Hurt

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I always wonder why some people do not realise how much they hurt others by their words and deeds. Today I heard of an incident where someone’s mother was admitted in a hospital and was recovering. One of her relatives who came in to see her mother instead of encouraging and consoling her, told her unabashedly that you are wasting your money on her treatment since your mother is not going to live long.

I was shocked and dismayed even to hear this incident. First of all this relative was not a doctor. Secondly, she was neither supporting this person financially nor emotionally to treat her mother. Then, I fail to understand what pleasure a person can get to make such unforgivable statements especially to a daughter attending on her mother in a hospital. You can hurt someone unknowingly and it is forgivable but if someone hurts you knowingly what do you do ?

I do understand all of us end up hurting people around us by our words or deeds some way . We may not realise it as and when it happens. However, we do regret when we realise it and seek forgiveness from the person we have hurt or from God for our cruel behaviour. In this instance, the relative was her aunt. It is beyond my imagination to even think of why people behave this way. I can understand how deeply hurt this person may have felt.

We are brought up by our parents and they sacrifice everything in life to give us comfort and joy in life. They never think twice before spending money on you for your betterment. As we grow up, our parents get old and sometimes they do fall sick and become immobile. It is at this time we need to think of how we can serve our parents. We can never in our life time repay the non financial debt of service our parents have rendered to us. In my view, it is a sin even to think of not treating them well.

In this case, the relative who made these scandalous statements was her mother’s sibling. Her mother had been like a mother to her since the age gap between them is quite a lot and her mother had died at a young age. So instead of being grateful to her and helping the family financially or otherwise to treat her mother, this person ends up making such regrettable statements. I will never recommend that we should even make such statements for our enemies if we are human beings.

All of us are materialistic in life and we accumulate wealth during our youth to take care of ourselves in our old age. We need to realise that serving our elders is a rare opportunity God provides to some of us in our life time. We cannot afford to miss this opportunity. We need to consider it our privilege and honour to serve our parents and take care of them when they need us most.

If we think spending money on our parents or elders hospitalisation is waste of money just because they are old and immobile today, we are inhuman in thought and action. We have to realise that all of us will grow old some day and imagine our children thinking the same way and leaving you in a hospital unattended because they think spending money on your treatment is not a wise thing to do.

Some of us realise our mistakes in our life time. It is possible that some of us never realise it in this life time. Hence, I understand why the Hindu religion says that human being has seven births. This may be because God gives us six more chances to repent for our errors in life. I pray to God that all of us treat our elders with respect and dignity. We treat them the way we want to be treated by our children in the future.

Hurt is like the the shedding of the leaves by the trees during autumn. When someone hurts you, you feel barren like the trees may feel when their leaves shrug off.

Let us learn to forgive such inhuman humans and pray to God that he will bestow them with wisdom in this life or the next.

S Ramesh Shankar

Expectations Management

One of my colleagues enquired if I could write on “Expectations management”. I thought it was an interesting subject and hence readily agreed. Someone interestingly said that frustration is the gap between achievement and hope. We are continually trying to live up to the expectations of all the people around us. When we succeed, we are elated and when we don’t we feel dejected.

Today, expectations begin even before you are born. Our parents are expecting us to be a girl or a boy depending on their wish. If we fulfil their wish, they are delighted and if we do not, they are disappointed. So, we possibly need to learn to manage expectations even before we are born. Then once born, we grow up and when it time to get into a school, most parents wish you get admission in the best school. The competitive race of life begins here.

Then we are out of school and we have to manage expectations of parents, teachers, relatives, friends and even the community around us. Each of these people have different expectations from us. While every parent wants the child to pursue the best of education, every teacher wishes the child excel in her or his subject of choice. Relatives and friends are awaiting your success in academics to celebrate with you and your family. The community around you wants to take pride in your accomplishments.

Let us assume you are able to live up to the expectations of all of them. This may be easier said than done. You may want to be a doctor and your parents want you to be a engineer. Your relatives and friends feel you should pursue music as a career since you are good at it. So, meeting conflicting expectations and still pursuing what you want to do in life is a tough ask. You may delight some and upset some other well wishers in your life.

