Playing the Victim

Eric Berne wrote that beautiful little book, ” Games people play,” a must read for anyone interested in understanding psychology. He explained the games that adults play, enacting victim and saviour and lame leg and a lot of characters in the play-act of their humdrum lives.

It will be pertinent to mention that Shakespeare had long ago pre-empted that perspective, albeit poetically, when he declared ” All the world’s a stage..” .If you delve into that one further, you end up reading names like Erasmus, Ovid, Pythagoras, Palingenius, Edwardes et al. Suffice it to say, that acting different parts on the stage of life, has long teased human imagination.

I wonder about certain people who always play victims in their life. Whatever has happened to them, is because “another” has done it to them. They have been ” victimised”, can you not see?

Their parents were so and so.Their siblings were such and such.Their lovers/spouses were oh-so and such and so and such..Their kids were what to say-what to say-what to say.Their whole life is misery-misery-misery

They never take any responsibility for their actions. At the age of ten, twenty, thirty…ninety- they play the same role of victim-hood.Rather happily too.They revel in being miserable- almost begging Fates to give them more misery. Graceful living is for the fools, you see?

You don’t? Ha! They will explain to you.The explanations will have  a marked pattern. The stories will elevate themselves into long suffering angels who are beyond any blame. They loved and toiled and protected and cared and Thud! They were let down by wicked, wicked women and men. If you ask them for dates and details, they will evade it dexterously. They can do anything but face the truth of their own roles in their downfall , with their delusions of innocence and adroit mental games.

If you think of characters in classic plays who walked to  a similiar tune with heart rending dramatic intensity, may be you can think of Willy Loman in Miller’s “Death of a Salesman”, Blanche Dubois in Tennesse Williams’ ” A Streetcar called Desire”, Oswald Alving in Ibsen’s “Ghosts”…a lot of them.

After all, the greatest of make believe is based on the greatest of truths- that of human frailty.

The day humanity can face the truth of its own weakness, it will transcend into another golden age.What did the Gurus call it? Satya Yuga.

Of the eleven principles to attain it, comes the instruction, not to be slave to your lower nature.

Playing the Slave, hmmmm..another title of Psychological Study  by another genius someday.

******

Rereading Invictus

When the marks had come of the vernacular language, in the critical Boards examination, shock awaited me. I had scored much less than what my teacher had expected. I remember standing crying, swearing never to study the (erstwhile) beloved subject again.

” How could this happen, sir?  I really performed well. Never will I touch Malayalam again.”

Pavlov would have found a nice explanation about my reaction.

My learned teacher, an old man , believed in telling the truth- not sugar coating it with consolation.

” Do the opposite,” he smiled.

” What? ” I sobbed, all rebellion.

” Definitely study the subject further. Score the highest in your future course, and take sweet revenge.”

That was a great “aha” moment for me. I was being asked to take defeat on the chin and move on. And dare to dream again.

” More. Do more. Write a book someday in your mother tongue,” he laughed.

” In Malayalam?” I asked, wonder struck. ” There are too many stars here..where do I find my space, sir?’

” One day, you will find your space. Might be totally yours too. Find your own strong points- something totally your own”, he said firmly.

” Now, recite a favourite poem for me. In whatever language you like.”

I rubbed my eyes and recited  Henley’s Invictus.

.. In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud

Under the bludgeoning of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.”

****

My beloved teacher is no more.

At the beginning of this new year, after 25 years of that conversation, I have cheerful news.

The leading publisher in my mother tongue has informed me that they are planning to publish two of my books.

One is a poetry translation from English. Another is a Philosophy translation from Hindi.

I have found my space, sir. And I touch your feet in my memories, with reverence.For that timely encouragement , when the head was bloodied with defeat and I  had thought to call it quits.

May there be teachers like you, world over. May  more dreams be kindled by words like yours. May each of us find our little space to shine in this beautiful world, using whatever gifts we are blessed with.

To remain, unique. To serve, in whatsoever way.However late it may be, in the order of time.

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Perspective

Some writers speak about it, when faced with death.Usually.Rest of the time, they are busy shifting it to suit the practicalities of living.Parents of teenagers use the word a lot, especially when they themselves lack it.Peccavi.

It was Eliot, who said in his work, “The murder in the cathedral”, that the human mind cannot bear very much reality. The human eye becomes lazy too, nothing to do with Amblyopia. Of course, if every one thought as you did, the world would be a beautiful place. From another’s perspective, it could be a very bland one too.

How come, what seems oh-so-damn-clear to you, turns out to be devilishly confusing to another? How is it that deep, intensive living becomes possible only when death stares at some on the face?How come a guy, or girl, who makes your instincts scream danger to you now, once appeared as charming to your same eyes?Why does a teenager see a big gaping hole in front of her and happily jump into it?

