Life could be so simple, if we expect very little from it. If we wake up each morning and thank the Lord for that roof over our heads and the hot food on our table. Sigh. If only…
It’s unimaginable what a big ‘if’ that is! It’s incredible how we as human beings manage to complicate our simple needs. We build prototypes into which everything in life must fit. Be it what we eat, where we live, what we wear…everything must be as we imagined it to be. Otherwise we suffer from heartaches.
Now…what brought this on, is a recent meeting with a very dear friends’ parents. This friend G has an older sister K. All through his childhood G was compared with K. She scored much more in studies, sports and extracurricular. G found himself running all the time to catch up with her achievements and his parents’ expectations. I don’t think he ever really got there. Now at this point I wonder – why it never occurred to the parents that their younger child cannot be a clone of the older one! Perhaps he had skills of his own that they never really got around to discovering.
Anyways the good news is that despite that kind of upbringing G turned out to be rather a cool kid and did extremely well for himself in life. He moved out of India and away from the shadow of his larger than life sister! We met him at this juncture – in Muscat. We had some great years together until the topic of his wedding came up. Being Punjabis – his parents wanted him to marry someone from their community. They kept sending him photographs of fair, robust, Punjabi girls and our man kept rejecting them. He could not fathom how he could agree to marry someone just by seeing their photograph. He at least had to meet them. So meetings were arranged with prospective girls – but he rejected them all much to his parents chagrin. Oh and his able sister in the meantime had found herself a wealthy Maharastrian and was well set in life with 2 kids, 2 dogs and a host of domestic help…
Finally G found himself a girl in Muscat. She unfortunately was not a Punjabi girl but a simple, homely Rajasthani girl. It took him nearly a year to convince his parents! Eventually his persistence won and he married his lady love. Though his parents – till date – have not really accepted her. She does not fit their mould you see.
Today G has two kids (no dogs, no palatial 7 bedroom bungalow and no parade of servants…tut tut).
So yeah, like I was saying, what brought this on was a recent meeting with G’s parents. They were staying in their daughter’s oh-so-cool bungalow. It’s a really, obscenely huge and cold house! A massive basement, a ground level which houses a living room the size of a football ground, a dining area, a huge kitchen, a study cum gym room and two bedrooms. I’m not joking when I say that voices echo around the cold walls of the house. No amount of smart furniture can add that warmth to it I feel. Then there’s upstairs – a den to watch TV etc and 3 bedrooms, the boy’s bedroom has a car theme and the girls’ has a princess theme. Don’t forget the bathrooms with matching blue (for the boy) and pink (for the girl) décor. G’s mom took us proudly around the house, panting, wheezing and waddling up the stairs. Every second word she uttered was about how huge and lovely K’s house was! She insisted that we examine every detail – even the thoughtfully done up bathroom tiles. Oh then there were terraces with mood lighting. One for small parties, one for barbeque nights and so on. Then we went up another level to a huge terrace (for kids’s birthday parties). There was room up there with a swank home theater and hold your breath…the bathroom here had a Jacuzzi. So wow huh?
We were there for almost 2 hours and all the time we heard about how big K’s house is. G’s house is nice too…but rather small, you see. Only 3 bedrooms and that too small rooms. They felt suffocated there, they are so used to large spaces you see. And…gasp….only one servant. Poor G with the small 3 bedroom apartment. Some day, they hope, he will do well too.
But we, for a fact, know that G is doing pretty well for himself. He has a sweet little family and is happy. Now does that state of mind and heart add up to anything at all? Or do we need to measure happiness and success by the size of his home and the number of servants he has?
As we said our goodbyes and left…I felt sorry for G’s parents. They were so torn and worried about G. He is not as successful as K! They are so fixated in their definition of ‘happiness’ that they cannot see how happy he really is! Pity.
I thank my lucky stars that for my parents success is simply measured by how happy we are. That really, is all there is to it. Isn’t it?