Now, you have finished your formal education and want to pursue your passion in life. You have graduated as a doctor and want to go to the villages to serve the most needy. Your parents are worried about living conditions. Your friends, relatives and neighbours are worried that you will not be available for them. The community around you is looking forward to benefit from your services. They are disappointed that you are moving away to serve in a village.

Apart from all of them around you, you sometimes are not able to live up to your own expectations. The champions in every walk of life set very high standards for themselves. They do not rest till they are able to surpass their own expectations every day of their lives. So, whatever your accomplishment in your life, you may feel you have a lot to achieve in the future. Excellence is a journey that never ends. It is like a train which has no destination.

Another dimension of expectation management is when you get married. Both spouses have expectations from each other. When we do not meet each others’ expectations, it results in avoidable conflict. There is no magic wand to balance expectations from each other. But two way communication, mutual respect, active listening and adapting to each other may help us bridge our expectations with each other.

With all these complexities of life, how do you meet the expectations of all the stake holders in your life. It depends on how we set our own expectations. While we may not be able to set expectations before we are born or even as a kid, it may be desirable to do it as we grow into an adult. We should calmly negotiate with the relevant stakeholders what to expect from us in every stage of life. We may not be able to live up to everyone’s expectations. But we are not bound to do so either. We should live up to our own expectations and have the courage to manage the rest.

Whether it is your friends as in the photo above or colleagues at work, relatives or family members, we need set and reset our expectations as per the needs of the environment.

We have to develop the ability to negotiate expectations. This may be with our parents, relatives, teachers, friends or even our colleagues at work. We have to be clear on what we want to do and then we need to pursue that with passion without hurting anyone around us. As we learn to be focussed and persuasive, we will realise that we can wade our way through the mesh of life and achieve what we want to.

Do you want to try ?

S Ramesh Shankar

The gregarious neighbour


In life, one is blessed to have a wonderful neighbour.  I have had this privilege on a few occasions as I have cris-crossed the nation as part of my career.  In life, you neither can choose your parents nor your colleagues at work.  Similarly, you do not have the privilege of choosing your neighbour.  It was by chance that I bought a flat and moved in.  The neighbour moved in as a tenant. 

We hardly knew each other and generally met only in the lift while going up or down to work or on an outing.  We exchanged smiles and greetings and that was the only introduction.  My wife, me and my kids were very touched by their warmth and helpfulness.  They were a young couple with three kids.  Both husband and wife were always welcoming and greeted you with smiles.

In my less than two years of being their neighbour, I have never seen them in conflict with anyone in our society nor create any ruckus.  They were a sporting couple and always willing to help others.  I always used to silently admire them.  One day they invited us home for a cup of tea.  We realised that we were from different states and different age groups but there was something in common between us.

I admired their friendliness and we shared our feelings with them when we met them.  Interestingly enough they reciprocated our feelings.  I realised that in life, if you need good neighbours, you have to be good.  If you expect others to smile, you need to smile.  If you are helpful, others are more than keen to help you.  Age, caste, creed, religion or nationality does not matter at all.

I moved out of that flat to move to my newly built home in another part of the city.  But, we continued to be friends exchanging calls, messages and greetings through phone and social media.  Occasionally we met for lunch or dinner.  But, even if we did not meet, we had great rapport and respect for each other.  We evolved as friends for life and nurtured our relationship.

Today, if I look back, we stay in two different cities and lead our own busy lives.  But, we still are in touch with each other. We still look for opportunities to talk to each other and wish each other.  We celebrate the successes of each other and are more than willing to share any sorrow between us.  Once a friend, always a friend. I think one is blessed in life to have such neighbours.

I recently was chatting with her and it occurred to me that this family is a great source of inspiration for us.  They taught us to live life happily and share your joy with others.  Both husband and wife partnered to nurture our friendship and sustain it.  They enabled each other to pursue their passion in life and always sported a smile all the time.

I wish and pray to God to bless all of us with such neighbour in life.  

What do you say ?

S Ramesh Shankar