A Lesson I Learned from our Cook

Last week our cook nearly walked out of her job in my house.

My mind was working overtime nearly for a day about how the tea leaves which I had left in the tea container had disappeared.  I came to the conclusion, the cook has taken it. After all, they are all the same………

The next day morning, I confronted the cook with the open and shut case of the missing tea. She told me that she had put the new tea leaves I had just bought, over the old. Then she told me that she had never, ever taken anything from anyone’s house and she is not that type of person. And, wherever she had worked in the past, people wanted her back for her honesty.

Then she quietly asked me to pay her salary right away as she did not intend to continue working at my home any longer.

Then I did something I had never done in all of my life. I told her I was sorry. I really was, because I understood from her hurt expression beyond any doubt that the woman is very honest. And I did not want to lose this honest person. For selfish reasons, of course, because she keeps the house clean and she cooks well.

She was quiet for a while and humbled me saying, if she wants anything she would ask me as she considered me a good, reasonable man. Then she went back to work.

I am a victim having been cheated by several people in the past. I reckon the experiences have left a lasting impression in my conscious and unconscious mind. I realize now, I tend to distrust rather than to trust.

Relationships – whether it is with a cook or anyone else – are experienced through the lenses of yesterday and the accumulated fears and insecurities gathered over time.

Bernard Shaw said that the only person he trusts for common sense is his tailor because he takes measurement anew every time. So, the behavioral pattern I exhibited is not just my scourge, but of  a larger world. What a relief!

In summer trees flaunt their luscious green leaves, in autumn their leaves assume beautiful colours, in winter we do not see the leaves at all and in spring there is rebirth with tender leaves. There are thousands of seasons in the life of a human being, but we see only one season. We deal with human beings on the basis of past experiences and, the moulds we cast them in, remain with us for life.

Life always happens in the Present – moment by moment, one NOW after another. But we end up living more in the stagnant pond of the past and anxieties of the future. We hardly ever experience the freshness of the flowing streams of the NOW, of the Present.

An Emirates Airways ad rings in my ears – “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” It is also wise to ask ourselves, when was the last time we saw our dear ones at home for the first time, with fresh insights, without prejudice of the past?

Like what the Bible says, we have eyes but do you not see, and have ears but do not hear. People who live and work with us become strangers to us because we fail to see them as they are in their ever flowing evolution.

We also see them as we are. This is even sadder because we even project our deep insecurities and fears into our loved ones and make them what they are not. There is often a big element of self-fulfilling prophesy in such relationships because as Eliza in the film My Fair Lady says, “the difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she is treated. I shall always be a common flower girl to Professor Higgins, because he always treats me like a common flower girl.”

Relationships with people at home or people in office are invitations to enter into new, fresh understanding and communication – based on an awareness of the situation of that particular moment.

The cook fortunately still comes home to work every morning. And her lips expand into a smile to greet me in the morning when I open the door for her. Thank God, her lips do not contract into a pout with memories of that old hurt. She is a wise woman.

I smile in return and become aware that I have much to be grateful about.

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