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Thursday, 9 May 2013

52. LIFE BEYOND SELF

In the evening of life
As the phone rang and the caller said, “Hello,” I instantly recognised his voice.
“Good morning, Sir,” was my respectful response. Yes, he was my boss some three decades ago.  Exchange of pleasantries and he announced that he was visiting someone in my area and intended to visit me too during that trip.
“Wonderful! We have not met for ages. It’ll be great to catch up with each other,” I said.

He was there in the afternoon. For the two hours that he sat with us, he talked of nothing but how he had thrown his weight around in the organisation when he was working; how everyone was so afraid of him; and how even very senior officers had to bow to his personal whims and fancies all the time.  And believe me, all this in the organisation from where he retired almost two decades ago.  I lost count of how many times I suppressed my yawn!

His daughter, who had driven him down, kept smiling while looking indulgently at her father. I could not figure out whether she was happy to see her almost 80 years old father talking non-stop on meeting an old colleague or was she actually in awe of him. As they were leaving and he continued his self-proclaimed importance, I politely whispered to his daughter, “This is what we are left with in the end …memories of our almost 40 years of association with the organisation.”

After they left, I could not get over the fact that in those two hours, not once did he talk about his ailing wife whom I also knew and who is bed-ridden at present. He never uttered a word about his children who have had their share of pains and pleasures in life. There was not a single mention of his grandchildren or his current state of health.  He did not talk of any common colleagues that we had worked with except when they were part of his ego-trip. His total concentration was on himself and his so-called achievements that had no relevance for anyone then and are totally meaningless now in the evening of his life.

Why do we love to live in a fool's paradise?
Is life about concentrating on self and thinking of I, me and myself only? What is the psyche that makes a person so much in love with himself that he does not even want to look outside?  Family members usually do not pay any heed to the person’s ego trips of which he is so used to while working during his official life where others, particularly sub-ordinates are forced to listen to him and helplessly nod their heads in agreement with a genuine-looking plastic smile on their faces. The better the performance, higher is the reward by way of favours from the superiors. Do we tend to internalise that flattery and start believing that we are the best to that extent that we continue to live the rest of our life in that fool’s paradise? Who are we trying to befool? Is staying in that make-believe world easier than accepting the reality of “Here & Now”? 

Many questions and many answers but at the end of it all, I could only feel sorry for him. 

*****
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