Jaya, our cook, is very good at her job and she is very honest. She called up on a Sunday morning last month to announce that she would not be coming to work the next day as she had an upset stomach. I was certain the ache was a cooked up excuse. I told her it was very unfair on her part. I was going through a tough time without electricity (I had forgotten to pay the bill and the fuse was off),and she was just compounding my misery.
At night, Jaya called again to check whether there was power in the house. I thought to myself – there is no power in the house, hence Her Highness wouldn’t condescend to appear for work the next day.
The part-time agenda for my next day’s morning run was Jaya’s ungrateful nature despite my being very considerate towards her.
When I returned from the run, to my surprise, she was in the house going about her work. I tried to prise out of her the real reason for not turning up the previous day. Her demeanour and answers convinced me she was genuinely sick.
Then I asked her why she had called up the day before to check about the power situation in the house. She said she was very concerned how I would be sleeping on a warm night without power. There seemed nothing contrived about that answer and I felt very chastened.
There is, often enough, a mismatch between how I perceive the world and how it is in reality. My imagination is a very helpful ally when I have to cut to size someone who has apparently wronged me. The greater the perceived wrong, the greater is the efficiency of my imagination in conjuring up an uncharitable view of my transgressor.
Thus, I end up dealing with people not as they are, but in the image I create of them. The dialogues I run in my mind are music to my ruffled ego. Yet, on careful introspection, I know they are far removed from truth. The truth I stitch together, may be a lie in disguise.
In the past I cut short many a relationship never to turn back again, out of a sense of having been wronged.
On the other hand, in the case of a few relationships I put up with unreasonable behaviour knowing people are dynamic and they would transform themselves in the future. At such times, I tell myself that they are exhibiting their caterpillar versions and the butterfly versions would be released soon. Or, I am the caterpillar unable to spot the butterfly.
There is a real danger in burning bridges with people, though there is an inevitability about it, to make way for the new. Yet, well traveled bridges make life simpler and people dearer.
The real tragedy is when I believe the lies I tell about myself. Oftentimes, I feed myself with lies that I am small and powerless. I create imaginary chasms between my dreams and my current reality. The chasms bring with them phantom-like-fears.
There are also moments when memories of the past drive a wedge with my present bringing in their wake, regrets and pain.
There is a way of healing and changing the perceived blemishes of the past by looking at those phases of my life without judging, just observing them in a loving sort of way. Thus I change my past because I interpret it in a new light.
I also change my future by telling myself stories of limitless possibilities and dreams becoming true.
Just as there is a strong case for being more charitable with people in my life, there are even greater reasons for being kinder to myself.
When I learn to be kinder and loving to myself, I may do the same with the world around me – because I tend to see the world not as it is, but as I am.
The truth of the matter is, in many ways, I am the creator of the people around me. I believe in self-fulfilling prophesies about myself and about others. Pygmalion effect is not imaginary. Happiness or miseries are not objective realities, it is I who breathe life into them by what I choose to believe.
As Carlos Castaneda says, “We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.”
It is time to come to the end of the beginning of the story about Jaya. There was a hibernation period of two weeks since I wrote the first two paragraphs of this post.
One day, last week, I was upset with her for going away without completing part of the cleaning work and I expressed my unhappiness. She did not take kindly to my observations and threatened to leave. I said okay, if that was what she wanted. So she stopped coming.
Of course, I was right in telling her to complete her work before leaving. And, she thought she was right in wondering how I could find fault with a sincere and good cook like her. Two rights sometimes make a big wrong.
Jaya lost a good job in the process.
And my occasional forays into the kitchen leave me pondering what might have been if I had opted for a vocation in cooking.
This is however, a very small consolation for losing precious hours and a good cook.
October 14, 2014
Jaya has decided to come back. She called me last night with prolonged explanations, though I was not looking for any. She is now in the kitchen preparing breakfast. I am pleased the story is ending on a happy note.