Monthly Archives: September 2015

For the sake of the greater good….really?

Indian mythology and history are full of accounts of sacrifice, self denial and renunciation by protagonists who command respect and reverence.

Giving up something for the betterment of others is a cornerstone of the Indian sense of right, honor and delayed gratification. The rewards of such behaviour are tremendous. Often as the protagonist undergoes tremendous self denial, the Divine reward him or her.
Our mythical heros & our Gods all exhibit these qualities- Raja Harishchandra puts his family through tremendous hardship, eventually he insists his wife give up the garment that clothes her to pay a tax he is to collect.

The Pandava brothers give up their right, their home & eventually their wife- because they felt there was greater good in being the ones to concede for the sake of peace.

Lord Rama, gave up his wife to ensure any perceived character flaws would not blemish his rule.

Gandhi gave up his worldly possessions and privileges so that he could focus on freeing India from her Majesty’s rule.

And so on it goes, many many more examples and role models that we have grown up hearing and reading about.

But I wonder, is there a difference between admiring or looking up to mythological or historical figures for giving up on their families and responsibilities for the “greater good” and condoning such behaviour- for surely if for the person or people they abandon is a victim.

The wife who is abandoned because of what people perceive or the wife who is put thru the wringer because of her husband’s sense of right. Even if there is some final gratification, isn’t it still wrong to make them suffer for what is not their doing.

Is it because the wife is viewed as chattel or a silent participant in her husband’s decision. For no fault of hers, she suffers immensely- is this fair? Or right?

This train of thought suddenly began earlier this week, when social media was ablaze with Prime Minister Modi’s stellar performance in sunny California.

Don’t get me wrong, I have immense respect for a self made man, very disciplined, focused and is probably slightly better for India than the alternative! His work in Gujarat has been fantastic, if he can achieve a percentage of that with the whole country that would be just amazing.

BUT what I cannot condone or even understand is his total denial of his wife. She has spent the last many years, decades in fact alone. She has been denied the pleasures, the privileges and indeed the pain of being a wife, a mother & a homemaker. If the idea was to abandon her, then why marry?

There is a term “Trishanku Swargam” – it does not translate very well but in essence means a state where a person is suspended in a limbo heaven. Can anything be worse for a woman? Married to one of the most powerful men in the world but cannot even use her legal last name. She lives in obscurity, she cannot take any joy at his achievements or any pride at his success. She has probably suffered ridicule and pity as she was growing up, long before her “husband” became a powerful politician.

That he cried as he spoke of his mother’s sacrifice at Facebook made me angry, for he did not acknowledge his wife’s even more intense sacrifice-

I wonder why people adulate such behaviour, why the celebration of an act that wreaks havoc on an innocent?

Is NaMo’s behaviour simply as people proclaim for the greater good of India?

The doctor will see you now…..

A few weeks ago, I ran into someone I knew slightly. Thrown together in the train with 30 minutes to kill, we got talking & exchanged news. I hadn’t seen this person for a few years, but we exchange our new telephone no’s and then got talking.

Over the next 25+ minutes, I got to hear about the last 8+ years of her journey- she’d had a few family crises to deal with, the house they were in developed some major structural issues and insurance had not covered. She’d had a few medical scares in the extended family. She was making regular trips back to India to support and help her parents because they were now quite old.

She’d changed jobs and her new workplace was very different and she was struggling to stay motivated… It went on..when we got to Richmond and she was about to get off, she turned and gave me a warm hug & said – I feel so good, its been great to catch up. Can you send me the number of that nursing agency in … that you suggested for mum & dad.

I too was smiling, it had been good to see her…but a little bit later, it struck me- in the 30 minutes, she had never asked how my parents or kids were, what I was doing, how my last few years had been!

I had asked her how she & her family were and she had unburdened herself!

Later that day, on my way back home, I reflected on the many relationships I have now & have had in the past. And some of them are similar to this one. I do have & I am certain others have such relationships as well. People who reach out to you only when they have a need.Either to just discuss the latest issues they may be facing or because they need your support or assistance with something…

Not that they are not perfectly nice & caring people, they usually are- but your place in their life is somewhat like a tech support centre. Sometimes even the “how are you” question they ask is just a conversation opener- once you’ve said fine, they move on to the issue at hand before you can elaborate or after you’ve spent about 30 mins helping them thru their issues….they end the phone call with- ” everything fine at your end right” ” aur baaki sab theek hai na” …..

Thankfully the 1,5 hour return trip from work gave me an opportunity to process these thoughts and take them to a natural conclusion. And maybe a sign of my emerging maturity! I thought to myself- perhaps it is good that they feel they can reach out to me, when they are truly agitated or disturbed or need a hand- rather than go to one of their many other friends, it means they value the support & sometimes advice I guess- rather like a doctor, who you trust to fix you up when you are a bit crook!  I can live with that! ** a metaphorical pat on the back **

I then wondered if there are people in my life, who are my “doctors”- I do hope not, I hope that I nurture relationships in all the seasons not just the stormy season- but if there are- My apologies! I will do better….

But as I got into my car at the station, I thought to myself- What an amazing thought process was triggered by a chance meeting at a crowded station platform…and how thankful I was for every single friendship I have out there!