Difference of perspective.

PERSPECTIVE : Respect/Terse/Peep/Peer/Seer/Pit/Evict/Veer/ Pier/Sieve… all words within the word.

Respect – another’s view and see the truth

Terse-Do not be terse.

Smile at the truth

Peep- yes, take another peep into the truth

Peer- repeat, take another look at the truth

Seer- that makes you one who sees the truth

Pit- will help evade untruth

Evict- the unwanted from your vision

Veer- off the untruth

Pier- Yes, walk on the structure from the  safe shore of your truth across the water

Sieve- filter the truth like milk from water

(Hope it works with my teenager!)

P.S. It did. She said, ma, change your perspective- think wider. See, so many more words inside Perspective.

Secretive, spit, tip, peeve, rite, serve, site, epic, verse, tire, pert, viper, secret, spectre, erect, sect, ripe…what about more hah?

Answers – A Conundrum

“Then”, said the Teacher,  “Listen carefully. Words conceal more than what they reveal. Try making sentences from the words within a word to decipher the root word. ”

The student,  who was brooding on the ANSWERS, looked up curiously.

Let me try, she said, to decipher some meaning from this conundrum of life.

She started playing with the word ANSWERS. And made up a story .

swan/ sewn/ sear/ raw/ wan /near /saw/ sea/ awe /sans/ wear/ wean/  news/ new/ swear/ war/  warn/  ran/are …

Swan it was in reality! It could not quack easily.It was ridiculed often for it.

The dress was sewn for the traditional role. It did not fit into it. The wings burst out of it.They were laid aside.

The pain of compromise was searing. The wounds  festered raw.

The face was always wan.

One day, near by, it saw the sea . It was filled with awe!

Sans any compunctions, it decided to wear the wings back.

It took a time to wean off old habits of diffidence. It took a time, fluttering rusty wings.

The news was that it was beautiful! It was all a new world! It soared real high.

Swear on  Truth, it declared War!

Warn them !!! Are you ready?

Not interested in being an also-ran.

The Teacher said, ” Keep at it every day. The ANSWERS will come.”

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Protecting Sacred Spaces

In my family, there is a tradition of a worshipping place- the Puja room, so to say. The brass lamp is scrubbed with tamarind and lemon, made to sparkle bright as sunlight itself; oil is poured into it and a cotton wick is soaked and lighted at twilight. The Gods will be smiling, with fresh flowers offered at their feet, and sweet incense notes will be charging up the space with sacred aura and energy. Without taking a bath, no one is allowed entrance therein, and it symbolises everything pure. That you come into the sacred space with a pure body, mind and soul.

And yes, above all, when you sit down and pray, you do not, do not, do not think evil, ask for harm to  fall on others, or wish unkindness in any guise. You are free to cry, to beseech, to plead, to canoodle, to praise, to love but hatred is strictly prohibited in all its searing , malignant manifestations.

I have been thinking of Sacred Spaces in personal life for the past two days. Some incidents have happened which has made me ponder on that issue.

An apparent well wisher called up my dear ones and tried to poison their minds against my life choices. When the family converged, in shock and pain, and clarifications were sought and tears changed into smiles, few questions emerged loudest-

How dare an outsider do that to us?

Who the heck is she to intrude into others’ lives?

What gave her the authority or exaggerated sense of self importance, to push into another’s sacred space with impunity and desecrate it with her version of how things should move in the world?

Well, we decided as a family that such intruders will be dealt with severely in future. We tend to take care of wounded in my family- we hate people who go around wounding others. So much for her quest to be Archangel Gabriel on a mission of saving souls from great falls! She has been named as Desecrater.

A similar thing happened to a dear person, strangely, almost simultaneously. He informed someone of  a career change, as a matter of fact, since it had legal and financial implications in their lives. The one who received the news, did not take to it kindly. She retaliated with venom and unbridled sarcasm. It was shocking in its intensity. She not only questioned his life choices,( over which she had no control or say whatsoever) but labelled him “bad” because he dared to follow his dreams. Was he not selfish, eh, to do that to the rest of the world? How dare he change his job,when he was supposed to spent his life like a donkey, by bringing in the money? The desecration flowed , more deadlier than any Ebola virus.

Until the family decided to protect the Sacred Space again. The Desecrater was told, in so much words, that she better stay within her boundaries. And that she was an unwanted and detested intruder.

Sometimes,  one needs to light another lamp , to ward off offenders who scrounge around like hyneas, waiting for someone’s slow death due to their deadly ,oblique attacks. The brass will sparkle like sunlight, and the wick shall burn bright. The oil shall be poured from a bottle called WORDS. No dark abuse can stay hidden in that Space.

May Grace guard your Sacred Spaces.