Friday, June 6, 2014


I was lying in bed last night and I noticed again that my bedsheet had a rip in it. I've been using it for weeks that way without giving it a second thought. It comes with living alone. But I imagined someone else around, and what they would say, what I'd be expected to feel or do..... Ok, I admit - it was my mom's voice I heard. Years ago, my siblings and I started referring to mom as 'The Voice of God'. Not in any spiritual sense, but more as in it could land right in your ear when you were doing something you weren't supposed to. So anyway, what would the common response be to this? - Using a ripped bedsheet like a poor person? Or a cheap one? But you know, I'm perfectly happy with it anyway. It's just as serviceable as an unripped one. Yet rejecting it and getting a new one would be the expected course of action. Isn't everyone entitled to an unripped bedsheet? ...I need to get a life if I'm so hung up on a bedsheet, right? But as always, there's a point to the madness.
I've seen a lot of this in India amongst the poor. How they toil, sweat blood, scrimp and save, all just to buy a piece of gold that they can display on their bodies, for others to see. But its deeper than a mere status symbol. Its a feeling of entitlement that they wish to satisfy- a decent human being must have atleast one piece of gold on them, should they? It's only fair.
I think a lot of people are stuck in their lives because of the crippling feeling that entitlement brings about. I met a man who is a 'difficult' person. His personality is abrasive and he repels too much familiarity or affection. He is aware of it too and attributes it to one fact- his most defining moment in his life, if you ask him, is that his mother abandoned his family when he was one year old. Now, the thing is that he had a normal life afterwards, with stability and resources and love. He had something for 1 year of his life, and then some 40 odd years when he didn't. Yet that which he lost, which he barely even remembers, yet what society has told him he is entitled too, that psychology has told him that he is poorer because of, is what he uses everyday as a reason to be lonely and angry.
I've been thinking a lot about this as I meet friend after friend who cannot let go. Failed relationships, dysfunctional families, financial hardships, loss.... things that have put people through immeasurable heartache, I completely acknowledge that, but what is it that makes some grow through these experiences and some to hold on to them and shape their misery instead? I think its the conditioned feeling of entitlement. that somehow life was meant to be fairer, easier, happier. After all, there are people around us who definitely have it better. Maybe they do. So what?
This 'so what?', I must add, is not a cruel question. Yes, there are a few times, when I listen to many a hypocritical self-pity speech and think 'Bitch, please!'. But thankfully, there are many more times when I feel sad about it and I wish I could just make them see that the answer to 'so what?' is so important to how we live.
"Ma'am! It isn't fair!" I hear this a lot in my classroom as children constantly compare and compete against each other, and measure their achievements and lives against what they've been told to expect. I see the seeds that I can only hope will not grow into bitterness. But maybe I can do more than hope.
I've been preparing the pin boards in my classroom for the next academic year and one of the permanent sections that I've planned for is called 'The Way of Life'. Basically its a piece of wisdom that I take off the net or a book and I try to put in a comic or picture, because I believe my children need to be challenged to think beyond what they usually do. Whether they do or not and how they grow is up to them, but I'd like to provide the stimulus. So the first month touches on this feeling of entitlement. 

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