thing – things change, people change, and so do you! Only, we don’t see the change in us, or if we do, we rationalize that it’s not a major change.
I was seeing an episode of Doctor Who, where he comes across one of his previous companions. They travelled together for some time, but eventually, she was left to leave his life on earth, but the Doctor had to go on. People may change emotionally, mentally even physically. So does that mean its all morose and pointless?
Rather, I think its quite the opposite. When you take things for granted, that’s when it is pointless. When you know that it may end, you enjoy every moment of it. In fact, if you accept this fact, many activities, goals become easier. Weight-loss, for example. If you lose that weight, you need to keep it off. The pact to remain healthy is life-long, with an indulgence once in a while. If you start crazy eating just after you’ve lost your weight, you will gain it back.
Why then, do we not want to accept the constancy of change? Basically, because we’re lazy. Evolution made us so, or God did. We are forever in energy saving mode, so we aren’t spending any. To accept that things won’t remain the same, is a huge task, even cognitively.Just like I didn’t want to clean earlier, when cleaning would have taken less time, lead to a lesser mess. But once done, it makes a thing lot easier. It makes one’s vision clearer. Like that of a neatly stacked and cleaned cupboard.
Okay, before you are misled, I want to tell you’ll that this isn’t a feeble attempt on my part to recreate Sherlock Holmes by trying to write something Doyle-esque. My little efforts at writing have amused people, especially those pieces that I had courage to put up on this blog, but this particular piece is far from fiction. It’s a reality. A fairly mundane piece of family related anecdotes, and yet, I feel it is a mere symbolism for our larger confusions regarding People in general. Sounds too philosophical? Read on. It’s not. At your own risk though. It’s fairly domestic.
My dad was in Dubai recently and got back yesterday. He called from the airport regarding certain medicines he needed, and due to some misunderstanding, he yelled at me on the phone. I had my first fight with him before he even got home. No matter. That thing was sorted.
Then he came home and as he always does, showed what all he had gotten for us, either by himself, or gifts sent by relatives. (They send a lot of stuff. All my tailored clothes are dress-pieces sent by my aunt. No, she isn’t generous. She has a dress-material business. So, yeah)
Anyway, he showed me a shiny bag that he got from Dubai duty-free for me. It was very lady-like. And Prada (don’t know if really original, but looked quite original to me), oh and Leather. I know what you will react with, “Your Dad got you that and you have a problem??You and your #firstWorldProblems!” At least, that is how twitter folks would respond.
But those who know me, know I’m just the opposite of the leather bag kind. I’m usually clad in Kurtas and their equivalents, and choose to trudge around with cloth bags, a.k.a jholas. They are humble, eco-friendly, and good for carrying books and other college related things. And even they fail to prove as college bags for me. I have too many books to punish my one shoulder with, so I go for the back-pack kind. Sadly, school hasn’t gotten over for me in this aspect, even in the last year of degree college.
So, the first question is of utility. Where will I carry it. Secondly, did my dad not realize that it does not go with who I am?
Of course, my wise friends would suggest that I shut up, keep the bag and not use it if I don’t want. And that’s exactly what I plan to do.
But my question is, did dad not realize that it will not go with my personality? Or did he, consciously or unconsciously choose such a bag on purpose? you know, in order to change my rebellious traits into feminine chic ones?
If you think I’m overanalyzing, of course I am. I’m a psychology student.
So now the bag rests in the deep recesses of my cupboard as I ponder,
Is it better to not expect and not get anything from people, or to react with mild irritation or more when people think they understand you but they actually don’t and you can’t even point it without things getting somewhat uncomfortable which seems to big a price for such trifle matters?
Still pondering. If you have any suggestions let me know. Till then, that’s all folks.